A Guide to Laptop Alternatives: Chromebooks and HP Stream

About 9 years ago, ASUS started a trend with its Eee PC—the first netbook and laptop alternative on the market. The device was portable, light and featured a LINUX operating system. Windows-based netbooks followed shortly and offered an inexpensive, portable solution. That being said, they were also underpowered. It was no surprise that the trend started to die off as operating systems required more power to run. With netbooks out of the way, a void opened up and was quickly filled by Chromebooks but this left Windows users out in the cold when it came to inexpensive laptop alternatives. Recently, HP has jumped in to provide a solution with its HP Stream products. So what can you expect when you invest in one of these two laptop alternatives?




Chromebooks were designed to be used while connected to the Internet and primarily to browse or use web-based applications. These devices run on Chrome OS, an operating system with few applications and no bloatware. They’re easy to maintain because they update in the background and don’t require security software. However, these devices come with limited onboard memory, so you won’t be able to install applications and most work will need to be saved to the cloud. That being said, Google’s suite of software, like Sheets, Docs, etc., is amazingly convenient and easy to use. Many other applications are available using web-based interfaces as well.


Thanks to their simplicity and the fact that they’re easily managed using a web-based console, Chromebooks have become a popular choice for schools with BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, programs. The fact that they’re inexpensive certainly doesn’t hurt either.


HP Stream


HP Stream is the new kid on the block when it comes to laptop alternatives but it’s a great one. Like Chromebooks, these devices don’t come with a ton of storage and rely primarily on the cloud. For Windows users, though, an HP Stream can be a great laptop alternative. Running the Windows operating, these devices also allow you to install and use Windows programs. If you’re familiar with the Windows experience, you’ll feel right at home with one of these devices but you’ll enjoy a much smaller price tag. Basically, HP Stream devices aim to marry the world of inexpensive, cloud-based devices with the utility of Windows.


Which Laptop Alternative Is Right For You?

If you’re looking for a portable and inexpensive laptop alternative, Chromebooks and HP Stream devices are both great options. However, it is important to keep in mind that with their reduced price tags come with some limitations—the main one being small onboard storage.


If you’re trying to decide between the two, consider how you’ll be using the device. If you just need device to get you on the Internet and maybe use some web-based apps, a Chromebook is the perfect choice. If, however, you’d like a little more utility and the flexibility to install some Windows software, an HP Stream device is your best bet.


By Mike Agerbo

August 16, 2016