There are now three low-cost lightweight Windows 8 laptops on market that are getting good reviews and appear to be selling very well. Here’s a round-up of the HP Stream 11, ASUS X205 and Acer E11 laptops with pro’s and con’s. Each looks to be a good value purchase but there are important differences between them that will affect customer choices.
Before I go into detail, read this.
For the tinkerers and linux fans the Acer E11 is the best. The HP Stream best out of the box for average user. The Asus’ X205 is the lightweight, long battery life option. All three are in our database and this link will take you to a comparison of the important specifications. Click-through to the full datasheets where you will find all the specifications, notes, more images, videos and links to reviews.
The HP Stream 11 looks to be the most popular of the three choices. It’s available in two bright colors and has, in my opinion, the best look and feel. It has a Linux-friendly 64-bit chipset and boot capability but no RAM or disk upgrade possibility. This is the only one of the three that comes with one year of Office 365 + One Drive with Skype bundle. The SD card fits flush, it has a better keyboard than the Acer E11, there’s a 100Mbps Ethernet port (the Acer E11 has gigabit Ethernet) and full-size HDMI port. Since I last checked in November the average rating has gone up from 4.2 to 4.3 on Amazon.com It has an amazing 659 reviews on Amazon.com although those reviews and rating include the 13-inch model and the 13-inch model with 4G so it’s difficult to tell how popular the 11.6-inch model is and how it is rated.
The ASUS X205 uses the Baytrail-T platform and has the longest battery life of the three (rated at 12 hours but users reporting up-to 10 hours) but it’s not a very Linux-friendly build and there’s no RAM upgrade capability. A MicroHDMI, microsSD slot and USB 2.0 ports mean that it’s the worst option for physical connectivity. The quad-core CPU will have the lowest single-threaded scores of the three but might perform better in some multi-tasking scenarios. The X205 is the only one of the three to have Connected Standby / InstantGo capability which means quick-start, low idle battery drain and the possibility to run Windows 8.1 apps in background when the device is in standby. (E.g. Skype, music streaming.) Disk encryption when used with Microsoft account. The ASUS X205 is the lightest, at 2.2 pounds / 1KG. Amazon rating: 4.2 out of 5 (252 reviews)
The Acer E11 ES1/111 has RAM upgrade possibility and is Linux-friendly once the WiFi card is swapped out. (The WiFi card included is generally unsupported. I dropped an Intel 7260 card in to fix that.) There is another version ($30 more) that has a hard drive which means a real SSD can be loaded because the eMMC SSD version doesn’t have the SATA header on the motherboard. It doesn’t come with free Office but, like the ASUS X205, comes with 100GB OneDrive for 2 years. There’s a Gigabit Ethernet port (means you can build a WiFi router if you want.) The touchpad is not the best quality (needs new drivers I think) although HP Stream users have also complained about a similar problem. Amazon rating: 3.8 out of 5. (157 reviews)
All three of these devices are great choices in this new $200 laptop segment but each has their unique features. As mentioned above, the HP Stream 11 is the winner for the average user with the ASUS X205 being the highly mobile choice. The Acer E11 better for tinkerers and Linux fans and with the wired Gigabit port make the best home theater PC with something like Openelec.
Just to be clear, I bought the Acer E11-111 (see my deep-dive) and have tested the HP Stream 11 (touch version.) I’ve also had hands-on with the third one – the ASUS EeeBook X205 but while I haven’t fully reviewed it yet. I’ve done a lot of research on it. Brad at Liliputing has just published a full review that’s worth reading.