HP’s Stream Minis aren’t a new innovation but bring legitimacy

Last week, HP introduced two new PCs, the HP Stream Mini and HP Pavillion Mini. They’re small, silent in the case of the Stream Mini, and cheap, starting at $180 for a Stream Mini with a 1.4 GHz dual-core CPU, 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage.

Motley Fool is asking if HP just invented a new category of PC. No, they didn’t–mini PCs have been around a long time, but previously they’ve been limited to the enthusiast market. Now there’s a big-name company with big-name retail distribution entering the market.

To me, these machines are interesting. They’re small, a little less than 5.75 inches square and about two inches high, so they can easily be stashed somewhere. They’re upgradable. You can swap the drive out for something bigger, and you can add memory to them. I’ve heard 8 GB and I’ve heard 16 GB. I know the Celeron 2957U can address up to 16 GB of RAM so it’s likely the latter.

The 1.4 GHz Celeron 2957U won’t win any speed awards, but it’s a 15W chip and it’s enough for basic computing needs. Team it up with fast storage and lots of RAM and it’s going to be a useful machine for a very long time, especially if it’s only asked to be a secondary PC. As long as it has fast storage and a lot of memory, it will multitask fine.

It does have two monitor ports, HDMI and Displayport, so a small LCD television could serve as a monitor if need be. Hopefully both ports are active at once so you can do a dual display. Dual displays make computing much more enjoyable, even on machines with modest CPU power. I would have liked to have seen a DVI connector, but DVI seems to be going out of style and there are adapter cables if you have DVI-equipped monitors like I do.

I don’t really need one of these, but given its low power consumption, I may get one anyway. Its power usage is so low it might pay for itself just in power savings, on top of the benefits of being silent.

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