As a tablet to showcase full-fat Windows 8 on a smaller, more portable screen, the Toshiba Encore did a pretty poor job. The Encore 2 didn’t offer much improvement, but the Toshiba Encore 2 Write adds a Wacom-based stylus and TruPen technology to give this tablet more appeal.
Available with an 8-inch or 10-inch screen, the Encore 2 Write’s specs are still pretty underwhelming, and having spent time with the smaller model, the stylus and on-board software are the only things to be slightly impressed by.
That’’s because elsewhere this is more of the same. It’s the same stuffy plastic design with rounded corners and glossy back. Build quality looks perfectly fine, it’s just dull, boring and very business-like.
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With the 8-inch version you still get the same 1280 x 800-pixel IPS touchscreen as the first Encore tablet had, so it's far from the cutting-edge displays you'll find on Samsung or Apple's slates. You do still get plenty of physical connectivity, with a Micro USB port to add peripherals, a microSD card slot expandable to 128GB to compliment the 64GB on-board storage, and a Micro HDMI port to hook up to a television.
It’s powered by an Intel Atom Z3735F processor with 2GB of RAM, which is sufficient to keep Windows 8.1 running smoothly. In the camera department, there's a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera and an 8-megapixel main camera around the back, which comes in handy with some of the new stylus-optimised software features.
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The digitiser stylus is the star of the show here. Noticeably bigger and more pen-like in stature than Samsung’s S Pen, it’s light and comfortable to grip and offers 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, matching Samsung’s Note tablets and phablets.
There’s no removable nibs, but you can adjust pen thickness depending on how heavy or light you press against the screen. It lacks a handy compartment to tuck it away in when not in use, although there’s a clip to attach it to the side and reduce the chances of it going walkies.
The full version of Windows 8.1 that the Encore 2 Write runs on is a familiar place, albeit with the addition of TruNote – Toshiba’s take on Microsoft’s OneNote software. Here you can take notes, do drawings, and all the types of things you can do with Samsung’s S Note application on Note tablets.
There’s also TruCapture to add photos taken with the tablet’s camera, and TrurRecorder to record and add voice conversations to your note-making, with the ability to distinguish between different voices in the recordings.
While the Encore 2 Write is a pretty ordinary tablet, the stylus experience is a very good one. The TruPen is smooth and accurate, as long as you don’t quickly scribble your way through things, and the stylus-optimised software appears to work well, with some interesting features that could appeal to more work-focused users.
There’s no UK pricing as yet, so it’s difficult to know if the Encore 2 Write is going to be good value for money. At $350 in the US, that's likely to put it around the £250 mark like previous 8-inch Encore tablets have been. With the added stylus, there could be more reason to pick this one up, though – especially if you need a handy productivity tool for working on presentations and meetings.