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Toshiba Encore review

Michael Sawh

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Summary

Our Score:

5

Pros

  • Full access to Microsoft Office
  • Great battery life
  • Decent 8-megapixel main camera

Cons

  • Extremely buggy performance
  • Slow loading times
  • Desktop Windows mode difficult to use

Key Features

  • 8-inch, 1,280 x 800 resolution display
  • Windows 8.1
  • 8-megapixel rear-facing camera
  • 64GB internal memory
  • Manufacturer: Toshiba
  • Review Price: £250.00

What is the Toshiba Encore?

The Toshiba Encore is a £250 8-inch tablet that runs on Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Pro operating system, giving you access to Microsoft Office, the Windows Store and the more familiar Desktop version with Start button now reinstated.

Joining the Dell Venue Pro 8, the Acer Iconia W4 and Lenovo Miix2, the Encore runs on Intel’s Bay Atom processor, which means it's capable of handling a the full version of Windows, not the RT version seen in the likes of the Surface 2. But having spent time with a buggy pre-production model earlier this year, and two review units, it's clear Toshiba has still not ironed out all of its niggling issues.

SEE ALSO: Best Windows 8 Tablets and Laptops

Toshiba Encore: Design

Bigger than the 7.9-inch iPad Mini 2 Retina and the 7-inch Nexus 7 2, the Encore is a pretty uninspiring thing to behold. Its predominantly plastic body lacks the same slim and sleek feel of Apple's smaller tablet and lacks the more comfortable soft touch back of the Nexus. The Encore measures in at 10.68mm thick, so it’s not as slim as the iPad mini 2 Retina (7.5mm) or the Nexus 7 2 (8.65mm) and at 450g it's heavier than both, too.

A single capacitive Windows Home button sits alone below the screen to flip between desktop and tablet mod, with stereo speakers situated on the bottom edge of the tablet. The volume rocker and on/off button sit on the right edge of the device. and up top is a micro HDMI, micro USB port and headphone/mic jack. Over on the left, there’s a Micro SD card slot to expand storage beyond the 32GB on board.

The dimpled grey plastic back houses the 8-megapixel camera and to make the most of Microsoft’s Skype integration, Toshiba has also included a 'Skype certified' 2-megapixel front-facing web camera with dual mics to help audio in video calls to come out nice and clear.

Despite its size, the Encore's chunkiness makes it a little uncomfortable to hold in one hand in portrait mode -- it's much better in two hands. In landscape mode, meanwhile, it’s all too easy to hit the on/off button instead of the volume rocker as well. Both these facts make the Toshiba Encore a cumbersome tablet, which it really shouldn't be given its size. It feels sturdy and well-made, but it's not that nice to handle.

SEE ALSO: 10 Best Android Tablets

Toshiba Encore: Screen Quality

The Encore features a reasonably bright 1,280 x 800 LED display, effectively matching the original Nexus 7 and the Dell Venue 8 Pro (full review coming soon) for resolution and detail. This is fairly underwhelming in comparison to the second generation Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX 7, both of which feature 1,920 x 1,200 IPS displays. Both are cheaper, though smaller screen tablets, but for an extra £50 it's not unreasonable to expect a little more.

Still, it’s acceptable for reading web pages and video streaming. Video is sharp and viewing angles are decent, but it lacks the vibrancy, colour accuracy and ability to capture more natural tones the way similarly priced tablets are able to. The 189ppi pixel density means you shouldn’t expect exceptional clarity, either. It’s suitable for the tiled, tablet-optimized user interface and reading web pages, but the desktop mode isn't quite so forgiving.

But the real problem with the Toshiba Encore's screen if its responsiveness, or lack thereof. At times just selecting apps or trying to skip back a web page proves problematic. Even the lock screen struggles to register screen presses at times. It's a tablet that will test your patience and by this point our patience was already running thin.

tony

December 9, 2013, 9:40 pm

Can you run steam on the encore

Nick

December 23, 2013, 7:03 am

yes

Tim

January 23, 2014, 6:26 pm

I've had the dell venue pro 8 since Christmas and it's been a good experience so far.

- Desktop mode is hard to use. A stylus makes it a lot better should you need to go there.
+ The full copy of office and skydrive means I use it at work instead of taking a laptop into meetings
+ the screen size is much more useable than the nexus 7 letter box. (I found the nexus screen too narrow)
- hardly any apps are available and they cost more than Apple! E.g. Cut the rope is over £2 on the windows store whilst only 69p on the Apple store

Like I said overall I'm impressed with it for the cost. Performance is better than I expected and the battery life is good.

At home it's pretty much replaced the laptop we had.

MattMe

January 24, 2014, 8:47 am

It's running a full, standard edition of Windows. You can install and run any application you would do on any other Windows machine.
It's effectively a netbook without the keyboard,

Hope

February 25, 2014, 2:14 pm

Always The power button has a problem.

Russell hawker

August 10, 2015, 10:02 am

Just for information my Encore 8 updated to Windows 10 on the 8th August. Absolutely no problems at all. Painless experience. It locks to tablet mode and fixed orientation by default but that is very simply turned off.
No performance issues. If anything the Encore seems snappier with Windows 10. And the new interface, in my opinion, is a big success.
Minecraft and Age of Empires via Steam running well. Adobe Creative cloud with Lightroom and Photoshop CC 2015 also running smoothly. What more can you ask for £70. And to think i almost bypassed this tablet due to the lacklustre reviews. Its outlived the Nexus 7 and iPad 2 in my household. Far more useful to us.

Aki

August 23, 2015, 7:00 am

I'm used to taking tech reviews with a grain of salt. They have some good info but I usually skip the parts when an Android tablet, iPad and Windows tablet pc are compared to one another. Because you can't. So I just look for the parts relevant to what I need and proceed from there.

Frosty T Snowman

March 15, 2016, 9:11 pm

If I had read reviews first I would never have shelled-out the huge sum of £46.00 for my Asda refurb', It does everything I need it to and more.
Perfect for taking to bed to watch Youporn, ha! kidding of course, I use Pornhub.

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