Where the Encore doesn’t disappoint is battery life. Packing a 2-cell Lithium-ion you can expect up to seven hours on a full charge and we actually got closer to eight hours running a TV series continuously on Netflix. In more intensive daily use, you will need to charge it up, but it will definitely make it through the day. If you've forgotten to charge it overnight and it's on critical battery life it doesn't have tremendous recovery ability. In our numerous tests from a 5% battery level it jumped up by around 4% over half an hour connected to the USB charger supplied with the Encore.
In theory, the Encore at £250 has much to offer. It’s an affordable 8-inch tablet with all-day battery life and has access to a full version of Windows 8 including Microsoft Office. In reality, certain aspects of Microsoft’s operating system just don’t work on such a small device. Trying to use it in a traditional Windows way is far too frustrating and buying a Bluetooth keyboard is the only way you will get great use of having Office access. The buggy, unresponsive performance we endured did not disappear even with our second review model, so it makes it difficult to recommend.
For less than £250 you can buy a Nexus 7 2, albeit without Microsoft Office, yet it’s still the best 7-inch Android tablet out there. You can download the Office Mobile for Office 365 app, but you will need to have an Office 365 subscription to use it on the tablet. The iPad mini 2 Retina costs £319 so there’s a £70 difference. For the extra spend you will get an easy to use tablet with access to Office in the same way you can with the Nexus 7.
The real and obvious alternative, however, is the Asus Transformer Book T100. It's larger and more like a laptop-tablet hybrid, but that also makes it great deal more practical and useful. The Toshiba Encore feels like a product looking for a problem to solve, and whatever that is it doesn't achieve its goal.
The Toshiba Encore is a Windows 8.1 tablet with more bad points than good so the search for a great small, standalone Windows tablet goes on.