Review Price £250.00
Hands-on: Toshiba Encore preview
What is the Toshiba Encore?
The Toshiba Encore joins the Acer Iconia W3 as one of the first 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablets based on Intel’s Bay Trail processor. Launching before Christmas, the Encore is priced at £249 and has the specs to offer a good all round performance for a budget tablet.
However, having spent some time with a pre-production model of the Encore, it’s clear that this iPad Mini and Nexus 7 rival still needs some work before it’s ready to take on the portable tablet world.
Toshiba Encore – Design
As 8-inch tablets go, the Encore looks pretty uninspiring. Its predominantly plastic body has the look and feel of a run-of-the-mill Android tablet we are so used to seeing.
There’s a silver lining around a black bezel that is the same thickness around each side of the 8-inch display. A single capacitive Windows Home button sits alone below the screen with stereo speakers 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, USB 2.0 port and headphone/mic jack.
Around the back is an 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. This should help the audio in video calls come out nice and clear.
The Encore measures in at 10.68mm thick so it’s not as slim as the iPad Mini (7.2mm) or the Nexus 7 2 (8.65mm) and weighing in at 450g is heavier than the Apple and Google tablets. It’s not really that noticeable. The Encore is comfortable to use in one hand, it simply just isn’t as nice looking as some of the best 8-inch tablets already available.
Toshiba Encore - Screen
Hosting a 1,280 x 800 ‘AutoBrite’ display, the Encore matches the original Nexus 7 in the screen department. It offers a clear, vibrant surroundings and good viewing angles for video. When the Nexus 7 2 manages to pack in a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution display for less money there is an argument we should expect more when this costs £50 more.
Powered by a 1.7GHz Atom Bay Trail processor, there’s 2GB of RAM to take care of multitasking and up to 64GB of onboard storage for saving files and apps. Toshiba couldn’t tell us how much space Windows 8.1 takes up of the internal memory. We sincerely hope it’s not a similar situation to the Surface RT using half of the 32GB of storage to accommodate the Windows operating system.
It’s an InstantGo certified tablet which means you can receive email and social network notifications even when the Encore is in Sleep mode. It supports Xbox Smartglass to use as a second screen for gaming with your Xbox 360 and Xbox One. It also comes with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013, so if you can get your hands on a compatible Bluetooth keyboard, it could work as a very portable notebook.
The Encore is Wi-Fi only so no 3G connectivity for using it on the move and we were told that you can expect to get around seven hours of battery life seeing fall short of the staying power on the Nexus 7 2, iPad Mini and Asus MeMo Pad HD 7.
The Toshiba Encore underwhelms in the design department, and has sluggish performance to match. Simply swiping through the tiled interface and launching applications was very slow. The screen is the pick of the features and handles video well, but we couldn’t test the camera as it was not optimized for the pre-production model.
The Toshiba Encore is a step up from the Acer Iconia W3 but it is by no means the perfect Windows 8.1 tablet as things currently stand. It has the connectivity and the potential power to be a great budget tablet, but there is clearly still work to be done.
Read more: Best tablets to buy
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