Toshiba Encore, hands-on: Windows 8.1 to go

Toshiba Encore, hands-on: Windows 8.1 to go

Summary: Toshiba's 8-inch Encore can run legacy desktop Windows apps, although you may find them difficult to work with on such a small screen. Performance could be better, but the price is attractive and battery life impressive.


Toshiba's 8-inch Encore tablet runs full-blown Windows, so it can run desktop applications other than the version of Office that's bundled with Windows RT on ARM-based tablets such as Microsoft's Surface 2.

With 32GB (£249) and 64GB (£299) options available, you'll need to think carefully about which local applications to install — our larger-capacity review unit had just 40GB free out of the box. Fortunately, data can also be stored on MicroSD card or in the cloud (SkyDrive, now called OneDrive, is preinstalled with 7GB of free storage)

The Encore is an 8-inch (1,280 by 800 pixels) Intel Atom-based tablet running 32-bit Windows 8.1. Image: Toshiba

Thanks to the on-board Micro-HDMI port you can attach a large monitor for delivering presentations to clients, or for working in an office. In the latter case, an external keyboard and mouse can be connected via Bluetooth (4.0). The wi-fi is dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n, so getting connected wirelessly shouldn't be a problem but, as ever with tablets, Ethernet is out of the question. There's an 8-megapixel camera on the back and a 2-megapixel one on the front. Skype is preinstalled.

The Encore has Micro-USB 2.0 and Micro-HDMI ports. Image: Toshiba

The 8-inch screen has a resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels, giving a moderate pixel density of 189ppi. You get a full copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 as part of the deal. Working at standard 100 percent view text is uncomfortably small. If you increase text size you can't view a great deal of it on screen at once. Serous wordwork over extended periods is likely to be out for most people, unless you hook up to an external monitor.

A chunky 8-inch tablet

Toshiba has not been able to make the Encore particularly thin or light, and the screen bezel is fairly large, so that overall this is a relatively big device for an 8-inch tablet. It measures 213mm by 135.9mm by 10.68mm and weighs 445g. Compare it to the Android-based Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, which comes in at 209.8mm by 123.8mm by 7.4mm and 314g, and it's clear how relatively chunky the Encore is. Even so, it's obviously a lot smaller and lighter than a notebook, and the build feels solid.

Reports of early units being unresponsive seem to have been ironed out — we noticed nothing untoward during our review period. However, although Intel's 1.33-1.86GHz Atom Z3740 processor, used here with 2GB of RAM in support, is designed for tablets, the Encore won't be up to running demanding workloads: the device was even slow to resolve changing screen orientation, which quickly became irritating.

Clearly the Toshiba Encore doesn't have potential to be a notebook replacement for many people. But the Encore may well appeal as a companion device if you can live with the small, tight screen and if your work is largely cloud-based. Its day-long battery life (Toshiba claims 14.5 hours of mixed use) just might make the Encore an excellent backup for those times when your notebook's battery can't cope.

Topics: Tablets, Mobility, Reviews, Windows 8

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  • It's an excellent tablet

    I own one, its not that chunky considering that it runs full Window's 8. Has built-in GPS and Mini HDMI port, so really cool to hook-up to a monitor or TV.
    • GPS

      Yeah, I was waiting for the comments about how this is one of the few Windows tablets with GPS in it. Heck, the iPad Mini does not have GPS (not sure about the LTE version).

      This thing only cost $299 (you can find it cheaper) for a full Windows PC. Not saying buy it but this review complete trashed it.
      Rann Xeroxx
      • Someone nabed my venue 8 pro this week >_

        Really thinking about replacing it with the toshiba but I want to know if I can track it win it goes missing. Also hdmi was really missed on the Dell.
  • Compared to Apple Mini and Android 8"?

    Is the screen resolution not comparable to most android 8" and some iPad minis?
    Is there anything that iPad and or Android 8: tabs can do that this windows tablet can not do?
    Is there anything that this Windows tablet can do that android and or iPad minis can not do?
    Are the screen content display for an 8: any different from Android and iPad minis?
    For daily work and play, how does these 8" devices compare in terms of cpu, ram, storage, expandable storage etc.
    What does the cost for value looks like for these 8" windows tab, comparable android and iPad mini.

    These are valid questions you should have answered. Rather than pick platform properties that favor mini and or Google and when windows platform shows areas of huge advantage over them, you fail to detail it in comparison mode.
    Alfred Soyemi
  • Widi and Miracast?

    Does this tablet support Widi and Miracast wireless display? Windows 8.1 supports it, does Toshiba? How about a digital stylus?
    Curtis Quick
    • Miracast

      Yes it claims Miracast - not tried out yet.
  • Where's the Pen?

    I have more or less adapted to Windows 8.1 on my Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga covertible.

    What I love about my Galaxy Notes (2, 8.0 and 10.1 2013) is the PEN and being able to scribble notes, tel numbers etc - in my sixties, I'm not as adept as younger folk with texting on tiny keyboards. My Note 8 is probably my favourite device.

    Looking ahead, I would consider Windows 8.1/9 (?) tablets, but not if they do not have the active digitiser pen - I first used one on a Toshiba M200 convertible notebook in 2004, it's hardly a new technology, but it is an indictment of MS strategy in those days and till now.
    AN O'Nymous
    • No Pen

      You can use a stylus - probably not as nice but workable and these are very low cost.
  • Not Windows ToGo

    That is not Windows ToGo. I'd like to see Windows ToGo running on a tablet.
    • Of Course not Windows to go

      This is better than Windows to Go - It is actually Windows on a device and will work without seeking out an actual host device.
  • Encore reviews

    I remain puzzled with the bad reviews on this product. I have purchased one and am very pleased. It is fast , runs full Windows, will connect to any of the USB type peripherals e.g TV tuner usb sticks . The screen is excellent and at this size whether it has 1200 x 800 or full HD or beter number of pixels is Academic - It will be impossible to resolve them. OK it is virtually impossible to run Windows desktop , using finger tops to select - But this is the price of a small screen.- A mouse or a stylus will help. But Windows applications e.g Word and Excel will zoom and display properly! ... And it does have offline GPS with the Nokia HERE Maps... What is there not to like?