Toshiba Encore review:

Toshiba Encore

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MSRP: $329.99

Toshiba Encore 8 (32GB)

(Part #: WT8-A32)
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CNET Editors' Rating

2 user reviews

The Good Portable size; Full-fat Windows 8.1; Reasonable price; Expandable storage.

The Bad Disappointing screen resolution; Small size makes using desktop applications difficult; Fat, uninspiring design; Some apps sluggish.

The Bottom Line The Toshiba Encore is probably the most portable way to use full Windows 8.1, but while its small screen size makes it easy to carry, it also makes using traditional desktop apps very difficult. It's handy for social networking, but don't expect it to replace your laptop.

6.5 Overall

Think using Windows means being tied to a desktop PC at the office or lugging a laptop around? Think again. Advances in mobile processors means that Windows 8 runs well on small, lightweight tablets that are much easier to slide into a bag.

Toshiba has gone a step further still, cramming the full, desktop version of Windows 8.1 into an 8-inch tablet. The Encore has a 1,200x800-pixel display, a quad-core Intel Atom processor and comes with either 32GB of storage for £249 or 64GB for £299.

Both models come with microSD card slots and full versions of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 and are available now from Toshiba.

Design and build quality

With its chunky plastic casing, the Encore isn't the most beautiful tablet around. The stiff plastic has a scratchy texture that makes it feel considerably less luxurious than the metal iPad mini and at nearly 11mm thick, it's much fatter too. It's not exactly ugly, but its plain, functional design isn't eye-catching.

At 436g, it's not overly heavy and you certainly won't feel dragged down by it in your bag. It's comfortable enough to hold in one hand for a little while, but you'll probably want to use two if you're settling in for a movie.

Toshiba Encore
It's quite a fat, chunky tablet, measuring almost 11mm thick.

There's not much flex in the back casing, and I couldn't find any loose panelling, so I'm fairly confident it can put up with being bumped around in your backpack as you go about your day. Your port selection includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, micro-USB and micro-HDMI port for hooking the tablet up to a larger display.

The microSD card allows you to expand the on-board storage -- even with the 64GB model, you'll probably want to use this as the Windows 8.1 operating system takes up almost 20GB of storage. On the 32GB model, that really doesn't leave you with much space, so I suggest buying a fast 64GB card for your movies and music.

Display

The Encore's 8-inch display has a 1,280x800-pixel resolution, which is a little disappointing considering the stonking 2048x1536-pixel resolution you'd find on the iPad mini. The affordable price of the Encore makes up for it to some extent, but I'd still like to have seen a Full HD display.

The display is reasonably sharp, with well-defined edges on the Windows 8 homescreen, and photos and video look adequate. Small text doesn't look anywhere near as good as it does on the iPad -- if you want to read lots of ebooks, a higher resolution screen would be a good upgrade.

Toshiba Encore
The 1,280x800-pixel resolution is a let down, especially when it's compared to the retina iPad mini.

It's not eye-searingly bright, but it was still usable under our office lights and it has decent colours and viewing angles. It's definitely not a show-stopping display, but it's at least good enough for social networking, YouTube clips and the odd spot of Breaking Bad on Netflix.

Windows 8 software

The Encore packs the full-fat version of Windows 8, rather than the stripped-down, tablet-specific version, Windows RT. Although they look almost identical, with full-fat Windows 8 on board, you can install any standard desktop PC software, such as Spotify, iTunes or VLC Media Player.

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