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Digital Life
 
Tablets

Toshiba Encore WT8: A competent and functional tablet

Published on Apr 15, 2014 5:14 AM
 
Toshiba Encore WT8

Windows 8.1 added support for small form factor tablets, namely those with screens of between 7 and 8 inches. The Toshiba Encore WT8 is one of these new 8-inch Windows tablets hoping to reverse the dominance of iOS and Android.

At 435g, the Encore WT8 is heavy for its size. It is about 100g heavier than other 7-inch tablets, such as the Google Nexus 7 or the 7.9-inch iPad mini. It also has a relatively chunky chassis. The back has a textured finish that improves the grip.

The 8-inch screen has a modest 1,280 x 800-pixel resolution. It is usable but there are models with higher resolutions available at similar prices. The screen uses a high performance fringe-field switching panel instead of the typical in-plane switching display variety, but viewing angles are just as good.

The screen is fairly reflective as there is a small air gap between it and the protective glass cover. While some manufacturers are now sticking the protective glass layer to the LCD, known as optical bonding, to make screens more readable, it is not yet the norm.

Based on the placement of the touch-sensitive Windows logo button, Toshiba intended this tablet to be used primarily in portrait mode. In fact, when using it in landscape mode, I kept hitting this key by accident while swiping in from the edge to bring up the Windows 8.1 Charms menu. Perhaps a physical button would have been better than a touch-sensitive one here.

Besides the micro-USB charging port, the Encore has a micro-HDMI slot and a microSD card slot so that the built-in storage can be bumped up by as much as 64GB. It comes with dual cameras, including an 8-megapixel version at the back.

Despite having the latest Intel Atom (Bay Trail) chip, which boasts four processing cores, the Encore's screen switches slowly between portrait and landscape modes. It takes two seconds, at least twice as long as a smartphone typically takes. Loading times for apps are acceptable and the Windows interface is generally responsive.

One of the big draws of a Windows 8.1 tablet is that it is able to run Windows desktop apps, including productivity software, such as Microsoft Office.

The Encore even comes with a free copy of Microsoft's productivity suite. But this tablet is not designed with a keyboard dock, though it works with third-party Bluetooth keyboards. You probably need one to get any serious work done.

Battery life is decent at 8hr 14min, though the Asus Transformer Book T100A lasted more than 12 hours with a similar Intel Atom processor. Both tablets retail for $599, though the Asus is a 10-inch model with a detachable keyboard dock.

  • While the Encore is a competent 8-inch Windows tablet, it may find tough competition from cheaper Android tablets. It could have done with an even better battery life and a keyboard.

vinchang@sph.com.sg

This story was originally published in Digital Life on Jan 22, 2014.

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