Toshiba Encore review
8 in 1,280x800 display, 450g, 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z3740, 2.00GB RAM, 64GB disk, Windows 8.1
Now that Windows RT has all but been put out to pasture, manufacturers are beginning to supply the full version of Windows 8 with their Windows tablets. The 8in Toshiba Encore is the latest such tablet. It uses the same Windows 8.1 operating system that you’d see on a desktop PC, and it runs the latest Intel Atom Bay Trail processor, yet the Encore is surprisingly compact.
It’s not as slim as either the iPad Air or the Google Nexus 7, admittedly, but the Encore’s rounded corners and textured rear make it comfortable to hold. The Encore is also light enough to slip in a bag without putting undue strain on your shoulders.
It’s just a shame the curves mean there’s nowhere for a full-size USB port. The Encore does have a microSD card slot, a Micro HDMI video output and a 3.5mm audio jack, but its single micro USB port will predominantly be used for charging. The Encore supports USB On-The-Go (OTG), which is a system that lets you use the Encore with USB peripherals such as a mouse or flash drive, but you can’t connect peripherals and charge the Encore at the same time. The Encore isn’t supplied with an OTG adaptor, so you must buy one separately if you want to connect a mouse, keyboard or USB flash drive.
The Encore comes equipped with an 8-megapixel camera sensor, but it takes mediocre photos that are noisy and somewhat muted. Images were dim even in bright outdoor scenes, although the tablet did at least capture a reasonable amount of detail. Sadly, the Encore doesn’t have a flash.
The Encore’s 8in IPS panel has wide viewing angles and a 1,280x800 resolution, which is large enough to watch native 720p video. However, the Windows Desktop does look rather small on an 8in screen. We also found that the Encore’s glossy screen finish reflected a lot of light back at us.
Toshiba has partnered with Dolby to create the Encore’s stereo speakers, but in practice this doesn’t mean a lot. The speakers are reasonably loud for a tablet, but audio still sounds a little tinny. If you want to enjoy films and music on the Encore you’re better off using headphones.
Toshiba Encore specs
The Intel Atom Z3740 processor that powers the Encore runs at 1.33GHz. It’s a quad-core chip, but an underpowered one; the tablet crawled through our multimedia benchmarks to finish with an overall score of 19. Even so, if you manage your expectations you may be surprised how well it handles programs such as Microsoft Office and Paint.net. 2GB of RAM is enough for basic multitasking, but you’ll quickly notice slowdown if you open many Chrome tabs. The tablet comes with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage depending on the model, but in our 64GB review unit only 52GB was accessible.
Sadly, the Encore isn’t suited to playing modern 3D games, as it only produced an average frame rate of 13.9fps in our Dirt Showdown benchmark at a resolution of 1,280x720 and with graphics quality set to High. However, that’s a better score than we expected, and you should have no problems playing casual games.
The Encore is frugal when it comes to power consumption. The Encore lasted 11 hours and 22 minutes in our light-use test, which rivals some Android tablets. If you don’t perform any tasks that are particularly processor intensive, you should manage a full day’s use on a single charge.