back to article Toshiba Encore: The Windows 8.1 tablet that might catch on

Windows tablets have hardly set the world on fire. Limp processors, confusion in the mind of Joe Public over the difference between Windows proper and Windows RT, plus a lack of apps for the user-interface-once-known-as-Metro have all combined to dampen enthusiasm. Toshiba Encore Windows 8.1 tablet Mighty Atom: Toshiba's …


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  1. dogged


    I think, on the whole the Asus Vivotab Note is a more useful affair. Same processor, same plus points, same OS but also Wacom touch panel and a stylus built into the slab.

    A tablet you can actually take useful notes on? Yeah, that could sell.

    Of course, call me mental but I'd actually be more tempted by a Windows RT version due to battery life. With that cut-down OS and a Qualcomm SoC I'd basically have a Kindle I could sketch on and that's tempting.

    1. Craigness


      What about Galaxy Note?

      1. dogged

        Re: Noted

        No Wacom digitizer. Have you tried drawing with a capacitative pen? Awful.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Noted

          Interesting, the Galaxy Note I use uses the same Wacom stylus as my ATVI Windows tablet...

          1. dogged

            Re: Noted

            Does it? That is interesting, thanks.

            1. csumpi
              Thumb Up

              Re: Noted

              The Note 8 has a full on pressure sensitive Wacom stylus/hardware. Works incredibly well with Autodesk's Sketchbook. It's not the crappy battery required capacitive stuff.

              Same goes for my Note 2.

  2. Buzzword

    Better spec than many laptops

    "It may only have a resolution of 1280 x 800"

    - That's still 32 vertical pixels more than the usual rubbish x 768 laptops we see. And a solid state drive, all for only £299. Impressive.

  3. Slacker@work

    Just hang on a moment...

    Rounded corners and a touch screen?? Where have I heard that before?

    IP lawyers please form an orderly queue...

    1. Martin Huizing

      Re: Just hang on a moment...

      Bringing up rounded corners and lawsuits is so... 2009...

      1. jinx3y

        Re: Just hang on a moment...

        ...but still relevant (if apple can be distracted from Samsung for a minute...)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bay Trail Goodness

    I bought an Asus Transformer Book T100, last week, as a cheap way for this Mac head to fart about with Windows 8.1. Like the Tosh reviewed here, it's cheap and nasty on the outside, but actually performs very well. Surprisingly, I find I enjoy being able to sit at my desk and type, mouse and touch at the same time.

    Oh, and Windows 8.1? I quite like it. It could do with a few refinements, but the touch interface is mostly very nice. The ability to drop to the desktop, and run (bundled) Office, is a big bonus!

    So, why the hell are Microsoft sell peddling RT???

    1. dogged

      Re: Bay Trail Goodness

      > So, why the hell are Microsoft sell peddling RT???

      Because %shitload hours "normal" use, basically. Plus that also has a desktop and Office bundled and usually for less money.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bay Trail Goodness

        Erm, you get a shit load of hours "normal" use, with a Bay Trail equipped laptop/tablet (10+ hours, without even having to piss about with the screen brightness). Oh, and you get full Office that really is full office (not to mention the options of a shit load of stuff that RT will never run).


        1. dogged

          Re: Bay Trail Goodness

          All true.

          I suppose it's handy for your kids/students/computer illiterate relatives though, since good luck infecting a Windows RT box with malware.

          Also.. less money.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bay Trail Goodness

            "I suppose it's handy for your kids/students/computer illiterate relatives though."

            Surely this comment was aimed at the iPad?

            That's the advice I always give to people. If the end user is computer illiterate, get them a "fisher price" OS, "i"something is perfect for them.

            1. cambsukguy

              Re: Bay Trail Goodness

              Suitable for the uninitiated is true for an iPad but also suitable for a surface, or possibly this device, more so in fact.

              The difference with a Surface RT is as previous posters have noted, the knowledge that they won't be installing anything dangerous. iPads are probably less so mainly because of these in-app purchase type things rather than actual malware.

              But, WinRT and Win8 proper have real users with control given to administrators such that where they surf etc. is controlled and limited as required. Time using apps, the computer, everything. And, while this may exist on an iPad (I have never looked), it isn't there by default upon account creation using one, single checkbox as it was when I added accounts for my kids on a Surface.

              But, unlike a full Win8 machine or tablet, the RT could be left for them to do pretty much anything they want and it will hardly ever need a look-see (three months so far for my kids one).

              As far as I know, an iPad can surf p0rn straight out of the box and therefore needs attention immediately from someone knowledgeable to ensure it is used correctly - I dread to think what many kids see on their open smartphones because their parents/guardians just hand it over unprotected.

              And, a shill is someone taking a cut or getting paid, since I am neither, I must be someone with a simply different opinion, sorry about that.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Bay Trail Goodness

        I get between 10 and 11 hours normal use (around 8 - 9 YouTube hours) out of my Atom based Samsung ATIV SmartPC 500 tablet...

    2. Youngdog

      Re: Bay Trail Goodness

      Picked up a T100 to replace the wife's aging Dell Inspiron and very impressed with it. The Bay Trail CPU and Flash storage makes the full Office 2013 very snappy and the touchscreen is also winning me over to 8.1! I got hold of the US model with 64GB so apart from the KB layout my only gripe is the UK market is stuck with the 32GB version

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Youngdog

          Re: C:\> autoshill.bat

          Ah - that explains the downvotes on my previous comments!

          You are more than welcome to peruse my previous posts and decide if I am a shill (though my comments regarding Win8 in Enterprise space might leave you with an unreconcilable mental schism).

          Do note that you are able to do this by virtue of me having an account here for a number of years and not being a cowardly anon.

          1. Martin Huizing

            Re: C:\> autoshill.bat

            Who in their right mind would call their child Youngdog? I mean, that is your real name, right?

            1. sabroni Silver badge

              Re: C:\> autoshill.bat

              For the hard of thinking, you don't need to use your "real" name to have an account here. Accounts allow other users to see all your post. If you want to read all Youngdog's posts you can. Posting anon means you can only judge each individual post, even if you find a sequence that appears to be from one anon.

              It's really not that difficult to understand.

      2. Steve Knox

        Re: Bay Trail Goodness

        Picked up a T100 to replace the wife's aging Dell Inspiron and very impressed with it.

        Good choice. I went with the T800. Would not recommend.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bay Trail Goodness

      With RT, the application installation is tightly locked. So unless you have enterprise version or side load keys, apps will have to go through market place.

      Forcing users to Windows APP Store can help triple dipping on the platform as:

      - License fee to OEMs

      - Development license fee to developers,

      - App sales commission to end users / developers.

      In additional they might have tried sweetened the deal to OEMs by locking software / hardware upgrades making user upgrades impossible to force device replacement with certain OS release cycles.

      How many tablets from 2-3 years ago are still performing well as opposed to PC's laptops from 5-7 years ago.

      And if people don't have alternative software distribution options, then the main channel will be popular by lack of choice.

      This issue is widely discussed and here is one from The Register:

      Another discussion:

      As RT editions are almost obsolete hopefully MS will be interested in addressing such concerns.

      1. dogged

        Re: Bay Trail Goodness

        > With RT, the application installation is tightly locked. So unless you have enterprise version or side load keys, apps will have to go through market place.

        Which means I don't have to uninstall spyware and four billion browser toolbars from somebody's tablet.

        That's a good thing.

        If you don't want it, fair enough. You'll just have to uninstall your own toolbars.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bay Trail Goodness

          It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

          If natural selection is bad, an alternative would be OS restricting such installations by default.

          Those who prefer can deactivate the settings and use the device they have paid for to full extent.

          To that extent, win 8 pro machines somewhat provide this option and major OEMs have dropped support for RT versions.

          At least such CPU's make it possible to provide best of both worlds to users.

    4. csumpi

      Re: Bay Trail Goodness

      "So, why the hell are Microsoft sell peddling RT???"

      Because they are not yet ready to admit what a huge ass mistake RT was.

  5. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A word of advice to tablet makers

    Screen size and price.

    When Joe Public goes tabby shopping, those are the only two factors he/she/it cares about.

    Screen size and price. That's all.

    Android? Windows? It matters not.

    Microsoft? Google? matters even less.

    Technical stuff? it's just noise.

    It's a given that any tablet will play vids, music, stream TV, have a camera or two, play any of the top games, access FB Twitter and all that malarky - oh: and browse stuff. Users won't even check those and if the tablet can't do it - back to the shop it goes.

    Screen size and price.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: A word of advice to tablet makers

      Yeah, that's why Apple are selling untold millions of tablets with the same screen size as their competitors, but anything from 30% to 300% more expensive.

      Storage and 3G are major factors even for Joe Public.

      1. dogged

        Re: A word of advice to tablet makers

        I think that's down to iTunes and specifically people who already have large media libraries.

        If I had a large iTunes library, I'd look at getting an iThing. Sadly, that would require WINE under debian and mean running the Windows version which is effectively malware by any sane standards anyway. Not gonna happen.

        But an awful lot of people are less picky about their software than I am.

        Of course, some people have Macs. But statistically, not enough people (4.8% of total install base?) to warrant the popularity of iPads.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A word of advice to tablet makers

          I have a large iTunes library, which syncs perfectly with my Android device using iSyncr.

          Of course, they may have ported iSyncr to Windows Phone; if so, fair play to them.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A word of advice to tablet makers

        "Storage and 3G are major factors even for Joe Public."

        Local storage, how very noughties. You'll be talking about SD cards next.

        How quaint. Puts me in mind of a VCR.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: A word of advice to tablet makers

          "Local storage, how very noughties. You'll be talking about SD cards next.

          How quaint. Puts me in mind of a VCR."

          Joe Public hasn't caught up with cloud storage yet, and most tablets don't have 3G. Good luck listening to music and watching video on the bus without local storage.

        2. Adam 1

          Re: A word of advice to tablet makers

          >Local storage, how very noughties

          You maybe right in a few years, but right now 4G data plans just don't cut it for synching video.

      3. James 51

        Re: A word of advice to tablet makers

        Perhaps not but they will be for a lot of el reg readers.

        1. jinx3y

          Re: A word of advice to tablet makers

          as an insanely small percentage of tablet users worldwide...

  6. James 51

    These are very tempting but until they have the 64-bit version with at least 4gb of ram I'll keep a hold of my money.

    1. Chemist

      AFAIK the processor is 64 bit

      1. James 51

        Almost certainly but the copy of windows is 32-bit. I read in a review for another tablet they're waiting for 64-bit drivers before releasing the 64-bit windows tablets (although that doesn't mean we'll necessary get the extra ram).

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          64 bit, why would you?

          I think the spec sheet for the processor says that it's 64 bit capable and can address 4 GB RAM, but this tablet only has 2 GB. As far as I know, there was and is no point in installing 64-bit Windows unless you have at least 4 GB RAM: it won't do anything that the 32-bit version won't do. At least, not anything that you want to do on a personal computer or a tablet. So, if they can fit more RAM into this thing, then maybe 64-bit Windows is a reasonable option.

          I mean: is there a more secure version of Flash Player for 64-bit?

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          ....I think last year's Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro 700T is a tablet with 64-bit Windows, on an Intel i5 CPU, with 4 GB RAM.

  7. JDX Gold badge

    "to use the Encore as PC you really need a good Bluetooth keyboard "

    Why? What's wrong with USB... you can plug in a regular £5 keyboard and mouse, right?

    1. James 51

      Re: "to use the Encore as PC you really need a good Bluetooth keyboard "

      I forgot to add a full sized usb3 port to my list of things I'd like to see. This has a single micro usb port so you'd need some kind of adapter going to a hub.

      1. Arctic fox

        @James 51 "..... full sized usb3 port to my list of things......."

        I entirely agree. In fact I am a little surprised that Toshiba did not take advantage of this tablets thickness to do just that. I understand the use of mini ports (usb and hdmi) where one of the crucial design themes is slimness but I do not understand it here.

      2. JDX Gold badge

        Re: "to use the Encore as PC you really need a good Bluetooth keyboard "

        If you want to use a proper keyboard, the extra bulk of a mini-hub doesn't seem a big deal. You could presumably even get a keyboard with microUSB, which has its own USB hub built in?

    2. Al Taylor

      Re: "to use the Encore as PC you really need a good Bluetooth keyboard "

      Yes, cabled keyboards and mice work just fine but you need a USB/micro USB adapter or a hub if you want to connect anything else at the same time. Given the absence of a full sized USB port I'd suggest Bluetooth is the best option.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the overall thickness of the thing. At nearly 11mm, it's much more chunky than the competing iPad or Nexus kit and weighing in at 450g too, it’s hardly what you’d call light either."

    Why do you journos always insist on comparing a windows tablet to an iPad? They are not the same thing! You know it. I know it. The plebs out their don't and actually give credence to what you say!

    That windows tablet is a fully fledged PC in your hand.

    That iPad is a shiny toy giving sad people a life (or so the ad men tell them, after all they have to justify the fact that they're being mugged).

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Because people are choosing between touch-based form factor devices. W8 tablets do far more than an iPad, but iPad is much smaller. These are valid comparisons because people are buying them for similar purposes.

    2. Al Taylor

      Fair comment, but the point I was making was that on a purely aesthetic basis the Toshiba doesn't match the likes of the Nexus 7 Mk. 2 or the iPad mini. Feel free to argue that aesthetics are irrelevant or that the different OSs predicate a different consumer expectation but in my opinion for £300 the Encore could and should be a thinner, lighter and generally smarter looking bit of kit.

  9. Wang N Staines


    Hahahaaaahaaaa ...

  10. P0l0nium

    Why are we talking about this .....?

    Why this, now? when in 1 working day at MWC in Barcelona Intel will announce the "fixed" 64 bit version of Windows on Bay Trail and probably a slew of upgraded lookalike tablets with extra performance and RAM.

    Just sayin'

    1. Al Taylor

      Re: Why are we talking about this .....?

      ....speaking personally, because I can't review something that doesn't exist.

      1. P0l0nium

        Re: Why are we talking about this .....?

        It does now ...

  11. Jess

    That windows tablet is a fully fledged PC in your hand.

    But surely when you are running fully windows programs, unless you have a keyboard and mouse, they will be horrible to use. (Having tried citrix on a playbook).

    (Or possibly a big screen plugged into it, and use the tablet in place of the keyboard).

    As a tablet it will be a second rate device. (Bigger heavier, possibly poorer battery life. And as yet a poorer selection of apps.)

    I can't see it being a better option than an android/ipad/playbook and keeping the old laptop or desktop for occasional legacy windows program.

    1. James 51

      Re: That windows tablet is a fully fledged PC in your hand.

      Windows only drm is the main reason to use it over a playbook.

  12. 404


    Still prefer my laptops for surfing/working-> easier to balance a laptop pretty much anywhere. My Kindles (Original, HD, HDX) run Kitkat and are good for entertainment (Clash of Clans... stupid game yet addicting lol - those Kindles make excellent vanilla Android tablets).

    Laptops run Win8pro, desktops on Win7. Really my only bitch is I'd really like my laptops to have touchscreens (note to self, go get a couple of touchscreen laptops)... when running tablets and laptops in tandem, there is a definite WTF moment when I start tapping on the laptop screen and nothing happens... stupid human tricks, eh?


  13. Zog_but_not_the_first

    Keep taking the tablets

    Having just typed in dozens of long and complex Excel formulae on my laptop I find the notion that anyone can do useful work on a tablet laughable. Great for watching films and checking emails and web browsing, but work?

    And a sales and marketing presentation on a fondleslab in the pub isn't work.

    1. Mike Moyle

      Re: Keep taking the tablets

      "...I find the notion that anyone can do useful work on a tablet laughable."

      I REALLY wish that people would at least have the intellectual honesty to preface comments like these with "For the kind of work that *I* do...". Of course, that would kind of dilute the supposed universality of their pronouncements.

      For some of us, something like THIS is real, paying, professional work that keeps a roof overhead and food and drink on the table:

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: For some of us

        Yeah, for SOME of you.

        The rest of us have to work with Word and Excel.

        Oh, and the video is unavailable.

  14. GXH

    I recenty bought an 18 inch Windows tablet . . seriously.

    I'd long wanted a Honking Big Windows tablet - mostly for reading in my La-Z-Boy recliner! (Hey - I'm from the USA!). Purchased a Dell XPS 18, with its most powerful processor. Officially, it is an All-In-One (all components in one thingie) and has a battery. Result - real happiness, can download & read newspapers the old-fashioned way (easily) and now read from my ginormous library of PDFs - lots of books & reports & so on. Pictures are awesome.

    It's a beautiful elegant-looking thing, really, and works well in my lap. Its 5-lb weight simply is not a problem since I'm not holding it aloft. Display is wonderful, and scrolling works wonderfully well with a fingertip.

    It does come with a nice stand for regular-PC-type use (thing looks like it could hold up my car if it had to), a chicklety but surprisingly nice wireless keyboard, and wireless mouse. External CD-ROM/DVD reader is optional.

    Disclaimer: while it comes with 8.1, I mostly use it like I would Windows 7. With care, I can do most stuff with a fingertip instead of mouse. If I really need a mouse, I have a small clipboard I perch on my right chair arm, and then mouse away. (Yes, I do have Office 2010 installed on it.)

    Drawbacks: It is not cheap, no not at all. I think this thing is a bit of a ground-breaker, but you do pay for it.

    Flaws: For serious lap usage, the air cooling vents should be at the TOP, not the damn bottom. Requires a bit of care. ALSO - for use as a tablet when turning the screen vertically - the USB ports should be on the same side as the power switch! (This would enable reading files / PDFs from a USB stick without having to transfer the file to the PC itself.)

    Compared to an Apple iPad (we do have an extensively used iPad), it is still the typical Windows vs Apple situation, only now there is a much handier Windows device to use. (Wife, who uses her iPad a LOT, both personally and professionally, is liking the XPS more and more, but would probably just use them both, depending on the task at hand.)

    Why am I sounding somewhat like a Dell shill??? (Not - I paid full retail!!) It's because I'm not sure they know what they have here - they are marketing it as an easily transportable full PC (which it is) but not really pushing it as a Windows tablet, I think it has much potential, and it really does seem to be an elegant piece of kit that deserves some recognition.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: I recenty bought an 18 inch Windows tablet . . seriously.

      Actually I get this, as I suspect does any one who followed the work at Palto Alto in the 80's on "ubiquitous computing" and in more recent times has had dealings with SMART interactive whiteboards and the MS Surface (now known as MS PixelSense).

      I hadn't come across the Dell big tablet but have used the Lenovo Flex; which surprisingly, given it runs Win8, Lenovo had to add a table mode UI so that when used horizontally the UI has echo's of the MS Surface/PixelSense UI.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...I’d strongly suggest forking out the extra £50 for the 64GB machine... If you have only 32GB to start with, then things will get very tight, very fast. Sure you can use the up to 32GB capacity micro SD to pick up some of the slack but I’m always happier with a decent wedge of built-in storage."

    Are we living in the early 2000s still (2004 Ipod had 40gb)? I just saw I can get a usb 64GB cards/sticks for a tenner. £50 for 32gb, or limited to 32gb expandable seems insane. :(

    PS, by the buyer reviews (Ebuyer etc), it seems very buggy and broken. :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "PS, by the buyer reviews (Ebuyer etc), it seems very buggy and broken. :("

      really? on eBuyer it has an overall rating on 7.6/10 and every "problem" I see listed there is covered in this review.

      PS.. :( What are you, 12?

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Presumably SSD is a better grade than USB stick?

      I assume that SSD is built more robustly than USB memory, and also has higher performance. For instance, "wear levelling" logic extends the useable life of your memory.

      Also, the cost of a larger installed storage option to the end-user is liable to be more than the difference in cost of two storage devices. System builders make a profit.

      However, your prices for USB memory seem to me too-good-to-be-true. Maybe that's wholesale and you get a truckload of them. Or maybe they're fakes; it happens.

      I'm kind of puzzled that no one seems to be offering non-binary unit sizes on SSD. I've got a tablet with 64 GB, I don't need 128 but I could have used 96. (Of course you don't actually get a power of two as the capacity. I don't know all the details of why.) Now I guess they don't need to sell a 96 GB unit, I could just fit a 64 GB and a 32 GB side by side - if there's room in my device - and format them as one if I want to. But usually there isn't room.

  16. Kem

    Five days of experience with the Toshiba Encore 8 ..

    OK, I am completely dazzled with this tablet, for the price.

    With a speedy processor, good touch feel, nice screen (I was expecting crappy!) and Windows 8.1.

    For the past few days, I have been setting up the tablet like my Windows 7 (64) desktop. With 32GB external sd (D: drive) I have been able to make it a terrific little! travel device. And for under $300. DropBox and One(Sky)Drive mean I can get my files wherever there is wireless.

    When I need to do some serious work with it, a Logitech unity wireless lets me run my keyboard and mouse.

    Even better, when I plug the HDMI into my monitor, I have dual screens. (granted, I don't use the tablet screen in that case.) There is nothing major I have found that doesn't work to my satisfaction. I'm even beginning to understand Windows 8 and how much it's designed for touch devices.

    So, It's not going to replace my desktop, but it's great to have all those features with me when I travel. I also have a Google Nexus 10 which I love along with my Galaxy S4. For 80% of things, the Nexus is beautiful, but there are just those things that I need Windows for.

    Maybe a follow-up, I'll see.

    1. Kem

      Re: Five days of experience with the Toshiba Encore 8 ..


      I didn't mention that I have uninstalled the free Student Office and installed Office 365 so it syncs with all my other devices. After installing Office, Photoshop Elements 12, 5GB of pictures and music, etc, etc., I still have 10GB of storage (C:) and 23GB on the external (D:) drive. The 32GB micro SD was included in the <$300 price.

      I see complaints about no 'type A USB' but what's the big deal about a 3" micro to regular USB.

  17. Sandy Ritchie

    I've got one of these, only its the piddling 32gb model. What I like about is that I can stick a 64gb card (yes not a 32gb) in it and store my media stuff on there meaning big "metro" apps can on the built in memory. If your installing a Windows "proper" app you can define where it installs, i.e. the D:\ drive micro SD.

    It might not be as pretty as an ipad, it might not be as light as an Android tab (nexus etc) but what it does have up its sleave is its FULL windows. Plug the micro HDMI into your screen, a OTG cable into a USB hub and then connect your mouse/keyboard combo and bobs your mothers brother, you've got a fully fledged PC. I've done this on several occasions now.

    I do miss 3G built in (my old Galaxy Tab P1000) has this, but then it connects quite happily to my BB Z10 hotspot.

    All I need now is for someone to confirm if a Fitbit Flex will work on the desktop app with the built in BT4.0 and my computing life will be complete, in the meantime I'll just connect my Fitbit Ultra dock to the OTG once a day.

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