Toshiba’s new 10-inch Encore 2 tablet isn’t going to replace your mainstay Windows desktop PC or laptop. But starting at $269, this lightweight machine is worth considering if you’re in the market for an inexpensive portable that can run full Windows 8.
The basic Wi-Fi model runs on an Intel Atom quad core processor and comes with just 1GB of RAM and a 32GB hard drive, a chunk of which is taken up by Windows itself. So there are some compromises. But this is a solid tablet that is terrific for basic tasks. You can surf the Web, use apps and even tap into full-on programs (being mindful of hard drive capacity, of course).
You won’t be working with a heavy-duty video-editing program here. But if you are an iTunes user, for instance, you can install it on this machine and run it quite happily.
It’s quite a versatile wonder in that way.
It comes with a year’s subscription to Office 365 thrown in, normally $69.99 for a one-user account. It weighs just 1.2 pounds and is just a little more than one-third of an inch thick.
The Encore 2 is Toshiba’s refreshed Windows tablet line. It’s out now, at lower prices than the original Encore. The 10-inch model is Toshiba’s first 10-inch Windows 8 tablet. A 2GB RAM/64 GB version is $329.
I didn’t have a lot of prior experience with Windows 8 but quickly grew comfortable flipping between the live tile/app interface and the traditional Windows desktop now that Microsoft has made that simple to do.
You can easily stream or download videos and music. On a recent vacation, a full-length movie I watched looked great and played with no hiccups. The display is 1280 x 800 resolution, terrific for everyday viewing. I didn’t perform a battery test, but it seems on par with others in its class. A detail review on TechTensity.
As with most other tablets, the accessory ports on the Encore 2 are of the “mini” variety: Micro HDMI, micro USB 2.0 and micro SD (for expanding storage).
I ran into minor issues with the touch-screen occasionally jumping into “pinch and zoom” mode when all I really wanted to do was scroll, but otherwise I found the experience smooth.
What’s fun about this tablet is the way you can trick it out with a couple of accessories and turn it into a really nice on-the-go machine that can get real work done. I used my unit with a Bluetooth keyboard cover Toshiba supplied (it will be available in September) and paired the tablet with my own Bluetooth mouse that doesn’t require a dongle. (There are a couple of keyboard options out now and running on promotion until Sept. 1.)
I found myself spending a lot of time in desktop mode surfing the Web on Google’s Chrome browser (Internet Explorer comes pre-installed, of course) and going about my business much as a I would on my at-work Dell laptop.
Bottom line: Its sweet-spot pricing and versatility make the Encore 2 an attractive option.