One of the things that I have missed since leaving the iOS wilderness has been a tablet device. I loved my iPad Air and I increasingly found that I was having to schlep around my Windows powered MacBook for what I use to do on my iPad. With Black Friday coming up last week, I decided to pick up an inexpensive Windows tablet to fill the gap. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money in case I absolutely hated the experience and thought it would be a good launch point for a more advanced tablet if I wanted to go that route. In that vein I ended up getting the Toshiba Encore 2 for a mere $132 from Amazon. At that price, I didn’t expect a lot nor was I in deep cost wise if I hated it.
After a couple of days of using the Encore 2, I have to say that I am quite pleased with the purchase and you can still get it for a great price of $149 at the Microsoft Store. For that price it’s hard to beat.
On the surface, the Encore 2 isn’t anything special from a specifications perspective. I picked up the 8″ display model which like the 10″ model is powered by the Intel Atom Quad-Core processor and 1GB of RAM. I have the 32GB of built-in storage model but you
can get one with 64GB for a bit more. The Encore 2 comes with a MicroSD slot which accepts up to a 128GB card so additional storage is not an issue. Display wise you have a 800×1280 view with 189 PPI. Powering all of this is Windows 8.1 with Bing, the low cost version of Windows for OEMs. Feature wise, this is Windows 8.1 so don’t fall under the impression that this is a limited version of Windows. It is not and with the exception of some of the Professional version features like Bit Locker, it is “real” Windows.
Having used the Encore 2 for a couple of days now, there are a couple of things that stand out to me already. First, is the display. Frankly, I was expecting a horrible, pixel laden screen that was painful to view after a few minutes. I have to say it has been the complete opposite. The display on the unit is crisp and clean and even viewing close up you don’t see big pixels. As I write this article on the Encore 2, I have not had any issues viewing the screen almost non-stop for the last hour and a bit. The colors on the screen are vibrant and rich with blacks and whites both deep and pure in tone.
My second positive impression has been the battery life. I carried the Encore 2 with me all day today and did not charge it. by the end of the day I had nearly 30% battery left despite nearly hourly email checks, a fair amount of surfing and even a little bit of Age of Empires Castle Siege action. With the tablet running Windows 8.1, I wasn’t expecting great battery performance but have been pleasantly surprised.
When it comes to typing on the Encore 2 I have found it to be quite comfortable using the screen-based keyboard. it is certainly not big enough to do proper touch typing (not for me at least) but not so cramped that you have joint pain after using it for a few minute. This is aided of course by the responsiveness of the keyboard built into Windows 8.1.
I plan on having a formal review of the Encore 2 in a week or two after I have a chance to put it through more paces. That said, so far, I am impressed with it and certainly find it a great value.
You can pick up a Toshiba Encore 2 from the Microsoft Store for $149. That is for the 8″ display, 32GB unit.