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Posts tagged ‘Tablet’


Laptop and tablet deals of the week: 4.11.14

Laptops allow you to get work done on the go and tablets are certainly nice to have around, but the price of admission for both can be a significant investment. That’s where we come in. We’ve compiled a list of tempting options for both of those categories, all with price cuts that’ll tempt wallets. Jump down past the break and take a look for yourself and start the weekend with a new gadget purchase.

If there are other laptops that you’re after that we haven’t included here — join us and add them to your “Want” list. Every time there’s a price cut in the future, you’ll get an email alert!

Acer Aspire S7-392

Price: $1,250
Regular Price: $1,350
Engadget Score: 87
Buy: Amazon

Acer’s refreshed S7 Ultrabook took care of most of our concerns from the original model, but those looking to opt in were still faced with paying more for specs that lower-priced options offered. Now, the laptop is seeing a $100 discount, so the financial burden has been eased a bit. Of course, you’ll have to be a fan of white gadgets, too.

MacBook Pro with Retina display

Price: $1,885
Regular Price: $1,999
Buy: Amazon

With the next wave of Apple laptops likely on the way in the coming months, 2013′s models are sure to see price cuts. If you can’t wait though, you can grab a little over $100 off on the late-2013 editions of the MacBook Pro with Retina display. It may not seem like much of a break on a $2,000 laptop, but discounts on Cupertino’s goods are hard to come by before new versions are announced.

Dell Venue 11 Pro

Price: $484
Regular Price: $500
Engadget Global Score: 81
Buy: Provantage

Dell’s Bay Trail-powered Venue 11 Pro hit shelves just a few months ago, and it’s already seeing price cuts. That said, a few dollars off of a relatively new device is certainly worth a look. If you can hold off for a bit, our price history tool indicates that even deeper savings were seen just a few weeks ago.

Nexus 10

Price: $355
Regular Price: $500
Engadget Score: 72
Buy: Amazon

The Nexus 10 is out of stock directly from Google, but not to worry because we’re seeing discounts at other retailers. Just over $350 nets you stock Android on a 32GB 10-inch slate that packs a massive 2,560 x 1,600 resolution. So if you don’t mind a 2012 model, you might consider giving this option a long hard look.

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Lenovo Announces New A-Series Android Tablets with May Launch


With the budget-conscious in mind, Lenovo has announced a new trifecta of android tablets focused on work and play.  These A-Series tablets, as Lenovo VP Shao Tao puts it, “is designed to meet the demands of today’s young, active users who are always on the go, and have lifestyle requirements that are as diverse as their own personalities.”

Pricing starts out low, but there is a good reason for that.  Starting at $129, these tablets don’ t come off as top spec’ed powerhouses.  The specs are modest at best with MediaTek quad-core processors and 1GB of RAM under the hood.  The tablets’ will also sport 4.2 JellyBean at launch.  Rounding out the specifications is 16GB of onboard storage, front and rear cameras and 1280X800 displays.

The new Lenovo tablets will debut in May and come in the 7, 8, and 10 inch varieties with the 7 inch tablet focused on reading and web surfing, the 8 inch dedicated to media consumption, and the 10 inch designed for work and relaxation.

Lenovo, ZDNet

The post Lenovo Announces New A-Series Android Tablets with May Launch appeared first on AndroidGuys.


Best Buy Offering up to $300 Gift Card for Phone or Tablet Trade-In.


Do you have an old phone or tablet lying around collecting dust, or are you just ready to upgrade to the latest and greatest in tech? If this is the case, Best Buy has a promotion that just may interest you.

They’re calling it “The Great Tech Refresh”, and they are offering up to a $300 Best Buy gift card for your used smartphone or tablet. All you need to do is go to Best Buy’s website and click the “learn more” option next to the gift card promotion. There, you can click the link and follow the instructions to get the estimated value of your device.

For instance, I priced my Sony Xperia Tablet Z and was pleasantly surprised that Best Buy offered me a $240 gift card for it. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary. This offer is in-store only.

The promotion started this week, and is in this week’s paper advertisement with no set end date. I’m certain this is a limited time offer, so get this deal if/while you can.

The post Best Buy Offering up to $300 Gift Card for Phone or Tablet Trade-In. appeared first on AndroidGuys.


Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 ‘Geek’ bundle includes free Xbox controller and games

If you’ve considered the Surface Pro 2 to be more than just a portable workstation, then Microsoft’s latest tablet bundle might pique your interest. In collaboration with online culture show Geek & Sundry, the company has quietly pushed live a new gaming deal on its virtual store in the US and Canada that throws in $105 worth of free games and accessories. For $899, the price of the base 64GB Surface Pro 2 model that’s already included, you’ll also get a wireless Xbox 360 controller and two games: Farming Simulator 2013 and a premium pack for free-to-play WWII flying simulator War Thunder Mustang. To be clear, neither title will ever vie for any gaming awards, but you can’t argue with free, right? Microsoft intends to run the offer until May 1st or until stocks run out, whichever comes sooner, so if you’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to grab yourself a Surface Pro 2, now might be the time to click in.

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Via: Ubergizmo

Source: Microsoft Store


Blizzard takes a stab at mobile gaming, brings its free card game to the iPad

Hearthstone on iPad

Blizzard hasn’t really had a presence in mobile gaming… not unless you think the Authenticator is rip-roaring entertainment, anyway. However, the developer is giving the category an honest try today by releasing Hearthstone for the iPad. Much like on the desktop, the free-to-play card game lets you fight both real and virtual opponents as you build up a collection of Warcraft-themed minions and spells. Decks sync between devices, so you won’t have to start from scratch. The title is currently available on the App Store in Australia, Canada and New Zealand; more countries are coming soon, and those using Android, iPhones and Windows tablets can also expect to play in the near future. The iPad app isn’t likely to replicate the off-the-charts success of Blizzard’s PC titles, but the company has to start somewhere. And besides, we’ve seen the problems that some major game producers have faced after downplaying the importance of phones and tablets — Blizzard may be wise to cover its bases.

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Via: AppAdvice

Source: App Store, Blizzard


Windows will be free on phones, small tablets and the Internet of Things

Windows will be free on small devices

It turns out that those rumors of Microsoft cutting Windows prices to spur adoption were true — and then some. The company has announced that Windows will be free for hardware makers to use on phones, tablets with screens under nine inches and Internet of Things devices. Suffice it to say that this is a huge move for a tech giant whose operating system licensing is arguably its bread and butter. Microsoft is obviously willing to take a financial hit to compete against Android, Chrome OS and other freely available platforms.

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KitKat’s share of Android devices more than doubles to 5.3 percent

Android version share in April 2014

After months of treading water, Android 4.4 KitKat is finally taking off. Google reports that 5.3 percent of Android users are running the newer OS version as of early April; that’s more than twice the 2.5 percent that it claimed one month earlier. There’s no official explanation for the jump, but it’s most likely thanks to a wave of KitKat upgrades from HTC, LG and Samsung. Most older versions lost share as a result. It could be a long, long time before KitKat overtakes Jelly Bean (which dipped to 61.4 percent), but the transition is under way — and it’s only likely to accelerate now that flagships like the Galaxy S5 and new One are reaching store shelves.

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Source: Android Developers


Lenovo’s latest budget Android tablets focus on high-quality audio

Lenovo Tab A8-50 tablet

If Samsung’s new Galaxy Tabs aren’t your cup of tea, Lenovo may have the budget tablets you’re looking for. It just unveiled four entry-level Android slates that expand on the sound quality focus we saw in last year’s models. The Tab A7-30, A7-50, A8 and A10 all have Dolby audio that should improve your small-screen movie experience. They also have “responsive” (if unnamed) quad-core processors, too. You’re mostly choosing devices based on screen sizes. The A7-30 has a basic 7-inch display and optional cellular support, while the A7-50 jumps to HD and throws in a 2-megapixel front camera; move to the A8 and you’ll get an 8-inch panel, while the A10 includes (you guessed it) a 10-inch display. Lenovo plans to ship the new Tab A-series worldwide in the second quarter of the year, with UK prices ranging from a frugal £100 ($166) for an A7-30 to a still quite affordable £170 ($283) for an A10. There’s no mention of a US launch for the new A-series so far, but we’ve reached out for more details. We’ll let you know if these starter tablets reach American shores.

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Verizon Samsung Galaxy Note Pro LTE review


Samsung has really outdone themselves in sticking to their Galaxy line’s mantra “The Next Big Thing”

With a gorgeous 12.2 inch display this device will confuse most lay-people who witness you using it in public because, ”I didn’t know they made iPads that big!”

Using the device at first is complete joy, I found myself grinning from ear to ear just in awe of the size of the thing. Aside from its weight, web browsing and reading are great. I really like the soft-touch, leather textured rubber of the back panel. On a device so big and unprecedented in the Android world, I didn’t find the TouchWiz UI to be overbearing or annoying at all, but mostly because when dealing with a totally new form-factor, it’s easy to keep an open mind.

My only real complaint about Samsung’s design choices here are the fixed capacitive buttons and home key. Although it’s nice to have the extra screen real-estate from the lack of navigation bar, the fixed buttons get in the way when holding the device in portrait mode. It feels a bit like being treated like an iOS user “You’re going to use this the way we want you to use it, and any other way is wrong.” They could redeem themselves in the next model if they added invisible navigation buttons to all four sides of the bezel and only allowing which ever side of the bezel is currently at that the bottom light up or respond to touch.

After a week or so of use, the device had lost most it’s grandeur. I all but stopped using it for pleasure and only picked it up when I had to work the go. It is the best Android-powered solution for mobile work productivity. It seems that a screen this size is the first place multi-window and split screen apps have really found a home. I am able to have Gmail and Hangouts open sharing half of the screen and Chrome working on the other half, with the small movable Swype keyboard, working was a dream, and each app had plenty of real-estate to be able appreciate all of it’s features and see all text.

I didn’t find myself reaching for the S-Pen often because Swyping is much faster for input, and for some reason the links in Chrome would tend to get confused when the S-Pen was out and stop responding to finger touches, so I was never able to get a proper taste for it.

Overall the Note Pro is great for productivity, but that’s about all. It’s fun to see apps on the bigger screen, but since displays this size aren’t common, developers haven’t yet started catering to this size. Most of the time, you’re just going to be looking at a magnified version of what you’re used to seeing on your 10.1 inch tablet.


If you’re familiar with the 2014 Note 10.1, the hardware looks exactly the same, but larger. The top center, directly above the Samsung logo you’ll find the IR blaster, to the left are the volume rocker and power key. On the right hand side of the device the S-Pen can be removed from the top corner above the the right speaker. Then the USB 3.0 slot in the center, above a MicroSD slot and SIM slot. The bottom side is smooth and clean. The left holds only the 3.5 mm headphone jack directly opposite the S-Pen above the left speaker.

The front of the device is a black slate with the capacitive multi-tasking button to the left of the hard home key and balanced by the capacitive back button. Even thought they’re backwards, at least Samsung has taken a step in the right direction replacing the menu button with the multi-tasking key.


As I said, TouchWiz doesn’t feel overbearing on this device, but mostly because you can’t be sure what to expect from such a device, so Samsung had free reign to set the bar wherever they wanted. Their stock keyboard feels great, and with the screen-size, you’ll feel like you’re actually typing on a full-sized keyboard for the first time on an Android tablet.

They didn’t try hard enough to jack up the resolution, so a icons, apps, fonts and settings all tend to feel large and toy-like. the worst offender is the notification shade in portrait mode, it takes up the entire screen like a phone.

Verizon LTE

If you read my review of the Verizon LG G Pad 8.3 LTE, you’ll recognize this, but as they are both Verizon devices, I can’t rightly publish the review without touching on the data connection!

Let’s talk about having 4G LTE on your tablet. I admit, up until I reviewed this unit, I was one of those people who preached against tablets with dedicated data lines. “Just use your phone as a hotspot!” I would say. But I have to say, having that data connection all the time has won me over. How best to do this? Numbered list!

Reasons to have a dedicated Verizon data line on your tablet

  1. No hotspot set-up
  2. Lower drain on your phone’s data plan (might even be able to save money by switching plans)
  3. Lower drain on your phone’s battery
  4. If you don’t have a Verizon phone, your tablet will get data when your phone might not.
  5. Verizon’s LTE speeds have improved a lot (33 Mbps down 3 Mbps up)

Basically, if you’re a tablet user, and you constantly find yourself switching on your phones hotspot, but don’t use the hotspot for much else, this could be a great alternative for you.


The Note Pro is huge, but so is the price. At $750 with a 2-year activation and $850 outright, I can’t say I would recommend this device to anyone who didn’t know for a FACT it was worth the money for them, or have a very good reason why this is the tablet they need.

The post Verizon Samsung Galaxy Note Pro LTE review appeared first on AndroidGuys.


Toshiba Encore review: an 8-inch Windows tablet that struggles to stand out

Toshiba Encore review: an 8-inch Windows tablet that struggles to stand out

Toshiba is no stranger to Windows tablets, but what we’ve seen to date has typically been targeted at businesses or has otherwise been… limited. In that sense, the Encore is something special. It’s not just the company’s first 8-inch Windows tablet — it’s the first aimed at a truly broad audience. That said, it faces stiff odds. Acer, Dell, Lenovo and others have comparable slates on the market, in many cases with similar features. Toshiba would have to do something truly out of the ordinary to stand out. And frankly, it doesn’t. While the Encore is a worthy device, you’ll have to be particularly enamored with its design to ignore its rivals. Read on to see what we mean.


With certain exceptions, the design language of Toshiba’s mobile devices has typically been plain — a textbook example of form chasing function. That’s undoubtedly true for the Encore. Its “sunray silver” plastic back is reminiscent of the company’s lower-end Satellite laptops, and it neither feels nor looks premium — even Acer’s Iconia W4 seems upscale by comparison. The Encore makes up for this in sheer practicality. It’s comfortable to hold, and the textured back adds just enough grip that you won’t get nervous using it one-handed. The surface does a good job hiding fingerprint smudges, too. The Encore is also one of the heavier 8-inch Windows tablets we’ve seen at 0.97 pounds, although it’s not much thicker than Dell’s Venue 8 Pro, at 0.42 inches. Indeed, we had no objections to the added weight during prolonged browsing or gaming sessions.

The rest of the Encore’s design mostly checks the right boxes, delivering extras that you don’t always see on its peers. At the top, you’ll see micro-HDMI video output (not present on Lenovo’s Miix 2 or the Venue 8 Pro) alongside the usual headphone jack, a micro-USB port and one of two microphones. Meanwhile, there’s a microSD card slot on the left for extra storage, stereo speakers on the bottom, a 2-megapixel camera in the front-right corner and a sharper-than-average 8-megapixel shooter at the back. You’ll get either 32GB or 64GB of flash storage inside, much like other tablets in this class.

Toshiba Encore ports

Toshiba could stand to improve the hardware keys. The power button and volume rocker at the upper right are easy to reach in most orientations, and they’re particularly well-suited to a portrait view. However, they’re almost flush with the body; it’s difficult to identify them purely by feel. There were a few times where we accidentally cranked the volume instead of putting the tablet to sleep. And the capacitive Start button can be frustrating — it occasionally ignores input, forcing you to either poke the key multiple times or use the on-screen task switcher. The button isn’t a dealbreaker, but we’d rather have the more conventional (and more reliable) buttons from Acer and Dell.

Display and sound

Toshiba Encore display

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The Encore has an IPS-based, 1,280 x 800 LCD screen that offers rich colors at virtually any viewing angle. Yes, Toshiba is closely following the template for screens in 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablets. And that’s mostly a good thing. It’s a delight to browse photos and videos on this device. There are a few differences that separate the Encore’s visuals from the rest of the pack, however, and they’re not all for the better. This is one of the brighter displays we’ve seen in the category, and it’s easily visible in most lighting conditions. There isn’t support for active styluses like on the Venue or ASUS’ VivoTab Note 8, though, and Acer’s optically bonded display is better at cutting out unwanted glare.

We also can’t help but wish Toshiba had sprung for a higher-resolution panel, if only because we’ve seen the difference it makes elsewhere. The 1080p screen in Lenovo’s ThinkPad 8 is noticeably sharper, let alone the greater-than-HD displays in mobile OS tablets like Apple’s iPad mini with Retina display or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4. It’s not terribly likely that you’ll consider these $400-plus models if you’re looking at the much cheaper Encore, but it would be nice to see that higher-end technology filter down to lower-cost equipment.

You probably won’t be yearning for better audio quality, though. The speakers can’t replace a good set of headphones, but they’re loud enough to be heard clearly in a moderately noisy environment. Still, they’re unmistakably louder than Acer’s reedy-sounding equivalents. We didn’t detect much strain at full volume, either. We haven’t had the chance to directly compare the Encore’s output with that from the Venue 8 Pro, but having two speakers versus Dell’s one can only help with audio clarity.


Toshiba Encore's default apps

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Windows 8.1 is virtually tailor-made for small tablets like the Encore. It lets you shrink Live Tiles to save you from scrolling, provides more thumb-friendly keyboard shortcuts and gives you quick access to the camera from the lock screen. While we can’t say that everyone will like Windows’ heavily gesture-driven interface, we felt at home before long. This is certainly the platform of choice if you want to run two apps at once, such as a chat client and a browser. You can do that with a few Android tablets, but it’s a bit more elegant here — many Windows 8 apps are designed to run side by side with others.

You’ll also have a solid (albeit not outstanding) selection of programs to choose from. Many media apps come in touch-native Windows versions, including those from the big TV networks and music-streaming services like Pandora. Some of the most tablet-savvy apps have only shown up relatively recently, such as Flipboard’s curated reading app and Nokia’s Here Maps. You won’t find some mobile titles (notably Instagram and Vine), and developers like Apple, Mozilla and Valve aren’t porting existing software to the modern Windows environment. Still, we haven’t been hurting for app choices in a while.

Having Windows 8.1 also grants access to the classic Windows desktop, which is useful if you absolutely, positively have to run a legacy app on your tablet. It’s not a panacea, mind you. As we’ve stressed before, the older interface just isn’t intended for an 8-inch screen. Many buttons and scroll bars are too tiny, and you can’t assume that your favorite release has been optimized for touch. We’d rather have the option than make do without it (as with Windows RT), but it’s best reserved for those moments when you have both a keyboard and mouse close at hand.

Toshiba Encore running Flipboard

Toshiba has largely resisted the urge to load the Encore with extra software. There are just a handful of modern Windows apps beyond what Microsoft normally supplies, most of which are big-name titles. Amazon’s Kindle and shopping apps are here, as are BookPlace, eBay, iHeartRadio, Netflix, Symantec’s Norton security suite, Toshiba Central (for support), Toshiba TruCapture (for recording whiteboard notes), Xbox 360 SmartGlass and Zinio. The highlight on the traditional desktop is clearly the full copy of Microsoft Office Home & Student, although you will have to activate it. Besides that, you’ll only get a smattering of Toshiba support apps. It’s a very reasonable mix, although we quickly grew tired of the Norton bundle’s out-of-the-box tendency to nag about protection.

Performance and battery life

Tablet PCMark7 3DMark06 3DMark11 ATTO (top disk speeds)
Toshiba Encore (1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740, Intel HD graphics) 2,479 2,068 E339 / P210 177 MB/s (reads); 74 MB/s (writes)
Acer Iconia W4 (1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740, Intel HD graphics) 2,538 2,089 E340 / P211 174 MB/s (reads); 70 MB/s (writes)
ASUS Transformer Book T100 (1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740, Intel HD graphics) 2,461 2,113

E338 / P209

123 MB/s (reads); 58 MB/s (writes)
Dell Venue 8 Pro (1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740D, Intel HD graphics) 2,343 1,986

E299 / P164

86 MB/s (reads); 45 MB/s (writes)

The Encore doesn’t deviate from the script when it comes to hardware. Much like other budget Windows tablets, you’ll find both a quad-core, 1.33GHz Atom Z3740 processor and 2GB of RAM under the hood. That doesn’t sound like much, but don’t let the modest numbers fool you — the Atom chip’s Bay Trail architecture gives Toshiba’s slab plenty of power for the interface and lightweight apps. There isn’t any noticeable dip in performance when running two apps at once, for that matter.

Intensive tasks like desktop-oriented 3D games are generally off-limits. We could play Half-Life 2 well at low-to-medium detail, but BioShock Infinite just wasn’t an option. The Encore is far more adept with mobile-oriented titles like Halo: Spartan Assault, which are silky-smooth. Whatever you’re doing, you won’t scorch your lap; the Encore got warm when we pushed it hard, but nothing more.

Toshiba Encore tablet close-up

Not surprisingly, there’s no clear performance edge over other recent entry-level Windows tablets. The Encore was largely neck and neck with its competitors in processor-focused tests, including the 416ms score we saw in the SunSpider browsing benchmark. The flash-based storage is about as speedy as it is on the Iconia W4, but we did observe a slightly pokier nine-second boot time. We won’t grouse too much about the similarity in results, since you’re still getting a pleasantly hitch-free tablet experience.

The middle-of-the-road battery life may be a tougher sell. We got eight hours and 45 minutes of runtime from the Encore while looping a video at half brightness (lower than on Acer’s tablet, to get comparable illumination), with WiFi retrieving email and social network updates. That’s better than the Miix 2 and Venue 8 Pro, but a full hour behind what Acer can manage. It’s also well below Toshiba’s official 14-hour estimate, which is based on a mixture of browsing, video and standby time. The company’s figure is realistic; we managed two days of real-world use before having to recharge. Even so, it’s proof that you need to read the fine print for official claims like these. The Encore’s battery is good, not great, under a heavy load.

Tablet Battery Life
Toshiba Encore 8:45
Microsoft Surface 2 14:22
Apple iPad Air (LTE) 13:45
Nokia Lumia 2520 13:28 (tablet only) / 16:19 (with dock)
Apple iPad mini 12:43 (WiFi)
Apple iPad mini with Retina display 11:55 (LTE)
Apple iPad (late 2012) 11:08 (WiFi)
ASUS Transformer Book T100 10:40
Apple iPad 2 10:26
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 10:04
Apple iPad (2012) 9:52 (HSPA) / 9:37 (LTE)
Acer Iconia W4 9:50
Nexus 7 (2012) 9:49
Microsoft Surface RT 9:36
Apple iPad 9:33
ASUS Transformer Prime Infinity TF700 9:25
Acer Iconia W3 9:21
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 8:56
Sony Xperia Tablet Z 8:40
Toshiba Excite Write 8:13
Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 7:38
HP Slate 7 7:36
Nexus 10 7:26
Dell Venue 8 Pro 7:19
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 7:18
Nexus 7 (2013) 7:15
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 7:13
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 6:55
HP SlateBook x2 6:34 (tablet only) / 8:49 (keyboard dock)

We’d add that the 8-megapixel rear camera isn’t the upgrade it appears to be over the 5MP units in the Iconia W4 and Venue 8 Pro. If anything, it’s a step backward. The Encore’s sensor produces more noise in low light than Acer’s, and blown-out scene highlights (such as bright windows) are more conspicuous. The rear camera probably won’t be a make-or-break factor in your purchase unless you’re one of the precious few people who buys a tablet with photography in mind. Even so, we’d prefer that Toshiba had focused on image quality over resolution.

Configuration options

Toshiba Encore on our favorite website

As of this writing, you only have two choices among Encore tablets. A 32GB model will set you back $300 if you buy from Toshiba, while its 64GB sibling costs $350. If you’re a savvy shopper, you can pick up the 32GB variant for less; it currently goes for about $280 at Amazon. At any rate, we’d strongly suggest that you get the 64GB edition if you can –we were down to less than 4GB of space (out of 23GB available) on our 32GB test unit within a matter of days, and that’s without a significant media collection.

Moreover, there aren’t any major first-party accessories to speak of; we could only track down a basic snap-on case. Unlike Acer, Dell or Lenovo, there are no docks or keyboard cases to turn the Encore into a miniature workhorse. Third-party peripherals thankfully exist to pick up some of the slack, but this does mean you’ll have to search around if you’re bent on getting a keyboard or protector.

The competition

Toshiba Encore showing its main rival

If you look at specifications alone, Toshiba’s slate does little to distinguish itself. It has the same processor, the same storage and the same underlying technology as much of its competition. It even starts at a similar official price these days (Toshiba originally charged $330).

Look closer and it gets more complicated. The Encore fares best against the Miix 2 and Venue 8 Pro, with the healthy battery life and micro-HDMI video that its rivals lack. Dell and Lenovo mostly rely on sales pricing to lure you away; it’s common to find either of their tablets selling for less than $250, making them great bargains when every dollar counts. The Venue and VivoTab Note 8 both have pen support in their favor, although ASUS’ $330 asking price hurts the VivoTab’s chances.

As you may have gathered by now, it’s Acer that gives Toshiba the real thrashing. The Iconia W4 has tangibly longer battery life, and it’s easier to find at low prices (it’s $250 at Amazon as we write this). While the Encore does have a brighter display and an easier-to-hold design, the Iconia counters these with reduced glare, better mechanical controls and a higher-quality rear camera. If the tablet industry narrowed down to just these two devices, Acer would emerge as the winner more often than not.

Don’t be quick to balk at paying $400 for a ThinkPad 8, either. It’s one of the few Windows tablets this size with a 1080p screen, and it has options for both 4G and 128GB of storage. That said, it doesn’t claim a decisive victory over the Encore. We’re in the midst of reviewing Lenovo’s tablet, and we’ve found that it has both a mediocre six-hour battery life and a scratch-prone chassis. All told, you may prefer Toshiba’s machine simply because it can take some abuse.


Toshiba Encore on a stack o' books

You might think we’re down on the Encore based on the complaints littered throughout the review, but that’s not true. We genuinely enjoyed our time with it, and it’s safe to recommend if you can snag one at bargain-basement pricing. The battery life and performance are up to snuff, and there are no cavernous holes in the feature set — so long as you weren’t expecting an imaging powerhouse, anyway.

For us, the real problem is that there are few reasons to pick the Encore over something else. It’s not the best at anything, unless you’re in love with its silvery shell. If you want extended battery life, you should turn to Acer; if cost matters the most, go with Dell or Lenovo; if you like to jot down handwritten notes, choose ASUS or Dell. Toshiba has done a fine job with its first foray into 8-inch Windows tablets, but not the exceptional job it needed to rise above a sea of competitors.

Daniel Orren and Edgar Alvarez contributed to this review.

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