Although Toshiba has been a relative late-comer in some segments of the tablet market, the manufacturer has had some successes. Toshiba tablets have a reputation for being stylish and packing high-performance hardware, but the real-world result hasn’t always measured up.
After just a few moments handling Toshiba’s eight-inch slate, it’s clear that “sleek” is not a word that would ever be associated with the Encore. At 8.4-by-5.4-by-0.4 inches, it’s wider and thicker than either the Miix 2 or Venue 8 Pro.
It’s also heavier, weighing in at 15.7 ounces compared to 12.2 and 13.6 ounces for the Miix and Venue. Unfortunately that extra bulk doesn’t translate to improved construction quality, as the device feels somewhat cheaper that its competitors in a tablet comparison.
Taking a tour around the Encore’s exterior, the volume and power buttons are arranged on the top of the right edge. The left edge is bare save for a small microSDXC card slot near the top. The top is a bit busier, with a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, microHDMI socket and microUSB port aligned from right to left.
The bottom sports a pair of stereo speaker grilles. The microHDMI port is a great inclusion compared to tablets with no such functionality, and the Encore also includes built-in GPS.
Resolving the Details
The thing that immediately jumps out about the Encore’s panel is not the display quality itself, but rather the sheer reflectiveness. This makes it difficult to use outside, and can also become a problem with bright overhead lighting.
This is compounded by a maximum brightness of 344 nits, which falls well short compared to tablets like the Miix 2. The 1,280-by-800 pixel display itself middling. Color accuracy and contrast are fair, but the display lacks the rich vibrancy found in better panels.
Under the Hood
With a quad-core 1.33-gigahertz Intel Atom Z3740 chip and two gigabytes of RAM, the Toshiba Encore’s hardware is on par with the competition.
In a tablet comparison, the real-world performance is largely indistinguishable between Bay Trail-powered Windows 8.1 devices. Intel’s Bay Trail processors deliver more than enough horsepower to handle basic tasks within Windows, but there is some noticeable sluggishness at times.
The Encore presents a bit of a problem for Toshiba. There’s nothing the device does poorly, but it also doesn’t do anything well enough to stand out. The Lenovo Miix 2 and Dell Venue 8 Pro both offer superior displays, and the performance differences are negligible.
The construction quality also isn’t up to par with its competitors, and it’s considerably heavier and thicker than both the Miix 2 and Venue.
What Customers Say
Customers often give high marks for the inclusion of a microHDMI port and GPS functionality, which is often not included with other comparable devices. The solid performance is also a subject of praise. However, some customers also complain that the tablet is subject to bugs that negatively impact performance at times.
The microHDMI port is also subject to occasional malfunctions and sometimes fails to work properly. Another common complaint is the substandard construction quality, which produces more flexing and “creaking” than some other devices.