, ,

Toshiba’s Encore is a Sweet $199 Windows Tablet

There’s a nice little (well, maybe not so little anymore) market for mid-range tablets at budget prices that has developed over the last couple years. It’s a pretty crowded market now, but hey, choice is the friend of the consumer. So, Toshiba’s new 8” and 10.1” Encore 2 tablets might not have much to distinguish themselves from the rest of the Windows 8.1 tablet crowd, but they seem worthy of being taken into consideration with the rest.

The 8” and 10.1” Encore 2 tablets are powered by quad-core Intel Atom processors and run Windows 8.1. Usually, cheaper tablets have those Atom processors and sub-1080p displays – these are no different, with both sizes sporting 1280 x 800 resolution displays. These also have 802.11n Wi-Fi, short of the new, speedier 802.11ac standard. Around the edges, there’s a Micro HDMI port and a card slot that supports microSDXC cards up to 128 GB. Both tablets have stereo speakers, with audio processed by Dolby Digital Plus. There will be 64 GB of internal storage on both, along with a 5 MP auto-focus rear camera and an HD front-facing camera. Battery life should be about 10 hours for general use and 8 hours for video playback, according to Toshiba.

Toshiba Satellite Radius

If you’re shopping for tablets based on looks – and considering how similar all these mid-range tablets are on the inside, that’s a fair enough metric – the Encore 2 tablets have rounded corners and satin gold matte finishes. The 8” tablet comes in at under a pound, while the 10.1” model weighs 1.2 pounds. Both are 0.4 inches thick, so they should both be comfortable to hold for long periods of time.

Pre-loaded software is usually a waste of time to talk about, unless we’re talking about Microsoft Office. Both tablets come with one year of Office 365 personal for free, which should sweeten the pot for those looking to the Encore 2 tablets as possible work tablets.

Toshiba is also coming out with a 15.6” convertible tablet called the Satellite Radius. It’s a medium-to-high end laptop with a Full HD (probably 1920 x 1080) display and your choice of Intel Core Haswell i5 or i7 processors. You can also get as much as 8 GB of RAM and 1 TB of internal storage. The hook is a two-axis 360 degree hinge that will provide the same four modes you’re probably used to seeing by now – laptop, tablet, laying flat at 180 degrees, and presentation, which puts the keyboard behind the display.

You will have 802.11ac Wi-Fi in the Satellite Radius, along with Harmon Kardon stereo speakers backed by DTS Sound for audio processing. For ports, you’ll have three USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI out port that supports 4k output. Instead of a DisplayPort, the laptop has Intel WiDi support, for wireless connection to external displays. There’s also an HD webcam with dual-array microphones. Toshiba is saying the Satellite Radius has a long battery life, but they haven’t qualified that with a number. A brushed aluminum frame gives the Radius a premium look in line with most other competing laptops.

The 8” and 10.1” Encore 2 tablets will sell for $200 and $270, respectively, while the Satellite Radius will start at $926. All three will be available in early July, with the Satellite Radius being a Best Buy exclusive, although you can still get all three devices directly from Toshiba’s online store.