Toshiba's Encore 2 gives the veteran PC maker a bigger Windows 8.1-based tablet to take to the Aussie market, with the new model sporting a 10.1in screen as opposed to the 8in screen of the original Encore. This should please users looking for a bigger, more easily viewable screen, but the actual viewable area stays the same, with a resolution of 1280x800 pixels.
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Considering the price range that Toshiba is occupying with this model, the lack of a Full HD screen isn't all that surprising, but it missed a chance to really 'wow' people with this product straight off the bat.
That said, this is a completely different product to the original Encore. The original Encore features a portrait orientation (as determined by the location of the capacitive Windows Home key) and a form factor that allows some people to palm the device. With the Encore 2, the orientation shifts more towards landscape (the Windows Home key is located along the top edge, just near the webcam) and two-handed holding.
The top edge has the power, volume, and Windows Home keys.
It retains a similar style to the original Encore, with silver edging around a thick bezel, and the location of the micro-USB, audio, and micro-HDMI ports all along the side. On the Encore 2, though, the microSD card slot also moves to the side, rather than being at the bottom. Speakers are along the side, too, and the power, volume and Windows Home keys are along the top. There are front and back cameras, with the front being of the regular 'HD' specification.
All ports and slots are along the side.
The engine room is similar to that of the original Encore, with an Intel Atom Z3735F CPU that has the same 1.33GHz clock speed as the Atom Z3740 CPU in the original Encore. However, looking at the specs of these two CPUs are more closely, the Z3735F in the Encore 2 appears to be a downgrade. Its burst frequency is 1.83GHz, while the burst frequency of the Z3740 is 1.86GHz; it has a power rating of 2.2W, which is 0.2W more than the Atom Z3740; it lacks support for many of Intel's graphics features, such as Wi-Di.
What Toshiba gains from using the 2014-model CPU in the Encore 2 is significant dollars, with difference between the CPUs being $15 per unit according to Intel's Ark processor specification site.
The rest of the configuration is standard. You get a fixed 2GB of DDR3L SDRAM (the most that the CPU supports), and your choice of either 32GB or 64GB of solid state storage. The 32GB version costs $399, while the 64GB version costs $459. You could go for the smaller capacity and then use the microSD card slot at the bottom to add more capacity of your choosing, with the unit supporting up to an additional 128GB via this slot.
One thing that seems to be apparent with the Encore 2 is a downgrade in the Wi-Fi module. The original was capable of dual-band operation, while the Encore 2 looks like it's limited to operating only on the 2.4GHz band, with the specs listing the Wi-Fi module as being capable of only 802.11b/g/n, rather than a/b/g/n. Bluetooth is version 4.0.
We'll know more about the spec, and will report on its battery life and weight, once we get our hands on it for a full review.