- Wacom stylus functionality
- Excellent battery life
- Good port selection
- Display lacks sharpness
- Mediocre build
- Performance can be spotty
Quick TakeToshiba’s Wacom-enabled Encore 2 Write offers decent performance and great battery life, but the rest of the 8-inch Windows tablet isn’t anything to write home about.
The number of tablet users who truly have a need for a Wacom pressure-sensitive stylus for drawing or taking notes is a relatively small one; there’s no denying that it’s a bit of a niche market. Nevertheless, Toshiba is making sure that it’s appealing to all potential customers with its products, and has introduced the Encore 2 Write WT8PE-B264M, a mid-size, Wacom-supporting entry in its growing lineup of Windows tablets.
Although devices that come with pressure-sensitive styli are generally intended for a specific type of user, they’re certainly not hard to come by (for instance, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 comes with one). So does the Encore 2 Write do anything to set itself apart from the rest of the stylus-wielding pack? Let’s take a closer look.
Build and Design
The build of the 8-inch Encore 2 Write may not take any major risks in terms of unique design choices, but its quality is decent. Weighing in at 0.84 lbs. (380g), the tablet is light enough that it’s comfortable to hold with one hand, while also being heavy enough to keep it from feeling too cheap as far as the heft is concerned. But it would have been better if Toshiba had gone with metal for at least part of the build; the plastic backing of the device actually has a little bit of give, which is never reassuring.
In terms of looks, the Encore 2 Write leans far more towards a modest, low-profile sleekness rather than anything flashy. The perfectly smooth back is devoid of anything save for the company’s branding and the camera, while the top and bottom slope ever so slightly to meet with the device’s flat edges. As far as aesthetics go, it’s about as basic a slate device as it gets. Toshiba describes the color as “Satin Gold,” and it’s a light gold color.
Simply put, the 8-inch 1280 x 800 (WXGA) display of the Encore 2 Write is good, but not great. Perhaps as a Surface Pro 3 owner I’m just spoiled by the sharpness of its 2160 x 1440 display, but the screen on the Encore 2 Write just didn’t provide the type of crispness and clarity that really impresses. Admittedly, one would think that the mediocre resolution wouldn’t matter much given that we’re dealing with a relatively small display here, and the available pixels are condensed enough within the smaller area to create a decent 189 ppi. But ultimately, the Encore 2 Write looks like it would have benefitted from a slight bump in resolution.
Oddly enough, video looks okay, but still images and text look noticeably grainy. Even the desktop background — which is typically the clearest, best-looking image the manufacturer can find in an effort to make the display look sharper than it really is — looks blurry.
That said, there are some small upsides to the display quality if you really look for them. Colors are bold but properly saturated, while the brightness is good when cranked up to the max setting (and even when it’s a little below that). Viewing angles are wide enough, but on the other hand, that really doesn’t matter too much on a device as small as this.
Tablet speakers have kind of a raw deal: It’s entirely possible for them to be as bad as speakers can get, but given the current limitations of the technology, they don’t really stand a chance of being truly impressive. So unfortunately, the best that companies can hope for right now is that their tablet speakers don’t end up being terrible.
The good news, then, is that the speakers on the Encore 2 Write are more than satisfactory. While it would have been nice if they fired toward the user – instead, they’re located toward the top of the left and right edges of the device and fire sideways — they crank out sound at a respectable enough volume that audibility is never much of an issue. Just make sure you’re not covering the speakers with your hands when you’re holding the tablet.
Buttons and Ports
Toshiba has always been inclusive when it comes to port selection on its devices, and the Encore 2 Write is no exception. In addition to the standard 3.5mm audio jack that’s located on the left side of the device, there is also a micro-USB port, a microSD card slot, and a micro HDMI port.
Meanwhile, there’s an 8-megapixel camera in the upper right-hand corner of the back of the device, and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera centered right above the display.
The right and bottom edges of the device are devoid of any buttons or ports, but the top edge plays host to the power button, a volume rocker, and a Windows key. While the button and port placement is generally convenient, it would have been preferable to have the Windows key on one of the sides (or even as a capacitive button on the bezel), because it’s a little awkward to have to take one of your hands off the device and feel around on the top for the low-profile key to bring up the Start menu.