The Toshiba Encore Mini is a 7 inch tablet that sells for $120. Oh yeah, it also runs Windows 8.1.

That means this inexpensive tablet can run apps from the Windows Store as well as desktop Windows apps. It even comes with a 1-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365.

So can a $120 Windows tablet with a tiny display be any good? Well, that depends what you’re looking for.

toshiba encore mini_02

I haven’t had time to extensively test the tablet, but I did get to spend a few minutes with it recently, and the tablet is small, light-weight, and seems like it should be fast enough to run basic Windows apps including Skype or Internet Explorer.

But Toshiba cut a few corners in order to keep the price low. The tablet has just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage which could cause problems with multitasking or running memory-intensive apps.

That’s also not a lot of built-in space for apps and media, although there is a microSDXC card slot for up to 128GB of removable storage. So if you need more room for music, movies, or other files, just get a big microSD card.

The biggest problem with the tablet is the display. Toshiba chose a 1024 x 600 pixel panel with limited viewing angles. Tilt the table the wrong way and it can be hard to see what’s on the screen.

toshiba encore mini_05

Since some Windows 8 features require a higher resolution display, the Toshiba Encore Mini uses a display driver that allows it to act as if the tablet had a 1280 x 768 pixel display.

This lets Windows Store apps run on the tablet, but since the device doesn’t actually have that many pixels, apps, pictures, and text won’t look quite as sharp on this tablet as they would on other small Windows tablets with higher-resolution screens.

Overall it’s impressive to see the full Windows operating system running on a tablet this small and this cheap. But while Toshiba was the first major company to offer a Windows tablet in this price range, it won’t be the last.

HP has just unveiled its own 7 and 8 inch Windows tablets which will sell for $100 and $150, respectively.

While the Toshiba Encore Mini has a list price of $120 though, Toshiba representatives expect it’ll be discounted and sold for as little as $100 this holiday season.

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8 replies on “Hands-on: Toshiba Encore Mini $120 Windows tablet”

  1. 1 GB of RAM? 16 GB for the OS? Really? Get real!!! I’m not going to call it a computer because if I can’t use it for what I need to do it’s not a real computer. I just got the 64 GB Dell Venue Pro so that I can edit a daily podcast I do part time on the go and while I like the tablet a lot I’m really disappointed at the speed of re-encoding. Race to the bottom is, unfortunately, dead on.

  2. I don’t really like the race to the bottom because it ends up producing really cheaply made tablets with usually subpar materials and a lot of cut corners. I wish someone would make a really nicely built tablet with good specs and a good screen. A $100 tablet is great, but I would pay for a better quality one.

    I like what Dell is doing with their Venue 8 7000, at least from what I have seen so far, but I’m disappointed that it’s an Android tablet. I hope they make a Dell Venue 8 7000 Pro with Windows on it.

  3. Now, the real question is, where can I get either this or the HP Stream 7 in Canada?!

    1. Depending on how it’s specifically configured a WIMBoot installation can take up only about 3-4GB… Leaving the rest of the drive free… So you can start with over 11GB free before updates, etc. start eating away at it…

      It is possible to update the WIM file and integrate the updates but unless the device maker provides these updates then you’d have to make an updated WIM file yourself… There are how-to’s online but it’s an involved procedure and likely most people won’t bother…

  4. Yes this one is too limited. But only just a bit. We are real close to an event that will be mostly unnoticed at the time but in hindsight will be big. The time when a $100 computer (and face it, that is what this product is) will be ‘good enough’ for ‘most’ people. When there will cease to be much of an excuse for every adult and most children in the first and second world to have their own ‘personal computer.’ A real PC, not just a gimped ecosystem tether.

    We are already at a point where non-closeout deals on Android tablets have hit $50, and those will also only get better. What happens when those are ‘good enough?’ The whole third world graduates from a feature phone to a computer.

  5. Looks like it adds up to too many compromises.
    Remember the first Android tablets ALL claimed to handle 1080p video right out of the chute? Yeah, few did.
    Cost is not value.

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