Small Windows tablets are awesome in theory, but the ones we have seen so far haven't been anything to write home about. Thankfully, Toshiba has a new 8-inch Encore tablet, running Windows 8.1. We've been hands-on, and it's pretty rad.
The Toshiba Encore 8-inch tablet is powered by the new Intel Bay Trail chipset in the form of a 1.3GHz quad-core Atom chip, alongside 2GB of RAM for all your Windows 8.1 processing needs.
The tablet comes in both 32GB and 64GB varieties, and it's also packing other cool hardware features like 802.11ac Wi-Fi, micro-HDMI out with the ability to drive a 1080p external monitor, a mini-USB out for driving accessories like storage, networking or external VGA displays, a microSD card slot to expand the memory a further 32GB and a battery that will last you 10 hours.
It shouldn't be a feature worth highlighting, but Toshiba is proud of the fact that the tablet can now boot from standby within 300 milliseconds, "like an Android or iOS tablet". Perhaps the fact that this needs to be highlighted tells us what was wrong with Windows tablets before 8.1: slow and drab. Not anymore, hopefully.
The Encore comes with a pre-loaded copy of Office Home and Student edition for all your productivity needs, and for the first month you own it, you'll get access to an exclusive offer that lets you Skype any number on the planet for free. Toshiba is saying that this is the first tablet truly optimised for Skype, thanks to gear like the new dual-microphones which can accurately pinpoint the sweet spot of someone talking in order to drown out all the noise in the background. Think of it like a focal point on a camera lens: the subject is in focus while the background is blurred. It's like that, but with sound.
The new Toshiba Encore tablet will be available in Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and Dick Smith stores from November, with the 32GB variant coming in at $399, with the 64GB version costing $469.
We'll bring you our full review of the Toshiba Encore soon.