Hardware maker Toshiba used the IFA 2013 trade show in Berlin, on Thursday, to debut three affordable mobile devices. The trio included a laptop-tablet hybrid and a budget laptop, but the scene stealer is its first 8-inch Windows tablet.
Reports coming in from the IFA, a major trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances, strongly focus on this tablet, dubbed Encore, as a credible contender to rival Apple, predicting that a full assault on the iPad mini may be only months away.
The $329.99 Toshiba Encore will go on sale in November, just in time for basking in the publicity as one of Microsoft's featured devices for its Windows 8.1 launch and campaign blitz for the holidays.
The Toshiba strategy goes well beyond rolling out a tablet for the holiday sales, though. Toshiba's move is aimed at coming out with a mainstream Windows tablet that can be promoted as a me-too device for play but that is also suitable for serious work.
The company described the Encore as a hardware platform that can deliver both the entertainment and productivity capabilities of Windows. As rivals such as Apple well know, beyond great design, productivity, like entertainment, is all about apps.
"Our fundamental approach to designing Encore was to create a better convergence of hardware and software so the overall app experience and capabilities on a Windows-based device is better than ever," said Carl Pinto, vice president of marketing, Toshiba America Information Systems, digital products division.
According to a Forrester survey earlier this year, when asked about OS and platform preference office workers said they used lots of Apple and Android devices but showed significant interest in using Windows 8 on their next tablets.
They can check off Word, Excel and PowerPoint on their wishlists with Encore as it comes free with Office Home & Student 2013.
Intel's new Bay Trail Atom will be powering Windows 8.1 in the Encore. The processor is said to help deliver fast page loads and good battery life. Encore is one of the first Bay Trail-based tablets to hit the market.
The other attention grabber is that the Encore is versatile. The Encore will carry "Xbox second-screen" capabilities. This means that the tablet will be able to operate as a secondary screen for the Xbox One, with Microsoft's Xbox SmartGlass technology. The table will also come with sensors and stereo speakers. The tablet will be Skype-ready, working with dual microphones and an integrated 2-megapixel front camera. (An 8-megapixel camera is at the rear.)
The Encore will have a 32GB of storage with support for additional storage through its MicroSD slot. The tablet weighs 16.9 ounces.
Apple Challenge or Not
The popular reaction from Thursday's IFA press gawkers is that, with the Encore, Toshiba could be challenging Apple's iPAD mini, aiming for a head-to-head battle.
Actually, whether the 8-inch Encore turns out to be a serious contender to take out the iPad mini or not, there is still room for success if the Encore simply turns out to be proof that a Windows tablet can sell well this year and next.
"Encore is poised to re-energize the opportunity for Windows tablets in the market," said Pinto. "Windows has a lot to offer for a tablet user, and with the new features that Windows 8.1 brings, we believe that Encore will deliver more choice against a range of competitive tablets."
IFA Berlin: Germany's CES
For those not familiar with The IFA Berlin trade show, IFA stands for Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin -- roughly equivalent to 'International Radio Exhibition Berlin' or 'Berlin Radio Show'.
It is one of the oldest industrial exhibitions in Germany, and has been compared to the annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in the U.S., where industry leaders frequently introduce and debut their hottest new products.
IFA 2013 runs Sept. 6-11 with a focus on consumer electronics like ultra-HD displays, smart TVs, tablet computers, smartphones, and networked appliances for smart homes. Over the course of the week, some 200,000 visitors are expected to attend IFA, held at the Messe Berlin fairgrounds in Berlin-Westend.
Posted: 2013-09-05 @ 2:09pm PT
Does it have the requisite 1080P display for playing back videos shot with last year's smartphones?