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  1. Joshua Jackson's Avatar
    So, I picked up an Encore on Craigslist for $185 (nearly 1/2 price).
    It was brand new, in an unopened box (I cut the tape, myself).
    The guy got it, for free, with a laptop purchase.
    It was only picked up, from Best Buy, a week ago.

    I spent a few hours setting things up and testing, last night, and I've played with it, today.
    Here is my little review.
    Some of it will be synonymous with all 8", Windows 8, tablets.
    Some will be my own person opinions.
    Some will be reflective of this tablet, specifically.
    Some things may be issues with Windows 8 and not with the tablet, itself.
    Unfortunately, I have no other tablets to compare with.

    The first thing that I noticed was the size.
    You may think I'm crazy, but I think 8" is actually too big.
    I really like the, now classic, 7" Android form factor (my wife says that she likes the full 8 inches, though).
    To me, the landscape keyboard is just a little too much work to get in the middle (holding the tablet with both hands and using your thumbs to type).
    Also, it's just a bit wide in portrait.
    Obviously, this is completely subjective and someone with larger hands would feel right at home.
    I'm 5' 10" and 155lbs, so I think I'm pretty average.
    Also, I like a proper 1280x720 as opposed to 1280x768 (like the Nokia Lumia 928) or 1280x800 (like this tablet).
    Obviously, the extra pixels equate to a larger, portrait, width.
    If it was 1280x720, it would fit in my hand better.
    Of course, there could be some trade-offs with proper desktop usage if it was 720p.

    Once the tablet turned on, it was a familiar Windows 8 setup process.
    After logging in, all the apps that were on my laptop were available to install.
    I really like that I don't have to search Store for all of my apps, BTW...
    Obviously, desktop programs were not automatically available (I don't think Adobe would appreciate Creative Suite being installed without the original files).
    The Start Screen, e-mails, Internet Explorer Favorites, Calendar, etc... were all set up like my laptop.
    I've said, since day one, that Windows 8's level of integration is top-notch.
    I noticed it, the first time, when reformatting my wife's laptop.
    The webpage that I was looking at, before reformatting, came right up, after the reformat.
    That's cool.

    Reinstalling apps and games was trivial.
    I went to Steam's website, to install the client and Grim Dawn (if you like aRPGs, check it out).
    Obviously, not all websites work well with the on-screen keyboard.
    This, particular, website had a popup box to enter some information.
    It was very difficult to hit that popup's submit box.
    Whenever I would scroll the page, to get to the button, it would jump back to the area of the text box.
    It was very aggravating.
    I couldn't zoom out any more (100%).
    I could zoom in, but it didn't make hitting the button any easier.
    Eventually, I got enough of the button to tap it.
    That was the only real issue, with installing things.
    Keep in mind, though, that some websites just aren't designed for tablets (I like responsive websites).

    After that, I spent some time opening apps and games (mostly seeing if my XBOX achievements transferred over).
    Everything was standard fare.
    Microsoft's e-mail app is a bit more wonky on the tablet than on my laptop.
    It seems like I have to hit the delete icon multiple times before it actually deletes (it's fine, sometimes).
    On my laptop and tablet, both, deleting is a slow process.
    I'm not sure if it's that I'm using IMAP or the app itself.
    It can take several seconds between tapping the delete icon and it actually disappearing.
    Having both speakers, at portrait bottom, is a little annoying.
    I'd much rather have one speaker at portrait top and the other at portrait bottom (or portrait right/left).
    Realistically, you're more likely to watch a video in landscape.
    It would be nice for all sound not to come from the right or left, only.

    I ran out of space on my 32GB tablet, within the first night.
    I went to activate Office 2013 and it required 5+GB and I only had 2 or 3GB.
    I'm sure the same would be true of all the 32GB tablets.
    I would, definitely, recommend getting a 64GB version, on any of these tablets.

    After a few hours of having the tablet connected to my phone charger, it was 30-40% charged.
    It was time for bed, so I took the tablet to the beh-room (as they would say on Cribs) and put it on another phone charger.
    In theory, they should charge the tablet.
    It should just take longer.
    I'll be sleeping, so I don't really care if it takes longer.
    When I woke up (6-7 hours later), the battery was still 30-40%.
    I'm not sure what the deal was, there.
    I assumed that the tablet would be at 100%, after that length of time.

    This is a good time to note that there is a significant issue regarding restarting the tablet.
    There is a thread on about this same issue.
    Apparently, the tablet doesn't always shut down completely.
    You can verify this by tapping the Windows capacitive button.
    If it vibrates, it hasn't shut down.
    If that's the case, you are supposed to hold the power button for a full 30 seconds.
    Then, pressing the power button should start it up.
    I'm assuming that these problems are related, but it has a tendency to lock up when it sits on the charger for a long time (like overnight).
    There have been multiple mornings where I unplugged, hit the power button, and nothing happened.
    I had to hold the power button for 30 seconds and then tap it, again.
    The battery is fully charged, so I think there's just something screwy with the power management (maybe going into hibernation or something).

    Here is another benefit of Windows 8's cloud backup integration.
    I had my laptop connected to my work's WiFi network, in times past.
    When I turned the tablet on, at work, I didn't have to enter the WEP key.
    It connected right to the network, without any intervention on my part.
    That was very slick.

    I did various things, showed the tablet off to a couple people, and let them play with it.
    Then, I fired up Grim Dawn (remember, it's a really cool game).
    One of the guys, that I was showing it to, likes those types of games.
    Now, keep in mind that Grim Dawn is a keyboard/mouse game.
    I thought that it would work with touch, since a tap should equal a mouse click.
    Well, it didn't work.
    The game launched, but, the first time I had to click on something (the title screen), it crashed.
    Because the game hadn't been configured for the tablet's resolution, it was stuck at 1024x768.
    I thought that a reboot might automatically fix it (yes, I could have just changed the resolution).
    So, I restarted.
    It came back at the same 1024x768, so I had to change the resolution.

    There is a blue light at the top (when in portrait).
    I thought it was a charging light, but it doesn't come on when the micro-USB cable is attached.
    It comes on when the camera is in use, apparently, and when the tablet is turning on and off (or maybe just on).
    It seems kind of pointless, to me (I'd rather have a charging or notification light.
    A reply said that it could be a security thing, so that the user knows when the camera is being used.

    The power button is in kind of an odd position, to me.
    The sides curve toward the back and the power button is on that curve.
    So, if I pick the tablet up and try to hit the power button, I commonly miss it.
    I push on the case, where the power button is, but I'm pushing the case and not the button.

    There is a microHDMI port.
    That should put it above most of the competition, but it seems to only work as an extended monitor.
    I haven't been able to get cloning to work, properly.
    There is a thread about HDMI out, on tablet pc review, about this very issue.

    It also has built-in GPS.
    There is a significant issue, though, as it doesn't work with common GPS protocols.
    There's also a thread about GPS, on tablet pc review, about this issue as well.
    The biggest problem, that I found, was that there were no map apps that supported downloadable maps (what's the point of having built-in GPS without being able to see the map?).
    After all, you don't need built-in GPS, if you have an internet connection.
    Thankfully, HERE Maps has been released and it DOES support downloadable maps.
    I was able to load up directions and follow it to a destination (a Wal-Mart trip, as it were).
    One thing to remember, though...
    If you put the tablet in airplane mode, it also turns off the GPS.

    Well, that wraps up my review.
    It was way too long and you, likely, were bored.
    But, you did read it.
    That, at least, is commendable.
    Last edited by Joshua Jackson; 03-08-2014 at 11:37 AM. Reason: Added HDMI and GPS bits.
    02-11-2014 03:31 PM
  2. DBDev's Avatar
    Thanks for the nice review!
    02-12-2014 12:31 AM
  3. Joshua Jackson's Avatar
    Bump for the power issue seemingly being fixed.
    02-12-2014 04:07 PM
  4. AndyCalling's Avatar
    Regarding the blue light, it is a camera indicator. It does briefly flash when booting or shutting down, but when running it only comes on when the camera is operating. This is important to give confidence that a dodgy web site or program cannot start bugging you or spying on you whilst you use your tablet without your being aware that the camera is on. The front camera is the key issue here, but either camera will trigger the light.
    02-20-2014 07:08 AM

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