Windows 8.1 brings a swathe of new screen sizes

Looking around the IFA hardware I’ve seen so far here, the main theme of the show seems to be ‘all screens, all sizes’. Where once it was Samsung alone who fired a scattergun of screen sizes at their tablets, now almost everyone has a laptop, phone or tablet range that starts at 4inches and works it way slowly up.

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft is pushing more people towars 8inch screens. Similar in size to an iPad mini, from a manufacture point of view it’s very much in vogue (will customers follow? Who knows). It’s about the size of a book or magazine – more comfortable to read than, say, a Nexus 7 but not as heavy as a 10inch tab to carry around.

We’ve seen Acer’s Iconia W3 in the office before, and this morning I got time to play around with a prototype of Toshiba’s new Encore. The company won’t admit it, but it’s powered by one of Intel’s new Bay Trail Atom processors, which are simultaneously more powerful than the older Cedar Trail chips and also more power efficient.

The Encore, as a result, runs full Windows 8.1 and comes with Office pre-installed, and genuinely feels faster than other small screen tablets we’ve tested. It also has a microSD port, microHDMI and microUSB connectors and will cost just £249 (R3 999 equivalent at current exchange rates) in the UK. If Bay Trail’s processing power is up to multitasking like a real PC, that’s great value for money.

I hate travelling with anything bulky, and the idea of using an Intel-powered tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard and Ubuntu installed so that I can write and post on the go is very appealing. It’s a shame, having seen this, that ASUS isn’t planning something similar for its Transformer range.

Disappointingly, though, the quoted battery life is only seven hours. I was really hoping for closer to double digits with Bay Trail – but until I’ve actually tested one out I’ll stave off feelings of doom and gloom.

Piccies below.


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