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Toshiba intros the Encore, an affordable 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet

Acer was the first manufacturer to release a smaller tablet running Windows 8, but other companies have been slow to produce similar products. At least Toshiba is throwing its hat into the ring, today announcing the Encore. It’s an 8-inch tablet running Windows 8.1 that may be similar to the Acer Iconia W3, but it features a distinct advantage.

According to Toshiba, this is the first tablet to run Intel’s new Bay Trail platform. It’s an Atom chip, yes, but Bay Trail brings performance improvements as well as increased battery life. The 8-inch display, meanwhile, includes a 1280×800 resolution, with other specs including 2GB of RAM, up to 64GB of internal storage, an 8-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front camera, and a microSD card slot.

Toshiba will also be bundling Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 with the tablet for free. And it’s relatively cheap too: the tablet is said to cost $330 (around £211) in the US. Toshiba, then, may be hoping to tempt students away from the iPad mini with the inclusion of Microsoft’s productivity suite. That’s all very well and good, but the Windows ecosystem may fall down when compared to iOS in the eyes of student.

Toshiba says the Encore will be available for purchase in the UK in Q4, but didn’t provide local pricing information.

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