Race to the bottom quickens with the $119 Toshiba Encore Mini Windows tablet

Microsoft won’t be able to blame high prices if it doesn’t pick up some share of tablet sales over the coming months. Thanks to its no-cost Windows 8.1 with Bing licensing scheme, we’re starting to see aggressively priced slates arriving on the market. The latest is the $119 Toshiba Encore Mini.

Toshiba Encore Mini landscape

[company]Toshiba[/company] announced the device on Wednesday at Berlin’s IFA event. While the 7-inch slate has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of just under $120, it could be a $99 device on retail shelves, Toshiba told PC World.

At this price, you have to keep your expectations in check, of course: No matter how much [company]Microsoft[/company] discounts Windows, there’s still the matter of hardware to be had. So some corners are cut compared to higher-priced, more capable tablets.

For example, the 7-inch display is only 1024 x 600 resolution and it’s not an IPS screen, meaning viewing angles will be compromised. While there’s a quad-core [company]Intel[/company] Atom chip inside, you’ll have to make do with Windows running on just 1 GB of memory with a 16 GB flash drive for storage (you can expand the storage with a microSD card). And although the Encore Mini has a pair of cameras, that rear sensor is a scant 2 megapixel model.

Still, it’s impressive that a Microsoft hardware partner can bring the power of Windows 8.1 to the masses in a tablet priced around $100. Buyers could see this as a solid competitor to similarly priced or even slightly more expensive [company]Google[/company] Android tablets, particularly because of additional incentives such as 1 terabyte of free OneDrive storage and an included one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365.