Toshiba says pens are still important with Wacom-based Windows 8 tablets

Toshiba has been making portable computers longer than most people — hey, it practically invented the category in the 80s — and this year, it will offer at least two machines that aim to make content creation easier whether you like laptops, tablets, or both.

This year, Toshiba has taken the time at CES to show that it still knows a thing or two about making portable computers, with two ranges of machines displayed to the world, each with a focus on getting you to use those pen and handwriting skills that are likely falling by the wayside and letting you add to the impossibly messy writing of the world.

Assisting with that will be two computers from Toshiba, made for two different price points and even different people, with the Portege focused squarely on the professional keen to have a product similar to the Surface yet with a more laptop-inspired design, as well as a casual tablet for people who like to take their computer with them but have no problem working without a keyboard.

We’ll deal with the tablet group first because tablets are more portable, and generally less expensive, and in that category, Toshiba is announcing the Encore 2 Write tablets, slates that will be available in both 8 inch and 10.1 inch sizes, running Windows 8.1 on Intel quad-core Atom processors with 2GB RAM, 802.11n WiFi, and up to 64GB of storage with room to move via a microSD slot.

Making these tablets particularly special is the inclusion of a digital pen, with the technology handled by Wacom, one of the leaders in digital pens and stylus technologies, with their equipment still being used by graphic designers and photographers around the world.

Wacom’s technology in the Toshiba Encore 2 Write tablets won’t be exactly on par with its Intuos or Cintiq tablets, but it will make the pen feel more like a professional gadget than a broad-tripped stylus, thanks to a fine tip, 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, and reduced lag as you write or draw, with several apps all coming together to make the Write tablets feel like you have a good reason to give up on paper altogether.

“Whether you’re a compulsive scribbler, sketch artist or simply prefer handwriting notes in meetings, this tablet features technologies that make writing on screen feel more natural than ever, said Toshiba’s Philip Osako.

The two smaller tablets will be joined by a bigger one, geared at people who prefer a little more professionalism, all while reading like a dead ringer for a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 competitor.

This one is called the Portege Z20t, and appears to be an updated model of Toshiba’s Z10t, which first appeared in July 2013.

Well over a year on, Toshiba is moving from an 11.6 inch touch-display to a 12.5 inch screen still inclusive of touch, with the casing built from magnesium alloy, while the chips have been updated to support Intel’s very latest processors, those Core M chips from the fifth-generation Core line also known as “Broadwell”.

Storage can be as high as 256GB with as much as 8GB RAM, and Toshiba is saying the tablet can run for as long as 9 hours by itself, or pair the tablet with a keyboard dock which also comes with a secondary battery, resulting in a total of a little over 17 hours possible from this combination.

The keyboard dock will also bring an HDMI port, a couple of USB 3.0 ports, and a Gigabit Ethernet port, too, as well as a touchpad mouse if you’re into having both.

And again, Toshiba is working with Wacom to deliver a professional grade stylus to make the tablet a little more useful than just with fingers, with the pen supporting the same 2048 levels of pressure and even a rubber at the back of the pen, great for erasing mistakes as you write or draw. Windows 8 is also here, and you’ll find 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, among other things.

One lesson Toshiba appears to have learned from Microsoft’s take on the Surface has been a place to store the pen, and since both the Portege Z20t and the Encore 2 Write tablets are all based around the inclusion of a pen, they all have places to store the digital accessory.

In the case of the Encore tablets, Toshiba has taken a very simple approach with a little crevice you can hook the pen into, letting it hang off the side. For the Portege, there’s a slot for the pen inside the tablet section, which will be covered up when docked with the keyboard section.

Keeping in line with typical CES news, there are no announcements as to Australian release dates or pricing, and Toshiba Australia has been very quiet during CES in general.

In any case, we’ll get the GadgetGuy News Prod out for a little heavy nudging, and will let you know when we have more.