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Sunday
May102015

Chronology in Haggai

Russian icon of Haggai, 18th century (Iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia). Source: Wikipedia.Our Bible study today at church is taken from the Book of Haggai, one of the Minor Prophets. I admit that it's been a while since I have studied Haggai, and one aspect that really intrigued me about the book is all the very specific references to dates. Consider these examples from the HCSB:

“In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest:” (Hag 1:1)

“They began work on the house of Yahweh of Hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.” (Hag 1:14–15)

“On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came through Haggai the prophet:” (Hag 2:1)

“On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Haggai the prophet:” (Hag 2:10)

“Consider carefully from this day forward; from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid; consider it carefully.” (Hag 2:18)

“The word of the LORD came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month:” (Hag 2:20)

There are similar references to dates elsewhere in the Bible, but I can't think of any other biblical writing that has so many chronological markers in such a short amount of space--two chapters in modern versified editions. This is wonderful for the reader because a very exact chronology of events is fairly easy to trace through the writing. I found a number of commentaries and Bible dictionaries that offered chronologies of Haggai, often including his contemporary, Zechariah, another prophet known for detail in dating events. Here is a representative example:

Screen capture above from Accordance
(E. Ray Clendenen, “Haggai, Book Of.” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003, p. 701.). 

Although there's some room for error in regard to the years offered above, such attention to detail seems to be more of a modern practice than an ancient one, with most biblical dating references usually focusing on distance from certain events as opposed to the specificity of month and date as offered by Haggai and Zechariah. It's too bad we don't have chronological markers this specific for other portions of the Bible, especially the events in the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, and the events of the early monarchy. If the biblical writers had offered a calendar to go along with their narratives, a great number of ongoing debates would be over before they began!

Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Rebuttals? Put them in the comments section!

Saturday
May092015

This Week in Accordance (2015.05.09)

Here is my unofficial, off-the-clock rundown of everything new relating to Accordance from this past week. 

New Titles for the Accordance Library from InterVarsity Press

These titles were released and went on sale on Tuesday with introductory pricing. It's Saturday afternoon when I'm writing this, so if you want the discounts, you've got less than three days left. I read through a few articles in the Global Dictionary, and it looks really good. I enjoy reading other perspectives, regardless of whether or not I agree with them. I've been wanting to read Walton's book for a while, as well as his follow-up covering Gen 2-3, so I hope to curl up with my iPad and jump into the Lost World soon.


NIVAC Sale Ends at Midnight

This sale on the NIV Application Commentary series was in partnership with the publisher, Zondervan. It ran for two weeks on a schedule different than our normal sales. If you're reading this after the date of this post, and the link above doesn't work, forget it you missed it. And that's a shame because the sale brought the prices down to $7.99 per volume. 


Five New Videos

We released five new videos this week, some of which we haven't even had a chance yet to publicize. Nevertheless, since they are all public, I'll embed them here. 

First up, a short tutorial, Syncing Accordance Mobile with Dropbox. This is part of our Mobile Minute series that goes with our weekly newsletter (sign up here). 

Second, Dr. J (Tim Jenney) released episode #122 of the Lighting the Lamp podcast, in which he demonstrates How to Study a Topic in Accordance. 

The third and fourth videos are part of a 2013 Accordance Training Seminar held in Baltimore in November, 2013 (ETS/SBL week). Although they feature demonstrations of Accordance 10, everything here applies to Accordance 11 since the latter added features to what was already there. There will be more installments added to a new page at the Accordance website as we edit them. 

This first segment, led by Tim Jenney, gives a basic overview of Accordance.

The second segment, led by David Lang, offers a basic introduction to search commands and search symbols. 

Finally, the fifth video, just released today is another Accordance Mobile Minute segment. This one, primarily geared toward new users of our mobile app, shows off features of the Verse Chooser. 


Australian Training Seminars

We now have two free training seminars scheduled for Australia: 

  • Brisbane (May 16)
  • Sydney (June 13)

Go to our Training Seminars page to get more information and sign up for these seminars and others.


Upcoming Free Webinars for the Coming Week

We have two webinars on schedule for this week. The webinars use GoToMeeting and allow participants to directly interact with the instructor. 

  • Intermediate Searching in Accordance (Tues May 12, 6-7 PM, EDT)
  • Using the Atlas (Thurs May 14, 1-2 PM, EDT)

Sign up for these or other sessions at our Webinars page. Also check out recordings of past webinars on our Webinar Archives page.

 

Whew--it's been a busy week! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Friday
May082015

What's the Surface Temperature? (Theotek Podcast #23)

In this morning's Theotek podcast, we discussed the new Surface 3 from Microsoft (both Kevin & I received ours this week). We also had a discussion on "best" computers for ministers and church secretaries. 

Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Rebuttals? Leave them in the comment section.

Thursday
May072015

3 Reasons Apple Might Create Their Own Search Engine

Yesterday there was much stir in the tech press (see here, for instance) after Apple offered details on its much rumored web crawler known appropriately enough as "Applebot." Apple says the web crawler is merely for use with Siri and Spotlight. Nevertheless, this revelation has led to much speculation that Apple might actually be creating a search engine to rival Google. 

Although presumably Apple has the kind of massive data centers to back their own search engine, why would they want to do that? What would be the point? Could they possibly match what Google, the de facto search standard, is already doing? 

Well, there are at least three reasons for doing this I can think of off the top of my head. Here they are in order of significance.  

  1. Apple's own search engine would provide means to remove dependency on yet another Google service. Granted, Apple's own map service was nowhere near what Google Maps was, and it certainly got off to a very rocky start. But these days, it's fairly comparable--or at least good enough. In fact, millions of people use it every day and don't even realize they're using something that's not Google Maps. And maybe that's the point. An Apple search engine doesn't have to be as good as Google. It only has to be good enough. 
  2. Apple could provide its customers with ad-free search. Tim Cook has famously said that Apple's customers "are not the product." Google's services are supported through monetization of information gained through the habits of their users. Already Apple provides its users with a choice of search engines: Google, Yahoo, Bing and the lesser known Duck Duck Go. I've been using this last choice for nearly six months. I use it because of the four choices, Duck Duck Go is the only one that doesn't monetize my searches or even keep a record of them. How does it stack up? Just fine. Occasionally I have to use Google, but when I used Google, I occasionally had to use Bing. The point is that a search engine just needs to be good enough to be useful most of the time. 
  3. Apple creating its own search engine and making it the default choice on its devices will hurt Google financially. With Steve Jobs gone, no one at Apple is declaring "thermonuclear war" against Google anymore. Honestly, I doubt this is a reason that Apple would create its own search engine; but nevertheless, "Apple Search" (you heard it here first) as a default could seriously put a dent into Google's finances and threaten its position as king of search.

Google has become so dominant with internet search that even Microsoft has not been able to gain more than a minority share of searches on the internet. Apple controls the default settings of hundreds of millions of devices sold each year, so they could make a significant effort. But they may have no desire to become the top search engine on the internet. Apple likes to control the whole widget and not remain dependent on other companies. When it comes to search, they just need to be good enough. 

What are your thoughts? Does Apple have plan for their own search engine, or is this just a minor technology service for Apple devices. Leave your thoughts, questions, comments and rebuttals in the comments section. 

 

Wednesday
May062015

7 Quick Thoughts on Avengers: Age of Ultron (Minor Spoilers)

Kathy and I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron last Thursday night. I'm not offering a full review, but here are a few quick thoughts with some minor spoilers.


  • If there was ever a "What He Said" treatment of this movie for me, personally, it's David Betancourt's article at The Washington Post, "'Avengers: Age of Ultron':A fanboy's 11-point breakdown of the masterful sequel." I also appreciated Jessica Gibson's review at Christianity Today for her insights into the movie's treatment of the reality of evil in the world.

  • I'm not certain about the relationship between Bruce Banner (The Hulk) and Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow). I mean, what about poor Betty Ross?

  • I can't remember now where I saw this (my apologies for no link), but I read that director Joss Whedon is evidently a fan of ballet. In hindsight after seeing the movie, this definitely makes sense. Whedon likes to slow down expansive actions scenes so that the viewer can take a long look at everything going on at once. There's so much going on, in fact, that slow motion is the only way to begin to comprehend all the chararacters' actions at once. When I saw the first of these in the opening scenes of the movie, the word choreography came to mind.

  • At two hours and 21 minutes, the movie is quite full, but I've read elsewhere (again, I apologize for no link) that Whedon's original cut is somewhere around three and a half hours! No doubt ticket sales played a factor in the studio cutting it down over an hour (longer movies mean fewer showing, which means less money), but I really hope we get to see Whedon's entire vision for the movie one day in a Director's Cut Release.

  • I thought James Spader was perfect as Ultron. Having watched Spader on The Black Listfor the last two years (a role obviously taylor-made for him), I could even "see" Spader's facial expressions in the mechanical movements of Ultron's face.

  • Paul Bettany's portrayal of The Vision was wonderful, even though the character's origin was significantly altered from that in the comic books. I wish he had been in more of the movie. I also found it interesting that Kathy noticed the connection between The Vision and Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) even though she knows nothing of the characters' history together in the comic books.

  • Although Elizabeth Olson (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver) had wonderful chemistry together, I think I still prefer the style of motion for the character a bit better as it was portrayed by Evan Peters in X-Men: Days of Future Past. And for what it's worth, I find it regrettable that there are "rival" versions of these same characters in different movie franchises. The movies would be better if the studios would cooperate a bit more together on issues like this. At least we're going to see a shared Spider-Man.


What about you? What are your thoughts about the movie? Love it? Hate it? Leave your questions, thoughts, comments, and rebuttals in the comments section.

Tuesday
May052015

Received: 128 GB Surface 3

I was not in the market for a new Windows tablet, but when I had the opportunity to obtain a Surface 3 combo package (including keyboard and pen) at half price a few weeks ago, I found it difficult to pass up. 

Above: Accordance running on the Surface 3. 

Commercially released today, this is the 128 GB model with 4 GB of RAM (a lesser 64 GB/2 GB RAM model, too). Yes, I actually chose red as the color for the keyboard and matching pen; I've really been into red a lot lately. The Surface 3 has a lesser processor than the Surface Pro 3--a Quad-core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor to be exact--which is why it also costs less than the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft claims that "Surface 3 offers more than 80% of the performance of Surface Pro 3 with Intel Core i3 processor." 

I'll have a full review at some point in the near future. I haven't had much time to spend with the device yet, but it seems to be quite capable for most basic computing needs. One odd issue that I've confirmed with Kevin Purcell who also received a Surface 3 today: under heavy processing load, the battery charge of the Surface 3 may decrease even when plugged in. I'll explore this issue further for my upcoming review. 

In the meantime, here are a few more photos.

Above, the new matching red Surface 3 pen with the original Surface Pro 3 pen.

 

Questions, thoughts, comments, rebuttals? Leave 'em in the comments!

 

Monday
May042015

Theotek Podcast #22: What's New?

A few weeks ago I began taking part in the Theotek podcast with Kevin Purcell, Wes Allen, and Antoine J. Wright. This past week's (May 1) episode was a potpourri of topics: Apple Watch, Windows 10, and a live report from BibleTech from LaRosa Johnson.

 

 

Sunday
May032015

Biblical Word for the Day: Shigionoth (שִׁגְיֹנוֹת)

I'm teaching on Habakkuk 3 at church this morning. Verse 1 reads

“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. According to Shigionoth” (Hab 3:1, HCSB)

What does Shigionoth (שִׁגְיֹנוֹת) mean? Well, Shigionoth is the plural of the Hebrew Shiggaion (שִׁגָּיוֹן), and it refers to a musical term that relates to how a psalm should be performed. The same term shows up in Psalm 7, for instance.

However, in trying to find out exactly how the direction of Shigionoth/Shiggaion should be understood, I ran into not a whole lot of agreement. Here are just two examples from a number of descriptions I found when consulting various Bible dictionaries in Accordance:

SHIGGAION (Heb. šiggāyôn),
SHIGIONOTH (šig̱yōnôṯ)
A term appearing in the superscription of Ps. 7 and in a plural form at Hab. 3:1, which is the superscription of a psalm (vv. 2–19). The term may indicate that these are songs to be performed in a lament or dirge style (cf. Akk. šegu, “lament”) or that their structure and performance are varied from part to part (cf. Heb. šāg̱â, “wander”).
Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, s.v. “SHIGGAION SHIGIONOTH,” 1210.

 

SHIGGAION (Shı̆ gā′ ŏn) Transliteration of a Hebrew technical term used in psalm titles (Ps. 7; Hab. 3). Suggested translations include “frenzied” or “emotional.” Some think the basic meaning is “to wander” in reference to a wandering style of thought or melody or to the unconnected expressions of a lament.

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, s.v. “SHIGGAION,” 1486.

Based on the context of Habakkuk, the element of lament or dirge suggested from the Eerdmans Dictionary seems to make more sense, which is how I'm teaching it this morning. 

Saturday
May022015

This Week in Accordance (2015.05.02)

A personal note: If you were around to remember the Remington shaver ads in the '80s, you might remember Victor Kiam stating, "I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company!" Well, I haven't bought anything, but believing in the power and potential of Accordance Bible Software so greatly, I began regular work for the company. I say "regular" work because I now have a title (Technology Evangelist--this is homage to Guy Kawasaki's title at Apple in the '90s and one I requested based on what I'm doing for Accordance) and daily responsibilities. 

If you look at some of the big players in Bible Software--Accordance, Logos, WordSearch, BibleWorks, OliveTree--I used all but OliveTree before I ever started using Accordance in 1998. All of them are still on my various devices. But it was Accordance that changed everything for me. For me, and for reasons I won't rabbit trail here, Accordance became the Bible software I went to 99% of the time because I could do with it what I couldn't do with the other platforms. Accordance is one of those programs that simply stays open on my computer because I use it over and over throughout the day. Over time, I got to know some of the personalities behind the computer screen, and beginning around 2008, they started using me for an occasional training seminar or conference. Then, as of last year--June, 2014, to be specific--I'm finally with them as a day-in, day-out regular employee. 

So, now, as I try to bring This Lamp back from the throes of death due to neglect, I want to continue including content about Accordance even though I work for the company. But I want to point out an important difference here. If I say something about Accordance on the Accordance FaceBook page, it's an "official" statement. If I say it here, it's unofficial. If I say something through the Accordance Twitter account, I'm speaking for the company. Here, I'm not. What I write here is not part of my job; I'm not counting hours or getting paid for anything I include on This Lamp. This just goes back to my sentiment that echoes Victor Kiam. I really am all-in with this.

Having said that, one thing I thought I might do is to create a quick rundown each week of all that's new with Accordance, usually posting on the weekend. Today's post will be the first of these. 

So what's new with Accordance this week?

NIVAC Sale. As of this writing, you've still got seven days to take advantage of this. Zondervan partnered with Accordance (and a few other not-to-be-named-here platforms) to offer the NIV Application Commentary at 70% off through May 9. This is a really good deal. We've never offered these prices this low before, and the commentary is a good mid-range set that, while emphasizing contemporary relevance, also takes original context seriously. 

Three new releases from Tremper Longman. If you've read anything from Longman, you're aware that he's a topnotch scholar who knows how to communicate in a style that's very understandable to those who are not necessarily scholars. This week, we released three of his four "How to Read" books: How to Read Genesis, How to Read Exodus, and How to Read Proverbs. Introductory pricing is still available for about two more days as of this writing, so don't delay picking these up.

Accordance 11.05 was released for Windows & OS X. The update can be accessed by going to Application Update inside Accordance. The official general statement is "Improved export capabilities, updated colors, report topic corrections, and many improvements and fixes across the board," but you may be interested in the specifics as it pertains to the individual Mac and Windows platforms.

Check out the Sermon Prep webinar (recorded). We've heard numerous times the competition privately telling potential customers, "Well, Accordance is okay for original languages, but not so much for ministry tasks like preparing sermons." Baloney. Tell that to the thousands of pastors who use Accordance every week for preparing their sermons! Anyway, this webinar taught by Pastor Abram Kielsmeier-Jones is a great introduction for using Accordance to prepare sermons. For that matter, any Accordance user who has any kind of regular teaching responsibilities will find this session to be extremely practical. 

And while you're thinking about webinars, take a look at the upcoming Accordance webinar schedule. Our webinars are becoming a chief way to hone one's skills in using the Bible software. 

 

Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Rebuttals? Put them in the comments.

Friday
May012015

Review: Toshiba Encore 2 Write (Updated)

Note: I originally wrote this review on January 30, 2015 for SurfaceGeeks.net. I am taking the original review as a base and updating it a bit now that I've had the device for a few months. The original version can be read at http://surfacegeeks.net/toshiba-encore-2-write-review.html

The Problem with Windows Tablets

I’ve long felt that Windows tablets need a stylus. Touch-centric Windows Store apps are simply not robust enough to use exclusively as a platform by themselves. If they had been Windows RT would still be around. The reality is we still need to rely on some desktop apps; but unfortunately, these don’t work as well with touch alone. This issue is heightened on smaller tablets where the desktop touchpoints can be even more difficult to accurately access. Plus, many websites and Windows desktop applications use mouseover functions that simply don't work in a purely touch environment (which is also why so many websites have dedicated apps on mobile platforms).

 

It seems, however, that very few Windows tablets emphasize or even support some kind of digital or active stylus. For instance, the Dell Venue 8 Pro (which I used to own) is a very capable tablet, but the stylus seems like an afterthought. Sold separately, it took three versions for Dell to get the stylus right. And even then—in my experience—the stylus seems awkward to use with the tablet.

Many of us were hopeful that the much-rumored Microsoft Surface Mini would be the mini tablet we were hoping for. But for whatever reason (and I have my theories), Microsoft pulled it at the last minute, leaving the Surface Mini to remain the stuff of fables and legends.

In recent months, new Windows tablets of 8" or smaller seem to appear every few weeks. I could not pass up the HP Stream 7 for only $99 when I saw one in person at the local Microsoft Store popup this past December. The Stream 7 is an amazing device, but it’s difficult to use, confirming my conviction even more that a Windows tablet needs a stylus.

Enter the Encore 2 Write

When the Toshiba Encore 2 Write was announced at CES, I immediately thought that perhaps this would be the tablet I had been hoping for. There are a number of things the Encore 2 Write has going for it, but two immediate qualities stood out to me. First, this tablet comes standard with 64 GB of drive space. I’m sorry, but 32 GB on a Windows device of any kind is not enough because the operating system simply takes up too much space from the beginning. A microSD slot helps, but apps run fastest on the primary internal drive.

Second, the Encore 2 Write includes an active stylus that does not seem to be an afterthought. The stylus does not need to be ordered separately; it comes with the tablet. The stylus and the digitizer built into the screen are the first to use Wacom’s new “Active ES” pen technology (see Reuters story here.) The addition of three new apps from Toshiba for note taking indicates that this is a primary purpose for which this tablet was designed.

The Encore 2 Write actually comes in two models: the 8" version ($349), which I purchased, and a 10" model ($399) as well. Besides the screen size, there are two interesting differences between the two models. Otherwise, everything else I describe here essentially applies to both.

While both Include a 1.2MP font-facing camera, the smaller 8" tablet has a rear 8MP camera; while the larger 10" tablet only has a 5MP camera. Why the larger tablet would have the lesser camera, I have no idea. Toshiba includes an app called TruCapture, which according to their promotional copy, is designed “to capture notes from textbooks, blackboards, whiteboards and chalkboards and automatically straighten and sharpen the text for greater readability.” And, of course, I often use tablets to take quick scans of documents, so the higher the megapixel the better.

The other difference between the two tablets has to do with the larger tablet including a microHDMI port for presentations. It’s a shame that this extra output feature is missing from the smaller tablet, and you really have to pay close attention to the promo copy to realize it’s not there. Nevertheless, users of the 10" Encore 2 Write will have an easier time connecting the tablet to an HDMI-equipped projector or TV. Fortunately, for those with the smaller tablet, I have confirmed in my own use that USB to VGA adapters do work for presentations or using an external monitor.

On a related note to the above, Toshiba sells a Connect and Charge Micro-USB Cable as an accessory to both tablets, which means that it is possible to use the micro USB port for peripherals and to charge the device at the same time. Although I’ve not seen anyone test it yet, I assume that the Encore 2 Write will work with one of the Pluggable docking stations to make this device convert to a full desktop solution if someone were so inclined.

Software Included for Notes & Meetings

My Encore 2 Write is the Signature Edition from the online Microsoft Store, so it came free from some of the usually-unnecessary software that you might find if purchasing directly from Toshiba. However, three apps specific to this device remain: TruNote, TruCapture (mentioned earlier), and TruRecorder.

TruNote is what you would expect—it’s a note taking app and a good one at that. It’s very customizable and handles note taking quite well. Although it does not OCR handwritten notes, you can search for your handwritten text because it will search for similar shapes if you write a word into the search field. I’m not certain how much I would use TruNote, however, because I’m already invested in other note-taking apps such as Evernote, and to a lesser extent, OneNote. Although Evernote does not read handwritten text, the Microsoft pen input keyboard available to use with any app does, and does so quite well. In fact, I wrote a large portion of this review strictly using Evernote and the Encore 2 Write stylus. The other advantage Evernote and OneNote have is their ubiquity. I can create a note on one device and open it on any other device. Nevertheless, notes can be exported out of TruNote, so it’s possible that if I found it more capable for basic stylus input note taking, I could use it and then import my notes into another app such as Evernote.

Taking a note (pun intended) from the Surface Pro 3, the Encore 2 Write will also let you write on the screen without completely logging in first. Holding down the lower button on the stylus while touching the lockscreen will immediately launch a virtual blank sheet of paper for taking down a quick note. Once you log onto the tablet, your note will be waiting for you in TruNote.

I haven’t had a chance to fully test TruRecorder yet, but it seems like an intriguing app. The Encore 2 Write comes with two microphones, which allows TruRecorder to better distinguish among individual voices. So, if the software works as advertised, you can record a meeting and TruRecorder will break down individual voices into their own tracks that can be listened to individually at a later time. I haven’t had a chance to really test this out yet, but I often have opportunity to record  meetings, so I will try it soon.

The Hardware

In addition to the hardware specs already mentioned, both versions of the Encore 2 Write come with an Intel Atom Z3735F Processor and 2 GB of RAM. They both run Windows 8.1 with Bing. Although I’d prefer more RAM, I haven’t had any real issues yet. Of course, I won’t be editing video or running CAD software on this device either. Plus, if I had to choose between RAM and drive space, I’m actually much more appreciative of the standard 64 GB of the latter.

The Wacom technology built into the screen and the accompanying TruPen work together quite well. Supposedly, together, there are 2048 degrees of sensitivity. This will result in darker lines when pushing the pen harder against the screen, but I’m not artist enough to really test this feature out. All I can say is that the pen feels quite natural—again, much better than the stylus with my Dell Venue 8 Pro. In fact, having owned three previous Windows machines with stylus input—the original Surface Pro, the Dell Venue 8 Pro, and the Acer R7-572—I believe that I can fairly say that the Encore 2 Write has the most natural writing experience of any of the devices I’ve used.

The original Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 came with Wacom technology before switching to N-trig for the Surface Pro 3. Unlike the plastic pens that came with the first two iterations of the Surface Pro, the Encore 2 Write “TruPen” is made of metal (presumably aluminum) and uses a AAAA battery. There is a cap for the pen, and the user manual says the battery will last longer if the cap is kept on the pen when not in use. This must be the modern equivalent of the ink drying out if you leave the cap off a marker. I’m actually more concerned about losing that cap (although it attaches to the top of the stylus) or worse, bending it by grabbing it too hard to pull it off the pen.

Toshiba promises 11+ hours of battery life. I haven’t formally tested this, but I can say the battery is lasting all day with moderate to heavy use. That’s good news since I don’t care to carry cords if I don’t have to. And it’s much better than the HP Stream 7 I recently bought that has the worst battery life I’ve seen since the old NiCad days.

The Nitpicks

I have two minor quibbles with the Encore 2 Write beyond wishing the microHDMI port had been added to the 8" model.

First, I have a hunch that Toshiba may have rushed the Encore 2 Write out the door so that it could be released during CES a couple of weeks ago. I say that because there are no specific accessories made to go with this tablet. I have searched everywhere for a folio case/cover that would work with the Encore 2 Write, but they don’t (yet) exist. Toshiba will sell you a cover for the regular Encore 2, but all of the Encore 2 cases cover the pen clip slot on the bottom right side of the screen. The second microphone also gets covered up by the existing cases available.

To get around this, I ordered a third party cover for the regular Encore 2, and I cut off the right edge that would block the ability to dock the pen. The second microphone is still covered, but I can live with this for right now.

I should also note that as of this writing, it’s impossible to order a replacement stylus [update: they're now available here]. I have always bought an extra stylus or two to keep handy for when my original pen inevitably gets lost. Right now, if that were to happen, I’d simply be out of luck unless Wacom is selling their own stylus with the new “Active ES” technology.

My second quibble is extremely minor. To keep from losing the pen, which I’ve already stated I fear doing, the Encore 2 Write comes with a handy strap that’s supposed to secure the pen to the tablet. On the right side of the tablet, the same side where the TruPen can be docked, there’s a strap hook. Okay, I can understand how to attach the strap to the hook—easy enough—but I see no way to attach it to the pen. Sure, it can be looped around the pocket clip, but that’s not going to keep it from getting lost. Granted, I’m not the most mechanically-minded person out there, but I really believe this is an oversight. I contacted Toshiba’s tech support with this question, and they didn’t have a clue either. Go figure. [Update: a user on one of the forums where I posted this question demonstrated a way to connect the strap to the stylus. It works, but it's not overly secure.]

The Best 8" Tablet? 

In spite of the minor issues, the Toshiba Encore 2 Write turns out to be the exact 8" tablet I have been wanting. It seems made for the stylus instead of the stylus being an afterthought, and there is enough drive space—and more with an added microSD card—to make the tablet truly useful as a mobile computing experience. I specifically wanted the 8" size, but for only $49 more at $399, the full 10" tablet is a bargain. I highly recommend it—especially since the Surface mini continues to be a no-show!

Two Additional Thoughts

When I originally wrote this post for SurfaceGeeks, it didn't seem appropriate to discuss performance on Accordance, but I will mention it briefly here. Note that a Windows tablet allows use of the full blown desktop Accordance instead of the powerful, but less feature-rich iOS version. Unlike Logos, which is unbearable (and unusable) on any PC or tablet with an Atom processor, Accordance will run on any computer that you can buy off the shelf as well as just about any computer currently in use today. I've actually enjoyed using Accordance on the Encore 2 Write. It's handy for taking to church. They stylus is required, of course, for crossover highlighting of English and original language biblical texts as well as the minimize, maximize and close buttons in Accordance zones. I highly recommend it for this kind of use. Moreover, use of a tablet like the Encore 2 Write allows use of Accordance in portrait mode, which brings about a completely different perspective on how to use the software, especially for reading monograph titles. See the screenshot below of Accordance on the Encore 2 Write to see an example of this. 

I should also point out that when I wrote the original review, the idea of a Surface Mini was still fresh in a lot of people's minds. There was hope that perhaps this device, which was rumored to have already been in production before Microsoft cancelled it, might still show up at some point. Since that time, Microsoft has announced the Surface 3, a less-expensive and smaller Surface tablet running a full version of Windows (as opposed to the now-discontinued Windows RT) on a slightly more powerful Atom processor (Quad-core Intel Atom x7-Z8700). I was offered the opportunity to order a 128 GB Surface 3 with keyboard and pen for half the regular price. That was too good of a deal to pass up, but I have no justification for keeping both the Encore 2 Write and the Surface 3. Presumably, if I like the Surface 3, I will probably put the Encore 2 Write up for sale on eBay. 

Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Rebuttals? Leave them in the comments.