shift-JIS encoding of JIS X 0208-1990 and extensions
symbol font encoding
raw 16-bit Unicode (with +1 byte ordering)
Unicode transformation format
Windows standard font encoding
Zapf dingbats font encoding
With characters that are included in the encoding can be input in their raw 8- or 16-bit form, and will be output in this form.
Unencoded characters can be input and will be output in standard \[Name] or \:nnnn form.
When using a text-based interface, resetting the value of $CharacterEncoding has an immediate effect on standard input and output in a Mathematica session.
When using the notebook front end, raw character encodings are normally handled automatically based on the fonts you use. Only raw 16-bit Unicode is ever sent through the MathLink connection to the kernel.
$CharacterEncoding affects the input and output of all characters, including those in symbol names and comments.