Toshiba KIRAbook 13" Ultrabook

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Toshiba KIRAbook 13" Ultrabook
$1,799.99 (Intel i5 Core Edition)
Toshiba

The KIRAbook isn't one to be ignored. Even before opening the 13.3" laptop, the sharp wedge design cuts a fine profile on the eyes, its finely constructed brushed metal finish invites the finger trace along its edges, hinting this isn't one amongst the hoi-polloi of other Windows 8 ultrabook laptops littering the market... 

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The KIRAbook is beautiful when closed...but even more impressive once you turn on its high resolution display.

Specs:

  • Windows 8
  • Intel Core™ i5-3337U Processor8GB DDR3 1600MHz
  • 256GB mSATA solid state drive
  • 2560x1440 PixelPure IPS Touch Display
  • HD Webcam
  • harman/kardon speakers
  • SD card reader
  • Mic/headphone combo jack
  • (3) USB 3.0
  • HDMI
  • 2.97 lbs
  • 12.44" x 0.7" x 8.5" (WxHxD)

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For longer than I'd like to admit, I used this loaner with the protective sticker left intact, worrying about damaging the pristine ultrabook. Then I realized how silly it was worrying, considering the KIRAbook is made from a highly durable magnesium alloy enclosure supposedly 100% stronger than the A6063 aluminum alloy used in the Macbook Air. 

I didn't have an Air on hand for comparison side-by-side, but I can testify the construction is solid, light, and shockingly streamlined with a physical and visual presence normally attributed to an Apple-designed products (let's not beat around the bush, the KIRAbook was designed with the MacBook Air in its sights).

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Windows 8 comes preloaded on the KIRAbook, offering users the full, if sometimes convoluted user experience between touchscreen, touchpad, and keyboard. The 2,560 x 1,440 display is good for 5-6 hours of use before needing a recharge and system responsiveness is snappy despite its ultrabook size.

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Toshiba has done a noticeably exemplary job with the industrial design from top to bottom, the only slip being an uncharacteristic shiny chrome detailing around the trackpad. Ports and slots (three 3.0 USB, HDMI, and an SD card slot) are all easily accessible, with the bottom of the KIRAbook's case revealing the same fine finished construction gracing all the top visible elements. In many ways, perhaps including price, the KIRAbook would offer a comfortable transition for the Apple user seeking a Windows 8 experience with the least sacrifice in the industrial design department. 

Around the Web Reviews:

Wired:
"Best resolution screen available for an ultrabook, period. Lightweight yet powerful, with better-than-average battery life. Responsive touchscreen and trackpad. Handsome and sturdy, yet demure."

PC World: "Perhaps the facet of the laptop's performance that surprised us most is the longevity of its battery. In our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the KIRA's sealed 52 Watt-hour battery lasted 4hr 24min."

Anandtech: "When it comes to the user experience, Toshiba's KIRAbook offers one of the best you can have with an ultrabook. That needs to account for the slightly poorer keyboard quality stemming from the lack of thickness as well as the propensity for clickpads, both of which are compromises made when switching to an ultrabook. Yet Toshiba is able to eke halfway decent depth out of the keys, and the clickpad is serviceable if not mindblowing."

Engadget: "With a 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 display, the Kirabook is the first Windows laptop with a screen sharp enough to take on the Retina MacBook Pros and the Chromebook Pixel. It's a tremendous opportunity for Toshiba and indeed, it mostly follows through with a stellar viewing experience. Movies look fantastic, colors are vibrant and the 220-ppi screen is about as sharp as you'd expect, which is to say you won't see a hint of pixelation at the native resolution."

Gizmodo: "...the Kira feels like an amazing first step into making legitimately good computers. It just comes a little late...This is the first super hi-res Windows 8 laptop that you can buy. And it might end up being the best of the year. But you should probably hold out for similar from companies that have a riper track record on "good."

(Images: Gregory Han)

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