Toshiba's high-end Kirabook gets it right in version 2.0
5 March 2014
Summary: The design of Toshiba's high-end Kirabook hasn't changed since last year, but it has aged gracefully. The components get an update and the battery life gets a big boost, making this an all-around excellent, but expensive, ultrabook.
Pros: The slim, lightweight Toshiba Kirabook still feels very premium, and it deserves credit for being one of the first Windows laptops to feature a better-than-HD display. Thanks to an updated CPU, battery life is now good enough for all-day use.
Cons: Higher-res screens are more common now, and available for less. The generic brushed-metal look isn't particularly distinctive given the price.
Excerpt: While much of the PC industry is hustling to bring lower-cost Ultrabooks to market, Toshiba is unabashedly raising the high end, complete with an all-new brand meant to ooze excellence. The first product to wear this proud badge is the 13.3-inch Kirabook . With its upmarket looks, über-high-res screen, and serious-for-its-size parts, this high-priced newcomer is gunning for no less than Apple’s Retina display–boasting MacBook Pro.
Pros: Eye-popping screen; good looks and build; strong performance; bundled extras.
Cons: Expensive; value depends on interest in extras.
Summary: Toshiba's ambitious Kirabook has a screen that rivals Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and a price to match. It's a solid, useful laptop, but for these prices, the design should really be more exciting.
Pros: The Toshiba Kirabook is made of superior materials and has an unusually high-resolution display.
Cons: The design doesn't wow, considering the high price. Battery life is merely OK, and the least expensive version omits a touch screen.
Conclusion: Ultrabooks are getting so thin that computer makers are likely tempted to cut features like backlit keyboards or squeezing keyboard and trackpad real estate. Cutting corners won’t just save them money – it can save them space in systems that have little to spare. But Toshiba's KIRAbook hits the high notes, carrying the critical performance components and slipping in smaller (but still important) perks.
Conclusion: The Toshiba Kirabook ultrabook has a breathtaking screen. However, that screen doesn't necessarily justify the system's high price point.
Pros: Brilliant 2,560-by-1,440 resolution screen. Very light. Premium materials and look. Two year warranty, including tech support and Internet Security. Includes media creation apps (Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements). Three USB 3.0 ports and HDMI out.
Cons: No 802.11ac or 5GHz Wi-Fi. Small bezel makes some touch gestures inconvenient. May have to adjust zoom or screen resolution for apps. Integrated graphics.
Summary: The Toshiba Kirabook is by and large a very good ultrabook. Its screen is unparalleled in the Windows 8 market, it's light and thin and generally well-designed, and it has no glaring flaws. It has flaws, yes, but the absence of a deal-breaker is normally enough for me to recommend a Windows laptop. For $1,599 or more, though, these little flaws – a jumpy and imperfect trackpad, some performance quirks, that ugly give on the lid — give me great pause.
Pros: Gorgeous, high-res display, Small, thin, and light, Great speakers
Cons: Too much of Windows isn't designed for high-res displays, Some performance quirks, A few small build quality issues
Summary: When Toshiba announced the KIRAbook, we were blown away by its specs, especially its high-resolution display. After playing around with it for our reviewing purposes, we’re still impressed with Toshiba’s offering, although the KIRAbook isn’t quite as perfect as most people had hoped it would be.
Conclusion: Without having personally tested any of the ASUS Zenbooks, which at least around the "office" (disclaimer: there is not an office) are generally regarded as among the best ultrabooks on the market, I can't really speak too greatly on how the Toshiba KIRAbook measures up competitively. I can definitely tell you how the user experience measures up to the myriad non-ASUS ultrabooks I have tested, though.
Conclusion: The Toshiba Kirabook is in many ways a great Ultrabook. The 2560 x 1440 would be impressive on its own, yet it’s served up in a package no larger than a MacBook Air that still offers excellent performance and reasonable battery life. Toshiba’s engineers have certainly earned their keep. But even the best hardware can’t reach its potential without the right software, and that’s where this Ultrabook – through no fault of its own – stumbles.
Pros: Solid chassis, Glass touchscreen with thin bezels, Beautiful 2560 x 1440 display, Excellent performance
Cons: Display suffers from scaling issues, Extremely hot and loud at load, Not a good value