The Bottom Line
Oct 7 2013 - Toshiba entry into the premium ultrabook market with the KIRAbook tries very hard to make a name for itself. The high resolution display, very fast storage performance and strong warranty support definitely are all welcome additions. The problem is that there are enough quirks that hold it back. The noisy cooling fans and limited viewing angles can be extremely distracting when using it. Probably the biggest issue though is the price tag that is just a bit too high when compared to the competition which is less expensive.
- Very High Resolution Display
- Fast Storage System
- Excellent Warranty
- Very High Price Tag
- Display Viewing Angles Can Be A Problem
- Noisy Cooling Fan
- Intel Core i5-3337U Dual Core Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 256GB Solid State Drive
- 13.3" WQHD (2560x1440) Multitouch Display With 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Three USB 3.0, HDMI, 3-in-1 Card Reader
- 12.4" x 8.2" x .7" @ 3 lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - Toshiba KIRAbook 13 i5-Touch
Oct 7 2013 - Toshiba's KIRAbook is a new product class that differs from their Portege systems because it is a premium class system that even features a specialized support offering not found in their other computers. The premium feel of the system starts with the magnesium clad chassis that offers a very durable design and also a nice stylish metal look. It also is extremely light weight just three pounds which is roughly the same as the MacBook Air 13. It is a bit thicker though in order to fit in its peripheral ports. The only real downside to he design is that the front edge of the laptop is quite sharp and can make it uncomfortable at times to use the keyboard.
The KIRAbook 13 i5-Touch was released before the 4th generation of Intel Core processors went live so it instead uses the Core i5-3337U dual core processor which is so common to many ultrabooks on the market. This should provide sufficient performance for the average user in terms of tasks but it will likely not be as efficient when it comes to the battery life. The system also tends to get a bit hot and loud when it is under any loud due to its limited cooling performance. It does feature 8GB of DDR3 memory which is nice as many still ship with 4GB and the extra memory helps ensure that Windows 8 runs smoothly along with more demanding applications.
As with the new Intel ultrabook specifications, the KIRAbook 13 i5-Touch does use a solid state drive. In this case, it is a 256GB capacity which is a decent size for such a class of computer system. This is twice what much of the competition offers but you are also looking at a more expensive laptop here. Performance from the drives is quite impressive and easily outperforms most other ultrabooks especially in the write speeds. If you do happen to need additional storage space, the KIRAbook does feature a surprising three USB 3.0 ports which is more than most laptops in this size tend to offer. There is no optical drive which is typical of most laptops in this size range but there is a multi-card reader for use with the most common flash media cards.
The biggest feature on the KIRAbook 13 is the display. The 13.3-inch display features an amazing sharp 2560x1440 resolution which is on par with the Apple MacBook Pro 13 with Retina Display. The display does feature a glass coating that goes edge to edge on the lid and there is very little bezel around the frame. Overall, the display has some excellent color and brightness. Where is stumbles a bit is the viewing angles which aren't quite as wide especially on the vertical which is also not helped by the highly reflective coating that is prone to glare and reflections. The touchscreen was accurate and have no issues at all. The one problem is that Windows 8 isn't as well suited to this high resolution in terms of scaling text and buttons. At times, icons will be extremely small and hard to accurately touch. The graphics themselves are handled by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 built into the Core i5 processor. It certainly is not designed for 3D applications but it does offer some excellent media encoding performance when used with Quick Sync compatible applications
Toshiba has also redesigned its ultrabook keyboards slightly for the KIRABook 13. It still uses an isolated layout design that is slightly recessed into the keyboard deck but the keys now have a bit more spacing and contour to them. In addition, there is a bit more travel. This makes it a bit easier to type on their their other keyboards but still not as nice as some others on the market. The trackpad is a nice size and handles multitouch gestures well not that this matters much as it does feature a touchscreen. The one downside is that it seems to have some tracking problems when doing standard mousing movements. Once again not a major issue with the touchscreen version of the KIRAbook but something to think about if you might be look at the non-touchscreen version.
The battery for the KIRAbook 13 is an internal 52WHr capacity that is only a fraction smaller than that found in the MacBook Air 13. In digital video playback testing, the system lasted just over five and a quarter hours before going into standby mode. This is a decent running time for an ultrabook with its high resolution display and power setup. As mentioned before, this does use the 3rd generation Core i processor which isn't as efficient as the latest processors. This is why the Apple MacBook Air 13 still manages to achieve an amazing ten hours.
Probably the biggest fault for the Toshiba KIRAbook 13 i5-Touch is its pricing. With a list price tag of $1799, this is one of the more expensive ultrabooks on the market. The MacBook Air 13 in contrast is just $1299 with its longer battery life, similar storage performance but lower resolution non-touchscreen. A closer comparison is probably Samsung's new ATIV Book 9 Plus which costs just $1400. It also uses the new 4th generation processor and has an even higher 3200x1800 touchscreen display. The downside is that it only features 4GB of memory and 128GB of storage space but it is significantly less expensive.