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KiraBook review: An ultrabook for the 1%

Brian Nadel | May 15, 2013
Toshiba's new KiraBook ultrabook offers a sleek, rich look along with high-end components, including a fine display and great speakers. The question is: Can you afford it?

Super-sleek, light, powerful and with a slew of amenities, Toshiba's 13.3-in. KiraBook is an ultrabook for the 1%  and is priced like it.

The KiraBook comes in three versions. The lowest end starts at $1,600 for a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U processor (with TurboBoost technology to get up to 2.7GHz), 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and a non-touch screen with Windows 8. The next model adds a touch display for a cost of $1,800, while the high-end edition comes with an 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-3537U processor (that goes up to 3.1GHz) and Windows 8 Pro for a total cost of $2,000. For this review, I looked at the mid-range laptop.

Toshiba KiraBook
At 2.8 lb., the KiraBook is half a pound lighter than the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A and 3 oz. lighter than the 13-in. MacBook Air ultrabook. If you add its small AC adapter, it has a travel weight of 3.1 lb.

The KiraBook has a footprint of 12.3 x 8.2 in.; at a width of 0.7 in. in the front and 0.9 in. in the back, it is slightly thicker than the Air, which ranges from 0.1 to 0.7 in.

The system has a brushed metallic finish with a lid made of stamped aluminum-magnesium alloy; the base is reinforced with honeycomb supports in high-stress areas, like the palm rest. Toshiba says the case is more than twice as strong as the metal used on the Air. During use, I found that unlike the Air, the KiraBook is rock solid with almost no flex to its case.

A vibrant display
Open the lid and you'll see one of the sharpest and brightest notebook screens available. Based on Intel's HD 4000 Graphics, the 13.3-in. display boasts 2560 x 1440 resolution. I found the colors on the screen to be lush and vibrant, although not quite at the level of the MacBook Pro with Retina display.

The KiraBook's display does, however, offer something the MacBook doesn't: Touch sensitivity with the ability to interpret 10 independent inputs and work with gestures, like spreading your fingers to zoom. The system uses Corning's new Concore glass, which is thinner and lighter than conventional touch-screen displays.

Over the course of a week, I found the screen on the KiraBook always responded quickly and accurately to both the touch of my fingers and a stylus. The slight lip around the edge of the display is annoying at first, but easy to get used to. And the screen wobbles slightly when you swipe or tap on it, so if you plan to do a lot of touch computing, be ready to brace it with one hand as you tap and swipe with the other.


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