Toshiba KIRAbook Review

The Toshiba KIRAbook 107 is a very nice 13-inch Ultrabook. There you go, that’s really the best thing I can say about it. It looks very nice, it performs pretty well but there’s no amazing WOW factor here. But that’s hardly a bad thing. It will definitely find an audience however and it’s possible that it may be the Ultrabook for you.

Toshiba KIRAbook

Let’s look at the design first, a very thin and light weight notebook with an excellent and super high resolution display. More on that later. The magnesium clamshell looks and feels great in the hand. But the chassis construction doesn’t feel quite as premium as other Ultrabooks like say for example the MacBook Air. It’s comprised of multiple parts and the rear plastic back of the device feels a little too cheap in my view.

The keyboard offers a full-size typing experience with a backlight. The I/O provides plenty of connectivity and expansion capabilities with an HDMI port, 3 USB 3.0 ports, headphone jack and an SD card slot. Windows 8.1 runs very well and the touchscreen / keyboard and trackpad dynamic is most welcome because I find myself switching back and forth effortlessly, sometimes using the trackpad and then other times reaching out and swiping and tapping on the screen.

The display is a major selling point of the Toshiba KIRAbook, although the contrast isn’t great and I found the colours not quite as vibrant as I would like. The sharpness of text and general image quality is excellent however. At a higher than HD resolution of 2560 x 1440, it’s way beyond most Ultrabooks in its class. The touchscreen interface is very much welcome for Modern UI navigation, although Windows has plenty of instances where using the trackpad is a much more practical input method.

The pricing for the Toshiba KIRAbook 107 is reasonably competitive however, cheaper models are available, but I’m reviewing this high end edition with a 2.4GHz Core i7 5500U processor with turboboost to 3GHz, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The price tag of €1,699 is actually quite good considering it’s an Ultrabook believe it or not. But it will be bit expensive for most people.

Comparing it to a somewhat similar Apple machine, the 13-inch MacBook Air, you could configure it with a 2.2GHz Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of Flash storage for €1,629 but you won’t have a touchscreen like the KIRAbook, nor will you have its very generous I/O ports or the considerable display resolution.

The Toshiba KIRAbook even gives Apple’s high end 13-inch MacBook Pro a good run for its money in terms of specifications.

Performance from the KIRAbook is excellent as you might expect but I don’t know what many other reviewers were talking about when they said this machine is quiet. Oh yeah it’s quiet when it’s doing absolutely nothing, but open applications, do anything even mildly processor intensive like downloading anti-virus software updates, which is hardly a challenge for a processor, and the fans start going insane. The rear vent, which seems like a relic of laptops from 5 years ago, begins pumping out significant hot air. Evidently there’s some questionable cooling here that simply isn’t acceptable in my view.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s quiet yeah when it’s switched off, but that’s about it.

All that being said though, battery life is ok at roughly 5 – 6 hours, obviously depending on usage. Web browsing performance is solid, but that’s hardly a challenge for a laptop of this specification. The Harmon Kardon speakers deliver excellent sound output. It’s plenty loud and rich and with that higher than HD display, makes for an excellent multimedia machine for watching movies on. Windows 8.1 comes with plenty of useful applications and the Toshiba KIRAbook stands up as a mobile productivity machine. I have to say though, the display is far too reflective and the webcam and built-in speaker are nothing to write home about. That’s the problem with this machine. For every good thing I can honestly say about the KIRAbook, there’s seems to always be one or two more negatives I could level at it.

The Toshiba KIRAbook is shooting for a premium level position in the marketplace, but it falls short in terms of build quality. This one is recommended only for those people who honestly desire the novelty of an Ultrabook that happens to have a touchscreen in it.

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