Dan Goodman/Business InsiderT oshiba's latest laptop is the Kirabook, a high-quality 13.3-inch Ultrabook.
Toshiba is known for its good design and affordable price, its trying something new its Kira-branded products. These are Toshiba's new premium line of Windows 8 computers, and they come with a hefty price tag to match.
Let's get this out of the way: the Kirabook is expensive. It starts at $1,599.99, but that's not even for the touchscreen model. The touchscreen Kirabook retails for $1,799.99 and the most expensive model with a more powerful processor is $1,999.99. And since Windows 8 is pretty annoying to use if you don't have a touchscreen, you'll want to buy one of the latter two models.
But for some, the price may be worth it.
To compensate for the high price tag, Toshiba has bundled a two-year limited warranty that includes 24/7 phone support, two years of Norton Online Backup, Norton Internet Security, and Norton Anti-Theft. You also get Adobe Reader, full versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11, and Adobe Premier Elements 11. If you add up the retail value of all that software, you're getting a bargain.
The Kirabook's main staple is its high-resolution screen. It's one of the first Windows 8 laptops available with a display comparable to the super-sharp one on the MacBook Pro. The touchscreen is very durable too because it uses the same Gorilla Glass found on many smartphones and tablets.
Some other important specs: all models come with 256 GB of storage, 8 GB of RAM, Bluetooth, HDMI (for connecting to your TV or HD monitors), a SD card slot for more storage, and three USB 3.0 ports.
In short, i t's best to think of the Kirabook as a cross between the thin and light MacBook Air mixed with the power of the MacBook Pro.
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The Kirabook is crafted from a magnesium alloy, and Toshiba says this material is over 100% stronger than the aluminum alloy used in the MacBook Air. Unfortunately, it doesn't feel as good. That magnesium is closer to plastic than metal.
The keyboard is comfortable to type on and the keys are back lit. Battery life clocks in at six hours and 10 minutes. In real world use we got around five hours, which isn't bad considering that high-resolution display probably uses up a lot of power.
Included with the $1999.99 model we tested is an Intel Core i7 processor that pushes up to 3.1GHz, coupled with integrated HD graphics. Also included with the top-tier model is Windows 8 Pro, a beefier version of Windows 8 that boasts many addition features like enhanced data protection, and other features the average user will never notice.
Windows 8 Pro on the Kirabook operates as you would expect, just like any other Windows 8 device.
The high-resolution screen means you get crisp text and amazing HD video, but a ton of available apps are not optimized for the screen so they end up looking pixelated and frankly, not good.
Toshiba really poured a lot of effort into the Kirabook's design, but it still looks a lot like Apple's MacBook Air, something that many Windows laptops fall prey to.
When compared to Apple's laptops, the Kirabook seems extremely expensive. Yes you get an extra USB 3.0 port (all the MacBooks only have 2 USB 2.0 ports), and a touchscreen, but that's really the only real difference.
The MacBook Air is lighter and its resolution isn't bad at 1,440 by 900. It's also nearly $1,000 cheaper. I f you really want a high-quality screen, Apple's Retina MacBook Pro, while not as light, has a higher resolution than the Kirabook measuring 2,560 by 1,600 with 220 pixels per inch. That will only set you back $1,499.00.
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A major downfall with the Kirabook is its speakers. Toshiba packed in Harman/Kardon stereo speakers and DTS Studio Sound, but these names mean nothing because the speakers are placed on the bottom of the device, so the sound is pretty muffled when using the computer on your lap or a flat surface.
Overall, the Kirabook is launching at a bad time and a very expensive price tag. It's packed with a ton of nice specs and features, but isn't worth spending $1,799.99, unless you absolutely must have a gorgeous screen running Windows 8.
Dan Goodman/Business InsiderDon't get me wrong, the Kirabook isn't a bad device, and if you're looking for something slim, compact, and of a high build quality, then you should certainly consider it. But you should also pay attention to some of Apple's similar offerings because a lot of them give you more bang for your buck, not to mention in-person support in nearly every major city.
If you don't have a lot of expendable income and are just looking for a computer that you can use for word processing, surfing the internet, and consuming content, then the Kirabook is not for you. There are a ton of cheaper Windows 8 alternatives.
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