In the new 13.3-inch Toshiba Kirabook ($1,600), Windows users finally have a laptop that comes close to and even bests the Apple MacBook Air in some ways, though it falls short in others.
The Kirabook was an excellent performer, with a bright, crisp display that packs in a whopping 221 pixels per inch. Just as important for this style of laptop, it's one of those models that feels really comfortable to carry around. It's the lightest of its size in our Ratings of 13.3-inch laptops at 2.5 pounds.—half a pound less than the MacBook Air.
The Kirabook is enclosed in magnesium alloy, which Toshiba says is lighter than the aluminum alloy used in the Air. But the Kirabook's thin display feels a bit less sturdy and bends when you twist it. The bezel on the Air is metal, while the Kirabook uses plastic, which might also contribute to the problem.
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The physical size of the Kirabook is also sacrificed to make it lighter. It's actually close to an inch shorter than the MacBook Air, so the keys on the keyboard are smaller, as is the trackpad. Beyond that, ergonomics on the Kirabook were good (compared to very good for the Air). I liked the feel of the keys, and the buttons on the trackpad were easy to press.
At 7.5 hours, battery life also wasn't as long as that of the MacBook Air, which has a battery life of 11.75 hours. But that's still a work day's worth of battery.
In the end, the Kirabook is a worthy alternative to the Air for Windows users. It comes with a 256GB solid-state drive, 8GB of memory, a 3rd generation Intel Core i5 processor, three USB ports, and a memory-card reader. There's also an $1,800 version with a touchscreen.
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