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Australia’s first Kirabook review: Toshiba makes an amazeballs screen

By Leigh D. Stark | 5:52 pm 16/05/2013

As one the creators of the laptop, Toshiba isn’t a company to stray away from being inventive.

The company practically helped signal a revolution in 1985 when it launched the T1100 – “the world’s first mass-market laptop computer” – and this year, it hopes to revolutionise PC laptops again, with an Ultrabook that not only strives for perfection in design and specification, but also with a hyper impressive screen that no other PC manufacturer has.

Features

The first of a new brand of devices with a name that apparently means “shining light,” Toshiba’s Kirabook represents a new type of computer for the company. Designed to not only be powerful, this laptop is aimed at the discerning customer who wants the best of the best of the best, and as such, demands excellence from a computer.

To make this happen, Toshiba has gone back to the drawing board, coming up with a machine that sets new benchmarks at the screen’s design, which is one area that desperately needed work in notebook computers outside of the ones put forth by Apple.

Here, Toshiba has developed its own high resolution panel which packs in a 2560×1440 screen, higher than both the Full HD (1920×1080) and HD (1280×720, 1366×768) panels, and featuring a better pixel aspect ratio, with 220 pixels per inch packed into the 13.3 inch display used here, just 6ppi shy of the 13 inch Retina-class Apple MacBook Pro.

Touch technology is built into the screen, as is a new type of Corning protective coating called “Concore” which apparently offers resistance to fingerprints, and sounds like a necessary technology for a touchscreen.

All of this sits encased in a chassis that screams premium, and is made from magnesium alloy built in a honeycomb structure, which Toshiba says is not only very strong, but also makes it durable and light.

Outside of the ever important display and chassis is a set of specs that should please most, including a third-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB solid-state drive, and enough ports to please, with one HDMI, one half-height SD card slot, headset, and three USB 3.0 ports with one of them able to charge your devices while the laptop is sleeping.

Connections are fairly standard, with Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA, and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi offered here.

A trackpad offering some multitouch gestures is included, and the keyboard is backlit for use in dark environments. The speakers come from Harmon/Kardon and work in conjunction with a DTS audio driver.

And while we don’t normally talk warranties and support, the Kirabook’s premium service warrants a mention, with this machine coming with a two year premium “white glove” experience, that not only will offer to fix your laptop with express pick-up when required, but even comes with a dedicated phone support line.

Performance

Picking up the Kirabook for the first time, you can only marvel at what is easily one of the nicest feeling laptops you’ll ever feel. With a magnesium chassis utilising inspiration from the honeycomb structure bees use in making hives, Toshiba has come up with a build that is not only solid, but very light to hold.

Overall, the metal is soft and features a finish that isn’t all that slippery and is very easy to grip. Indeed, it’s so light that you can comfortably cradle it with one hand and use it with the other, though we don’t imagine this will create the fastest of typists.

Switch it on and everything comes to life, Windows 8’s familiar tile interface going live and showing you just what the screen can do, though we’ll get to that in a moment because usability comes first.

As per usual, Toshiba’s keyboard is excellent, with a solid feel and the right sound as your fingers press the letters down. There’s a noticeable margin between the letters, but you never notice it in a bad way, and our fingers never crept in the gutter and missed letters. This was easily one of the more comfortable Ultrabook keyboards we’ve ever used, with some of the better backlighting in the business.

For that last part, the letters are bright and easy to read, and in a dark room with screen turned down, typing is possible. In fact, we wrote this section of the review on a darkened bus.

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Price (RRP)

$1799 (starting price, with Core i5 and without touchscreen), reviewed model costs $2199

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Beautiful screen that is crazy sharp; Insanely light; Sturdy and very well built; Fast enough for most; Comes with a premium support service adding two years and dedicated support line;

Product Cons

Trackpad driver needs work; Not everything is optimised for the high-resolution screen; Mediocre battery life;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Design

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