Overall, the keyboard is an excellent part of this laptop, and you won’t be dissatisfied here. Not by a long shot.
The trackpad mouse is also decent, supporting multitouch gestures, though some of them are quite close to the edge and don’t activate as quickly as they might on other laptops.
The real star of the show is obviously the screen, and that’s the main feature Toshiba is pushing in its marketing materials for the Kirabook. Rightfully so, might we add, since this is the first time a computer released outside of Apple’s MacBook Pro range has sported such a high resolution.
That resolution is 2560×1440, twice that of the HD res screens we normally see on 13 inch notebooks, and higher than that of any PC laptop out there. In fact, this resolution is not only higher than most monitors on the market, but packs in more density thanks to the amount of pixels present in a 13 inch diagonal space.
Impressive on a specification level, that’s for sure, and in person, it works just as well.
Text is one area where the high resolution is infinitely more noticeable, with words and letters that are so much easier to read, offering better clarity from both close and afar. Images are also very pretty, and this is one of the nicest screens a photographer (or photo enthusiast) can use on a laptop today.
There are some quirks with the screen, and since Windows 8 wasn’t exactly designed with this resolution in mind, Toshiba has had to develop some software works with Windows to take care of this re-rendering of information.
For the most part, it works well, with apps designed for Windows 8’s former “Metro” interface rendering sharp text and clear images, easily taking advantage of the extra resolution on offer.
Desktop apps based on the look of Windows 7, however, didn’t quite nail it for us.
The Kirabook’s own basic installation of Norton Internet Security showed tiny fonts that were near impossible to read, while Google Chrome and some of the Windows dialog boxes revealed blurry text, almost as if the windows had been blown up in size to support this new resolution. Internet Explorer, meanwhile, looked excellent, with not a single blurry pixel to distort the image.
Google’s Chrome browser is an interesting one, because you can also launch it in Windows 8 mode, and when you do, you’ll find that text is rendered with the sharp resolution in mind, without that blur we spoke about.
Unfortunately, it’s not the perfect solution you’re looking for, because it also makes Chrome show everything at the 2560×1440 resolution, which in turn makes all the text very, very small, and makes webpages look unfortunately spaced, as if you were viewing them on a very big screen.
None of these are problems that lessen the excellence of the screen, and right now, these feel like teething issues that Toshiba will fix with eventual patches and updates, possibly even Microsoft. This resolution technology is new, so it will take some time to get perfect across Windows.
With that in mind, it’s hard not to be impressed with the image quality on offer, and coupled with an excellent touchscreen, the display side of the Kirabook is a real achievement. As one GadgetGuy staffer said, the touchscreen not only looks good, but it also works, which is something not all touch-enabled laptops can attest to.
Toshiba’s touchscreen in the Kirabook is quick to respond to and even comes with some element of fingerprint resistance, though the keyword there is “resistance,” and you can see prints when the screen is off if you’re prone to using your fingers all over the screen.
Some apps aren’t as friendly with the touchscreen – alternate web browsers, for instance – but we suspect a fix will come for that further down the track.