Toshiba launches 2013 notebook range, hands-on with the high-res Kirabook

Using the working slogan “leading innovation,” Toshiba has this week shown Australians its new Kirabook concept, a product that brings the highest definition screen ever seen on a Windows PC, yet without the bulk that would normally weight it down. And if that doesn’t interest you, there are a bunch of other announcements, including  a gaming PC that has more power than most desktops.

Announced a few weeks ago, Toshiba’s Kirabook represents a bold move for the company, venturing into territory that was – up until it was announced – only occupied by Apple, presenting the world with a laptop screen that features more resolution than practically anything else available outside either company.

The notebook sits in Intel’s Ultrabook section of the market, and is a 13.3 inch laptop sporting Intel’s third-generation Core i5 or i7 processors (depending on how much you want to spend), with 8GB RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive staying across the range regardless of cost, as well as three USB 3.0 ports, SD card, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, Harman/Kardon speakers, and a magnesium alloy casing built using the robust honeycomb structure.

Toshiba’s biggest feature, however, is that screen, which sports a 2560×1440 resolution, which is three times higher than the regular HD-capable screens normally seen on 13 inch notebooks, making it sharper than others, and closer to that whole “Retina” screen argument we’re seeing on mobile phones lately.

That is certainly a premium feature, and it will bring these in spades, with backlit keys, the option for a touchscreen with support for a fingerprint-resistant glass display, Windows 8 Pro, a premium box (seriously), and a two year warranty with a dedicated support line for Kira customers.

“It really is a harmonious position between design, but it also is the best performing platform that we can build,” said Mark Whittard, Toshiba’s Managing Director for the Australian arm of the company. “Customers will feel loved, because they’re buying the best of the best.”

Hands on with the notebook, and it’s certainly one elegant machine, with a soft metallic feel, light weight, and very sleek look. In the flesh, the Kirabook is very light, easy to pick up, and the fingerprint resistant screen is exactly that: highly resistant, which was fun to try and force our mitts all over.

We didn’t get to spend as much time analysing the screen but the moment it comes in for review, we’ll get the microscope out. Initial glances, however, show that this is one nice screen, and if you’re looking for a thin and light colour capable creation computer, the Toshiba Kirabook looks very promising.

Fingerprint resistance is high. Very high. We tried for two whole minutes to leave marks all over it.

It’s also the first product for Toshiba to use the Kira name, which means “shining light” in Japanese, and we’re told it won’t be the last, as this is Toshiba’s new line of premium products.

Launched at the same briefing was Toshiba’s other thin and light, the Portege Z10T, a tablet that keeps the computer inside the slate and offers up a keyboard dock as a bonus.

“We’ve had a bit of a rethink,” said Whittard of the new Portege computer, which takes the familiar transforming dock design, but puts Toshiba’s own spin on it. “It’s a really exciting platform for us.”

Toshiba’s Z10T will pack in either an Intel Celeron or Core i5 processor with 4GB RAM, 128GB solid-state drive, HDMI, USB 3.0, with the main innards sitting underneath an 11.6 inch touchscreen sporting the Full HD resolution (1920×1080).

Toshiba's Portege Z10T: docked and undocked.

By itself, the Z10T promises to be reasonably light, with a weight of 850 grams, though this is without a keyboard. With that extra typing ability, you’ll add a touch more to that number, but gain the world’s first backlit keyboard dock, along with one of those rubber mouse nibs that Toshiba’s used to ship with.

Battery life looks set for at least four hours in this computer, though we haven’t yet found out if the keyboard dock will recharge the battery as it does in similar keyboard dock designs.

One of the budget Toshiba Satellite computers coming to market.

While those two were the primary things Toshiba launched, there are more computers coming, with almost 30 models launched this year, with a new all-in-one desktop, Qosmio gaming laptop, and budget Satellite models.

Touch will be enabled for some computers, but not every laptop will sport the finger friendly function, which Windows 8 seems to thrive on. However, by the end of the year, Mark Whittard says that it will pretty much be required.

“Touch will be more than 50 percent of the market,” he said this week. “By the end of this year, if you’re not in the touch market, you’re in trouble.”

Toshiba’s range of computers start heading to stores this week, with the Satellite C-series starting from $499, Satellite L-series starting from $599, Satellite S-series from $999, and Satellite P-series starting from $1299. The transforming Portege Z10t will start from $1199 with a Celeron or $1499 with a Core i5, while the Kirabook starts at $1799 for the touch-less model, ranging up to $2199.

The new Qosmio X series will be one beast of a computer. In red. Because red makes everything faster.

Gamers who demand high performance will be able to find the Qosmio X series from $2999 to $3999, with options in this laptop including the next generation of Intel quad-core i7 processors (4th gen), dedicated solid-state storage alongside convention hard drive, 3GB GeForce GTX 770 graphics card, and a HDMI port capable of outputting 2K and 4K graphics.

Given the specs inside this, and the listing of fourth-gen Intel Core processors, we don’t expect to see this last one until September, though the rest of the laptops should be hitting stores now.