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KiraBook review: An ultrabook for the 1%

Brian Nadel | May 15, 2013
Toshiba's new KiraBook ultrabook offers a sleek, rich look along with high-end components, including a fine display and great speakers. The question is: Can you afford it?

While some ultrabooks tend to skimp somewhat on their keyboards, the KiraBook's is comfortable and functional, with 19.1mm keys that are slightly scalloped. I really appreciated its backlighting and large touchpad. Above the display is a webcam that can capture 1280 x 720 video and a dual-microphone array that comes in handy for videoconferences.

As is the case with other ultrabooks, there isn't a lot of room for ports. The KiraBook has three USB 3.0 connectors, an audio port, an HDMI port and an SD card slot (like most ultrabooks, there's no room here for a DVD drive). There is also 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

At a Glance

Price: $1,600 (Intel Core i5 processor, non-touch display); $1,800 (Intel Core i5 processor, touch display); $2,000 (Intel Core i7 processor, touch display)
Pros: Thin and light, bright HD touch display, solid construction, fine audio, good included software, two-year warranty with support package
Cons: Non-removable battery, high price

In addition to a pair of Harman-Kardon speakers, the system comes with DTS Studio Sound technology that makes the sound richer and fuller than you'll find in most other laptops.

The KiraBook also offers Intel's WiDi wireless system for sending audio and video to a nearby display.

Superior performance
It all adds up to a superior performer that scored 1,887.0 on PassMark's PerformanceTest 8.0, making it one of the most capable notebooks around regardless of size and weight. Its Cinebench 11.5 results of 2.45 and 15.54 frames per second were slightly ahead of competing products such as the Zenbook (with scores of 2.31 and 14.50) and its own cousin, Toshiba's Portege Z935 (with scores of 2.37 and 14.51).

I was surprised (and pleased) at the power of the KiraBook's 3,400mAh lithium polymer battery. It ran for 5 hours and 38 minutes while continuously playing back HD videos from a USB drive without any power conservation turned on. That's 18 minutes longer than I got when I tested the Zenbook's larger-capacity 6,840mAh battery, and translates into a solid day of regular use. (Be aware, however, that you can't remove the battery.)

The KiraBook comes with full versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 and Adobe Premiere Elements 11 as well as a two-year subscription to Symantec's Norton Internet Security.

Toshiba offers a two-year warranty instead of the standard one year of coverage. It also provides a dedicated team of support technicians and a special phone number to use if you have a problem.


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