GADGET WATCH: Toshiba Kirabook

The ultrabook market is so crowded now it’s getting difficult to stand out from the pack. Which is obviously a mixed bag for consumers – so much choice means you’ll probably find what you’re looking for, although it may take some time.

Toshiba has entered the market with its latest effort, the Kirabook. But does it have what it takes to offer a challenge to a market leader like Apple?

Hardware and features

The Kirabook comes powered by a Core i7 processor, with 8GB of RAM and Intel HD 4000 Graphics. The device also features a 256GB solid-state hard drive, along with a 13.3 LED display. The Kirabook also comes with an HDMI port.

Features include an SD card reader, USB 3.0 ports, along with Bluetooth, a backlit keyboard, Corning Concore Glass touchscreen, and an HD webcam.

What’s the consensus?

Over at The Verge, the publication noted the device looks very much like a MacBook Pro, although clarified this by saying the Kirabook was the “smallest, thinnest, lightest high-resolution laptop I’ve ever seen”.

The device is built with magnesium alloy, which Toshiba claims is 90% stronger than the MacBook Air. The Verge even said it “feels far sturdier than Apple’s laptop”.

“I spend a lot of time holding my Air in one hand by its palmrest as I walk around, and it flexes and creaks while the Kirabook’s base stays stays firm. Even the hinge is nice and sturdy, light enough to be opened with one hand but sticky enough to not wobble too much when you tap on the screen.”

However, the publication did say the led flexes quite a bit, even under light pressure.

Engadget said it was surprised at how light the device was, and praised the keyboard saying it was pleasant to type on. However, it criticised the trackpad, saying the cursor doesn’t always respond as one might think it would.

“Fortunately, as we hinted, the touchpad feels much less stubborn when you’re doing things like scrolling with two fingers. Pinch-to-zoom is pretty fluid, too, though we found it worked better in some apps than others.”

Over at PC World, the publication noted the notebook recorded a solid performance, which it attributed to the solid state drive. However, it did say the computer lacked the ability to use a large external monitor at native resolution, and agreed with The Verge regarding the flexibility recorded in the lid.

Back at The Verge, the publication agreed the performance was slow given the amount of power being put into the screen. However, it did praise the battery life, which measured at about five hours with typical use.

Who’s it for?

The Kirabook is certainly a well-built laptop, but it has flaws. A faulty trackpad and a shifty lid are enough to make the $1,600+ price tag a little too steep.

If you spend less, you can get an Apple MacBook which is arguably the top of the market. It’s hard to recommend the Kirabook given these flaws, but if nothing else, it represents a good step forward for Windows 8 machines.

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