Review Price £1,299.00

Key Features: 13.3-inch, 2,540 x 1,400 IPS display; Windows 8.1 Pro; 4th generation Intel Core i7 processor; Harman Kardon speakers; 256GB SSD; 8GB RAM

Manufacturer: Toshiba

Toshiba Kira review: first impressions from CES 2014

What is the Toshiba Kira?

The Toshiba is a 13.3-inch Windows 8.1 Pro Ultrabook that's previously only been available in the US and it's landing in the UK for the first time in February. Like Asus with its Zenbooks and Dell with the XPS ultrabooks, Kira is the name for Toshiba’s high end laptop range.

At £1,299 it’s priced around the top end of the super slim laptop pile going up against the likes of the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus and Sony Vaio Pro 13.

Toshiba Kira: Design

At just 9.5mm thick, the Kira is impressively slimmer than the 13-inch MacBook Air and the Samsung Ativ Plus Book 9 Plus to give it a supremely slender profile. Weighing in at just 1.35kg it also matches the Sony Vaio Pro 13, one of the lightest ultrabooks around, making sure it doesn’t give you back ache when you throw into your bag.

It’s constructed from a magnesium alloy to create the durable body with a brushed metal finish on the lid and around the keyboard to give the Kira an attractive look and help justify the staggering price tag.

In terms of connections there’s plenty on board with three USB 3.0 ports, headphone/mic combo and full-sized HDMI port that supports 4K output joining the charging port on the side edges of the laptop. An Ethernet port is a notable (but not unusual) omission, though. Above the touchscreen display is the HD webcam with dual mics and finally on the matte bottom lid you’ll find the two Harmon Kardon speakers at the front end of the body so they don’t sit flush against a flat surface.

The full-sized, frameless keyboard features LED backlighting (that can be switched off) to aid night time users and includes dedicated keys for the touchscreen to zoom in and out. There’s little signs of flex, and the flat keys are well spaced offering good travel for typing. Below the keyboard is a pretty sizeable trackpad that supports gestures so you can pinch and zoom your way through the Windows 8 operating system.

Like so many other high end ultrabooks, the Kira is a good looker and feels tough and durable enough to withstand everyday damage, it simply lacks any real unique qualities to mark it as anything but a MacBook Air wannabe.

Toshiba Kira: Screen

The Kira’s killer feature is undoubtedly the 13.3-inch 2,540 x 1,400 ‘PixelPure' IPS display. Squeezing in 221 pixels per inch the image sharpness and clarity is up there with there with the very best and including the fantastic 3,200 x 1,800 display on the Ativ Book Plus 9. Running 4K video scaled down for the display, image quality is exceptionally sharp and viewing angles really impress. Colours look rich and accurate to go with the decent brightness levels.

It’s a touchscreen display as well that Toshiba says is ‘fingerprint-resistant’ supporting 10-point multi-touch so it’s primed when you swap keyboard for hands-on interaction with the tablet optimized Windows operating system. The Corning Concore glass is specifically optimized for touchscreen displays to make it stronger, more scratch resistant and reduce display thickness.

Toshiba Kira: Features

Under the hood, the Kira is powered by 4th generation Intel Core 7 processors with 256GB Solid State Drive, 8GB of memory and Intel HD 4400 graphics to give it decent but not amazing gaming prowess. It runs on Windows 8 Pro so you can install applications other than the ones available through the Windows Store. Toshiba has pre-loaded antivirus software and disappointingly only includes a trial version of Microsoft Office.

To enhance its multimedia credentials there’s a pair of Hardon Kardon speakers equipped with DTS Studio sound processing technology. It manages to deliver impressively clear audio although we’d be interested to see how it copes when the volume is really cranked up and put under greater strain.

Elsewhere, the Kira supports Intel dual Band Wireless-AC, Bluetooth 4.0 and is equipped with Intel Wireless Display and Miracast support so you can mirror the screen to a HD TV.

Toshiba claims you should be able to manage around 9 hours in general use before you are reaching for the charger again.

First impressions

When it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to stand out from a congested ultrabook crowd, the Kira is a great looker and is fully equipped to take on everyday tasks. The screen is the real standout feature and should make it a great place to watch films or binge on a box set on Netflix. Price is obviously the stumbling block here, but with the features on show and the sleek design there’s a whole lot to love about Kira.

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