Display Quality

The Toshiba KIRAbook's claim to fame is its 2560x1440 13.3" IPS display, and that display really is a beauty. Viewing angles are excellent as one would expect, but there are two very minor issues. First, response time is good, but not great, and there's minor ghosting when dragging a window or the start screen. There's also backlight bleed on the edges of the display that's fairly typical of an edge-lit panel. Neither of these are dealbreakers and I'd still very easily take the KIRAbook's display over just about any competing notebook's, including the 1080p IPS stunner in the Dell XPS 13.

LCD Analysis - Contrast

LCD Analysis - White

LCD Analysis - Black

LCD Analysis - Delta E

LCD Analysis - Color Gamut

Everything about the KIRAbook's display screams quality except the measured delta-E, but in practice I found the display color to be plenty accurate and certainly worthy of the packed-in Adobe Photoshop Elements. Color gamut's quite good, brightness is beautiful without being excessive, and black levels are stellar. It's difficult not to be impressed with this panel.

Battery Life

When dealing with a high-resolution IPS panel, especially one as bright as the KIRAbook's, it can be hard to predict just how the battery life will play out. That's compounded by the fact that space for battery cells inside an ultrabook is always at a premium. The 52Wh integrated battery is at least slightly above average, though.

Battery Life 2013 - Light

Battery Life 2013 - Medium

Battery Life 2013 - Heavy

Battery Life 2013 - Light Normalized

Battery Life 2013 - Medium Normalized

Battery Life 2013 - Heavy Normalized

In broader terms, the KIRAbook produces battery life competitive with other ultrabooks in its class. When you normalize it, things look slightly worse, but not substantially so. There's clearly a very minor trade-off taking place to get that better display quality. That trade-off is largely negated by the slightly larger battery and substantially superior panel.

Heat and Noise

Toshiba made a big deal about the KIRAbook's cooling mechanism, but in practice this cooling system is essentially identical to the one in the Portege Z835. That worked out great for the Portege when we reviewed it, which featured a turbo-free Sandy Bridge low-voltage Core i3, but the KIRAbook has a harder time dealing with the horsepower of the i7-3537U.

Thermals under load are quite good, but noise is much less so. Idle noise is stellar; the KIRAbook is basically inaudible. Sustained load hitting the CPU causes the fan to spin up gradually, and again I lament the bottom-intake fan. During Cinebench R11.5 testing the i7-3537U spent most of its time at 2.3GHz, and it did take a good minute or so before noise the fan started spinning up, and a low narrow whooshing was eventually accompanied by a slight whine. Thankfully surface temperatures never got uncomfortable, though I'd recommend against touching the area near the hinge on the inside of the notebook.

A far as cooling systems go, this isn't necessarily a bad one, but I'd almost give up some of the ports on one side of the KIRAbook just to get side-oriented cooling. The Acer Aspire V5-171 I reviewed was a budget notebook just a touch too fat to get the ultrabook branding (to say nothing of the dismal stock hard drive), but that extra girth also allowed it to integrate a vastly superior cooling system that made it much more practical in the long run.

System Performance Conclusion: So Very Close
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  • augustofretes - Sunday, May 12, 2013 - link

    You should really go on and review the Chromebook Pixel, especially with I/O around the corner.
  • Sabresiberian - Sunday, May 12, 2013 - link

    Kudos to Toshiba for stepping up the quality of the screen, but frankly I'm not buying a screen that small that is 16:9. The smallest acceptable size for that dimension, for me, is a 27".

    Apple still wins. I'm sorry, I'm not an Apple guy, I'm a PC guy, but I wouldn't shoot myself in the proverbial foot by buying one of these over an Apple MacBook just because I prefer the OS. OS X just isn't that bad - it's actually good, it's just not as good, imo, as Windows. And, there is no "price premium" downside here, either, in buying the MacBook. (Regardless of what you think about Apple's prices, their support for consumer level products is second to none. Of course, considering their profit margins, it should be.)
  • crinosil - Monday, May 13, 2013 - link

    What I don't get is why be excited about this...I'm a longtime PC user (writing this on my home gown Windows 8 Pro tower PC as a matter of fact)... but I just bought a Macbook Pro 13 Retina for $1799.00 ... It included an i7 CPU running at 2.9/3.6mhz, 8GB DD3 1600 RAM, 512GB SSD, etc, etc....and only about half a pound heavier.... and by the way....I installed Parallels on it and am running Windows 7 on it in a virtual machine. Could have dual booted into Windows with Boot Camp but I find I actually like OSX.... So with this available... from an American company (yes I know they all build them in China)...why would anyone buy this this Toshiba??
  • ShieTar - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    Did you know that 96% of the worlds population, owning 85% of the worlds money, are not American and thus do not care at all if a product was designed by an American company? And that even of the 4% who live in the US, a large percentage is not actually affected by that kind of nationalist concepts?

    The 1599$ is a proposed price, the market will quickly figure out what the majority of customers consider to be the worth of the unit. As Dustin wrote in the article, you can expect to see it sell for 100$-200$ less than the Toshiba proposal if you just look around a bit. Add to that the fact, that the Toshiba already includes the Windows-License, which you need to buy separately if you want to dual-boot or parallel Windows on the Mac, and the Toshiba is a very credible and reasonably priced competitor for everybody who wants to use Windows.
  • crinosil - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    But $1599 is for the lowest spec-ed version... to get closer to my Mac Pro they'll want $1999 and that's we a slower CPU and 256GB SSD... and single band WiFi.... the Window's Licence is a valid point...however, I had about 6 of them lying around so not an issue for me.... Still I also found Windows 7 Home Premium on Ebay for about $65-$75 dollars from reputable sellers.... Still not sure the value here.... and as to world not caring about American designed products....the queues outside the various stores around the world every time Apple releases some nick nack would seem to counter that opinion...
  • ShieTar - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    Nah, I've lived in 5 different cities over the last 20 years and visited about 30 more, and never seen an Apple-Shop anywhere (except on TV). I'm not entirely convinced they exist anywhere outside the US and France. Almost everybody around here buys his electronics either through the Net or from the big markets like Media Markt or Saturn. And Apple is striving to get to half the market shares it holds in the US and France.

    Made in America is just not considered a positive aspect on consumer electronics by anybody in Europe. It's not nearly as negative as it is for cars, it just doesn't matter to anybody if a phone or PC is American, European, Japanese or Korean.
  • sxr7171 - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    This one has one hardware feature that Apple does not have. It has Macbook Air weight packing a Macbook Pro Retina quality display. Apple hasn't done that yet. Maybe the new 2013 Macbook Air machines will have 2560x1440 displays.

    But long story short there are people who would find in this something Apple doesn't yet offer.
  • relativityboy - Monday, May 13, 2013 - link

    As soon as an updated Kirabook (Haswell) comes out I hope you guys do a performance review.
  • sxr7171 - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    Having recently switched back to Windows for hardware reasons (Nec Lavie Z - lighter than any Macbook), I agree simply based on that touchpad. Apple touch technology is miles ahead of anything Ive used on Windows. I'm still playing with these synaptics settings and I'm not anywhere close to the "out of the box" feel of a Mac's touchpad feel. I really like the Thinkpad trackpoint on Windows but no touchpad can compare to the Apple touchpad.

    Also this OS is confused. Does it belong a laptop or tablet, I can't figure it out. It generally sends you back to the old Windows settings screen for any major settings changes. Apps launch off the start screen into desktop mode anyway. The RT mode has the same apps optimized for touch input.

    Also Windows still hasn't improved the overall amount of effort it takes set the machine up the way that one likes. A Mac out of the box takes about an hour to get to how I like it. A Windows machine takes 6-8 hours if not more. Some things are terrible like setting up a Wi-Fi priority list requires you to get into terminal. The time needed to research and implement things is much higher on Windows. I've had to run some Google Searches for Mac also but far fewer and the it rarely if ever necessitates going into Terminal.

    All in all I couldn't agree more that competitors of Apple have to undercut Apple on price. The only exception would be if they have very compelling hardware features that Apple doesn't have and those are few and far between.
  • edithjensen - Saturday, April 4, 2020 - link

    Nice! I'm glad you posted a video like this cause I offen wonder which is the best to use. Thanks! 👍

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