Hands On With The Toshiba KIRAbook: Can Great Hardware Coupled With An Amazing Display Save Windows PCs?

With PC laptop shipments projected to decline by 7.3% this year, Windows 8 machines desperately need a shot multiple shots of adrenaline. The Toshiba KIRAbook may be just that.

The KIRAbook is Toshiba’s first entrant in their newly fashioned “KIRA” line of luxury ultrabooks. At first glance, you can see that the KIRAbook is meticulously designed, and it radiates a Cupertino-esque level of fit and finish. We haven’t seen this kind of quality from Toshiba for a very long time (if ever).

That doesn’t mean the KIRAbook offers anything new in terms of design. There are still shades of the Macbook Air to be found here and there, as is the case with all top of the line Windows ultrabooks.

The KIRAbook has a smaller profile than the Macbook Air, but somehow manages to include a retina-quality 2560×1440 WQHD touchscreen display. Although I didn’t get an opportunity to compare it side by side with the retina Macbook Pro, or for that matter the Chromebook Pixel, but it’ll definitely be one of the best laptop displays out in the market once it’s released.

The display is most certainly the KIRAbook’s marquee feature and Toshiba’s primary justification for its slightly onerous pricing, which I’ll get to in just a moment.

Inside the KIRAbook, you’ll find an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The KIRAbook is also bundled with full versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements, as well as a complimentary two year service and support package that Toshiba claims to be on par with Applecare.

At least on a spec level, the KIRAbook lives up to its “luxury”  label. But that also means it’s saddled with a luxuriously high price.

The non-touch KIRAbook with Core i5 starts at $1,599. It gets a little crazy from there. The touchscreen KIRAbook with Core i5 goes for $1,789, while the top of the line touchscreen KIRAbook, with Core i7 and Windows Pro, goes for a whopping $1,999. That kind of pricing blows its PC and Apple counterparts out of the water.

For comparison’s sake, the 13-inch Retina Macbook Pro starts at $1,499, albeit with a smaller 128GB SSD. The Lenovo Thinkpad x1 Carbon starts at $1,187, while the touchscreen equipped model starts at $1,319. The Asus Zenbook Prime, with a touchscreen and a nearly retina quality display, is currently retailing for $1,253 on Amazon.

Toshiba representatives told me that they don’t expect the Kirabook to become the bestselling laptop PC on the market. They understand it’s a bit of a niche product. If anything, the Kirabook is a statement that Toshiba is capable of producing top of the line hardware in a very appealing package.

No word on whether the KIRAbook is worth its price tag, but we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop with a full review soon. It’ll be available in stores May 5th.

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