Toshiba Kira-101 review
13.3 in 2,560x1,440 display, 1.4kg, 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-4500U, 8.00GB RAM, 256GB disk, Windows 8.1 Pro
The Toshiba Kira-101 is a stylish 13.3-inch ultraportable laptop with a smart brushed aluminium finish that's cool to the touch. From a distance, you could mistake it for a 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is precisely the device the Kira-101 is pitting itself against. The laptop feels very well built, while retaining the portability that is so crucial to the Ultrabook brand. At 1.35kg and just 19.8mm thick, this is an extremely travel-friendly machine that will fit in most bags with ease.
Toshiba has packed a 2,560x1,440-pixel touchscreen display into the 13.3-inch frame. That gives it a high pixel-per-inch figure of 221, which leaves both text and images looking extremely crisp. This quality is also translated into its colour accuracy, as our calibration tests showed the laptop as displaying 96 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut in our calibration tests. Its contrast levels were also incredibly high; we saw a ratio of 1852:1, which led to rich detail in the darker spots of our high-contrast test images. However, the screen is a little too reflective for our liking and suffered badly in direct sunlight. This was exacerbated by the presence of finger marks - an expected consequence of the laptop's touchscreen.
The problems we've had with high-resolution laptop displays in the past seem to have mainly been fixed by the latest version of Windows 8.1. Everything from the Desktop to web browsers to Paint.net and LibreOffice scaled properly to the screen's high resolution; this means you get the advantage of a high-resolution display's pin-sharp images, with no squinting at tiny icons and menu text.
The Kira-101's keyboard is frameless, meaning that the base of the keyboard is part of the chassis itself, so there are no gaps around the edge. Although, like most such keyboards, the flat, widely spaced keys don’t have much travel, the layout proved to be comfortable and accurate to use. The Kira-101’s touchpad is satisfying to use, and multi-finger gestures and Windows 8-specific motions all worked seamlessly. This is also true of the touch screen; we had no problems prodding even small hyperlinks on web pages. However, the hinges on which the screen is mounted tend to flex and wobble when the screen is touched, which is a noticeable weakness for a touchscreen.
There are three USB3 ports around the laptop's chassis. There's also an SDXC card reader and a full-size HDMI port, making it easy to connect the laptop to a second screen or a larger alternative display. The Harman Kardon-branded speakers on the base of the chassis are particularly good for laptop models, providing good, clear sound when playing music or watching online videos.
The Kira-101 has 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-4500U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. It's an impressive specification, although we've seen similar on slightly cheaper models. The Kira-101 scored 50 in our benchmark tests, and is able to handle most tasks including video editing - the 8GB RAM also helps with this kind of intensive task.
We also put the device’s integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 through its paces in our Dirt Showdown benchmark. The Kira-101 managed 19fps when playing Dirt Showdown at a resolution of 1,280x720, with High quality settings and 4x anti-aliasing. This is a respectable figure and, while not really playable, shows that the device will be able to handle less intense games at reduced settings. When we repeated the same test but on the Low graphics setting, the Kira-101 managed a smooth 44fps.
The Kira-101 lasted 6 hours 57 minutes on one charge in our light use battery test. This is a substandard result for an ultraportable and, as you're likely to be performing more intensive tasks than our web browsing battery test, you'll probably see less than that when working away from home.
The Kira-101 is an extremely well-built Ultrabook which has one of the best displays we've ever seen on a laptop. However, it's very expensive for its capabilities, especially when compared to the Best Buy-winning Asus Zenbook UX302, which is similarly specified, cheaper and has longer battery life.