Reviewing Toshiba KIRA-107 - Not Just Another Pretty Ultrabook
We love it when we receive high-end performance devices for testing and we recently got our hands on Toshiba's latest and greatest ultrabook device: the KIRA-107 model, which we'll refer to as KIRA, for the purpose of this review. This is a high-quality ultrabook with impressive performance. It's a very sleekly built device with Windows 8.1 that will turn people's heads around. We have used it for over a week and have made up our mind on whether or not it's worth considering as your next ultrabook. Read up on this article to see what we decided.
Unboxing The Toshiba KIRA
Toshiba KIRA is packed in a box made of black ordinary cardboard, with the TOSHIBA logo and their "Leading Innovation" motto, together with the KIRA logo, but this is just the outer protective layer.
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Once you open this container, you are presented with a sleek shiny box, black on all sides except the top, which is white and features a nice picture of the KIRA ultrabook.
This inner container feels pretty nice to the touch and gives you an idea of what you're dealing with here. Toshiba spared no expense with this package. Opening this box, you find, on top of all the other items, the actual KIRA ultrabook in all its glory, wrapped in a cloth bag and then another protective plastic bag. After you remove the device, you are allowed access to all the other items contained in the package: the power-charger, the wall-socket cable and all the classic paperwork (the quick-start guide and the full-featured instruction manual, in various languages).
Toshiba offers several versions for this ultrabook, differentiated by the CPU and the corresponding integrated graphics card. However, only two versions seem to be more widespread than others. One of them is powered by the Intel Core i5-4200U CPU and the other one (the version we had for testing purposes) benefits from the more powerful Intel Core i7-5500U CPU, paired with the Intel HD5500 integrated graphics card. The Toshiba Kira-107 we tested for this review is powered by the Intel Core i7 5500U dual-core CPU clocked at 2.4 GHz, able to run at 3.0 GHz when needed. This CPU is not exactly the most powerful CPU Intel currently has to offer in the mobile department, but it is right up in the big-guns category.
The ultrabook runs on 8GB of DDR3 RAM memory, configured in dual-channel and clocked at 1600MHz. Unfortunately, as the manufacturer states on the product page on their website, the RAM memory is not user replaceable.
Graphics are taken care of by the Intel HD Graphics 5500 integrated video card. Being an integrated video card, it won't do much good running graphics-intensive software like games with lots of special effects, but for regular office and home use, this will be more than sufficient.
The KIRA is equipped with a 256 GB SSD on mSATA. There are no other options in regard to storage space for this ultrabook, so this is all you get. The SSD is manufactured by Toshiba itself and below, you'll find a screenshot of its specifications.
What really got us singing is the fact that Toshiba chose to equip the KIRA with a stunning touch screen display. We're talking about a 13.3" WQHD LED display scaled at a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, offering extremely wide viewing angles and bright, vivid colors. The level of detail is marvelous on such a small display scaled at a resolution this high - 221ppi, to be exact. Another nice addition to the party is the backlit keyboard, which is user configurable to keep the backlight always on, always off or lit only during use, turning itself off after a few seconds of inactivity (the default setting). The backlight is not too bright, but not too dim either, giving off just as much light as you need to be able to type without any problems when you're in the dark, but not disturbing your focus when you use it at night.
This ultrabook is equipped with a dual-speaker sound setup produced by the prestigious manufacturer Harman/Kardon and featuring DTS Studio Sound technology. The sound is quite clear and feels three-dimensional when using the incorporated speakers. The device is also equipped with an HD webcam for video-calling and a dual microphone setup. Being this thin, the manufacturer didn't have too much room available on the sides of the device for mounting a LAN ethernet port and perhaps that's one of the reasons you won't find a LAN card on this ultrabook. But you do have available an Intel WiFi card capable of handling Dual-Band 802.11ac wireless networks. Also, the standard Bluetooth 4.0 chip is present. In terms of connectors, the KIRA presents itself with all the standard connectors: the combined input and stereo output 3.5mm jack, 3 USB 3.0 ports (one of which can be used for charging another device while the KIRA is in sleep mode), an SD memory card reader and an HDMI port.
The battery that keeps this ultrabook running is a 4-cell battery with 52Wh of power. It might not sound like much in the autonomy department, but we'll cover this in more detail later. The physical dimensions of this device are 12.44 inch (or 316 mm) in width, 8.15 inch (or 207 mm) in depth and an impressive 0.7 inch (or 18 mm) in height. It weighs 2.97 lbs (or a little over 1.3 kg), making it one of the lightest ultrabooks available - and this considering that its body is built of a magnesium alloy, which surely adds a little to its weight.
The KIRA-107 comes with Windows 8.1 Pro preinstalled and you can profit from Microsoft's offer and upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, for free. You can find the full list of hardware specifications offered by the manufacturer on the product page on their website: Toshiba KIRA Ultrabook Specifications.
Using The Toshiba KIRA-107 Ultrabook
During the week we had this unit in for testing, it was a pleasure to work on it. While using it, you can't help but feel the high level of quality Toshiba had in mind when designing this device.
The magnesium alloy body is pretty sturdy and is absolutely quiet when you handle it and the quality of the 13.3-inch display is top notch. The touchscreen of this ultrabook supports the standard 10-points gesture support and makes use of all the Windows 8.1 gestures. All the details were taken good care of: the delicate backlit power switch in the top right corner of the keyboard, the small Wi-Fi adaptor status LED beside it and the power indicator LED on the left side of the device. The connectors are also well positioned, offering 2 USB ports on the left side and the third one on the right side.
The key size and keyboard spacing are just right and make typing a breeze, while the keys have a soft feel to them while being pressed. On one hand, this explains why you won't get tired after typing a for a long period of time on this ultrabook, but on the other hand, people used to older, mechanical keyboards and who like having a strong key under their finger will feel a bit unsatisfied by this.
The touchpad is rather large and nicely enclosed within a chrome bezel. While the body of the device has a brushed metal feel to it, the touchpad feels different and is comfortable to use. The clicks are embedded in the touchpad's surface and also pretty silent. You can left-click using its whole surface, while the right click is reserved for the bottom-right corner of the touchpad.
Go to the next page of this review to see our final verdict for this product.