Reviewing Toshiba KIRA-107 - Not Just Another Pretty Ultrabook

Rating

Apps Bundled With Toshiba KIRA

The default operating system that comes preinstalled on this ultrabook is Windows 8.1 Pro and it is the only available choice at this time. However, a free upgrade to Windows 10 is available until the summer of 2016 so, if you're interested in using Windows 10, you can get it quite easily. Like all digital device manufacturers, Toshiba bundled a few of their own apps with this ultrabook, as well as several third party ones, some useful and others you'll most probably never use. We'll list all of them for you below, starting with the 3rd party apps:

  • Conexant SmartAudio - a control panel for the sound features of the ultrabook (sound equalizer, sound effects, jack configuration etc.).
  • CyberLink MediaStory - a "photo & video storytelling" app, as stated on the developer's website; it groups photos and video together, creating digital memories. Useless for most people, so we can safely recommend that you get rid of this.
  • CyberLink Power Media Player - a media player app. If you plan on using another media player app, you can safely uninstall this.
  • DTS Studio Sound - the DTS control panel app.
Toshiba Kira 107, Windows 8.1, ultrabook, review, test, benchmark, performance
  • Evernote - the free and popular reminder, organizer and note taking app, useful for some but unnecessary for others. You can go ahead and uninstall it if you're not going to use it.
  • Intel WiDi - an app that allows you to connect the ultrabook to a wireless display (a smart TV you might have in your home or at the office).
  • McAfee LiveSafe - an internet security product from a security company that dissapointed us in the past. If you plan to use a security suite, we recommend that you look around for another solution and uninstall this one.
  • Portrait Displays Chroma Tune - a control panel for tuning the display settings. It allows you to choose a color balance setting that can sync with the software you're currently using, meaning that you can use different settings depending on the kind of work you're doing. A nice and welcome tool.
Toshiba Kira 107, Windows 8.1, ultrabook, review, test, benchmark, performance
  • Skype - the all-too-well-known and popular video calling app. No description needed here.
  • WinZip - the trial version of the popular file archiving utility. You may not want to use it.
  • Spotify - one of the most well-known online music streaming service apps. This is useful only in the countries where Spotify is available.
  • Symbaloo - a cloud service for bookmarks. All the popular browsers and most of the lesser known ones already have a syncing service including bookmark syncing, so this is pretty useless. You can safely uninstall it.
  • Skyscanner - an app that allows you to access the popular flight booking service.
  • Worth mentioning, there's no Microsoft Office trial version bundled with this ultrabook, but you'll find a shortcut in the Start Menu that takes you to Microsoft's webpage where you are offered a chance to try the Office 365 trial version.

As far as Toshiba's own support and maintenance apps, here's what you'll find:

  • PC Health Monitor - an app that monitors a number of system functions and offers an aggregated health report of your device.
Toshiba Kira 107, Windows 8.1, ultrabook, review, test, benchmark, performance
  • Recovery Media Creator - an app that takes a digital image of your operating system and software installed, stores it on removable media and allows you to recover your system by restoring this digital image.
  • Service Station - the system updates, maintenance, and alerts app.
  • Display Utility - a system app that allows you to apply various tweaks to the system display, like a split screen feature and an image processor that works with the way videos are displayed.
  • eco Utility - an app that aims to optimize the power consumption of your device, offering a variety of power-efficient options.

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Toshiba Kira 107, Windows 8.1, ultrabook, review, test, benchmark, performance
  • Function Key - contrary to what we expected, this app does not control the behavior of the Fn key, but instead controls whether the use of the function keys triggers a notification positioned on the edge of the display.
  • Password Utility - an app that controls the security option of the BIOS, allowing you to set a user password and a supervisor password.
  • System Settings - the BIOS configuration app of the device.

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Toshiba Kira 107, Windows 8.1, ultrabook, review, test, benchmark, performance
  • Toshiba TEMPRO - the Toshiba app that keeps you updated with the latest information on your product.
  • User Manual - the product's user manual in digital form.

Performance In Benchmarks

So far, we've only told you about what we thought about the KIRA-107 while we were using it. It is our subjective opinion, although the feedback is strongly positive. But now the time has come to see how it performs in synthetic tests and benchmarks. We're going to throw some pretty hardcore tests at it and see how it goes. First, we're going to test how fast this ultrabook starts and boots. From our perspective, it does it surprisingly fast, but you're looking for some numbers, so we'll test this using Bootracer. The KIRA managed to get from power-on to ready-for-use in 26 seconds, which is a great achievement. Surely, if you get rid of all the unnecessary software (and switch from McAfee to another not so power-hungry security piece of software), your device will boot considerably faster. Now, let's see how the KIRA handles everyday use. We're going to use the popular benchmarking software PCMark 8. One of the tests that this piece of software offers is the one called Home accelerated, which uses a basic, common scenario of browsing the web, editing pictures, video calling and running various office related tasks. Our test device scored 2800 points on this test, which is not an off-the-scale score, but puts it into the top quarter of the performance rankings.

Toshiba Kira 107, Windows 8.1, ultrabook, review, test, benchmark, performance

The next test we are going to run on the KIRA is the Creative accelerated test, which is a relevant test for photographers and videographers. The device obtained a score of 3491 points, which also puts it among the best performing devices in this area.

Toshiba Kira 107, Windows 8.1, ultrabook, review, test, benchmark, performance

Although the KIRA is clearly not a device made for gamers, we will test this aspect nonetheless, since it packs a nice set of high-performance components. In this regard, we will use the 3DMark Vantage benchmark suite. The device scored 5175 points on this benchmark, which is fairly low, but we expected this kind of performance on this test.

Toshiba Kira 107, Windows 8.1, ultrabook, review, test, benchmark, performance

After the 3DMark standard tests were concluded, we still wanted to see how the KIRA-107 handles the Extreme tests on the same benchmark app. It scored 1935 points, which, again, is a low score. This, together with the score on the standard tests, is due to the fact that the KIRA does not feature a dedicated video card and instead relies on the embedded Intel graphic video card, which doesn't come close to a gaming graphic video card.

Toshiba Kira 107, Windows 8.1, ultrabook, review, test, benchmark, performance

Next in line for benchmarking is the storage components inside the KIRA. The only available storage option for this ultrabook is the 256 SSD drive we mentioned earlier, so let's see what the test results look like. For testing purposes, we used CrystalDiskMark. Here's the screenshot with the results of the test, in terms of read and write speeds. As you can see the SSD drive is quite fast.

Toshiba Kira 107, Windows 8.1, ultrabook, review, test, benchmark, performance

Now, let's see how the cooling system of the KIRA performs under stressful conditions. The two apps we used for testing are Prime95 for stressing the CPU and CoreTemp to monitor the temperature it reaches under heavy use. After an hour of testing, the CPU temperature didn't go above 86 degrees Celsius, which is quite reassuring.

Toshiba Kira 107, Windows 8.1, ultrabook, review, test, benchmark, performance

Under stressful conditions, it is clear that the KIRA manages to keep its cool, both physically and figuratively. On the other hand, while it gets hot, its CPU fan is not really one of the most silent CPU fans out there, so be advised that it will generate some noise. Also, since the case is made of metal alloys, it also tends to get quite hot on the top, around the position of the CPU and its cooling system. However, the heat dissipates quite fast, so we haven't seen it as a problem. Just so you know, depending on how you use the KIRA, you might find this slightly inconvenient.

The final test we performed on this ultrabook is the battery autonomy test. For this, we used the PowerMark software. The KIRA managed to run for 4 hours and 46 minutes until its battery died. It's not great, but for an ultrabook this light, offering this level of performance, we think it will get the job done.

Toshiba Kira 107, Windows 8.1, ultrabook, review, test, benchmark, performance
Product rating 4/5

Verdict

Quite frankly, we loved the Toshiba KIRA-107. The manufacturer built this model for home and office use and did a wonderful job. This ultrabook is ideal for business people who need to be able to get in touch with their work wherever they find themselves - in a coffee shop, at a restaurant, in a meeting or at home. It is also ideal for people that want to trust a device with their work and not worry about it being fragile or stop functioning all of a sudden. The KIRA-107 is a sturdy device that works flawlessly under stress. It's not the fastest machine you can find but it surely packs some quite amazing features. It looks dashing in its magnesium alloy case and is incredibly ergonomic during use. It is one of the lightest ultrabooks available and very easy to carry around. On top of that, you get a pretty amazing WQHD display and hardware components to match. You won't be able to play the latest games on it, but it can handle office work admirably. Its price is a bit on the expensive side if you ask us, but all in all, it is justifiable. The KIRA is more than able to satisfy every average user's needs and wishes.

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