Hands-on with the Toshiba Kirabook Ultrabook [Video]

Toshiba’s latest foray into the ultrabook market looks to be a promising one, and hopefully a signal that the company is ready to ditch the slide-out design of earlier ultrabook-tablet hybrids.

Hard to say, because the Kirabook isn’t exactly a hybrid. It’s your standard ultrabook, and pretty good one, at that. Kira is meant to be Toshiba’s new luxury line of machines, so you can bet no expense was spared for this thing. It’s a 13.3” ultrabook with a PixelPure 2560 x 1440 touch display – the 221 ppi puts it up around the Chromebook Pixel and the MacBook Pro Retina in display quality. The display is protected by Corning Concore Glass, unless you get the non-touch version.

It’s also made of a kind of magnesium alloy (AZ91) which promises to be 100 percent stronger than the aluminum alloy used in the MacBook Pro. That alloy also keeps the Kirabook light, at 2.6 pounds (0.7 inches thick). Honeycomb structures are used in certain key areas to add even more toughness.

Toshiba is also implementing their AirFlow II technology, which uses a high-quality fan and vents in all directions to keep the Kirabook cool. Audio will be impressive, too – a set of Harman Kardon speakers backed by DTS Studio Sound.

Rounding out the specs and features are 8 GB of DDR3 1600 MHz RAM, your choice of 3rd generation Intel i5 or i7 Core processors, a very specific six hours and 10 minutes of battery life, a backlit keyboard, an HDMI out port, three USB 3.0 ports, and a 256 GB SSD. The i5 version will run Windows 8, while the i7 version will come with Windows 8 Pro.

Software is usually an afterthought, but getting Photoshop Elements 11 and Premiere Elements 11 along with the Kirabook can’t go unmentioned. You can also get 25 GB of free online storage through Norton Online Backup – the Kirabook comes with a full suite of Norton Anti-Virus software, too.

Long story short, the Kirabook looks to be one of the toughest, most capable ultrabooks money can buy right now. This is being marketed as a luxury brand, so it will cost you a good amount to get your hands on one. Prices range from $1,600 to $2,000, depending on your choice of processor. If you choose the i5 version, you can get the Kirabook without a touchscreen, which would be the cheapest option.