|During the past decade very few mass notebook
manufacturers have been able to differentiate their notebook offerings. Many had
bog standard chipsets, motherboards and the only point of difference was the
casing that the common components were housed in, the one exception being Apple
and their MacBook range.|
Recently Toshiba took a massive punt with the launch of a
new premium brand called KIRA and one of the first products delivered
under this new premium brand is an i7 Ultrabook (PSU7FA-00T00K). It comes with
a display screen that delivers the best display I have ever seen in a
notebook or Ultrabook, whilst the minimalist design includes a power on button with
almost no LED lights other than a Wi Fi indicator on the front of this PC.
Smooth rounded edges and brushed aluminium is all part of
the quality look that cocoons this device.
Click to enlarge
If there was ever a PC company that can make premium quality
PC components it is Toshiba.
A Japanese company which delivered the first ever notebook, Toshiba has the engineers and the technical skill to deliver breakthrough
technology and it shows with this new offering.
Miniaturisation and making things work in small form factors
is one thing Toshiba does well.
Their Android tablets were the first wafer-thin devices to
deliver not only a great look and feel but functionality such as built-in HDMI
and USB attach capability. Even Samsung struggled to deliver the capability that
Toshiba was able to achieve in their tablets.
Now the company has delivered a premium Ultrabook range that
sets a new benchmark in the space.
Weighing in at 1.28kg, this Ultrabook is just 20mm thick or
23mm if you count the rubber mounts on the bottom.
Click to enlarge
In the hand the first thing you notice with their new i7 touchscreen
Ultrabook is that it has a superior look and feel and when you open the lid
what bursts into life is a display screen that packs 2560 x 1440 pixels into 13.3-inches.
Running a video is a sheer delight as the vivid colours
scream from the display and the sharpness is as good as any HD TV.
For some this screen could present a problem. Firstly, it
delivers a superior resolution which when it comes to using the device for
standard PC functionality such as emails, writing a report or working on an
Excel spreadsheet, is far superior to what is needed.
Icons appear small on the screen and text is reduced, especially if you have the display screen set to maximum resolution. All you
have to do to overcome this problem is go into your display setting and set
your screen at a lower resolution.
Click to enlarge
For movies and video you can easily reset the resolution.
One great idea would be for Toshiba to build in a button that allows users to
toggle between work mode and movie mode. Toshiba has installed a program called
Desktop Assist that allows you to enlarge text by up to 200 per cent when you
use the custom settings. This did not work for me as I am a big Chrome user and
the text appeared way too large.
Videos delivered at lower resolution appear normal but they lack the real sharpness that
the 2560 x 1440 pixel display screen is capable of delivering.
A key advantage of the higher resolution is that you can
pack more in when operating in side by side mode with two pages easily
displayed to the KIRA screen.
As someone who spends hours on a keyboard I found the
Toshiba keyboard extremely easy to use, the spacing between keys is right and
the key size is excellent. Another big advantage is that the keyboard is
backlit so working on an aircraft at night or at home in low light is easy.
Under the bonnet is a Core i7 CPU which screams along and Toshiba
have to be complemented for getting this processor to work in such a small
package. It is also available with an Intel Core i5 processor.
Click to enlarge
The Core i7-3537U in the version that SmartHouse reviewed
ran at 2GHz, and was one of the fastest we have ever experienced in an
The casing is made out of pressed magnesium alloy that has a
honeycomb structure, this design add strength while keeping the weight down.
The hinge is extremely strong and the instant open design allows one to easily
boot this Ultrabook in seconds. The rigidity of the honeycomb design and the
strength of the hinge which I believe is a key component in any notebook or
Ultrabook design has allowed Toshiba designers to deliver a truly superior
structure while not compromising on the design or the weight of this Ultrabook.
A power button and an HDMI and two USB ports are located on
the left side of the casing. On the right side is a full-sized SD card slot and a
third USB port.
There is no Ethernet port, with users having to rely on the
built-in 802.11ndual-band Wi-Fi. There is also Bluetooth version 4.0 built-in, along with a 2.0 megapixel webcam. An Ethernet dongle is optional.
Storage comes in the form of a 256GB SSD drive and 8GB of
Where this device was a real knock out was in Ultrabooks
performance. I took the device on a three-day trip to Melbourne and after a full
day of use delivering PowerPoint presentations, doing emails and Skype calls it
still had juice left in the battery.
We also ran the screen flat out running a movie and two
additional videos and the Ultrabook delivered 4 hours and 50 minutes of battery life
before it was screaming for a power top up.
A small drawback is the fan which can be noisy when it is
spinning at full belt, something that Toshiba needs to work on.
The touchpad is large (105x59mm) and I found it easy to use, however I would have preferred it to run flush across the brushed aluminium as
opposed to having a stainless steel ridge; a change in colour would have done the job.
The touchpad supports Windows 8 swipe-in gestures.
Another big standout on this Ultrabook is the inclusion
of Harman/Kardon speakers which when you
think about it have to be powerful because of the size. They don't only deliver
excellent sound despite the low frequency but are also discreetly housed under the
Ultrabook, with the speakers pointing out to the sides.
Click to enlarge
At $2199, this is an
expensive beast. But is it worth it? My view is yes for the simple reason that an
Ultrabook of this ilk is going to get used and the last thing you want if you
use an Ultrabook every working day is one that cannot last the test of time and
the constant thrashing that a lot of Ultrabooks get.
What you get is quality construction, a blindingly stunning
display screen and a device that looks and feels classy. If you rely on a
notebook as I do to deliver day in and day out, it's going to be very had to go past
this beast, especially as Toshiba has thrown in a superb support package.
It includes an on-site two-year warranty for capital cities, with regional owners getting a pick-up
service. The package also covers accidental damage and a dedicated
phone line for support. It also ships with the Pro version of Windows 8.
On the downside Toshiba needs to work on the cooling fan and
the problems associated with the sheer resolution of the display screen, though neither of these small issues detract from the fact that this is the best
Ultrabook we have ever seen.
Operating system Windows 8 Pro
Included software Adobe Premiere Elements 11 Adobe Photoshop
Hard drive interfaceSATA
Hard drive type Solid-state drive
Solid-state drive? Yes
Supported memory mediaSD
Warranty information on-site, accidental damage
Warranty length (months): 24
Webcam resolution (megapixels): 0.9
Number of USB 3.0 ports:3.0
Wired Terminal/PortsCombination headphone/microphone,
HDMI, USB 3.0
Wi-Fi (wireless networking): Yes
Wireless technology supported Bluetooth, Wireless 802.11a,
Wireless 802.11b, Wireless 802.11g, and Wireless 802.11n