Windows

Review: Toshiba KIRAbook 109 Laptop

Toshiba KIRAbook (1)

Not too long ago, a laptop was the only true option for portable computing. Nowadays we see smartphones take center stage and tablets become the new laptop. That being said, nothing can replace the laptop in terms of usability, the true all-in-one portable computer .

The KIRAbook from Toshiba offers a sleek profile with some pretty solid specs. The laptop is available in different ranges, but the unit we’re taking a look at is the KIRAbook 109. This offers a full 1080p display, Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. We also have the usual bells and whistles with WiFI and Bluetooth, although sadly not Ethernet connection. The laptop comes in a very sleek, thin profile that clearly stems from a MacBook design, which seems to be the most common ultrabook design profile we have seen lately.

Before we take a look at the laptop itself, let’s check out the specs for the KIRAbook 109.

Official Specifications

  • Windows 8.1 64-bit (pre-installed)
  • 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-5200U Processor for Ultrabook™ with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
  • 33.8cm (13.3″) , Full HD display
  • 128 GB SSD
  • 8GB of DDR3L RAM@1,600 MHz
  • Intel® HD Graphics 5500
  • W x D x H : 316.0 x 207.0 x 19.8 (not including the rubber foot) mm
  • weight : 1.10 kg

We have a very thin, and fairly lightweight laptop here. The specs show it’s not going to shy away from tasks, and it’s nice to see more than 32/64GB storage, which for some reason has become more typical as of late.

The KIRABook 109

Toshiba KIRAbook (1)

Toshiba have no problem going with the famous MacBook design. The laptop includes a thin profile, brushed-aluminum style; albeit plastic body, with back-lit keyboard and large touch-pad. The display is 13.3-inches and has a slim bezel.

Toshiba KIRAbook (4) Toshiba KIRAbook (8)

On the right we have an SD card reader, 3.5m headphone jack, and USB port. On the left we have the power jack, full size HDMI out, and 2 x USB ports.

Toshiba KIRAbook (3)

The entire touch-pad has a tactile left click, along with the normal left/right click areas on the bottom. This takes some getting using too, as when aiming for the right click, you can easily cause a left click instead, if your not directly on the right click button itself. Again, a slight issue that takes a while to get use too.

Toshiba KIRAbook (6) Toshiba KIRAbook (5)

Toshiba KIRAbook (2)

The back-lit keyboard is a great aspect of the Toshiba KIRABook. It looks great and works great, Simple.

Toshiba-KIRAbook-7 small

 

The entire laptop is under 20mm, making it an extremely thin laptop. It’s lightweight as well at just 1.10 kg.

Benchmarks

Performance is an important factor for laptops. We cracked out PCMark 8, which gives us a fantastic idea of real world performance through their benchmarks. This test includes, web browsing, word processing, video chat, photo editing, gaming, and more. The different benchmarks we ran are Home, Work, and Creativity, and finally Storage. Each test is aimed at determining the performance levels of their individual aspects.

PCMark

Toshiba KIRAbook PC Mark 8

Toshiba KIRAbook Pc Mark 8 Creative  Toshiba KIRAbook PC Mark Storage

Toshiba KIRAbook PC Mark Work

Typical tasks like web browsing, video chat, and even photo editing are not an issue for the Core i5 CPU. We see solid performance mostly across the board with some casual gaming also not to bad on the KIRAbook 109.

3DMark

Toshiba KIRAbook 3dmark Ice Storm.

Toshiba KIRAbook 3dmark Ice Storm Extreme Toshiba KIRAbook 3dmark Sky Diver.

Toshiba KIRAbook 3dmark Cloud Gate

Mainstream gaming is big no no, but some casual gaming shouldn’t have any issues. This is common with small/ultrabooks, which don’t carry dedicated graphics cards. Nothing unexpected here, it’s clear this laptop isn’t aimed at any mainstream games, but some low-level games will run grand.

Battery Life

Another benchmark from Futuremark, Powermark runs through a set of typical benchmarks like the ones above, but this is done continuously on battery power until the laptop reaches 15-percent battery – from there we get an idea of how long the device will last on full load. The PowerMark benchmark is done with 50-percent brightness.

PowerMark

Toshiba KIRAbook PowerMark Battery test

Okay, so it must be noted here that gaming for 55 minutes alone took 43-percent of the battery, with word processing, video playback, and web browsing taking 13-15 respectively. So as we have said before, this laptop isn’t really aimed at gaming, but none the less, even at load the laptop would give you 4 hours of battery.

Swapping out the gaming for web browsing or word processing would give you at almost another 2 hours of battery life. So very good battery life for such a thin/light laptop.

Conclusion

It’s time to wrap up our review of the Toshiba KIRABook 109 from Toshiba.

The from factor of Laptops haven’t change in a long time, and the main principle now seems users want lightweight, thin, and powerful. The KIRAbook mostly fills that category. The lightweight/thin form factor making it a breeze for portability, but we also get a decent size 1080p display.

It’s not the most powerful unit on the market, but the Core i5 and Intel HD graphics aren’t holding the unit back, and we felt it could easily handle every task we did, from browsing the web with over 10 tabs open, video chat, and even some adobe programs like Photoshop and Audition. Nothing fell short or slowed down and Everything ran smoothly.

The included back lit keyboard is one area this laptop shines. It just seems to work very well, and typing was a complete pleasure. Full speed typing wasn’t an issue and as it’s a laptop, it’s important to get the keyboard as best as possible, and Toshiba did exactly that. The only drawback is the slight issue with the touch-pad that requires a little getting use to and making sure not to hit above the right click if that’s what you want to do.

To sum up, were very fond of the Toshiba KIRAbook, after spending few weeks with it, it’s a solid laptop that offers a great design, performance, and portability. It ticks the right boxes and was a pleasure to use.The price is on the high side of things with the KIRAbook coming in at €1,099. However, the full HD display, Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD inside a thin and lightweight laptop all justify the price tag, and if your looking a solid ultrabook, then the KIRAbook is definitely something that should be on your list.

The KIRAbook is awarded Gold, and we gladly recommend it for anyone looking for a slim, lightweight ultrabook that aims to please.

Geektech.ie Gold Award

A big thanks to Ruairi and John at the Keogh Partnership and Toshiba for sending out the KIRAbook for review.

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Windows 10 set to arrive on July 29th, free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8 users

Windows-10-main

 

July 29th is the date set for Microsoft’s next OS release. Windows 10 will arrive in less than 2 months. PC users currently running Windows 7 or Windows 8 will get a free upgrade to the latest OS. In fact, some users, including ourselves have a new notification icon offering to reserve our free upgrade to the OS once it’s available to download.

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Microsoft’s latest OS will being a lot of new features, including the return of the Start Menu in a new dynamic fashion. We also have the new Spartan browser, Cortana digital assistant.

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Microsoft finally announce the Surface 3 tablet running full Windows 8.1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Microsoft have finally announced the Surface 3 tablet. The new tablet which everyone was wondering about since the Surface Pro 3 launched some time back. The new slate goes in a slightly different direction than it’s predecessors and that’s the fact it’s ditching Windows RT and going for a full Windows 8.1. This is something a lot of users have hoped for, since it was the main thing lacking from previous Microsoft tablets.

A few of the main difference the new tablet offers of the previous gen besides the OS change is the new display. The Surface 3 features a 10.8-inch display with 1,920 x 1,280 resolution. The odd numbers should hint that were now also dealing with a 3:2 ratio display – same as the previously launched Surface Pro 3.  Also like the Surface Pro 3, the display sports pressure-sensitive pen input as standard.

Other specs include an Intel Atom processor (2GB OR 4GB available), a 3.5MP front facing camera and 8MP rear facing camera. Connections include USB 3.0, headphone hack, MicroSD slot, MicroUSB (also used for charging) and Mini Display port for video out. Not much of the design has changed, with the same magnesium housing and chamfered edges. Weight and thickness are down coming in at 0.34 inch thick/1.37 pounds, versus 0.35 inch/1.49 pounds compared to the previous Surface 2.

The new tablet arrives on May 5th with a price tag of $499. Different configurations are available with either 64GB SSD and 2GB of RAM or 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM. Microsoft also said there will be an LTE version in the near future for $599.

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Microsoft outs new budget smartphones, meet the Lumia 640 and 640 XL

Lumia 640

Microsoft have updated their budget series of phones. The new Lumia 640 and 640 XL are set to offer a more substantial feature list for the same money as the previous 630 and 635. The devices different slightly in specs, with the XL version packing a larger display and higher pixel camera. Both devices include a quad-core Snapdragon chipset running at 1.2GHz with 1GB of RAM. The 640 is rocking a 5-inch 720p display and 8MP camera, while the 640 XL has a 5.7-inch 720p display with 13MP camera. The 640 has a 2,400mAh battery and the XL has a 3,000mAh battery.

Both devices will up gradable to Windows 10 once it arrives. Availability is slightly different with the 640 arriving in May and the 640 XL arriving near the end of this month.  Both phones will also come with a year subscription to Office 365.

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Intel putting Windows 8.1 in a HDMI dongle called the Compute Stick, costs just $149

intel-compute-stick

 

HDMI dongles have only be getting more popular, and consumers love the fact they can pick up a relatively cheap Android dongle and connect it to your TV, making it that much better. Intel have taking note are are launching their own version, but with rather impressive difference. Their device will be running a full version of Windows 8.1. The dongle is dubbed the Compute Stick and will include an impressive quad-core ATOM CPU with 2GB of RAM, 32GB built in storage, Micro SD slot and a full USB port. Both WiFi and Bluetooth are also included, and all together this unit brings the latest Windows OS to any TV/Monitor with HDMI.

Pricing for the new dongle with Windows 8.1 is set at $149, but Intel are also launching a lower spec 1GB RAM/8GB storage with Linux for $89. Both units arrive in March.

Source: Intel.com

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Windows 10 Technical Preview now available for download

Winodws 10 start menu

Microsoft’s technical preview for Windows 10 is now available for download. The preview gives users early access to a very early build of the upcoming OS. Downloading is simply, just click the link below and sign up to be a Windows Insider and then proceed to download the OS. The preview will expire on April 15st 2015 and it’s highly recommend that you do not install the preview on a main computer and only install it on a secondary computer, as the OS is bound to include some bugs.

Below is what you can keep depending on if you install the the preview over a previous Windows OS. As expected, moving from Windows 7 or 8/8.1 will upgrade pretty easily, but moving from anything else will require a fresh install. We recommend doing a fresh install regardless. Unless you wish to test compatibility on purpose.

If you’re upgrading from You can keep

Windows 8.1 or Windows 8

Windows settings, personal files, and most apps

Windows RT 8.1 or Windows RT

Technical Preview doesn’t run on Windows RT systems

Windows 7

Windows settings, personal files, and most apps

Windows Vista

Nothing—you must boot from media and perform a clean install

Windows Technical Preview download/sign up page: preview.windows.com

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Microsoft announce Windows 10, arrives 2015

Winodws 10

Microsoft quietly announced their next version of Windows today. By either skipping a number or counting Windows 8.1 as it’s own, Microsoft will be releasing Windows 10 next year. The new OS will focus a lot of efforts on the UI and hopefully curb the controversial echoes that Windows 8 received when launched.

The above image should give you a big hint at what to expect from the next version of Windows and yes the Start menu is back. It comes in a new design with included live title support. Titles on the start menu can be resized and the start menu itself can expand beyond the size of your monitor. Search is also back and is embedded in the start menu for quick searching.

Other features coming to Winodws 10 include virtual desktops with the ability to have different programs open in each. This works well with the upgraded snapping feature that allows users to quickly snap up to 4 apps around the display by dragging them to different quadrants.

Microsoft will be releasing a Technical Preview of Windows 10 tomorrow and have included a quick video detailing what the new OS has to offer. Check out the video for yourself and if you wish to download the preview, you can with the link below (sign up available on the 1st of October).

Technical Preview Sign up page: Windows.Microsoft.com

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New Kinect for Windows pre-order goes live, price set at $199/€199/£159. Ships July 2014

Kinect v2 for Windows

 

The new Kinect for Windows pre-order has just gone live. The unit is priced at $199/€199/£159 and is said to ship by July 2014. The new Kinect stems from the Xbox One and brings enhanced sensors with wider field of view, 1080p video, infrared lighting/night support. Below is a list of the countries the pre-order is going live in, with some coming soon. The Kinect for Windows SDK will also be available sometime in July 14 as a public beta.

Commercial SKU New price in local currency Microsoft Store
Australia 74Z-00003 AUD199.00 Microsoft Store
Austria 74Z-00005 EUR199,00
Belgium 74Z-00005 EUR199,00
Canada 74Z-00001 CAD199.00
China 74Z-00009 CNY1,456
Coming soon
Denmark 74Z-00005 DKK1.549,00
Finland 74Z-00005 EUR199,00
France 74Z-00005 EUR199,00
Germany 74Z-00005 EUR199,00
Hong Kong SAR 74Z-00002 HKD1,544
Ireland 74Z-00002 EUR199,00
Italy 74Z-00005 EUR199,00
Japan 74Z-00001 JPY19,953
Coming Soon
Mexico 74Z-00001 MXN2,688.00
Netherlands 74Z-00005 EUR199,00
New Zealand 74Z-00003 NZD246.00
Norway 74Z-00005 NOK1.696,00
Singapore 74Z-00002 SGD265.00
Spain 74Z-00005 EUR199,00
Sweden 74Z-00005 SEK1.725,00
Switzerland 74Z-00005 CHF179.00
United Kingdom 74Z-00002 GBP159.00
United States 74Z-00001 USD199.00

Source: Microsoft.com

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Microsoft announce Windows Phone 8.1, brings Cortana voice assistant and more

Windows phone 8.1 image

Microsoft kicked off their BUILD conference of 2014 with announcing Windows Phone 8.1. The update will bring a lot of new feature including Cortana, which is Microsoft’s own voice assistant. Named after the popular AI in Halo, Cortana is power by Bing and works much the same way both Siri, Google Now and S-Voice do, but Microsoft are adding that Cortana get to know you will begin to populate information based on that.

The update also brings the third column that was previously only available on large screen devices to all of them, along with your own custom Start Background. Other features and changes including improvements to most of the apps including Xbox Music, People hub, Email and more. Skype is now also embedded directly into the dialer and you can switch from a normal phone call to a Skype call at anytime.

There is no doubt a lot of updates and features coming along with Window Phone 8.1, but the biggest is obviously Cortana, but sadly it will only be available in the US at first, as a beta even, with the launch set sometime in the second half of 2014 for the US, UK and China and other countries to follow next year. We have included Microsoft’s video and a link to the the Windows blog with more info on Windows Phone 8.1.

Source: Windows.com

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Microsoft share details on Kinect for Windows V2

Kinect v2 for Windows

 

Microsoft have released some details including an image of the new Kinect for Window, the same one that Xbox One owners get. The new Kinect only has minor changes which include the removal of the Xbox One Logo and the addition of a power adapter/USB 3.0 hub to connect it to your computer. Everything else about the new Kinect is identical to that of the one shipped with the Xbox One.

Source: MSDN.com

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