Last week, Toshiba entered the ultra high-end laptop market with the KIRAbook, a thin and light Ultrabook with a number of compelling features. The laptop is the first Windows 8 device to feature a Retina-level display (or PixelPure as Toshiba calls it), throwing it into direct competition with Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina display. We take a look at both devices to see which (if either) comes out on top.
We'll be looking at the three stock KIRAbook configurations and the two standard 13-inch models of Apple's device.
The two devices are very similar in size, though the KIRAbook is slightly shallower than the MacBook Pro and comes in a millimeter thinner. Toshiba's offering is also a little lighter than Apple's device.
Both systems pack a very healthy number of pixels into their 13-inch panels, and while the MacBook has the edge when it comes to pixels-per-inch, Toshiba's machine comes with the option of a touch screen display – something that's becoming increasingly common on Windows 8 laptops.
The KIRAbook comes with a choice of i5 and i7 processors, while the MacBook Pro offers two i5 variants. Neither system offers a quad core option, and while the i7 is the best choice here, all the processors are sure to provide steady performance.
Both systems feature integrated Intel graphics.
Both devices come fitted with 8 GB of RAM.
All available models of Toshiba's laptop come with 256 GB of SSD storage, while the MacBook Pro offers a choice of 128 GB and 256 GB options.
Both laptops come with 802.11b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 as standard.
Apple's device comes out on top here, with the company claiming that the larger-capacity battery will run for seven hours on a single charge compared to the KIRAbook's six hours. The MacBook Pro also features a MagSafe magnetic power port.
The batteries on both systems are non-removable.
Both systems feature HD webcams.
With both systems featuring high-end specs and performance, the biggest and most tangible difference is the software.
Unlike certain competing products, both the MacBook Pro with Retina display and the KIRAbook run on fully featured operating systems with a wealth of third party software support. This means that whichever you pick, you'll have no problem running standard applications like Office, iTunes and Photoshop.
A lot of users are likely already entrenched in either the Windows or OS X camp, in which case, your choice has probably already been made. However, if you're somehow still on the fence, then both platforms have their charms.
Windows 8 features a love-it-or-hate-it touch-centric user interface which makes the KIRAbook's touch screen a good fit. It's a very well-established and stable OS and offers a huge range of software.
It's fair to say that OS X is more geared towards creative types, with certain software such as Final Cut Pro and Aperture being Mac exclusives. Apple's Mac App Store is also significantly better stocked than Microsoft's current offering, though there are of course countless traditional Windows desktop apps available elsewhere.
Your choice of operating system will be entirely based upon your personal preference, though both options are solid.
The starting price of the KIRAbook is US$100 more than the Retina MacBook Pro, with the $1,600 configuration of Toshiba's laptop featuring an i5 processor and lacking the touch screen functionality of the more expensive models. The specs of each competing device's lowest-priced models are almost identical, with the exception of storage, where the KIRAbook doubles the MacBook Pro's offering of 128 GB to 256 GB.
The $1,800 KIRAbook comes with an i5 processor and a touch screen, while the pricier $2,000 model provides the i7 processor upgrade. The more expensive of the MacBook Pros comes with a larger 256 GB SSD hard drive and features a slightly quicker i5 processor.
The prices here largely reflect their respective specs, with no significant bang-for-your-buck argument to be made in either machine's favor.
Both Toshiba and Apple's systems have a lot to offer here, and it's impossible to crown a clear winner here. The KIRAbook is an impressive system, and with its 2,560 x 1,440 display, it's the new king of the Windows 8 Ultrabook hill. The touch-centric nature of the OS makes the touch screen versions of the system a better choice, but also a more expensive one.
The Retina MacBook Pro is an equally impressive machine with a bevy of compelling features. Its lower price adds to the appeal, though we'd actually recommend the pricier of the two models for its more substantial storage capacity.
At the end of the day, the Toshiba KIRAbook is a very capable laptop, and it's the only Windows 8 system that can compete with Apple's Retina-touting machines. That said, it doesn't quite do enough to topple the MacBook Pro from its pedestal.
For more on the MacBook Pro with Retina display, check out our in-depth review.
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