Toshiba KIRAbook High Resolution Ultrabook


These days, many computer builders have gotten the message that consumers aren’t interested in starting a new computer, only to be greeted by a dozen unnecessary programs an popups. Toshiba skips that “bloatware” in favor of some good programs – but whether you find them useful depends a lot on how you use your computer.

The Windows 8 Desktop on Toshiba's KIRAbook. No bloatware to be seen - and two popular programs in the taskbar.

The most surprising programs to appear on the KIRAbook are Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 11 and Premiere Elements 11. The two are popular photo and video-editing tools for consumers and sell for more than $100, so their inclusion is a good value if you’re not a pro. What’s puzzling to us is that the KIRAbook seems more likely to be picked up by business users and other users who are seeking high-performance from their ultrabooks.

The display's resolution causes certain aspects of some programs to be rendered differently than they would be on lower resolution / DPI screens. Check out the toolbar text in Adobe Photoshop Elements.

That being said, we like Photoshop and Premiere Elements for what they are. The controls are easy to understand and the software is powerful enough to salvage many photos that you thought were lost to bad lighting. One thing we noticed is that programs like Photoshop Elements display tiny toolbar text, thanks to the screen resolution. That could be a drawback if you prefer larger text, or if you sit far from the screen (if you use an external keyboard, for example).

Symantec Norton Internet Security

The other big name in KIRAbook’s free software roster is Symantec. The KIRAbook carries several Norton tools, including Norton Anti-Theft, Online Backup, and Internet Security (which we disabled prior to benchmark testing). These programs are common on new computers, but the subscriptions that enable them are usually fairly short – basically trial subscriptions – and you’ll need to pay if you want to continue using them. The KIRAbook, on the other hand, includes two-year subscriptions for these programs. As long as you like Norton products, that’s an excellent perk.

DTS Studio Sound and Toshiba Desktop Assist

Toshiba tosses in a couple programs of its own, including Desktop Assist, which brings together several system settings and tools. The DTS Studio Sound software lets you optimize audio for the output you're using at the moment - headphones, the KIRAbook's speakers, or external speakers.

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