Last year, Apple added a visually stunning option to its MacBooks: screens with ultra-high resolution. These "Retina" displays reveal four times as much detail as any Windows laptop screen ... until now. Toshiba just released a new laptop line with a Retina-level display.
Does this mean Windows users can let go of MacBook envy? Sort of. The jump in resolution with the Toshiba Kirabook comes with significant compromises, however: Most notably, it's LOUD.
If you tax the processor on the machine by firing up, for instance, a 3-D game, the cooling fan at the bottom starts revving up like a jet plane about to take off. Not only is it distracting to the user, it can be heard across an office landscape. Having a private jet confers status; sounding like one does not.
The loud fan probably has something to do with how Toshiba has jammed a powerful Intel processor into a slim body. Small fans tend to be whiny when cooling a hot chip.
Like supermodel turned rapper, the Kirabook sounds bad but looks good. It's beautifully done in magnesium, a tougher metal than the aluminum found in MacBooks and some other laptops. Magnesium is rarely used in consumer electronics, but when it is, the results can be spectacular: I had a magnesium-bodied point-and-shoot camera that didn't show a scratch after 10 years of use.
The Kirabook starts at $1,600 for a model with a mid-range i5 processor and a non-touch screen (a comparable MacBook Pro with Retina costs $1,700). Two hundred dollars more gets you a touch screen. For $2,000, you get a touch screen and a top-line i7 processor. All come with 256 gigabytes of solid-state storage.
The Kirabook has a screen that measures 13.3 inches diagonally, just like the "13-inch" MacBook with Retina display.