Mac Air. Windows Surface. And now Toshiba’s Kirabook. Who needs a bulky desktop, when you can carry around a laptop – that is just as powerful – on your back without breaking it?
Gone are the days of desktop competition and marketing campaigns pitting Intel versus AMD processors. The average user doesn’t care about the nooks and crannies. Can it play music and movies without crashing?
The future of technology is all about mobile computing: using this app and that app on the go, while wirelessly connecting to your Netflix account without getting lost – thanks to your GPS.
Instead of productivity, we look to mobile devices to give us Xbox and Hulu connectivity. Most people don’t even remember the big rivalry between Deep Blue and chess champion Garry Kasparov. It was a time where companies raced to become the leader in Hardware manufacturing. Side note, for us “techies,” Deep Blue’s win in Game 6 was as remarkable as seeing a black man become president.
Right now, Hardware is in a state of Stagware. While only a few companies compete to create better Stagware, new companies pop up everyday with promises of more useful software, mobile apps or distributed applications.
Stagware doesn’t really bring us better processing power just lighter, flashier machines.
Enter the Kirabook.
Toshiba’s new Kirabook isn’t anything you haven’t seen before. It’s a laptop – one that weights 2.6 pounds. I got a chance to pick it up and – very literally – wave it around at a Toshiba event in NYC. In layman’s terms, 2.6 pounds is pretty freakin’ light.
Outside of weight, the laptop’s big sell is its PixelPure display, which is Toshiba’s version of Mac’s Retina display. While you might not use these fancy displays to find Waldo in a satellite image, you will be able to watch your HD movies with “damned-good” quality.
The Kirabook also has a touchscreen, which is more commonplace in today’s tablet market. It’s a nice match for users who require a little more productivity. Touchscreens are “cool,” but sometimes you need a keyboard to get the job done quickly.
The concept of the tablet computer has always been great, even before the iPad. Unfortunately, I always need to bring a laptop whenever I am on the go, which negates the need for a tablet machine. I need a computer that allows me to type fifty words-per-minute, use ProTools (or another sound editor/recorder), do some quick motion graphics concept work in Adobe After Effects and “code-up” an application here and there.
Surprisingly, the first Mac Air let me perform most of these functions. While I can’t do intense After Effects work or use too many audio samples in ProTools, the Air gave me just enough computing power for smaller projects. Unfortunately, I’ll be slapped with the infamous beach ball if I try to do any significant development in Unity, XCode or otherwise on the Air.
Truthfully, the Air performs better than a Mac mini, which oddly enough still ships with a 5400-RPM hard drive as its boot disk (it is also the drive you have to install all of your applications to, making all load times extra slowww). Why are 5400-RPM Stagware hard drives still in existence when everything is going solid state? It boggles the mind.
As for style, the 13.3-inch laptop has the familiar brushed silver look you’d find on your everyday laptop. At the Toshiba event, they actually had a spec laptop with a see-through case so that we could see the parts inside. It was pretty cool for style points. It reminded me of iMacs Jobs introduced when he returned to Apple. Yeah, those blue, red, and green iMacs sucked, but all the “Styleware” users who had them thought they were awesome. However, the PR rep said Toshiba had no plans to bring the clear Kirabook to market.
The Kirabook is Toshiba’s Windows 8 laptop and is poised to take a bite out of the Windows laptop market. I’m actually a fan of the Windows 8 environment. Recently, I had to help someone with their Windows Vista machine, and it reminded me how much I hated Vista, but loved its XP predecessor and Windows 8 successor. Then again, nothing beats NT 4 Service Pack 6. I digress.
Functionality aside, Toshiba’s big push needs to be in the consumer market. You’re not going to wow Goldman Sachs or Barclays Capital to change their laptops because the Kivabook has a touchscreen. While consumers may pick up a Kirabook at a Best Buy or Staples, the brand still feels obscure in the present market. The Jamie Kennedy Toshiba prank did little to bolster brand recognition.
If Toshiba wants to build their brand as leader in the future of technology, they need to look to education as a staging ground. Students in grades kindergarten through 12 are tech savvy, but they like style. Yet, when I go around to schools, Dell and Mac still run the show.
It would behoove Toshiba to engage in more educational outreach programs. Show off software that both casual and pro users need. Nowadays, middle schools have video editing classes. Perform demonstrations using Adobe After Affects and Premiere. Schools would love your for that; I can point them out if you can’t find them. After all Final Cut is going the way of the dodo thanks to Apple’s big Final Cut X screw up. Rebuild your brand with the most important people – the children. Educate children to use the hottest software on your laptops and they’ll buy your tech products tomorrow – or at least ask their parents to buy it for them.