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Toshiba Unveils The High-End Kira Brand

NEW YORK — Toshiba last week unveiled a new premium brand called Kira that is part of the company’s move to present a higher-profile image to consumers.

The first Kira product to be rolled out is a three- SKU line of 13-inch Ultrabooks dubbed Kirabooks. These will have prices starting at $1,599 and will join Toshiba’s Satellite- and Portege-branded models. The Ultrabooks are only the initial Kira products. The company plans to roll out additional models in not only the computer, but other product categories.

“Our vision is to collect a line of products and we are looking at all form factors,” said Duc Dang, product development senior product manager, digital products division.

Dang would not go into detail concerning potential future Kira-branded products.

The Kira project is part of Toshiba’s plan to differentiate itself in a category that is becoming even more focused on lower prices. Kira’s purpose is to present to the consumer a highly engineered Ultrabook that will be a showcase product.

This will combat not only the low-price points that have haunted the laptop category for the past several years, but also the new trend of driving down prices for Ultrabooks, Dang said. Even Intel — which developed the Ultrabook concept — has been working hard to help push down prices in order to boost sales.

Dang said that while reducing prices does help the market, Toshiba does not want to be part of a rush to the bottom.

Toshiba acknowledged that the Kirabook prices are steep, but a spokeswoman said the company is not going for market share with Kira.

The retail plan reflects this strategy. The Kira laptops will receive a rollout limited to Best, Amazon, Microsoft stores and New York City’s B&H Photo and Adorama.

Toshiba’s target customer, someone it refers to as a “discerning adopter,” falls between 30 and 40 years old, is a photo buff, and is evenly split between men and women. These consumers do have money to spend, so while they may not be first adopters, they keep track of trends and will jump in when the time is right, Toshiba said.

The Kira Ultrabooks start with a $1,599 Intel Core i5-powered model. All the models feature a pressed magnesium-alloy cover, improved keyboard, Retinalevel display — which Toshiba calls Pixel Pure — and a dedicated Kira customer-service program.

The entry-level model has a non-touch display, but both step-up models, costing $1,799 and $1,999, will have touchscreens. The midpriced model also features an i5 processor, while the flagship piece has an i7 processor.

Other features include 8GB of memory and a 256GB solid-state drive.

At the retail level, the program will be supported by end caps in brick-and-mortar stores along with a large national TV and digital advertising campaign. While Toshiba’s TV ads in the past have been more company oriented, in this case they will focus strictly on the Kira brand.

Toshiba will include a two-year warranty for the Kirabooks along with a special customer service experience for Kirabook owners. This will include 24/7 phone support with access to U.S.-based customer service personnel, annual tune ups, rapid repair and setup assistance.

Also included in the purchase price is a two-year subscription to Norton’s Internet Security, Anti-Theft and Online Backup with 25GB of storage provided.