HP Takes on Apple with the New Voodooby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 11, 2008 12:00 AM EST
- Posted in
The Most Mac-Like PC Notebook Ever Made: The Envy 133
First, the most interesting one, the Voodoo Envy 133:
Built on an all carbon-fiber chassis (Rahul Sood, founder of Voodoo, is a car nut) the Envy 133 is the closest thing we've seen to an Apple-designed notebook that didn't have fruit on its lid.
HP will say that it's thinner than the MacBook Air, but that's only true at the Air's thickest point. The Envy 133 is a constant 0.70" thick whereas the MacBook Air goes from 0.16" at its thinnest point to 0.76" at its thickest. Arguing about thickness is entirely missing the point, the new Envy is a very cleanly designed machine with a constant thickness, clean lines and very elegant design. Honestly, the only detractor from its elegance is the Voodoo logo which is still a bit more gamer and less "lifestyle PC".
The internals are virtually identical to the MacBook Air; it uses the same 1.8" 4200RPM PATA HDD (a 64GB SSD is optional, just like on the Air) and there is no internal optical drive (the system ships with an external eSATA DVDRW drive). The Envy also uses the same CPU as the MacBook Air - a 1.6GHz or 1.8GHz Merom based Core 2 Duo built on a smaller package.
Also like the MacBook Air, the Envy lacks a built in Ethernet port - but here's one area where Voodoo actually out-innovated Apple: the Ethernet port is built into the power brick. If you have the power adapter plugged in, you can plug in an Ethernet cable into a port on the brick and it will communicate wirelessly with the Envy; the power adapter acts as a wireless access point. You can't use the wired Ethernet and the built in 802.11a/g/n at the same time since the integrated wireless is used to communicate with the external Ethernet, but in most cases you wouldn't want to. Voodoo tells us that the efficiency of the external 10/100 Ethernet is around 80 - 85% over wireless, which is about right given normal OS and network stack overhead.
There's a LED backlit keyboard and integrated webcam like the Air, but Voodoo goes on to add an ExpressCard 34 slot and a HDMI output. There's obviously an eSATA port but it's actually powered via USB.
The 13.3" screen is LED backlit and has the same 1280 x 800 resolution as the panel in the MacBook Air and Voodoo also built in an ambient light sensor, presumably to control the brightness of the display and keyboard.
The battery is removable but it is a lower power unit than what is in the Air (33Whr vs. 37Whr), so battery life should actually be lower than what you'd get on a MacBook Air.
The feature list is damn impressive, not only was Voodoo able to virtually clone the MacBook Air but there are also improvements. On paper, it's the most impressive notebook design we've seen from a Windows-PC vendor.
Priced at $2099 with a PATA drive, it's a bit more expensive than the MacBook Air. It ships with a custom Voodoo version of the Splashtop pre-boot OS similar to the ASUS Eee Box or some ASUS motherboards. Availability is scheduled for later this summer.