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.

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  • shady28 - Tuesday, June 17, 2008 - link

    A mac it isn't.

    The biggest problem I find from companies like HP is all the crapware that they load on their machines.

    This touchsmart software is destined to become more crapware. How many times have you seen some interesting somewhat useful proprietary software that a hardware manufacturer like HP loads onto a computer become garbage that needs to be removed within a year or so?

    They have a real neat software package that works on this one computer. In 1 - 2 years, it'll be unsupported garbage. At some point, MS will do something to break it and whatever time / effort the user put into learning and using it will be wasted.

    The fundamental difference here between Apple and HP is that Apple makes the OS AND the hardware. When they roll something out, it's supported within the OS for a long long time - it is not destined to become crapware. Witness iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand. I've seen plenty of PCs with 'equivalent' software pre-loaded, but ultimately it becomes crapware because they have no intention of using it to do anything but sell that particular season's PC models. Incompatibilities arise, and it becomes buggy and unreliable.

    Then there is the 'crippleware' that's often included - unsupported scaled down 3rd party software. Want to get it supported and make sure it keeps working with each new MS patch? Get out your wallet. Hundreds of dollars for software if you want to get all the full versions buddy.

    What's killing MS and these PC makers isn't Windows itself, its the model that Apple has where the hardware / software is all integrated, supported, and tested by a single company that they can't beat.
  • joey2264 - Friday, June 13, 2008 - link

    The bias is dripping! I expect that from MSM like NYT or Washington Post, but this is Anandtech. If I see another article so unbelievably biased against Windows and towards Apple, I will remove my bookmark from this site and not visit here unless directed by a source like Engadget. I suspect I won't be alone.
  • michael2k - Friday, June 13, 2008 - link

    What is the problem? Windows has 90% of the market-is there some reason you are so affronted when #2 makes better products?

    Do you think AMD shouldn't get good press for it's innovations? How about the XBox 360 or the Zune?
  • eraigames - Friday, June 13, 2008 - link

    My friend succumbed to the Apple hype and bought one of their laptops because it was so small and cute. I had brought over my Dell laptop which despite its faults cost half what my friend’s mac did, performs better and has more usb ports. While using his laptop he kept complaining about what a pain in the ass it was to use the mac OS. Despite Apple’s minor advances by switching to Intel, their hardware is still proprietary, slower than the competition and overly expensive but their greatest fault is their horrible software. Sure the mac OS has some visual fluff but it is just that: fluff. Has anybody actually tried zipping around the mac OS and multitasking? Impossible. Despite the fact that computers are tools to be used, macs are obviously not designed with the user in mind. Apple products have always been and continue to be about one thing only: fashion. What was it that sold all those ipods? Was it because they were such wonderfuls piece of engineering? NO, it was because of all those silhouette ads that branded the ipod as a trendy fashion statement. Anyone who’s ever used an ipod knows what a pain that stupid circle button is and how tedious scrolling through long lists can be. -Never mind the horror that is itunes… The new Ipod Touch is a step in the right direction but even then most people only bought it because it’s cute and it looks like the new iphone they wish they had.
  • Mogget - Friday, June 13, 2008 - link

    You quite clearly haven't the faintest clue what you're talking about. Take this (out of any sentence -- I commend you for being so consistently wrong):

    Has anybody actually tried zipping around the mac OS and multitasking? Impossible.

    This is beneath even sarcasm. Multitasking on OSX is ludicrously easy. Spaces ("> makes having many apps open at once simple to manage, and swtching between them takes no time at all. Please refrain from making sweeping statements based on you incompetence with (and no doubt minimal exposure to) the OS in question.

    There are plenty of valid reasons for critcising Apple, so please use them instead of spouting garbage.
  • wvh - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    My girlfriend bought a portable recently. She's not a "technical" computer user, unlike me. She just didn't want anything with Microsoft Windows on it. There is no way of getting a laptop in Europe from any major manufacturer that doesn't come with Windows. It's bloody disgusting. The one alternative option we could find, was a bit too geek oriented.

    So she spent a bit more than she was planning for and bought a MacBook Pro... Just because it wasn't Microsoft.

    I've never tried Windows Vista, but especially on laptops and small form factor devices, there are much better options. The biggest issue that was holding back Linux was support from hardware manufacturers. If manufacturers start designing their system and hardware with Linux in mind, just like Apple does, Microsoft will get a serious beating. If you need to buy a new computer just because of the operating system, there's something wrong.

    I can't wait for Microsoft to loose its stranglehold on the industry.
  • sprockkets - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    Let apple open up the OS to other manufacturers, and see what the first step they would do. It is easy: they will undercut Apple on price every time. Then they will offer machines that are plain clones, offer off shore support, since the machines are so cheap.

    Now, what do you think will happen? If people really like OSX, then they will buy it cheap on other machines. Then apple will be forced to go cheap and skimp on their support and design. Hell, maybe they will be pressed to stop advertising their products on 4 different times and channels a day (the mac book air commercial aired each day during The Daily Show).

    Obviously, Apple does not want their crap being sold as a commodity. They want the supply to be small. While keeping complete control over the hardware and software is a valid reason, it isn't the only one.

    And that is what happened to the pc market at the turn of the century. Everyone stopped offering a pc with distinctive features and designs, and started making the same old computer.

    And why? One reason could be that emachines with their "What the hell? A $400 PC? Wow I'll buy!" forced everyone to go cheap. Of course, everyone who bought one found out you got what you paid for.

  • tbcpp - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    But under all the fluff, it's still MS Vista crap. A turd with whipped cream on it doesn't make it any more palatable.
  • AssBall - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    I beg to differ. It slides right down with less fuss, and tastes better.
  • Focher - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    Why do I often sense that those who launch into anti-Apple diatribes actually have no direct experience with their products? They hang their opinions on false premises like "Apple products cost more" which is patently untrue. Take a comparably equipped Apple computer and compare it to any other major vendor and you get only minor price differences.

    If you don't want to buy a particular brand or product, that's fine. If you don't feel that you get the value from a particular brand or product versus another, fine. But do us a favor and if you've never used the product just spare us the opinion.

    I use XP, Vista, various flavors of Linux, and OS X on a regular basis. Vista is, as MS's latest offering of cutting edge, a pathetic OS. Yeah, it works ok but it's practically the first major OS MS has released that is not even somewhat better than its last one. It provides nothing new of significant benefit to a user while forcing a user to endure layers upon layer of bad architecture and user interface design. To claim that MS's OS offering is not a fundamental cause of the lack of interest in PCs seems a silly proposition. After all, Apple's sales are doing quite well. What's the difference between the two markets?

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