Voodoo Envy 133 Review: Apple Air Killer ??

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Written on 12:08 PM by Switch

Whoa. We were wondering what would happen when the performance freaks at Voodoo teamed up with HP, and the first notebook to come out of this acquisition is a surprise. No, it’s not a gaming rig. It’s one of the sleekest and most innovative ultraporables we’ve seen. The Envy 133 (starting at $2,099) rocks an instant-on mode that lets you surf the Web and make Skype calls without booting into Windows (called Voodoo IOS) and a slick power brick that doubles as a wireless access point. Intrigued yet?

Voodoo was kind enough to let us steal a pre-production sample for a little hands-on time, and although the Envy 133 was not benchmarkable, we wanted to walk you through everything that makes this dream machine stand out. Stay tuned for a full review.

Design

It all starts with a druable carbon fiber case that weighs 3.4 pounds and measures a mere 0.7 inches thin, complete with retro-chic squared-off edges. This is the kind of minimalist laptop that Christian Bale would carry if they remade American Psycho for the 21st century–in a good way.

Customization options range from your choice of 14 Voodoo Allure paint finishes to a selection of laser engravings. Underneath the lid you’ll find a brilliant 13.3-inch, LED-backlit display whose high-quality fused composite glass runs from edge to edge for a unified aesthetic. Last but not least is a funky backlit keyboard with a space-age font and a multiple-gesture touchpad (for scroll and pinch options) that’s nicely textured.

No Port Envy Here
More important than the Envy 133’s stunning looks are the innovations packed in (and on) this 3.4-pound machine. You can also connect anywhere via optional integrated mobile broadband, a feature the Air lacks. Two USB ports (one of which doubles as an eSATA port for external storage), an HDMI port, and a low-light VGA webcam are just a few more reasons why we would happily tote the Envy 133 anywhere.

The New Instant On

The Envy 133 launches users into an environment where they can surf the Web and make Skype calls within a mere 10 seconds. Called Voodoo IOS, this environment is powered by Splashtop and gives you the full Internet without having to run Vista in the background. Not only does this feature save time, it should also save battery life. You can also instant message your buddies (via Pidgin) in AOL, Google Talk, MSN, Yahoo, and more, and access photos and music–but not movies on the optical drive.

Juice Meets Connectivity

The 133’s power brick isn’t really a brick at all. It’s more like a flat slab. Voodoo calls it Aura PowerConnect because it allows users to plug in an Ethernet cable for a point-to-point Wi-Fi connection. Essentially , you can create up to a 50-foot wireless network instantly, which is perfect for working in remote offices or hotel rooms with either spotty wireless connections or no Wi-Fi at all.

SSD Optional: The Envy 133 can be ordered with a 4,200-rpm 80GB hard drive or a 64GB solid state drive. Performance hounds will want to opt for the latter, although the instant-on functionality of this notebook makes the boot time advantage of SSD not us compelling.

More Power To You: While the MacBook Air forces you to send in your precious notebook when it’s time to replace the battery, with the Envy 133 you can simply swap and go. The standard battery lasts a respectable (but not great) 3.45 hours between charges.

Matching External Optical Drive Included: Although Apple charges $99 bucks for an external optical drive on the MacBook Air, Voodoo bundles every Envy 133 with an ID-coordinated DVD burner (sorry, no Blu-ray yet).

Outlook: Although the Voodoo Envy 133 is considerably more expensive than the MacBook Air’s starting price of $1,799, and it’s not quite as thin or light, you do get a lot for your money, including more ports, the best instant-on mode yet, and a replaceable battery. The fact that you can customize the Envy 133 to your heart’s content is icing on the cake.

Full Specs for Voodoo Envy 133


CPU: 1.6-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SP7500 or 1.8-Ghz SP7700

Operating System: Windows Vista

RAM/Expandable To: 2GB/2GB

Hard Drive Size/Speed: 64GB SSD (optional 80GB/4,200 rpm)

Optical Drive: external 8X or 6X dvd+/-RW

Display/Resolution: 13.3 inches/1280 x 800

Graphics/Video Memory: intel GMA X3100/384MB

Wireless Networking: 802.11g/n, Bluetooth 2.0

Ports: One usb, esata/usb, hdmi, headphone/mic • Card Slots: expresscard/34

Size: 12.7 x 9.0 x 0.7 inches

Weight: 3.4 pounds

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