Now that I have used my Voodoo envy for a few weeks, it’s time to share how it worked for me. Voodoo is a powerful name in PC Gaming hardware, but let’s be clear: this is definitely *not* a gaming machine. The Voodoo envy is an ultra-light laptop that is really good at productivity tasks such as email, web browsing, excel and text editing. Think of it as the ultimate internet cafe machine: it is uber-light, will get you connected with the fastest WIFI, looks great on the table and is most likely a conversation starter even if conversations tend to be repetitive and start with “wow, what’s that laptop?”.
The industrial design is the greatest asset of this computer. It is thinner than the Macbook Air from end to end (0.7″) and it also looks so much classier. Very few people seem to have actually seen a Voodoo Envy 133 in the wild. Each time I hop into a meeting, people are watching the laptop instead of looking at the projector screen: you have been warned! Fortunately, I don’t sell anything, so that’s fine. There’s no need for a descriptive paragraph, just look at the photo gallery, it speaks for itself.
PCMark CPU Score (performance mode)
- Core i7 3.2Ghz: 9873 (desktop PC)
- HP 2730P: 4875
- Voodoo Envy 133: 4536
- Vaio SZ120P: 4191
PCMark HDD Score (performance mode)
- Core i7, Raptor 10k rpm: 9442 (desktop PC)
- HP 2730P: 3750
- Vaio SZ120P: 2996 (Stock drive: Seagate Momentus 5400rpm)
- Voodoo Envy 133: 2767
As you can see, the Voodoo Envy’s CPU is not a horserace by any means, but it is largely “good enough” for everyday applications. The hard drive is another story. Being slower than my 3 years-old VAIO stock drive (a 2.5″ Seagate Memento 5400rpm) is a bit scary, but remember that the Envy 133 has a 1.8″ 4200rpm drive. SSD is an option – at a high price, that said.
During my tests, I got around 3 hours of battery life if I use the maximum power savings mode, and may be 1h15mn in performance mode. I mainly spent my time browsing the web, writing reviews and using webmail (I typically dislike using Outlook on a laptop).
I’m not a big fan of the Envy 133 power “brick” and even though it has a cool “Ethernet to Wifi-N” feature, I just wish that it was a bit smaller. In terms of volume and weight, I think that it’s somewhat comparable to the power brick of my Vaio, but it is bigger than the HP 2730p tablet. After a while, I can say that I would have traded the Ethernet capability for a smaller power-brick, which would come handy as a paid add-on…
It would have been great to have a battery life similar to the amazing 6+ hours of the HP 2730p, but I can live on power-savings mode and 3+ hours. It’s “OK”.
Ports and connections
Despite being thinner than the Macbook Air, the Voodoo Envy does have more ports. First of all, it has two USB port. One of them also doubles as an eSATA that can be used to connect an optical drive. The same USB/eSata port can provide power (USB) and connectivity (eSata) to the optical drive. You get the high-performance of SATA and an extra USB port for the day to day use. Smart.
The Envy 133 is obviously too thin to accommodate an Ethernet plug. As we said earlier, Voodoo’s solution is to have an Ethernet plug in the Power supply and have it communicate with the laptop via an AdHoc WIFI-N connection. That way, you can benefit from a fast wireless connection even if you don’t have a WIFI-N router yet.
The presence of an ExpressCard port means that wireless broadband modem or memory cards can be used, which can come in handy, even if it would ruin the esthetics. There’s also an HDMI port that serves as a video out. Of course, there’s a small VGA adapter that comes in the package if you need to plug the Envy into a common projector. It works just as one would expect.
Voodoo Instant OS
The Envy 133 comes with Voodoo IOS (or Instant OS, based on Splashtop), a quick-boot operating system based on Linux. I don’t really like using the word “instant”, because it really isn’t (15 seconds to a web page). It does boot a lot faster than Windows, but I found myself not using it at all. I wonder why Microsoft can’t build a real instant OS based on Windows Mobile from which we would have access to Exchange, which means emails, contacts and so on. It’s just a thought.
Not exactly perfect
As good as it is, the Voodoo Envy 133 isn’t perfect. Take the trackpad for example: its integration in the overall design is perfect, but in the dark, it’s hard to figure out where it is. A simple LED backlight would solve this. Also, I disabled most of the gestures because they don’t work they way I want, except for the vertical scroll, which is really convenient.
The trackpad mouse buttons look great, but having two button using a single piece of plastic isn’t the best idea. You have to click at the very edge on either side for them to work best. The keyboard is also wonderfully integrated in the design, but the keys are a little slippery. The keyboard is also a little smaller than the one on my 13.3″ VAIO – because Voodoo had to make room for the speakers on each side of the keyboard. It’s a weird choice because the keyboard seem to be more important than the audio and it’s not like they can’t put the speakers elsewhere (well, may be they can’t). Talking about the keyboard, I did myself a favor and disabled the Caps Lock button (here’s how to do it). First, the performance is “good” to “just OK”, depending on your tolerance to battery depletion.
The hard disk speed is the main performance issue here. If you can afford it, go for the SSD, assuming that it is really faster. Note that the hard disk is not upgradeable and apparently, this laptop could not accommodate the Intel X18-M SSD. I have not taken it apart to try.
The Envy 133 never gets hot to the point of being uncomfortable on the lap (including on the bare skin), let alone burning hot. That’s true even in “performance” mode while running a 10mn torture-test. I guess that this is what happens when, unlike some competitors, there’s a fan to blow out the hot air. Oh, and if you wonder, the fan is not too noisy.
My biggest complaint is that I have to clean my fingerprints traces to keep the surface shiny at all times. Sure, The Voodoo Envy 133 isn’t perfect, but if you want to have one of the most beautiful laptop, you’ll have to take the good with the… less good. As for whether or not you “should” buy one, I would say that you’re asking the wrong question. The right one is do you “desire” to? One doesn’t buy this laptop to “get the job done”, but to do get it done in style. Voodoo did not come up with fancy taglines, but they built the sexiest ultra-thin laptop on the planet. ($2100 as tested )
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