As the world’s press (at least, those not covering WWDC!) starts filing stories, I think one great angle to cover is how HP’s new superslim laptop, the Voodoo Envy 133, compares with Apple’s MacBook Pro for form factor.
Is it a MacBook Air killer, or just a pretender to the throne? Or do they simply rule different kingdoms? Here’s my 2 cents’ worth.
Betting on black
The Envy133’s shiny black exterior and interior should appeal to the design-conscious. The only downside is that fingerprints show up more obviously on this than on a MacBook Air/Pro or other laptops with a metal finishing. We have yet to scratch an Envy 133.
Slimmer than Air
While the Envy133 has an all-round rectangular design, it is evenly thin at 0.7 inches. The MacBook Air is still indisputably the thinnest at the sides, but at its thickest is 0.76 inches. So who’s the slimmest of them all?
Perhaps we can say that the two notebooks are on different tracks, at least for finger-pointing devices. The Envy 133 has an unusual trackpad. It isn’t a flat surface but a rectangular patch of dots, almost making me wonder if it was some kind of inverse Braille. However it did work like a normal trackpad, as you can see in this video.
Same, same but different
For hard drives, both the Envy and MacBook Air have 64GB (solid state drive) and 80GB (hard disk drive).
For processors, the MacBook Air uses 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processors. The Envy uses 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz Intel Centrino processors.
In terms of price, the Envy 133’s US$2,099 price tag is more expensive than the basic MacBook Air which uses a hard drive (not solid state).
Both have 13.3” widescreen displays and backlit keyboards with ambient light sensors.
Keeping you up all night
On paper, the MacBook Air gives 5 hours of battery life while the Envy 133 gives 3h 45min, “depending on usage”.
Along with power and processing, another challenge for ultra portable laptops is the number of ports that can be fit into them. HP moved the ethernet port to the power adapter, which makes sense to me - if you’re at your desk you’d use the power cable + adapter, which becomes more like a mobile dock. If you’re on the go you’d use wireless internet connection anyway (which is become more ubiquitous). The MacBook Air does away with this.
I would like to see: A side-by-side comparison of the MacBook Air and the Envy 133. Apparently a journalist here is walking about with one. Someone please grab him and do a story on this. [Update: Found him, he’s a blogger and he’s already posted a comparison between the two, in French]
I am not too clear on the market positioning for this, as I thought Voodoo series was meant for gaming (as a rival to Dell’s Alienware) but we’ve been told this model is more for mobile users.
So in the end, which is better, Envy or Air? If you’re a personal PC user who wants a mobile laptop, you’d want to give the Envy a second look. If you’re a hardcore Machead, you’d never get a PC anyway. For those of us who are comfortable with both PCs and Macs, like myself, I would look beyond the form factor, since both machines are lovely to behold, and see which runs faster and whose battery lasts longer. Benchmark tests should do the trick.
Updates CNN Money/Fortune Mag also discusses whether this can be a MacBook Air killer. Their answer: Not really.
Here’s the link to the infamous pic of a guy cutting his birthday cake with a friend’s MacBook Air. Gives a whole new meaning to ‘cutting edge’ technologies. To add more spice to the story, this guy is Rahul Sood who’s the founder of VoodooPC (under HP).