VoodooPC's Envy 133, the world's thinnest laptop, just started shipping, and we scored one of the first production units straight outta Calgary. It's a lithe black laptop that keeps cool while running Vista, a super light machine that's strong as hell thanks to a carbon-fiber frame. It's the size of a MacBook Air with way more tech crammed inside, including its own second Linux-based operating system. And though it costs a lot more than most laptops that perform similar chores, it does it with a grace that I haven't seen since Vista's launch. It's not a gamer's system, but the Voodoo team deserves credit for using what they've learned to build a laptop that stands out when everything else on the PC market just blends in. Does it have any flaws? Yep, plenty. Here's the full review:
You know the Envy is well designed when you experience the initial unboxing. Generally, we're bored by the very notion of "unboxing" these days, but word is that Voodoo's chief designer is a packaging fanatic, you can totally tell by the elegantly nested, extra-heavy packaging that so carefully holds such a light, thin little notebook.
Once you have it out of the box and ready for action, you really notice how closely the Envy resembles a miniature black MacBook Pro, with a few distinct design choices to separate itself from an Apple: It's got a continuous glass face with embedded screen, so the whole front except for the webcam is seamless. And it's made of carbon fiber, which means it can be thinner (at the widest point) than a MacBook Air, but have a removable battery like a MacBook Pro. The carbon fiber, along with a rather noisy fan, lets heat dissipate easily, so there's no sudden burning sensation on your legs when you're using it on your lap. I don't know if carbon fiber is a better sound resonator than aluminum, but the Envy's speakers sound great for being so small. They're not just better than MacBook Air's mono speaker but MacBook Pro's stereo speakers too. The carbon fiber is slick but smudgy. It didn't take long to make it look used, though a quick wipe will make it good as new—for like five minutes. Sizemodo: Voodoo Envy 133 vs MacBook Air
To put it as bluntly as Voodoo boss Rahul Sood puts it, "This laptop is not a gaming product." It's not going to play Crysis at all, though it might achieve other, lesser games with the settings dialed down. You can tell it's not a gaming laptop because of the fact that Vista gives it a 3.1 rating out of 5 due to its integrated graphics and shared video memory; that PCMark gave it 2100 (the world's hottest machines top 15000); 3D Mark won't run because Envy's nice 13.3" 1280x800 screen is nevertheless too low rez to test; and it's not covered with flared plastic and blinky LEDs that go from green to red as you take hits during a game. As you might know, the basic design was Intel's. The original Metro concept had some shortcomings though. It was made of plastic and had some questionable heat management. "There's no way you could sell the Metro because it would fall apart," says Sood. Besides heat management, the key was to make the Metro design capable of carrying a removable battery that is nonetheless super thin. And it's a good thing, because the battery life on the Envy isn't great. In the most extreme situation, where it was powering the outboard DVD player and playing a movie, I could only get it to run for an hour before completely crapping out. That means no watching movies on airplanes, I'm afraid. In other less strenuous tests, the battery dwindled fast. Let me make this clear: The battery life on this baby sucks.