Even though the form factor is new, throw everything you know about Intel's Ultrabook concept out the window. Well, almost everything. Hewlett-Packard just unveiled its Envy 14 Spectre, a premium consumer Ultrabook coated with Gorilla Glass on the lid, display, palmrest, and HP ImagePad, and infused with a white glove treatment that includes a concierge service. Seriously.
If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, Apple should be blushing. That's because Hewlett-Packard went and redesigned its Envy notebooks, which now bear a striking resemblance to the MacBook Pro, only a little sleeker overall, and of course with Windows 7 running the software show. The Envy is now an attractive looking laptop with a black and silver metal-alloy chassis that HP says is durable, and the keyboard has been upgraded with a backlight.
It looks like Windows PC makers are starting to gang up on Apple's MacBook Air. Earlier this week we pointed out that Dell dropped the price on its ultra-think Adamo by a pair of Benjamins, and now Hewlett-Packard is following suit with a price cut of its own.
You can now pick up HP's 13-inch Envy for $1,000 courtesy of a $450 instant rebate. That's a savings of about 31 percent and drops the Envy 13 below that of a 13-inch Macbook Air.
The $1,000 configuration ships with an Intel Core 2 Duo SL9300 processor clocked at 1.6GHz, 3GB of DDR3 memory, 250GB (5400RPM) hard drive, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 graphics, 8X DVD burner, "Beats Audio," 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, and an all metal chassis measuring 12.59 (W) x 8.46 (D) x 0.8 (H) inches and weighing 3.68 pounds.
Perhaps HP replaced the company's water coolers with energy drinks, but whatever the reason, the OEM has gone on a redesign spree updating several consumer notebook lines, including the Envy, Pavilion, and Mini series. According to HP, the updated models reflect the company's "MUSE" (materials, usability, sensory appeal, and experiences) design philosophy, part of which includes etched metal finishes, touchable textures, and custom wallpapers.
"With these new designs, we offer customers a broad portfolio of notebook PCs and Minis that are innovative on the outside and the inside," said Kevin Frost, vice president and general manager, Consumer Notebooks, Personal Systems Group, HP. "Each notebook provides a unique experience for the customer and allows customers to express their personality."
The changes appear to be mostly cosmetic. HP's Envy, for example, still comes with configurable with up to a Core i7 802QM processor, Radeon HD 5830 graphics, and up to 2TB of storage. A brushed-aluminum finish etched with a stream design will be added to the Pavilion line, while the HP Mini 210 series is being expanded with a preppy pink and white crystal makeover.
As for pricing and availability, models will start appearing in mid-May starting out at $650 for the Pavilion and $1,000 for the Envy, while the new Mini 210 models will show up in mid-June starting out at $280.
If the Voodoo Envy was HP's answer to Apple's Macbook Air, than the just-announced Envy 13 and 15 laptops are diect responses to Apple's Macbook Pro lineup. Sacrificing edgy styling and ridiculously-thin dimensions (seriously, who cares anymore?), the new Envys are built more for performance to meet the demands of the high-end market. These are definitely not underpowered thin-and-lights -- the 13.1-inch model packs a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo, 3GB of DDR3 memory, and an ATI Radeon HD 4330 discrete graphics card. The 15-inch model is even more powerful. And both support an innovative battery slice add-on for prolonged use.
Read on for our full impressions of both laptops and a large gallery of hands-on photos!
Back when boutique OEM system builders operated as standalone entities, owning a custom built rig by the likes of a Voodoo PC often required a hefty investment up to several times more than what you could expect to pay if going the DIY route. This scenario has changed somewhat in recent years thanks in part to falling hardware prices and acquisitions by mainstream OEMs. Such is the case with Voodoo PC, who was acquired by HP back in 2006. More recently, HP decided to merge its Voodoo PC unit with its consumer business unit, a move that Raul Sood, CTO for HP's Global Gaming Business, said would "ultimately mean that Voodoo and Voodoo-influenced products will be easier to buy, faster get, they will feature local service, and they have the full power of HP's marketing and sales channel behind them."
Fast forward to today and HP is making good on Sood's promise. Effective immediately, the price of the Voodoo Envy 133 drops a couple of C-notes from $2,100 to $1,900. As an added bonus, each Envy shipped will also include a second battery at no additional charge, an offer that stands until November 30. On the desktop side, the HP Blackbird 002 also gets a price cut and can now be had for $1,800.
Could the days of high-priced boutique builds be nearing an end? Probably not, but gamers on a budget who aren't interested in building their own machine have more options today than in year's past. In addition to HP's price cuts, Alienware (a Dell acquisition) this week announced an affordable dual-GPU CrossFireX gaming notebook.
Just call us licky. We mean, lucky. You've seen the official super-hot photos of the Voodoo PC's Envy laptop, but we got our hands on one and were able to take tons of close-up photos of the as well as try out the highly touted instant-on feature. Our initial impressions: the laptop is really light. HP claims the laptop (it was the SSD version) weighs three and a half pounds, and even though we didn’t have a scale in our messenger bags, it sure felt about the same weight as the Macbook air, power supply notwithstanding. Stacking the Envy against a Macbook Pro and Thinkpad X300, Voodoo’s pricey portable was both smaller and slimmer, though it sports a 13” screen.
Click the jump for more impressions and all the photos, including the instant-on Linux interface, laptop size comparisons, and gross licking details.
Buyers who can't wait to unbox their swank Envy 133 notebook might find themselves taking pause for the occasion. And to ensure they do, Voodoo's Raul Sood plans to give the high-end laptop the white-glove treatment. Inside the box (which Sood likens to one you'd get from shopping at a Tiffany & Co.) the Envy will come wrapped in a microfiber polish sleeve stamped with the company's logo. Underneath, an assortment of accessories includes:
Voodoo Aura power connect with an additional removable cable (should the original fray over time)
HDMI to VGA Presentation Adapter
ESata optical drive with hideaway cable
Sood also includes a few more close-up shots of the carbon fiber Envy in his package-pimping blog, which show a pre-production engineering sample. Shipping Envys will trade the red logo for one in silver and chrome. You can order one now, and if HP Live Chat operator iCrzyMonkey isn't flinging poo, expect it to ship in August, bodacious box and all.
Move over MacBook Air, and make room for a sexier, slimmer model. Rahul Sood, founder of VoodooPC and CTO of the HP Voodoo Business Unit, is showing off a pre-production Envy 133 notebook, and if looks could kill, we'd all find ourselves in a world of hurt just for peeking. Sporting a gorgeous Scuderia Red paint job with Italian racing stripes and finished off with a custom laser engraving, the carbon fiber Envy 133 looks poised to win accolades for both inner and outter beauty. Weighing in at a scant 3.4 pounds and measuring just .70 inches thick, the new Intel Centrino-powered Envy boasts a backlit keyboard, instant-on technology for quick access to the web and Skype, and USB, eSATA, and HDMI ports. Just don't expect to do much gaming on the integrated Intel GMA X3100 graphics.