Voodoo Envy 133 or MacBook Air - That is the question.  Sure, some others may throw the Lenovo X series into the mix as well.  But for me, the debate came down to the Envy and the Air.  Both machines are marvels of engineering, and both are fun to look at and handle.  But when it comes down to practical use cases, this is where a gap begins to emerge.

envy-air3

From a hardware perspective, it's not even close.  But, the advantages of Mac OS X keep the Air in the race.  While the Envy has the user replaceable battery, HDMI out, eSata,  and USB 2, it still comes with Windows Vista Home Premium.  This downside, as compared to MAC OS X that runs on the Air, is significant.  Windows is now clearly becoming a drag on the hardware manufacturers.  But, that's another topic.  Oh, and also, Voodoo moved the Ethernet port to the power brick - nice touch!

The MacBook Air is still a great machine, though limited to USB and Apple's proprietary video out port.  Also, the Air does not come with an external optical drive, though it can be had for an additional $99.  Voodoo includes a dual layer super multi DVD burner.  The Air's a bit lighter than the Envy, but not by much - holding both of them in your hand, you can't even tell the difference in weight.  While the Air's tapered edges make it appear thinner, the Envy is actually thinner if you compare each machine at its widest points.  So, size and weight wize, call this a dead heat.

 All of that said, I recently decided to go with the Envy.  The main reason was the user replaceable battery.  When it comes to portables, I like to always have the saftey net of being able to travel with an extra charged battery, just in case of airport delays and the like.  The  Air doesn't offer access to its battery.  This factor, along with the fact that I already have a first generation MacBook Pro, tilted the contest toward the Envy.  Unfortunately, my experience with the Envy has been limited by the horror that is Windows Vista.  It's too heavy, and offers no seriously compelling advantages over Windows XP.  When Windows fans point out Aero and Glass as the first selling points, we should know we are in trouble.  Transparent windowing is no where close to a compelling argument for moving to a new OS.

Overall, the Envy is a great ultra portable and maybe Windows 7 will close some more of the gap with OS X.  Until then, I'll use the Envy for its great portability and connectivity, but will always cringe a bit when having to deal with Vista.

So, if you're looking too figure out which ultra-portable to get next.  We recommend the Voodoo Envy 133.

This post by Tony Pittman - tony@getthenext.com