Hands-On With the Voodoo Envy’s Instant-On OS
The Voodoo Envy 133 has a lot of striking features. Its got a more than elegant design, its power brick doubles as a wireless connection point and its got facial recognition software. Oh and its 3.4-pounds and thinner than Calista Flockhart. But what makes our mouths water is that it isthe first laptop to land in our hands with Splashtop’s instant-on mode (see our Splashtop FAQ). Voodoo calls its Splashtop instant-on environment the Voodoo IOS and instead of having to wait until Vista boots up – in what can be more than a minute on some laptops – the Envy 133 launches users into an environment where they can surf the Web within 15 seconds (verified by our hands-on experience). We have a lengthy video below of our experience booting up into IOS on a preproduction Envy 133 and a tour of all its Splashtop applications. When you first boot up the system, it will launch a main page with the Voodoo logo on a black background in 5 seconds. This start page has seven buttons on its bottom dock, including a shutdown, launch Windows, browser, music player, photo viewer, Pidgin chat and Skype shortcuts. You have to click on one of those buttons to enter the real IOS environment. In our testing, when we clicked on the browser button, it took an additional 10 seconds to launch the complete IOS mode and the FireFox browser. So within 15 seconds, give or take, you are good to go, though if the computer is on an unfamiliar wireless network you will need to connect. We were wholly impressed with browser. Out of the box it supports flash and when we navigated to Hulu.com we were able to watch The Daily Show with no hiccups. You can keep multiple tabs open in the browser, but even though the “Splashtop browser” looks like a mod of Firefox, we found that you cannot install Firefox add-ons. You also cannot download files from the Web and save them to the hard drive, though you can store them on a USB drive. Perhaps this will be different on the final production model. Even though the browser is unable to see your hard drive, the music player application lets play sound files from a few select folders on your hard drive or from an external device. We were very happy to see that you can keep the music playing and navigate to your browser, chats or photos. The photo gallery works similarly. It pulls pictures from your computer or USB stick and lets you view or zoom in on them. But our favorite Splashtop applications are the communication tools. The chat button launches Pidgin and lets you log into your AIM, Google Talk, MSN, or Yahoo chat clients. I logged into my Google and AIM accounts and was chatting up a storm within seconds. The IMs are put into a single window and separated onto tabs. When you get a new message, a small flag pops up on the chat icon on the dock. Topping off the preloaded offerings is a stripped down version of Skype. Within a minute, you can log into Skype and place a call. The pre-boot environment does not support video calling, but our voice call to a buddy on Skype was almost flawless; there were no pauses or echo. After you are done in the IOS environment, you can shut down (which takes 9 seconds) or boot into Vista (which takes 50 seconds).