6.09.2008

That Voodoo That We Do...



For years, working at Voodoo has been one of my greatest passions. Ever since 1991 I can rarely remember a day when I didn’t look forward to waking up in the morning so I could get to work. After HP acquired Voodoo my personal love for this brand has only increased in magnitude.

So you probably noticed the Voodoo website burning down over the last few days, and today it’s either refreshed (or about to be refreshed). The new website marks the launch of the new Voodoo portfolio and an exciting new chapter in HP’s history. This has to be the most exciting day of my career at HP – even though there have been other special moments, like the Blackbird launch, the acquisition, all the events, etc – today is the highlight.

For years Voodoo has been treading the thin line between “Luxury/Bespoke” computing and “Gaming”. We have calmly walked that line – while also balancing our marketing messaging between sophistication and gaming with plans to clarify our direction as we folded into HP.

That said, here’s the story:

I recently wrote an article about Audi’s acquisition of Lamborghini. The purpose of this article was to illustrate the dramatic effect that Audi had on Lamborghini and visa-versa.

In 1997, Lamborghini shipped roughly 200 cars a year worldwide. The cars were beautiful, exotic, and high performing. The only thing Lamborghini seemed to lack was consistent engineering and quality control, and rightfully so – each car was hand-built and the small scale production did not allow for the same core engineering quality control Audi enjoyed.

Ten years later (the equivalent of two years in the computer industry), Lamborghini now ships over 2500 cars annually. The cars are every bit as aggressive as before, but the quality is a thousand times better.

New Audi cars are more beautiful – look at the TT and the R8. Audi and Lamborghini clearly share important DNA, and to us this is the key to a successful strategy.

Since the beginning of the HP – Voodoo acquisition we have been crystal clear about our strategy. Leaving no questions on the table, the press and analysts really believed in our plans, and they continue to support us. I guess the real reason they support us is because we haven’t said anything that doesn’t make sense. We have slowly been clearing the way for a successful future, and now it’s time to expand on it.

Since the acquisition, we have focused on one product. HP Blackbird 002 with VoodooDNA is easily the most exciting high performance gaming PC ever. Even though it was launched in September of 2007, it is still a product beyond compare. This speaks volumes to the level of engineering and innovation that we put into the Blackbird, and to our ongoing commitment to excellence.

HP Blackbird 002 with VoodooDNA has earned many editors’ choice awards, innovation awards, and design awards. Simply put, it continues to wow the critics. And due to the overwhelming success and the halo effect that it has had on the HP brand, HP management has encouraged us to continue to develop products branded “HP with VoodooDNA”.

HP management also wants us to improve Voodoo the way Lamborghini did from 1997 to 2008, so we are refreshing the entire Voodoo portfolio with HP engineering and quality control while also expanding our levels of personalization and customization. This is a huge deal for us as it allows us to build the coolest personal computers ever.

So we’re creating two sets of products under two different brands, “Voodoo”, and “HP with VoodooDNA”. In order to successfully create both lines and remain relevant we decided to create two different distinct design languages, targeting somewhat distinct customers.

Like a brooding muscle car that snarls and spits as you shift through the gears, “HP with VoodooDNA” will continue to smash performance and innovation limits. The HP with VoodooDNA portfolio will feature aggressive lines, futuristic design, incredible engineering and kick-ass performance. As you have witnessed with our first product, HP with VoodooDNA will continue to be designed primarily for gamers.

Of course you don’t have to be a gamer to buy one as we all know Blackbird is capable of so much more. By using VoodooDNA on our HP machines we are committed to ensuring that they meet Voodoo’s insane attention to detail and performance denominator.

While we parallel “HP with VoodooDNA” with muscle cars, the “Voodoo” portfolio falls into a more “exotic car” category. Featuring simple, clean lines, high quality materials, deep personalization, and of course incredible performance, Voodoo is where high technology and art fuse together. Over the last eighteen months we expanded our Calgary facility, enlarged the team and added two additional high end paint booths and a new fantastic laser etching machine. The new Voodoo portfolio continues to be designed for customers who want something stylish, different, and ultra personal.

You’ll notice our new website is completely different. It’s simple, modern, and currently features two products. The new Voodoo ENVY, and the new Voodoo OMEN. You will also find a new unified community called “The Next Bench”, and links to our HP with VoodooDNA portfolio which currently includes HP Blackbird with VoodooDNA.

Also, subtle but interesting, there is a dark side and a light side to the Voodoo logo. The dark side represents the aggressive, almost reckless side of Voodoo. The dark side is our gaming side – the VoodooDNA side.

The light side represents the clean, elegant, stylish, and personal side of Voodoo – the new Voodoo. The common denominator is performance, quality, and innovation.



While there are so many cool little features of the new ENVY such as the amazing out of box experience and the personalization options – I am going to focus on a few of the stand-out features.

.70 inch thin
This is the thinnest notebook we have ever created. Thanks to our fantastic R&D team, and major support from Intel’s innovation group we were able to shrink the platform to fit in an extremely thin form factor. You might even say at a consistent .70 inches thin, this is arguably the thinnest notebook on the market.

Carbon Fiber chassis with beautiful Carbon Fiber weave
By using rigid Carbon Fiber we were able to design in a removable battery without sacrificing build quality. This notebook exudes quality, with extreme HP engineering through and through.

Voodoo IOS Quick Boot System
When you first press the power switch on most personal computers you typically wait as the BIOS loads, the memory count goes by, and the system proceeds to tell you hardware information before you get to the OS. This is the difference with the new Voodoo ENVY: When you enable the Voodoo IOS, you are immediately greeted with a menu when you press the power button! As we mentioned at our launch HP is placing a big emphasis on our own software solutions. We designed the look and feel for the new Voodoo IOS to be simple to use and easy to manage.

How it works: Envy customers can choose to boot into an optimized Windows Vista, and Voodoo IOS includes a Linux operating system which takes seconds to load. So if you’re at the airport and you simply want to browse the web using an optimized version of Firefox, chat with your friends on Skype, instant messaging using Pigeon (an instant messaging client which allows for MSN, GTalk, Yahoo, and more), view photos or listen to music – you can do all of this without the need to boot into Windows.

13.3” Ultra Bright LED Backlit display with mega hinge
This is the thinnest, brightest display we have ever used on a notebook. We also included a tiny ambient light sensor because we know it’s all in the details. The ambient light sensor allows the display to automatically adjust brightness unless the user overrides it. The hinge is tough and smooth – and allows for a smooth closing and opening action like you would expect from a high end device like the Voodoo Envy.

Voodoo Aura PowerConnect with Ethernet Port
The notebook is so thin that we simply cannot build in an Ethernet port in the chassis. Rather than using a non-standard cable or dongle that you’ll likely leave at home when you go on a last minute trip, Voodoo opted to include the Ethernet port in the power brick! You never forget your power brick at home. Even better, the cables on the power brick are totally removable, so if you find over time they’re wearing down, rather than buying an entirely new brick you can simply replace the cables.

High quality tactile keyboard with auto backlight feature
If you’re like me you’ll remember the old school keyboards from the early 90’s where they delivered the best tactile motion when typing. Our engineers did some serious soul searching when they developed this keyboard which also features an auto-backlight. How does that work? Simply put, when you place both hands over the keyboard to type the entire keyboard illuminates.

Extra large integrated carbon fiber touchpad with multi-touch and auto-toggle
This touch pad is awesome. It’s extra large so you can use different parts of the surface for scrolling and various motions. Typically a large touch pad like this could get in the way of your typing causing the cursor to jump across the screen. The cool thing about this touchpad is once you start typing with both hands it disables itself! Remove one so you can type and navigate, and the touchpad re-enables itself.

Intel Core2 Duo Processor with low voltage platform
As mentioned above, the good people at Intel figured out a way to shrink their incredible platform into a tiny form factor. Thus the Voodoo Envy was born over a year ago – however we did not launch until now due to the added engineering HP applied to the platform.

HDMI Port with pocket presentation adapter
The new Voodoo Envy is so thin that we simply couldn’t put a VGA adapter on the system. We chose HDMI as it offers both audio and video out to all new HD TVs and many new monitors. We also included a tiny HDMI to VGA adapter with a built in IC that makes the system “think” it’s hooked up to a secondary display the second you hook it up. So as soon as you plug in this adapter your Envy automatically adjusts the resolution for any external projector – it’s perfect for presentations! You no longer have to fumble around with the video settings when you’re doing a presentation – you can have confidence that we’ve done all the work for you ahead of time.

Full Screen Video Conferencing with Dolby audio
The new Voodoo Envy features a low light full screen video conferencing camera with special microphone. Thanks to some special audio tweaking you can now use Skype without a headset, and it sounds and looks amazing.

Believe it or not, the sound on this notebook is fantastic. Even though it’s tiny, we have optimized the codec to deliver clean crisp audio.

Dual USB with ESATA+USB Combo
Another cool HP innovation is the all in one ESATA+USB combo port. This port allows us to hook up an ESATA hard drive or optical drive while borrowing the power from the USB. This means you only have a single cable going to the device, with no extra power adapter necessary.

ESATA Ultra Thin Slot Load DVD + CD Burner
We have all seen USB optical drives, but the performance just isn’t that great. Our drive is different; it uses SATA technology thereby delivering some of the fastest throughput of any optical drive on the market. This allows for fast downloads and installation of your software. When you’re finished using it the cable tucks neatly away into the base of the drive making it simple to store in your bag.

New Omen


As much as we’re proud of the new Voodoo Envy, we are equally pleased of the Omen. If you’ve followed the innovative history of the original Voodoo Omen you would know that this system has won every major award in the industry. The unique monolithic structure of the Omen clearly represents the pinnacle of high performance computing. Omen’s feature set promises to completely alter the perception of what a premium performance machine can be:

Classic Voodoo Style
The clean lines and square edges of the Omen set the standard for the sophisticated look that will define all Voodoo-branded devices. The all-aluminum extrusion chassis gives the Omen a classy aura of sophistication and adds to its durability and cooling capabilities.

Quick-release Liquid Cooling
As always, we’re ensuring that the machine is always cool under pressure. Aircraft-quality quick release cooling pipes instantly seal coolant, allowing for painless removal and upgrades of components. And unlike any other system in the industry, brass cooling pipes are built directly into the aluminum Omen chassis – reducing interior clutter and improving air flow.

Convection Thermals
The Omen represents one of the first desktop systems to turn the motherboard 180 degrees to allow air to flow from bottom to top. This innovative approach to thermals makes the Omen the quietest high-performance system available. It’s also one of the first systems to feature quad radiators for maximum cooling and performance with impressively quiet acoustics.

Naturally, the above is just a taste of Omen’s capabilities. You really need to see it to believe it, so perhaps a video of us showing it off is fitting.

In any case, it’s 3:34AM here in Berlin… I cannot go on much longer as I have to be up in the morning to do our presentation on the main stage. On behalf of our entire team at HP’s Voodoo Business Unit, we invite you to enjoy the new Voodoo! Oh, and don't forget to check out our new Next Bench Community! Hosted by Greg Vederman and yours truly, we will feature daily blogs, videos, and an awesome forum for you and your friends to share ideas and information!

28 comments:

rivend said...

tis is worth the wait =)

Prad said...

Congrats guys..All the best

Anonymous said...

I hate it. Get me back the BAM finished Omen.

Anonymous said...

Very impressive!

Shame that it won't be able to run Mac OS X.

Anonymous said...

good to see some innovation from somewhere unexpected..

how about a html site? im unable to browse your products due to Adobe not joining 5 years ago (the 64bit switchover)

Jordan said...

The envy looks very nice. Possibly the nicest looking laptop I have ever seen. I am not sure how I feel about the omen though. The old omen had a way cooler chassis.

kuro_neko003 said...

Nice! The new "Envy" sounds very cool :). I'm luving my Blackbird! I hope you continue to be successful by offering customers great products to flirt with and eventually commit to.

-jenbrister

Anonymous said...

That is one sexy piece of equipment. No doubt an air killer!

Congratulations to the design team!

Dan said...

I have a bad case of Envy Envy. Not a gaming machine, but every accountant and CEO in town will want to get one with his company's logo put on the outside.

You guys have made me proud as a Calgarian.

Fire said...

Thanks, that was a wealth of detail on the Envy. One minor correction regarding the open-source chat client you referred to: it is spelled "Pidgin", not "Pigeon".

I'm intruiged by IOS. Dell has something similar with their XPS line, but I don't think they have a browser built-in. Most people simply use their laptop as a platform for their browser, so this is huge, at least to me.

Jorge said...

Holy crap, those are two of the ugliest machines I've ever seen. Well, the Envy for sure. I bet that sucker bites nicely into your lap with those sharp edges.

Thank goodness they're nice on the inside.

Dan said...

One question: Does this whole IOS / Linux browser thing make for safer browsing? Could be a big plus.

Anonymous said...

Rahul can we still purchase the old Omen version 2 from you guys? I really like the black one which made it look very sinister.

Anonymous said...

I want your wallpaper!

FuturDreamz said...

A couple questionc about the Voodoo IOS: can you switch the Linux distro with something like Vector Linux?
will it allow you to boot another OS besides Vista?

mark said...

I'm currently in the market for a new notebook and thought that the Envy might be it, especially after reading your note about "deep personalization". Unfortunately, the specs I downloaded from the VoodooPC website don't live up to that highly customizable promise. Most specifically, I was hoping for a display choice of WXGA+ (1440x950 = just passable) or even WSXGA+ (1900x1200 = really cool). At just 1280x800 the Envy's WXGA screen resolution is too limiting and a real deal killer for me. The Envy *is* a sweet looking notebook, but currently that's where my interest in it ends.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the new wallpaper rahul.

Anonymous said...

Voodoo mentioned it was invite only for the Omen. So does that mean regular folks like us can't purchase one? That's not nice.

James King said...

Hmmmm, I get it now. I always wondered how Voodoo would stay relevant when PC gaming is undergoing a transition. Looks like gaming will no longer be the main focus, the Voodoo brand is going wholesale "luxury."

I like it and it answers a ton of questions. The bad is that this officially makes Voodoo a direct competitor with Apple as it looks like your main weapon is industrial design. Up until now, Apple really didn't have to contend with another brand with it's level of design on the Windows side. But this is also the good... Voodoo now gives Windows lovers a good counter argument to the Mac lifestyle. Even I have to admit that the new industrial design easily matches and even exceeds Apple's current computer offerings.

Voodoo also has the advantage of HP's thriving low and mid-range PC sales so it doesn't have to dilute it's brand by making low-end machines. No discount Lamborghini's, so to speak. Voodoo has morphed into a true luxury PC brand, a real first. De-emphasizing the "gaming" aspect and strengthening the design makes the PC relevant for a longer time period. Apple computers have a practical lifecycle that is roughly twice that of PCs largely because of their design and it looks like someone finally recognized that as well as the fact that, even though Macs stick around longer, people almost always replace their Macs with another Mac. So what you'll lose in volume, you'll gain in retention. Tres smart.

Okay, I wouldn't be me if I didn't throw a little cold water on this whole thing... as always, your Achilles heel is Windows, Windows, and more Windows. Simply put, it's a dog and I think even you would agree that it's the weak link in the chain. Mac OS X is a superior OS at this stage from a general purpose standpoint and I think that the "Snow Leopard" effort to simplify and tighten the OS will make it even better. Apple isn't standing pat and it has now extended its brand comfortably into smart phones. It is completely dominating the "lifestyle" segment and even RIM is in trouble with the 3g iPhone. What will Voodoo's efforts look like to challenge Apple as a lifestyle brand? The upside is that Windows 7 looks real interesting... if MS can stop playing defensively and really push the envelope regarding OS development, Voodoo is now positioned to truly become the vanguard company and leading brand in the PC space.

I once challenged you to convince me to return to the PC platform. I'll admit, you have the machines but you still don't have an OS worth the return. I won't dump OS X for Vista, period. But you already have enough to get a lot of switchers to pause and start looking back over their shoulders. If Windows 7 delivers, I just might come back.

Vince said...

As a mac user, I agree with James. This Envy looks really nice, and is the first laptop I'd consider buying that doesn't run OS X. I use Vista on a daily basis and it just does not have the fit and finish of OS X . . So that's too bad. But it's good to see a PC vendor finally step up to the plate and come out with something like this. It's taken long enough.

Michael Zerman said...

RE: Envy mega hinge

" ... The hinge is tough and smooth – and allows for a smooth closing and opening action like you would expect from a high end device like the Voodoo Envy."

How far does the hinge bend back, in degrees? (Using 90 degrees as the vertical.) Does it have more "bend" than Apple notebooks which go no further than about 125-130 degrees?

Regards

Michael Zerman
Adelaide, AUSTRALIA

Anonymous said...

I want one of those Omens, too bad it's like 100lbs. I am a small and skinny person so that case is going to break my back. I'll wait for revision 2 when Voodoo makes a lighter case.

Anyone know if we can customize it with a glass window and a glowing laser cut Voodoo logo on top of the case. And can we get it in Black BAM (Brushed, Anodized, Machined) finish NOT just a painted Black coat. Also where are the USB ports?

Rahul Sood said...

We showed two Omens in Berlin. One silver, one black, both anodized and brushed - not painted.

Anonymous said...

I'm with anonymous on this one. Why the hell is the Omen so heavy. Seriously I understand that it is used to cool the system but 100lbs. Some people in their lives do move from one place to other or even rearrange their rooms. This reminds me of the VoodooPC Rage F-50 which was basically a fanless system which weighed only 70lbs and that was on wheels. Honestly the only thing keeping me back from this is the weight due to a sports injury. Rahul get this Omen down to 45lb-50lb range or less and I'm sold. I know it can be done since most of the Omen's in the wild are Pre-Porduction Units.

Robert said...

When will we be able to purchase an envy? I keep visiting the voodoopc.com website and there is no information there.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the Envy 133 is a stunner! Now I see why you cut your cake with the MBA :)

Can you please send me an Envy? My email address is stephen [at] plodinec [dot] com

Anonymous said...

I just bought an envy 133. I'm constantly on the go and want a durable case to protect the envy. Can you recommend one?

Free Documentaries said...

Rahul can we still purchase the old Omen version 2 from you guys? I really like the black one which made it look very sinister.