Build, Order, Whine [My Voodoo, Part 1]

So, I ordered myself a Voodoo laptop today. After a frustrating website experience, I decided to write up a series on how my Voodoo weathers the next few years. Seeing as I just ordered it, and therefore cannot write about the machine itself, I decided to make this an introduction/rant about the website.

As soon as I get it (which, given that I’m going to be in Miami for the next two months, better be a month after it arrives), I’m going to write a First Impressions post on it, and then I’ll update things whenever a new problem crops up. Because you know problems are gonna come up.

I. Why Voodoo?

Ringing in at a whopping 4186.96 USD, my Voodoo Envy 732 qualifies as the most expensive computer I’ve ever bought. It’s a few hundred dollars shy of being more expensive than my current desktop (hand built, mid-line for its time) and laptop (light weight, best bang for buck) combined. I knew there was a reason why I never told Dad what I wanted for a birthday present last July. Happy birthday to me. If I didn’t have to rely on it for my computing and gaming needs for the next 3-5 years, there’s no way I would have spent that much, so the darn thing better be worth it.

Let me give some of a back story: I had known I needed a new laptop to be my desktop replacement when I go to Japan in April for over a year, but I had decided to put it off until the last possible moment so as to get the best hardware I could. I was still annoyed about what happened with my Toshiba laptop – three months after I bought mine my sister got the same model with significantly better hardware. Although her software is even more screwy than mine, which has caused a bunch of problems for her.

I chose Voodoo not because I think that they’re the bestest laptop makers ever, but because my research didn’t turn up any major problems (except that they’re spotty with customer service, which I tend not to make use of anyway) and because I know from experience that whatever laptop I get will have problems that no one on the internet seemed to talk about. Like Toshiba with their massive overheating problems (mine is small, so it’s not terrible, but the larger model that my cousin and friend have get really hot really fast) and their odd software problems (both my and my sister have issues with our internet connections that have no discernible reason that I can find).

I also chose the company, I admit, because I liked the idea of having a decent degree of customization that they offered. My laptop style probably won’t be the only one like it in the world, but my guess is that it’ll be the only one like it at my school. And that’s cool. What’s not cool, however, is gendered designs.

Yes, you heard me, there are “boy” styles (read: tribal) and “girl” styles (read: animals). To their credit, the cost is the same for both. Some people may think it’s cool to do things this way, but I find it 1) annoying and 2) limiting. Annoying because what if a guy wanted the Phoenix design? I know some guys who would avoid it simply because it was labelled as a “girl” design, even if they liked it. Even if the phoenix had a special meaning to them. Limiting because breaking it into descriptive sections would make it easier to branch out into several other kinds of designs. I’d like to see celtic, or logos, etc. I ended up going with the Wheel of Time because I didn’t like any of the other tribals and I liked it better than the Phoenix animal.

They don’t gender their colours, which I like. I ended up with pink because it was the only colour I really liked. The red wasn’t awful, but it just didn’t look right for some reason. The green was a nasty shade. They call it “monza OLIVE” but it’s more of a forest olive. And an unattractive one at that. My ideal colour would have been a lime green, like my car. Oh well.

II. Have You People Even Heard of W3C?

Now, I had enlisted my mother’s partner as my sounding board for the purchase because something as significant as my only computer for the next 3-5 years of my life is not a purchase to make alone. He knows pretty much what I do about the hardware (which was not much about the specific devices, but a decent amount of the companies involved) and, aside from a fateful Gateway purchase back in the 90s, he has been pretty sensible about what computer he buys. My mom relies on him to do the initial footwork because she’s too lazy – I mean “busy” – to look stuff up on her own.

I went to the website and logged into my account. It was loading a lot slower on this connection than it had for me when I had been on my laptop in Vancouver, which was an annoyance but not necessarily the fault of Voodoo. I went to the laptop page and the first thing he said was that he wanted to see a comparison of the Middleweights (the style of laptop I wanted). Yeah, me too, buddy, me too.

There is no option to do a one-click comparison of all laptops in a given section. We tried clicking on a link called ‘See The Difference’ and the header picture, which was apparently Flash, went blank. Loading it in IE produced a Flash menu about their company, almost exactly the same as the navigation at the top of the page. Thanks, Voodoo. Thanks. I just love it when companies 1) don’t program for multiple browsers, and 2) abuse Flash, javascript, or any other potentially bandwith intensive goodies. Goodies should be used sparingly and with purpose, not for things that can be done better with straight up HTML.

So, then we were like, “Ok, there’s a little button named ‘Technical’ that might have it.” I clicked it. A blank javascript window appeared on the page, obscuring the description of the computer model, and Firefox went into its “Loading” animation and……………………………….did nothing for like a minute. At this point my mom’s partner was like, “Are you sure you want to buy from these people?” He was annoyed, rightly, that their website was a slow loading, Flash & JS intensive, obtuse POS. Me, too, but I just wanted my damn computer at this point and I didn’t want to go through the hassle of researching other sites and dealing with their BS, etc.

Eventually I got fed up, clicked the back button, then the forward button, then tried the Technical button again and it worked. Thankfully. So, yes, indeed there was a comparison chart that we then clicked.

A javascript window popped up. I’d just like to take the time to say just how much I hate pop up windows. I specifically have Firefox open them in new tabs because I hate them so much. Except that javascript doesn’t work that way. So much hatred. But, my annoyance aside, the window let us compare the Middleweights against the Heavyweights and I confirmed in my mind that yes, the Middleweights are for me. Most of the Heavyweights didn’t have as good of a video card as my 732, which is one of the biggest bottlenecks for gaming. My poor little Toshiba has like 32 megs at most. Maybe less. My 732 has a NVIDIA GeForce Go 7800 GTX GTX 256MB. Mm, tasty.

Fast forward through talking about pros and cons of weight, performance, battery, etc. I finally went to the build page and did a couple of upgrades: I got 2 GIGs of RAM instead of 1, a Seagate 100 gig 5400 instead of a Hitachi 60 gig 7200, an Intel M 750 instead of 740, and got MS Office Small Business Ed. I read through their TOS as specified, and got slightly annoyed that they referenced an Online Privacy Policy that was not defined anywhere, but not annoyed enough to wait until they open tomorrow to call and complain. Oh, just looked at a sheet I printed out. Apparently there was a link at the bottom of the previous page to it. Not that a Google search turned it up. Argh. Anyway, after another eternity of waiting for things to load, I finished placing my order.

III. My Journey Has Just Begun

“Your customized Voodoopc Machine has a 30 day ETA,” they say. We’ll see, Voodoo. We’ll see.

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6 thoughts on “Build, Order, Whine [My Voodoo, Part 1]

  1. You spent $4K on a computer? Good lord woman! And I would like to point out that finally getting around to junking your old one is certainly e-mail worthy to me. ::thwaps:: I only pop my head over here every so often, yah know.

  2. You spent $4K on a computer? Good lord woman!

    It’s a shitload of money, yeah, but you gotta remember that this is gonna be my ONLY computer for the next few years. I need to game, run programs like Photoshop, etc. without any issues. If I had the luxury of doing the desktop/laptop setup my overall cost would have been cheaper, but it’s just not practical for my living arrangements.

    And I would like to point out that finally getting around to junking your old one is certainly e-mail worthy to me. ::thwaps::

    Well, technically I haven’t junked my old one yet… *coughs*

    Truth, though, is that I ran out of steam and didn’t want to write about the darn thing anymore. I know, I know, that’s what the copy/paste function is for. But, I mean, you should know by now how lazy I am 😛 (See, I took my bad and turned it around to be your fault! How cool am I.)

  3. You just spent $3000 more for a paint job…. check out sager notebooks. pctorque sells the 5720 which is the actual notebook you just got, with a fancy paint job. they start around 1700. Looking at the external design and the specs, its obvious they are identical.


  4. Eh, no use getting upset over it now. I figured that if my laptop was gonna crap out on me (and I’m convinced that all laptops will), it may as well do it in style. I’m just waiting until the technology for portable desktops improves, then I can hand build the suckers and bypass all this shit >

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