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ModBook Unveiled, No One Notices

It seems that with all the hubbub over a certain other electronic manufacturer’s new tablet-esque device, no one noticed toady’s official unveiling of the Axiotron ModBook, the first OS X-wielding commercial tablet. We previously reported on a few of the specs, but we now know it’ll come in three flavors; a 1.83 GHz Core 2 Duo model with 512 MB RAM, a 60 GB HDD, Combo Drive, and no GPS; a 2.0 GHz model with 1 GB RAM, 80 GB HDD, SuperDrive and GPS; and another 2.0 GHz dream machine with a whopping 160 GB HDD and 2 GB RAM, as well as a SuperDrive and GPS. With a thin aluminum shell, the ModBook definitely has looks going for it, when many people thought a tablet hack couldn’t come close to Apple’s design. However, with its looks comes a price tag to match: the cheapest ModBook is $2279, more than twice as much as the MacBook it shares components with. The higher-specced models go for $300 more than the last, with the medium machine going for $2579, and the best and brightest going for $2879. For those who are willing to jump on the early adopter bandwagon and pre-order before anyone gets their hands on it, there’s a bonus: the $2279 is selling for $80 less until it ships, and each of the higher models is selling for $180 less. With a 15″ MacBook Pro as my constant companion, it’s hard for me to justify that high a price, however enticing the ModBook is, but I’m sure this is the answer to the prayers of many a Mac user, and if successful might even show Apple that a Newton 2.0 isn’t such a bad idea after all.

18 Responses to “ModBook Unveiled, No One Notices”

  1. I’ve had a pressure sensitive Tablet PC (Toshiba Portege m200) for two years now and love it. My major complaint is the screen quality, which despite being 1400×1050 which is pretty reasonable is really bad on viewing angle, drastic shifts in contrast and saturation can be seen with slight tilts left and right which is understandably a problem for a graphic designer.

    Despite it’s shortcomings it has been an amazing tool for me in terms of productivity and growth as an artist; I’ve been waiting and hoping for Mac to come along and do one better for a long time. Looks like the wait may finally be over?

  2. Graphic Design here, and I sure DID notice!
    I agree with Skiper… this is a niche market… it’s not just at mac version of a tablet PC, but one with a pressure sensitive, good resolution, wacom-driven touch screen. You can do more than just scratch a bunch of notes down with this machine.

    I’m an early adopter waiting for mine to arrive. I have been waiting for a good quality Mac tablet for a LONG time (and never understood why Apple didn’t jump on that idea since it caters to designers). I’ll not only use this for my career (Art Director) but for fun (drawing). I also fully intend to set up a “dock” at home for it either when it becomes available, or when the stand becomes available (and I’ll get a new apple slimline keyboard and might mouse to couple with it).

  3. ok, I’ve some questions if anybody knows; first,what happen when you need to boot your mac from a bootable cd(normaly you restart and hold “c” key) or for the target mode(same with “y” key)? then as a graphic designer, I use so much keyboard shortcuts, all so usefull, but perhaps one just need to get used to it. anyway this “boot from a cd” matter seems important as I very often use it.

    this modbook is really sexy(too bad for this white and silver sandwich) but needs some improvements. But I think the price is ok as you just put a macbook+a wacom+400€ and you get the price of a mod book so…..

  4. Skipernicus

    Most computer professionals won’t need or want one – but those of us that do…

    This is a specialized item. I’m a graphic designer, and this thing is something that looks remarkably useful to me. Of course, I’m part of a niche market demographic. This isn’t exactly for everyone – I mean I also use a trackball instead of a mouse, and find that non-designers are loathe to touch the trackball unless it’s attached to a screen bearing Atari’s Centipede game. The trackball makes my life much easier, but you’ll notice that Apple doesn’t manufacture a trackball. Don’t even get me started on stand alone graphics tablets (many people can’t get over the pen-to-eye disconnect).

    In short – specialized item for a specific subgroup of users. Those who can use it will sing it’s praises, the rest will be indifferent.

    Either it will fly, or they’ll stop making them. If it turns into the next big thing, I have no doubt Apple will cut them a nice big slice of pie for the rights (as they did with Cassidy & Greenes SoundJam, which later became iTunes). If it doesn’t, perhaps it will have the same market as the Kensington Trackball, a great option manufactured and sold by “not Apple”.

    The initial price is high about a grand above a comparable off the rack MacBook. But consider this: It’s a lesser version of the Cintiq, but portable (the Cintiq weighs in at 22lbs…). If the utility is there for you, it’s worth it. And lets face it, all new technology is expensive – maybe 10 years from now you’ll get one of these in your cereal box as a prize – but til then, what are you gonna use?

  5. Can someone tell me where to find a rack for the modbook ? I want to use it sometimes as a regular computer with a keyboard and a mouse. They say it is VESA compliant, but VESA specs require screw holes in the the back of the device, not on the sides. I guess that it needs some kind of rack to hold the computer from its sides and that this rack can be fixed to a VESA arm ? Thxs

  6. I pre-ordered one of these to use with my business. I’ve written a database using Filemaker Mobile about 4 years ago to collect inspection data on a PDA then sync over to the MBP to process the report. However, it has been taking me way too long to process the information into a good report. I’ve re-written the program (streamlined) to work on this slate. Can’t wait to test it.

    My question is (& I think I know the answer), can this ModBook change the orientation from architectural to portrait? Seems like when holding the box, it would be more comfortable holding it longways like a pad of paper and not the opposite.

    Anyone know?

  7. The moment I see an intel mac version of either Mudbox or Zbrush I’m all over this. I’ve been wanting a decent slate for use as a purely digital sketch/sculpt book since tablet pcs were first announced. I’d have no problem paying for the fully tricked out model either. Well worth it in my opinion.

    My only concerns would be that windows based tablet pcs don’t seem to be geared towards serious art tool usage either (sensitivity and accuracy issues when compared with say a desktop intuos tablet). However the tradeoff for being able to draw directly onscreen is worth it I guess, untill the tech improves.

    Given the choice, and available software I’d much prefer to do my sketching/sculpting on a mac slate than a pc, as I also prefer the OS to windows. This is definitely one of the sweetest looking slates I’ve seen even compared to windows based slates.

  8. No one notices? Plenty of people noticed. Just not you, apparently. It was extremely popular.

    As for why “nobody is adressing how this will work with Boot Camp and Vista”, that’s because it’s a Mac Book. No new software, no weird hacks. If it works on a Mac Book, it works on this. (The touch screen under Vista may be an issue, as it DOES use a driver… It just happens to be a driver that already exists in a standard Mac OSX install.)

    I’m very interested in this, but it’s basically just a toy for me, and I’m trying to decide if I can spend that much money on a toy. (My current laptop is 500mhz and that doesn’t bother me.)

  9. To #2 – Oops! Yeah, I kind of pooched that one. I only read the brief here, not the previous post on it. My bad.

    So, I guess if those things are important to you, then go for it. I’ll stick with a MBP. I can add GPS after market.

  10. Very nice, but like you said a little pricey. Why would I get one when I can get a MBP for the same price? I wouldn’t. By the way, why did you get the 15″ MBP instead of the 17″ MBP? I’ll be picking a MBP up this year and having a difficult time deciding between the two.