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Axiotron's ModBook rises from the grave

Axiotron's ModBook rises from the grave

The ModBook Pro turns a MacBook Pro laptop into the world's most powerful tablet, but will Andreas Haas be successful the second time around?

Axiotron might be dead and gone, but the company's ModBook product lives on thanks to co-founder Andreas Haas and his new company ModBook Inc.

The original ModBook launched in 2008 as a service to turn people's MacBook Pro laptops into high-powered tablets with Wacom-powered touch-screens and stylus input. The devices weren't exactly popular with Apple - turning a MacBook into a ModBook killed the warranty, although Axiotron provided a replacement warranty service to cover the loss - but the high-price devices were nevertheless popular among Apple fans disappointed by the company's lack of tablet.

When the iPad launched in 2010 - two years after Axiotron began shipping its first ModBook tablets - it would prove disastrous for Axiotron, giving Apple users an alternative device for when they need a touch-screen input. Instead of converting their MacBook Pros into ModBooks, or buying a dedicated ModBook, buyers were augmenting their standard-issue MacBook Pros with iPads, forcing the company to close.

Haas hasn't given up, however: his new company, ModBook Inc., is picking up where Axiotron left off with a new selection of large-format 13.3in OS X-based tablets built from Apple's latest MacBook Pro laptops. As a result, the devices include an Intel Core i5 dual-core 2.5GHz or Core i7 dual-core 2.9GHz processor, up to 16GB of RAM, a 2.5in SATA drive with options including a 1TB hard drive or 960GB SSD, a DVD burner, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.

Just to rewind a second: yes, the ModBook includes the MacBook Pro's slot-loading 8x 'SuperDrive' DVD burner, making it the only tablet on the market today to include an integrated DVD drive.

The ex-laptop's display - currently only the 1,280x800 standard resolution option, with no sign of the 2,880x1,800 Retina display - is protected by etched ForceGlass, a scratch-resistant glass which is designed to provide a paper-like feel when the tablet is operated with the included Wacom digitiser pen with 512 levels of pressure sensitivity.

The digitising system does, however, tie up one of the MacBook Pro's USB ports - but leaves the system with a single USB 3.0 port, a gigabit Ethernet port, a FireWire 800 port, a Thunderbolt port, an audio in/out port, and a slot for SDXC memory cards. In, we'd like to remind you, a tablet. Support for Windows is also included through Apple's BootCamp utility, giving the tablet the ability to boot into either operating system.

As before, the conversion process puts paid to the Apple warranty - with ModBook taking over - and loses the FaceTime camera from the front of the device.

There's one piece of information Haas isn't sharing yet, however: the price. With the devices launching later this year, expect to pay a premium if you want the world's most powerful tablet PC - although discounts were previously available from Axiotron if you supplied your own MacBook Pro for conversion.

16 Comments

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jrs77 29th June 2012, 13:45 Quote
The Wacom-tablet with pressure-sensitive pen is so much better then your finger-tip when painting, but I guess that this remodeling of the device would cost so much, that you could easily get a Wacom Cintiq 12WX in addition to your normal MacBooc Pro 13".
fdbh96 29th June 2012, 17:14 Quote
Looks cool but is probably very heavy and expensive :/
bluespider42 29th June 2012, 20:40 Quote
Well apart from OSX and the DVD drive - this is what I'd want in a tablet.
moshpit 29th June 2012, 20:53 Quote
Okay, wait.... Core i7 DUAL CORE??? Ummmmm.... no. No such beast. Time for a source check.
DwarfKiller 29th June 2012, 21:21 Quote
There's a lot of dual cores for the mobile sector.
fdbh96 29th June 2012, 21:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by moshpit
Okay, wait.... Core i7 DUAL CORE??? Ummmmm.... no. No such beast. Time for a source check.

I thought all but the high end mobile i7s were dual cores?

Edit: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/processor-comparison/compare-intel-processors.html?select=laptop

Source: Intel :D
Guinevere 29th June 2012, 22:12 Quote
As a lap mounted drawing tool I can see it being quite nice, but is it really worth the premium over a Cintiq 12WX?

OSX isn't built for pen input, and windows has never been great. Touch is getting better support in windows (if you use Metro) so maybe that's an option...

Oh but wait, the modbook doesn't have a touch interface, it's the wacom pen or nothing. There goes your multi-touch intuitiveness! Lost the pen? Oh dear.

And as to a keyboard? We can all moan about touch keyboards not having tactile feedback, but they're certainly a lot better than an onscreen keyboard you have to tap at with a pen.

I really don't see who they're aiming this at. Enterprise won't touch it as future support is too risky. Same goes with solutions suppliers, they'll pick an android + pen device if they need the pen input.

And for everyone else there's a million and one laptops & tablets to choose from.

I still want one of course... I just wouldn't ever pay for one.
Gareth Halfacree 29th June 2012, 22:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by moshpit
Okay, wait.... Core i7 DUAL CORE??? Ummmmm.... no. No such beast. Time for a source check.
Your confidence is impressive, but misplaced: behold Intel's Ark page for the Core i7-3520M, a dual-core processor chosen by Apple for its latest MacBook Pro models.
Tangster 30th June 2012, 04:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
As a lap mounted drawing tool I can see it being quite nice, but is it really worth the premium over a Cintiq 12WX?

OSX isn't built for pen input, and windows has never been great. Touch is getting better support in windows (if you use Metro) so maybe that's an option...

Oh but wait, the modbook doesn't have a touch interface, it's the wacom pen or nothing. There goes your multi-touch intuitiveness! Lost the pen? Oh dear.

And as to a keyboard? We can all moan about touch keyboards not having tactile feedback, but they're certainly a lot better than an onscreen keyboard you have to tap at with a pen.

I really don't see who they're aiming this at. Enterprise won't touch it as future support is too risky. Same goes with solutions suppliers, they'll pick an android + pen device if they need the pen input.

And for everyone else there's a million and one laptops & tablets to choose from.

I still want one of course... I just wouldn't ever pay for one.
Wacom replacement pens are pretty cheap. They're probably aiming at the artist with a decent amount of money, needs to travel fairly often and doesn't want to bring a 12WX with them.

That's not exactly a small market segment when it comes to digital artists who use OSX.
fluxtatic 30th June 2012, 06:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangster

Wacom replacement pens are pretty cheap. They're probably aiming at the artist with a decent amount of money, needs to travel fairly often and doesn't want to bring a 12WX with them.

That's not exactly a small market segment when it comes to digital artists who use OSX.

So...digital artist, travel a lot, has a buttload of money, use OSX. Sounds like a pretty small segment to me :P Seriously, though, these things start (from Apple) at like $2K, right? I hope homie kept his day job, as I can't see him selling a whole lot of these.
fluxtatic 30th June 2012, 06:52 Quote
Also, how long before Apple sues over some ridiculous BS? That's what they seem to do these days. I'm sure he's "violating" some term, condition, patent, trademark, something. At the very least, Apple will sic their lawyers on him until there's nothing left of Modbook, Inc. All the press he's gotten the past couple days, I'll be surprised if there isn't word of a lawsuit some time next week.
fdbh96 30th June 2012, 23:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fluxtatic
Also, how long before Apple sues over some ridiculous BS? That's what they seem to do these days. I'm sure he's "violating" some term, condition, patent, trademark, something. At the very least, Apple will sic their lawyers on him until there's nothing left of Modbook, Inc. All the press he's gotten the past couple days, I'll be surprised if there isn't word of a lawsuit some time next week.

Its like when someone made 3G capable macbook pros and Apple shut him down.
Guinevere 1st July 2012, 13:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fdbh96
Its like when someone made 3G capable macbook pros and Apple shut him down.

I'm pretty up to speed with Apple stories. When was this? You sure you're not getting the story mixed up with the 3G Macbook pro machine that ended up on ebay after Apple 'lost' it?
Guinevere 1st July 2012, 13:55 Quote
[QUOTE=Tangster]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Wacom replacement pens are pretty cheap. They're probably aiming at the artist with a decent amount of money, needs to travel fairly often and doesn't want to bring a 12WX with them. That's not exactly a small market segment when it comes to digital artists who use OSX.

No, no and thrice no.

The more I think about it, even for this segment it's complete fail.

The modbook hardware is underpowered, the screen too low resolution and the keyboard completely absent!

But why will it fail so badly as an artist tool? Because the wacom implementation is 'best in class' which means it's the best that wacom will sell to third parties.

You get 512 levels of pressure sensitivity rather than 1024 and more importantly you don't get the rotation / tilt controls built into a genuine wacom. (So no aribrush or artpen) Combine that with no hardware buttons on the device means that for art it's a non starter.

The workflow from a wacom is so tied into the hardware buttons on the devices for changing tools etc. You can work without them but it feels so slow and clunky compared to with them.

Disclaimer: I'm not a pro artist, but I do own and use a wacom intuos, and have previously owned a windows based palmtop with an embedded wacom of identical spec to what modbook are claiming to have. It was great for notes and sketching but terrible for art... not a patch on the standalone wacoms.

So the modbook is a toy and nothing more.

(I still want one - Me needs more toys!)
fdbh96 2nd July 2012, 14:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
I'm pretty up to speed with Apple stories. When was this? You sure you're not getting the story mixed up with the 3G Macbook pro machine that ended up on ebay after Apple 'lost' it?

Just had a google about it and that is the story that came up, although I did think that at the time I read it that someone was making them, and Apple confiscated their equipment. I suppose someone might have story that Apple made one and decided to have a go :D
The_Gnu 3rd July 2012, 17:41 Quote
This would really be awsome if they just managed to incorporate touch aswell. I bought a wacom cintiq 12wx a while ago, and even though it's greate for what it's suppossed to do, i think it sucks at browsing. Typing a webpage or forum comment feels like it takes forever when you have to use the onscreen keyboard and the stylus. But since browsing isnt the main use for the cintiq its totally acceptable. But I wonder what it feels like in this case when the stylus is your only option if you dont whant an external keyboard and mouse. A high performance tablet with touch and pressuresensitive stylus would really be something, and I hope we will se that in the near future..
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