Axiotron's ModBook rises from the grave

June 29, 2012 // 12:54 p.m.

Tags: #andreas-haas #apple #apple-tablet #axiotron #ipad #macbook #macbook-pro #modbook #modbook-inc #modbook-pro #tablet

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.

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