Axiotron morphs MacBooks into tablets with the ModBook Pro

Axiotron's ModBook Pro

In the midst of all this growth and innovation in the mobile computing world, have you ever found yourself stuck in a Goldilocks-style predicament, unable to find a happy medium between the computing power of a notebook and the mobility of a tablet? Well good news: it seems that Axiotron is only a few months away from the long-awaited release their new Modbook Pro, a hybrid between a Macbook Pro and an iPad that could finally be the solution for those looking for something that isn’t too tablet, isn’t too notebook, but a device thats juuust right.     

Transforming a Mac laptop into a touchscreen tablet isn’t a new idea — Modbook has been doing it for years. You might remember hearing about its first model back in 2008. Back before the word “iPad” was a part of your vocabulary, the folks at Modbook Inc. developed a process to modify regular MacBooks and reshape them into bulky — but powerful — slates. Because the tablet market wasn’t so saturated back then, the Modbook was well-received by consumers. However, shortly after the economic downturn of 2008, the company had some trouble staying afloat, and despite the fact that we’ve caught glimpses of working prototypes for over three years, Axiotron hasn’t been able to release the Pro version of the Modbook until this year. 

Because it starts life as a MacBook Pro, the hardware specs of the ModBook Pro are just what you’d expect: a 2.5GHz dual core Intel Core i5 processor or 2.9GHz dual core Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, a 2.5–inch SATA drive (up to 1TB HDD or up to 960GB SSD), an 8X SuperDrive DVD burner, Intel HD 4000 graphics, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity capability, a built-in 63.5-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery, a 60W MagSafe power adapter, and all the standard ports. 

In addition to the physical makeover, Axiotron adds a Wacom pen-digitizer and an etched-glass screen that is designed to mimic the feel of writing on paper.

With the ability to run full-fledged Mac applications, the tablet is sure to give other tablets a run for their money. With a massive 13.3-inch (diagonal) display, it offers a workspace considerably larger than most other tablets. Pair that with the state-of-the-art pressure sensitivity, and the ModBook becomes a powerful tool for creative users. We can see this being especially useful for those doing any sort of image editing or graphic design. The screen has a recognition rate of 133 points per second, and a recognition resolution of one one-hundredth of a millimeter. In plain English, that means a smooth, precise, and responsive writing.

It certainly sounds like the Modbook has a lot to offer the tablet market, but as far as we can tell it will likely have a few drawbacks as well. 

The designers gave it a rubber enclosure that allows it to be propped up without slipping, but the lack of a built-in stand or easel is sure to be annoying when you find yourself stacking books and old CD cases behind it just so you can comfortably watch a movie.

Also, because it starts life as a MacBook Pro, the modbook won’t have an accelerometer — meaning it won’t be able to recognize when its being turned vertically or tilted in any direction. Judging from the information on ModBook’s website, there are no indications that such hardware is being added during the modification process. Aside from imprisoning users in a permanent landscape view, this also means no tilt-to-steer racing games, no Labyrinth, and no shake-to-shuffle your music. The accelerometer is a crucial part of any card-carrying phone or tablet, and ModBook’s lack of tilt functionality will probably make it less appealing to those using it as an e-reader or gaming platform. 

One of the biggest drawbacks, however, is likely to be the price. Potential buyers can expect to pay the cost of a brand-spanking-new MacBook Pro, plus a bit extra for modifications and added hardware. Although the company hasn’t released pricing details just yet, a new ModBook Pro is likely to fall into the $1,500 to $2,000 range — and that’s at the low end of the spectrum. With a nicer MacBook as your base, the price could easily top $3,500 — far higher than the $200 to $500 range you might spend for an iPad or Android tablet.

However, for the user who needs the computing power of a notebook and the mobility of a tablet, the ModBook Pro might be well worth the money.


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