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Unofficial Mac tablet draws record crowd at Macworld (high-res photos)

post #1 of 105
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Axiotron, Inc., together with distribution partner Other World Computing, is drawing huge crowds at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco this week, as attendees flock to take its new Mac OS X-based "ModBook" tablet computer for a test run.

Unveiled on Tuesday, the $2,279 device is an after-market hardware modification to Apple's MacBook notebook line. The companies claim it's the "first ever Mac OS X tablet computer solution."

Each ModBook starts off as a MacBook Core 2 Duo but undergoes a surgical operation where its original display and keyboard are severed, then replaced with a new 13.3-inch Wacom pen enabled widescreen display set in a chrome-plated magnesium top shell.

The device runs the current version of Mac OS X and utilizes that software's built-in Inkwell handwriting recognition. Meanwhile, the tablet retains all of the hardware features of the current Apple MacBook line, such as a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, an integrated*camera and CD/DVD combo drive.

While the ModBook utilizes the original MacBook iSight camera, it has been slightly tilted downwards to allow video conference applications like iChat to better frame the face of the user.

Axiotron says the ModBook features the same Wacom*Penabled*hardware technology that has made Wacom pen tablets and interactive pen displays the preferred choice amongst professional artists and photographers. The technology requires no batteries and allows the Mac OS X cursor to be controlled in a mouse-like interface, even if the user's hand is resting on the screen.

A pre-production ModBook rests on a podium at the OWC's booth during Macworld 2007.

ModBook is also being coined as the only portable Mac solution to feature an optional built-in Global Positioning System (GPS). The Axiotron ModBook GPS Module was developed in cooperation with GlobalSat Technologies Corporation utilizing the industry leading SiRFstar III chipset for shorter first location fix times and improved tracking capabilities.

At the Macworld Expo on Tuesday, the public unveiling of the ModBook drew a crowd of hundreds, completely encircling Other World Computing's display booth. It is believed to be the largest Macworld exhibitor draw for a non Apple, Inc. announcement, according to the reseller. On Thursday, the tablet device was awarded "Macworld Best of Show" honors.

"Macworld is known for being the stage for the very best Mac technology advances," said Larry O'Connor, CEO of Other World Computing. "The long awaited Tablet Mac solution is here - and exclusively from Other World Computing."

Each ModBook runs Mac OS X featuring built-in Inkwell handwriting recognition.

The base configuration ModBook fetches $2,279 and includes a 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo Apple MacBook with full ModBook tablet conversion and a one-year Other World Computing warranty. Additional configurations include such options as: an Axiotron ModBook GPS Module, 2 year warranty extension plans, 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, up to 2GB DDR2 SDRAM, up to 160GB (5400-RPM) or 200GB (4200-RPM) hard drive, 6x or 8x DVD±RW and CD-RW slot-load combo drive.

Other World Computing is accepting pre-orders for the ModBook in the US and Canada through an exclusive partnership arrangement with Axiotron. Customers can place orders at Other World Computing's website or via the reseller's booth at the Macworld Expo.

During Macworld and until January 31st, Other World Computing is offering the complete ModBook base configuration plus the built-in Axiotron GPS Module at a Special Introductory Price of $2,199.

Availability is set for April.





































post #2 of 105
Looks pretty nice but prohibitively expensive....
post #3 of 105
Shrink that so it's about half the size, add pinch-technology as in the patent disclosure Apple has... add speaker-phone capabilities for voip and open development, and I'm so there!!

[forget the iPhone... we all want the New iNewton with inkwell!!]

Has it really gotten so bad at Apple that other people are making this to feed the market that desires this product?!
post #4 of 105
Damn man, I love it, but it's slate style only . If I could flip it into a regular laptop that would be my next computer. No questions asked. But slate only just doesn't work for me. I hope Apple decides to answer.
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post #5 of 105
Is there a USB port? could you use the normal keyboard drivers when you get home?
post #6 of 105
Very interesting... yeah, tooo expensive for me to buy in, but with the attention it's getting, maybe, just maybe, Apple... (shh, I didn't say anything).

 

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Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

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post #7 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by a11en View Post

Is there a USB port? could you use the normal keyboard drivers when you get home?

The main body of the MacBook seems relatively in-tact and you can see the USB port in one of the photos.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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post #8 of 105
I wonder if Cisco will find a way to ride these coattails too...
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post #9 of 105

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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post #10 of 105
This is the future. Sadly apple got beat to the punch this time.
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post #11 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by AquaMac View Post

This is the future. Sadly apple got beat to the punch this time.

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post #12 of 105
Hmm ... (I like it!)

An addition $1000 to have someone else incorporate a custom fitted Wacom Cintiq graphics tablet with a MacBook? I say fair price.

If you're an animator or artist of any kind, this is sure to be the tool of choice because, like the Cintiq, you can draw directly on your artwork.

And being a tablet you can take your art project with you to draw on the porch, the coffee shop, or paint that outdoor scene on an easel in the park, just like we used to with a box of paints and a canvas. You can't do that quite so easily with a Cintig plugged to a separate computer.

For the right tool for the job, it's worth it!
post #13 of 105
If it weren't for the iPhone, this could have been the coolest thing to come out of MWSF 2007. It is indeed a boutique product for a true niche market, but boy has it got some interest including from the "needs missing feature X" lot like me. There's something so right about OS X, WACOM, Inkwell and toting it about in a sleek Mac form factor. Well, perhaps sleek isn't the right word to use for a 13" slate which can play 1080p and churn Photoshop filters faster than many a Power Mac, so long as you're using CS3. But compared to some of the crud out there right now, Axiotron and OWC have done a pretty slick job with their Frankenmac right here.

For Apple to take interest and start thinking about a tablet Mac, we'll need to see the following:
  • This thing sells as fast as they can make them
  • New models are brought out, think 100% alubook style enclosure MacBook Pro version
  • Mac resellers join in the act and begin stocking ModBooks
  • Another 3rd party outfit joins in for competition since the worm is biting
  • Steve fancies trying some crow pie!

Apple have all the technologies today to make the sweetest damned tablet ever seen by human eyes. But they need convincing that there's a market to justify the expense, and that a Mac is what tablet people want. The guys behind this have my thanks for putting this into motion. I wish them well. But I can't buy their tablet alas, as I'm in the wrong continent and couldn't justify the $$$$. But time will tell. I surely want something quite like it. Now if only they can throw in gestures and a finger based onscreen keyboard to work alongside that WACOM tablet. Screw cellphones indeed.
post #14 of 105
When you take all the attention of the ModBook, and then combine it with our knowledge of Apple's new version of OS X that uses multi-touch-sensitive screens, it seems hard to believe that Apple is going to let ModBook have all the fun.

The only reason I will not be buying a ModBook is the lack of a keyboard. I want a swivelable touch-screen to get dual functionality out my notebook.

I'm impressed with the Apple-like attention to certain details. Like the tilted iSight camera. If I were to speculate, I'd say even Jobs likes the ModBook design; of course, not without saying that he knows he could do it better... and I hope he tries.
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post #15 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

If I were to speculate, I'd say even Jobs likes the ModBook design; of course, not without saying that he knows he could do it better... and I hope he tries.

That's fightin' talk!

I bet he'd take issue with the weight of the thing on picking it up for starters. A slate carries very different expectations than a laptop. You want something like a sketchpad in bulk, rather than a weighty hardback. In a Steve certified slate Mac, I reckon the optical drive and the 2.5 incher HD would be first to go. Flash is quickly making itself felt in everything Apple does, throw in a totally new mobo design and ULV Intel processor, and you're going places. As it is, I get the feeling that for all its genuine kudos, this ModBook has a certain Brick-like feeling in practical use.
post #16 of 105
Quote:
Unveiled on Tuesday, the $2,279 device is an after-market hardware modification to Apple's MacBook notebook line. The companies claim it's the "first ever Mac OS X tablet computer solution."

So does this mean you buy a macbook then spend an additional $2279? I seems particularly expensive considering the Wacom Cintiq is only $300 selling for around $2,524.99!
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post #17 of 105
This is cool! It is also a testement to Apple's ability to design and miniaturize so well that their products can be modularized and can hold up to remanufacturing. I don't see why Apple wouldn't sell them half-made chassis with all of the goodies (+ a healthy profit) so that they can drop a few more hundred dollars on the deal and get the price closer to $1800.

Then of course Apple should be able to do the same all on their own. It's not like they have to put a tremendous amount of R&D into the thing!!! iPhone tech in a tablet form with full OSX. How could they lose money?!?!?!?
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post #18 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

When you take all the attention of the ModBook, and then combine it with our knowledge of Apple's new version of OS X that uses multi-touch-sensitive screens, it seems hard to believe that Apple is going to let ModBook have all the fun.

The only reason I will not be buying a ModBook is the lack of a keyboard. I want a swivelable touch-screen to get dual functionality out my notebook.

Doesn't it make more sense for Apple to make a wireless multi-touch tablet that is very thin and only needs to communicate to a MacBook Pro or Mac Pro that is sitting in the other room or in your office out of the way? Won't the next step for Airport Extreme make this the easier option?
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post #19 of 105
I think if this was a viable market for Apple to get into they would have already. There are lots of tablets out there.

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post #20 of 105
Well, the only bad thing that I'm unclear about on this, is that it doesn't look like you can rotate the screen from landscape to portrait. Usually tablets are designed to be held in portrait mode with one arm while you're moving with them. At least I haven't seen a picture of this yet with the screen rotated.

Now, what I really want is the iPhone variant of OS X running on a tablet. Preferably smaller than this, an 8" or 10" screen (though I'd take the 13" if given no choice), and I doubt this supports multi-touch input and we'd need that.

Come on Apple, give us a slick multi-touch gesture tablet while everyone is waiting for the iPhone to go through FCC licensing.

Still, I'm impressed with this ModBook. I'm sure they will sell quite a few of them. Their timing couldn't have been better, a Macworld Expo where Apple failed to announce any new Macs.
post #21 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I think if this was a viable market for Apple to get into they would have already. There are lots of tablets out there.

tablets ain't all that. Bought one, sold it. screen resolution caused poor writing resolution, and couldn't keep track of pages. Oh, yeah, and XP. TEH SUKD.
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post #22 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I think if this was a viable market for Apple to get into they would have already. There are lots of tablets out there.

There are also a lot of phones out there.....



I think this is brilliant. Only problem is the lack of a keyboard, also, I would like it to have a firewire800 port (Not their fault, but it's one of the big reasons I'm buying a Macbook Pro instead of a macbook.) This thing would be more versatile than presently presented with a Firewire 800 port. It could be one of the best portable music studios anywhere. I definitely think mixing a trusted name in the computer world, like Apple, with a trusted name in the tablet world, like Wacom, is just a recipe for success.
post #23 of 105
I'd bet that the pinch technology will be in Leopard. A software upgrade, and this thing gets really interesting.
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post #24 of 105
The iPhone has everything BUT a stylus.

Apple, Inc. has no Tablet to sell, but all of the technology to make the best one.


I am so in Hell; so in Hell.

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post #25 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aries 1B View Post

The iPhone has everything BUT a stylus.

Apple, Inc. has no Tablet to sell, but all of the technology to make the best one.


I am so in Hell; so in Hell.

V/R,
Aries 1B

It's a touch sensor, just buy any of the myriad of soft-tipped stylii and you're set.

Of course the iPhone probably doesn't have any apps that let you draw, nor handwriting recognition, as they're unnecessary for that sort of deal. If apple ever moves into the PDA-type-phone, then it'll be needed.
post #26 of 105
We finally get a look at a OS X based Tablet and only 23 posts? Now dang it, you tablet lovers can't be picky, you got to buy the freekn' thing after all the whining you did on the board. Even if it was just three of you wanting the thing and just posting a lot.
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post #27 of 105
Looks okay. Have to test drive in person. I do have like 3 tablets but 2 are ruggedized. 1 is an older Motion Computing. If I were to try to buy a 4th it'd have to have more than a GMA to justify it...even with OSX.

I would hope an Apple made tablet would come with a first class dock that included 2 PCIe slots, 2 HD bay and lots o ports. The tablet itself would use flash for media which will be limited so a dock with more storage would be helpful.

Vinea
post #28 of 105
First some questions:

Are Flash drive RAIDable? In other words can the thin wafer flash cards be linked like hard disks into a RAID, to create a larger space without taking up more physical space? It seems that would help create a thinner, and lighter tablet.

Does this have the levels of sensitivity that the Wacom Cinqe tablets have: when painting in Painter or Art Rage, or even Photoshop, will the stroke respond to the pressure of the stylus?

Are we certain that it can't rotate into portrait mode. I know in larger LCD monitors the video card determines whether you can rotate the monitor or not. But perhaps they've updated the video in some way to allow thiswhich would make writing with inkwell more natural feeling, and would avoide having to stroll to fill out forms.

An observation: Apple could so easily do this, basically a larger phone. As I said in another thread, a desk phone with video conferencing capability, ability to thumb through documents kept in Filemaker. The corporate world would eat it up. It's just a matter of time.

Another observation: I doubt Magic Touch will be part of Leopard, since no Apple made Mac has a touch sensitive screen.
post #29 of 105
Ahh, but Apple could make new monitors!


I have often vocalized the desire for a sub notebook or tablet. Though this device does not fall into that "true" tablet category, this is a very nice modification of an already great machine, down to the slightly angled replant of the iSight. Have never seen the new screen, so I can't really say for sure. If they create a nice UI, especially one that allows users freedom in arrangement and set up, then this could really sell.

For now, the handicap is the cost; perhaps in the future this company might be able to have monitorless units shipped to them, or Apple will take the plunge and make something if lots of people are truly interested; who knows.

A concern of mine is heat. With the screen on the machine, won't it build up heat?

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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post #30 of 105
there is no way apple would make a tablet with stylus.

they would make a multi-touch tablet! now they have their new tech.

steve even said in his keynote who likes a stylus!

though i'll give the modbook its dues it looks cool, not for me though.
post #31 of 105
I don't understand this stupid ModBook thing. You need to lug around a keyboard in order for it to function like a decent tablet PC.

Bleh.
post #32 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by jp_flashman View Post

Steve even said in his keynote who likes a stylus!

Well, I for one as an artist who draws with pencil and pen as well as with a mouse does like the concept of a stylus and a pressure sensitive screen.

The right tool for the right job.

I'm elated to see a tablet PC that uses Mac OS software, though I would have been thrilled if it was produced by Apple itself. Still an after-market hardware modification is an acceptable compromise.

If they are still producing them in a year, after Adobe CS3 is released and when I have budgeted myself to be in the market to upgrade my laptop from my PowerPC G4 to a Intel Core 2 Duo I will definitely purchase a ModBook tablet. After all, I am an illustrator and this is the ideal portable solution to replace the combination of paper 9"x12" sketch book, small box of pens (The old school stylus) and 15" laptop I currently carry around with me.

Plus the price is right to upgrade from my 1.67GHz PowerBook with 1Gig RAM and 80Gig drive:

2GHz MacBook with 2Gig RAM and 160Gig drive ($1,774.00) + Cintiq 21UX ($2499.00) = $4273.00

2GHz ModBook with 2Gig RAM and 160Gig drive ($2849.00) = $2849.00

The right tool for the right job at an acceptable price. Not that I would complain if the price did drop or if in a year the ModBook was replaced with a ModBook Pro. Either way my point is its a niche tool for several niche markets one of which I fall into and thus I am elated to see a tablet PC that uses Mac OS software.



P.S. If I see myself needing to do a lot of typing (Doubtful) but not a lot of illustration and design at a meeting I'll just bring my well loved and then old PowerBook along. Though I do like what the fellow who posted after me suggested about the screen being touch (Or Multi-touch) sensitive so one can use the onscreen keyboard like a proper keyboard when the need arises.
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post #33 of 105
If I hadn't just bought a MacBook Pro, I'd be sorely tempted to get one of these (assuming they're available here in the UK). Additionally, it's not quite there yet, from my point of view. I would like to see:
  • Touch-sensitive, rather than stylus-sensitive. This is a big thing - an onscreen keyboard isn't nearly as useful without being able to type fairly normally on it.
  • Multi-touch sensitive. For the same reason as above.
  • Rotation-awareness. Ideall, the same way as the iPhone. Failing that, a simple onscreen (or offscreen) button to rotate the display.
  • Some sort of mount, where it could be hung like a normal screen or iMac. Preferably also one that allows rotation. If it can act as a dock, i.e. proving extra USB sockets, line out etc., then all the better.

Things I _don't_ want to see:
  • The existing, flip-the-screen-to-get-a-keyboard, kind of thing. It makes the device too complicated, and for little good. A good, thin (read: portable) external keyboard would do the job just fine.

Wishlist:
  • Make it thinner and lighter, at the cost of the power of the machine. But that's something only Apple could do.
  • Package it with some sort of fullscreen paper viewer. So that A4 paper documents can be viewed fullscreen on it, and all of the page can be seen at once.
  • Higher resolution screens are always good. Ideal would be ePaper, or similar.
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post #34 of 105
Have you ever seen so ugly Mac?

This are really guys without style !
No product designer has touched this thing.

Sorry to say but is rubbish.
post #35 of 105
It's a first step, and version 2 will be better.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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post #36 of 105
Basically, as far as I can tell, tablet computers take the functionality of a laptop and cripple it for the everyday user with an interface that's more difficult to use by taking away the physical point of interaction to suit a really small userbase with very specialised needs.

It's kind of a waste of everybody's time, really, and I can't see Apple doing it. I don't need one, I'd never even think about buying one.

The only solution I can think of is combining the clickwheel technology with a virtual keyboard (which I understand from my impeccable sources has been developed and patented by a large technology corporation in California.)

Still. Tablets really irritate me.
post #37 of 105
There is absolutely zero market for this. It won't exist in a year's time.
post #38 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


The only reason I will not be buying a ModBook is the lack of a keyboard. I want a swivelable touch-screen to get dual functionality out my notebook.


Why not just use your bluetooth Apple keyboard, and then you've got the best of all worlds?
post #39 of 105
I think the only people who will love this are the graphic illustrators. As they're they only one who would benefit from the functionality the touchscreen provides. But they're the ONLY ones.

What advantage apart from that could there possibly be for this? It's basically the same size as a laptop, it's just flat. Who cares if it's flat. What practical advantage does it give you? None. It takes away your keyboard and mouse! I think Apple realizes the only appeal of it being flat is that the uber-geeks think it's cool. That's why they'll never do this to their notebook line. The form factor of a tablet HAS to serve a practical advantage, or else there's little point in doing it.

That Origami video that microsoft had, (the one that everybody drooled over but never got). It was pitched as having a computer that could be casually carried around and whatnought. Well, everything in that video could be done just as easily with a macBook. And people DO all of those things with their macBook. In order for a tablet to be successfull it has to be very small and very very portable (not like the Origami project, it's too big). I think Apple has clearly made their entry into the PDA/Tablet market with the iPhone. Maybe they'll release a PADD someday, but it will have to be super thin and not eat up batteries. For now, I think the iPhone is the solution they're sticking with.
post #40 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hassan i Sabbah View Post

Basically, as far as I can tell, tablet computers take the functionality of a laptop and cripple it for the everyday user with an interface that's more difficult to use by taking away the physical point of interaction to suit a really small userbase with very specialised needs.

It's kind of a waste of everybody's time, really, and I can't see Apple doing it. I don't need one, I'd never even think about buying one.

The only solution I can think of is combining the clickwheel technology with a virtual keyboard (which I understand from my impeccable sources has been developed and patented by a large technology corporation in California.)

Still. Tablets really irritate me.

Yeah. The ModBook is a good idea - a step in the right direction, great for artists - but I won't be getting one.

From what we've seen this week, I could see AAPL combining the iPhone technology with a MacBook to create a powerful but simple machine that does to tablets and UMPC's what the iPhone has just done to every other smartphone out there. THAT's something I might be interested in. Question is, does Steve want to go there?
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