The Axiotron Modbook is currently the only Tablet solution for Mac users. It features a modified Macbook with simply a screen, a pen, and OSX ready to roll. The question is – is it worth buying?
The cheapest Modbook starts at $2,290 – more than twice the price of the standard Macbook. This review unit came packed with 4Gbs of memory, but at that price you’ll only be getting 1Gb of Ram.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Modbook is that it’s heavy. In fact, its heavier than a Macbook. The second thing you’ll notice – is that there are no keys to be found anywhere…because you’re not getting a physical keyboard of any kind with this machine. There is a small on-screen keyboard you can use, but it is far from practical.
Yes, you can attach a USB or Bluetooth keyboard if you like, but good luck standing this thing up on its side os you can read the screen as you type. It does come with Built-in Mounting Locks, which are supposed to attach to mounting solutions that Axiotron does not yet have available. You can, however, connect the Modbook to an external display through a mini-dvi connector.
All of that aside, the real reason that you’re going to purchase this is the tablet functionality. Is it any good? Well, if you’re familiar with Wacom tablets then you’ll be familiar with how the Modbook works. It does a decent job as a tablet, and drawing in applications like Illustrator is nice and easy to do.
The closest thing I can think to compare this device to is a Wacom Cintiq tablet. Sure you could compare it to a Windows Tablet PC, but with no rotating screen or physical keyboard it is really more of a Wacom table with an entire Mac underneath it than it is a traditional Tablet computer. The Cintiq is a series of tablets from Wacom that feature twice the pressure levels of the Modbook, for as little as half the price. The Cintiqs start at $999 for a 10 inch screen you can draw directly on, or $1999 for 17 inch models in both 4×3 and 16×9 configurations.
As some one who draws on a Wacom tablet on an almost daily basis, I can tell you that its nice to be able to look directly at the screen instead of the sometimes awkward feel of drawing on a table while look at a screen – BUT – I’m not sure that the Modbook is going to be the solution you’ll want to spend your money on.
For the same money you can purchase a Macbook with a full keyboard and a Cintiq 12WX and draw directly on the 10 inch screen of the Cintiq. If ultra portability is a must, then you may want to conside the Modbook. It is certainly easier to carry around than a Macbook and Cintiq would be.
The Modbook is not a bad product. It just seems pricy compared to the alternatives available, and the lack of any kind of physical keyboard makes it completely impractical for everyday use.