Modbook Pro Is Secret Son of an iPod Touch and a MacBook Pro

Illustration for article titled Modbook Pro Is Secret Son of an iPod Touch and a MacBook Pro

No XL iPod touch pro or fabled Apple tablets at the Philnote. Too bad, because I want one badly. Maybe the new pen and touch-enabled Modbook Pro will do.

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The new version of the Modbook is made of machined aluminum, finished in black. While its design is clearly not Jon Ive's, the 0.93-inch Modbook Pro is thinner than the Macbook it is based on, and more elegant and straightforward than their previous model.

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Illustration for article titled Modbook Pro Is Secret Son of an iPod Touch and a MacBook Pro

The new guts include a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and Nvidia GeForce® 9600M GT graphics, but the most important thing in a tablet computer is the surface itself. At 15.4-inch WXGA display, it is larger than the 12-inch Cintiq Wacom I reviewed and it has something that the Wacom or the original Modbook don't have: It's touch sensing.

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The Modbook Pro uses a technology called Synergy Touch, which combines the pressure-pen Wacom system with direct and simultaneous touch input. They don't say if it supports multitouch gestures in Mac OS X or Windows, but the multiple input is great news.

The only bad thing is its price. At $4,999 for the model based on the 2.4GHz MacBook Pro, this thing is prohibitively expensive as far as tablet PCs go. It's not surprising, since they are done by hand-there's a Modservice Pro that will reconvert your MacBook Pro into a Modbook Pro for $3,049-but still hard to justify looking at the alternatives from other PC manufacturers.

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Hopefully, Apple will eventually supersize the iPod touch. When they do, I hope they go the other way around and add pressure-sensitive pen input to it. [Axiotron]

Illustration for article titled Modbook Pro Is Secret Son of an iPod Touch and a MacBook Pro
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DISCUSSION

the-werewolf-old
The Werewolf

Here's the thing - similarly kitted out Tablet PCs - with *multitouch* touch and wacom (HP tx2z for instance) can be had for $900 to $1200. Admittedly, that's a 12" screen - but there's a reason that almost all Tablet PCs are 12" - after four years of Tablet PC experimentation and missteps, their makers finally realised what works best for the majority of the users: no more than 4.5lbs (less is better), 12" screen (fits better in the crook of the arm for long term carry/use) and a convertable system that allows for a keyboard/trackpad.

That last was the hardest to swallow and they made the same mistake twice: once on Tablet PCs and once again with UMPCs. It comes from a mistake a LOT of people seem to make - that it's all or nothing: tablet or laptop. I often read people dumping on touchscreens because of 'gorilla arm' and other ergonomic issues, always making the assumption that you're going to ONLY interact with the computer that way, when in fact you'll use different methods depending on what you're doing.

Getting back to the ModBook - it fails in two of these right off - too large and not convertable, although it could be used as a kind of a Cintiq replacement. But if that's your goal... well, you can get a Regular MacBook Pro 15" and one of these:

[www.wacom.com]

and get a 21" screen + portable Mac for $1000 less. No touch, this is true - but...