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