Tuesday, January 06, 2009, 02:00 pm PT (05:00 pm ET)
Woz helps take the wraps off Modbook Pro tablet (photos)Users clamoring for a high-performance tablet computer running Mac OS X have a new option this week, with Mac modifier Axiotron announcing the Modbook Pro tablet at Macworld Expo, available now for pre-order.
The tablet Mac, introduced with the help of Apple co-founder and Axiotron board member Steve Wozniak, uses the 15.4" unibody MacBook Pro as its base system. Until today, Axiotron only sold Modbooks built on top of the 13" MacBook, but the company is adding the extra power and utility of the MacBook Pro to its offerings.
The Modbook Pro will sport a black luster finish and aluminum construction. Its Synergy Touch screen supports both touch and pen input simultaneously — a feature Axiomatic says is not available on any other tablet.
The unit almost exactly matches the MacBook Pro's feature set with Ethernet, FireWire 800, two USB 2.0 ports, Mini DisplayPort, digital audio, ExpressCard/34 and Bluetooth.
With up to a 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo processor, the system is well-powered. The 15.4" WXGA display is the largest available on a tablet computer, and its 0.93 inch depth is slightly thinner than the MacBook base system. Graphics are provided with the NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT processor. A 320GB 7200-rpm hard drive or 128GB solid-state drive provide storage, and a camera and GPS system are also built in.
Axiomatic's screen bezel also sports a built-in three-button keybar with a power button, Mod Key, and battery indicator. The optical drive bay and a pen garage with magnetic pen catch are on top. A user interface called Quicktouch appears translucently on the screen with an overlay of buttons, pads, and alphanumeric keys. Axiotron's Quickscript handwriting recognition technology helps with writing and notetaking, and the system supports both landscape and portrait mode.
Axiotron's SketchBook Express 2009 comes with every Pro purchase. Billed as "a studio in your hands", SketchBook is designed to make sketching with a digitizer pen easy with features like a gesture-based interface, simulated paper, arced tool palate, and no manual required to get started. Sketches can be saved in standard file formats for simple sharing.
A partitioned drive pre-installed with Microsoft Vista is available with the Modbook Pro as an option. The company estimates a ship date of May/June 2009 and is accepting pre-orders online soon. The Modbook Pro starts at $4,999 for the new 2.4GHz Apple MacBook Pro base system. Limited time Macworld pricing is available for around $4500. For customers who want to convert hardware they already own, the Modservice Pro option starts at $3,049.
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