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Axiotron Modbook D5

DAY 5: Parting notes By Ko Maruyama
After a week of using the modbook, I have to say that it's hardly enough time to get out of "play mode".  As I said on Day One of the review, there is definitely a learning curve on the machine.  And while I may be a speedy, accurate Cintiq user, it doesn't mean that the modbook is "just like having a Wacom Cintiq on your laptop.  You operate it differently.  Maybe it feels different because of its size, maybe because it's smaller than a Cintiq or my 12x9" standard Wacom even.

I suppose this could be put into a list of the pros & cons with bullet points, but I don't think that this machine configuration is as easy as that.   It's a tricky review.   On the one hand, most Mac users are already familiar with everything that's under the hood: the Mac OS, clean and speedy hardware, simple configuration, professional graphics applications, and multiple utilities that help make your workflow more efficient.   On the other hand, however, most graphics professionals, who are used to the tablet aspect, are also used to a faster machine and more space to work within.

When you throw a stylus/tablet screen (something akin to a computer/slate) functionality into the mix, the real test comes down to the specific user's ability to navigate with a stylus and what they're using the computer for.  And yes, the new Macbooks are actually quite snappy for many graphics needs.

Ultimately, the real power of the modbook is the ability to have the stylus/tablet connected to a Macbook - which means mobility.  Where and why you're mobile is also an important factor when considering the value of the modbook.


For simply navigating the web, and even writing some simple emails the modbook is fine.  Mac's OS is already equipped with Ink (see Day 4) which will allow you to convert your recognizable scribbles into text.  I'm not familiar with Vista, but I'm guessing that there's probably some kind of application that you can purchase which will do the same for you.


You can use the tablet with programs like Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat Pro and PDFPen to make notes in documents as well.   On a Mac, you could scribble to your ink pad, export to TextEdit, then export as RTF or PDF.

Short Emails: Yes - especially to friends who will read "around" typos and poor grammar.
URLs:  Yes, a little difficult, but sure.

Writing articles or longer documents. No.  You'll need to get a USB keyboard of some kind.  While you can purchase a rubber roll-up keyboard for the PC OS, I haven't heard from Adesso yet about its performance on a Mac.  Unfortunately, due to some strange bluetooth situation with the Mac OS, you'll need a USB bluetooth dongle on the modbook in order to use an Apple wireless keyboard. (which isn't a big deal).

There's a camera built into the front of this - - so if you want the long conversations; just Skype video/chat.  Easier than typing anyway.


The screen has 512 levels of sensitivity.  Would I prefer 1024?  Sure.  The Wacom tablets I use all have 1024.  It makes for a smoother, more responsive brush stroke when you're using high end graphic software.    Again, the modbook isn't a desktop replacement, it's a liberator - allowing the artist to break away from the desk and outlets.   A 12" Cintiq (smaller than the size of the modbook screen) is going to cost you about $1,000 over your computer cost, and you'll still need to be near a power source to power it.

Photoshop and Painter run very well on the machine.  While Painter has the ability to turn the canvas virtually - you won't need to use the command.  With the modbook, all you need to do is rotate your computer.   This is particularly important for Photoshop CS3 users who don't have the same virtual feature.

I did experience "skipping" when the tablet couldn't keep up with my brush strokes.  Occasionally, the skipping could be corrected easily, but if it occurred too many times, it became irritating.

The main gripe again is the lack of a keyboard to get to some shortcuts, but with the rocker buttons on the pen, you can get to what you need - and for the most part, you can click through to everything else.

I didn't have a chance to install ZBrush onto the modbook, but again, I think that you'd be handicapped by the lack of access to keyboard shortcuts and the limited sensitivity depth.

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Related Keywords:product review, mac, modbook, macbook, tabet, ciintiq, wacom, ko maruyama

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