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Modbook from a MacBook Pro

Modbook Pro comes soon By Ko Maruyama
A few years ago, we saw a company called Axiotron out of El Segundo, California come up with a Mac tablet that integrated the Wacom tablet technology (similar to the Cintiq) and the Apple MacBook. This is a great solution for those of us who loved to work with software that really took advantage of the stylus.   Before the Pro version ships, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, and Maxon's  BodyPaint 3D were among some of the tools I tried out on the current 15-inch Modbook.

If you were at this year's NAB, you may have been following different reports for what to see on the show floor through tweets via NABshow. I was also posting various notices for what I found interesting at I also happened to mention in those posts that you can find me with the Axiotron Modbook on the show floor. This wasn't a new Modbook, but I was surprised to find that it was more than sufficient for some of the painting tasks we regularly see in a professional  post-house.

At Macworld 2007, the company announced a $2290 Modbook. At Macworld 2009, the company gave us a look at the Synergy Touch technology and the new handwriting software called Quickscript. However, the big news -- and best of show -- was the Macbook Pro had been retrofitted by Axiotron. The new computer offers a 2.8 GHz Intel core duo processor, 4GB RAM, up to 320GB of storage and the NVIDIA Geforce 9600M GT. Axiotron offered the new Modbook Pro conversion starting at $4599, with the first units scheduled to ship either this month or next.

While news of the Apple tablet computer was on the lips of some during talks of the "next mobile device," the Modbook is not intended to be a casual tool. Instead, the Wacom  technology is similar to what professionals already use in their day-to-day artistic tasks.

Autodesk SketckBook Express 2009 Exclusively on Modbook
This software makes the Modbook shine

While the Axiotron Modbook comes with its own pen (stylus), which is similar to the Wacom pens from vintage tablets,  a new pen (separate purchase) offered by Axiotron has the look and feel of the pens used with the Intuos 2 tablets. These are much more ergonomically friendly for artists who sketch all day long. Additionally, the pen comes with nibs that match  the ones offered by Wacom (Felt Nib, Pencil Nib, Studio (spring) Nibs).

I am eager to see what Axiotron Modbook has in store by way of new software, and look forward to the rollout of the new Modbooks. These are professional grade, and  not in competition with a small netbook computer. I hope that the new Modbook hasn't improved battery life and more weight, but these are small costs to pay for total mobility, on screen dynamic illustration, and the ability to run any software that could otherwise run on a MacBook Pro.

The new Modbooks also includes:
  • Better system performance: With its redesigned Axiotron hardware controller board, the Modbook offers improved performance, a quicker boot time for the Axiotron system software and smoother integration with the Mac OS X operating system.
  • Improved power usage: Get longer battery life with the more efficient Axiotron hardware controller board, including significantly less power drain in sleep mode.
  • Full Bluetooth® connectivity: Pair a keyboard or mouse just as you would on your MacBook.

You can still put in your order for your own Modbook Pro or if you'd like to modify your MacBook, check out their website through one of two addresses: or

For rants, ramblings and general announcements - check out a chaotic blog in the BlogZone: or via the NINJACRAYON Twitter Posts.

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:review, consumer electronics, Apple iPhone, Blackberry Storm, Blackberry Pre, Macbook Pro, modbook, axiotron, macworld


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