MacDirectory Magazine

Spring-Summer 2008 (#37)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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104 MacDirectory REVIEW | PRODUCTIVITYGAMES MODBOOK BY AXIOTRON > THE TABLET-BASED SOLUTION Though fans of Apple have been clamoring for a tablet-based Mac for years, only now has one become available – and it's not an Apple product. Newcomer Axiotron offers its ModBook in two flavors: a 2.1GHz model with 1.0GB of RAM, a 120GB hard drive, and Combo Drive; and a 2.4GHz model with 2.0GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and a double-layer SuperDrive. Each model is equipped with Wi-Fi, a built-in iSight camera (tilted slightly to better catch the user's face), and comes in a sturdy magnesium alloy. The ModBook is customizable to include up to 4GB of RAM, up to 570GB of hard drive space, and a WAAS-enabled GPS function. Additionally, where the latch and hinges used to be on the original, unmodified Macbook, there are slots for upcoming peripherals, like a stand or a wall mount. What the ModBook doesn't come with is a keyboard, meaning that for text input, you have one of three choices: attach a USB keyboard, utilize the software mini- keyboard that comes built-in, or use Apple's Ink technology to write directly on the screen in your own handwriting. However, if you've never used Ink before, be aware that there is a learning curve to mastering it, so if you have serious textual applications in mind, it's best to hook up a keyboard. It should be mentioned that Axiotron makes specific note of the fact that the ModBook is primarily a graphics tablet, and it's to this end that the software has been configured. Having said that, then, how does it shape up? To begin with, the viewing angle is comparable to Apple's own line of laptops, though users who prefer to tilt their drawing surface significantly away from themselves might have visibility issues. The screen is durable and scratch- resistant, and will not recognize the touch of anything other than the included pen, so there's no need to worry about accidental input from the casual draping of a hand upon one corner. Drawing and painting with the pen is as easy and smooth as could be hoped. The ModBook responds extremely well to both speed and pressure, though on first start- up, you may have to calibrate the pen properly with the Pen Reset application. The pen comes with 3 nibs for different expressions: the default Studio nib for general use; the Pencil nib for a harder and more tactile feel; and the Felt nib, which acts like a marker. The opposite end of the pen is the eraser function which erases strokes in Painter and any other program that recognizes that input. In fact, it works so well that there's little more to be written about it. When you buy the MacBook, you expect the functionality that Axiotron espouses, and it delivers without unnecessary fanfare, and very little messing around with preferences. It just works, and that's refreshing. Being a custom order, it's easy enough to customize the specs to fit your dream machine. The demo unit we tested came equipped with a full 4GB of RAM, so we put it to the test. With both Painter and Photoshop open, there was noticeable lag in brush strokes, sometimes as long as 15 to 20 seconds, with subsequent strokes rendering all at once. However, after closing Painter, we found that Photoshop continued to lag. Photoshop is known to be a memory hog, but it's recommended to not have anything else open if you're working in it. In all, Axiotron's ModBook is a solid product, which will only grow more robust as iterations develop down the line. If you're a graphics professional who'd prefer not to be tethered to your desk, this is a recommended product. WORDS BY KEONI CHAVEZ Product Axiotron ModBook Made by Axiotron Price $2,279/2.1GHz; $2,479/2.4GHz Pros Expressive pen, good visibility Cons Text input a bit of a challenge Rating HHHHH

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