Axiotron ModBook First Impressions

I’m glad I have Axiotron’s ModBook for two weeks. I’m going to need the entire two weeks to get my hands around this unique offering. I’ve been holding out on the video review portion until I have a good handle on the tablet features of OS X, other 3rd party software available, and the Vista Bootcamp Experience. I really want to get a firm grip on how the ModBook holds up as a slate Tablet PC.

That said, here some initial impressions after using it for the last couple of days. These impressions may change once I get to the video reviews next week.


  • The ModBook is the heaviest slate Tablet PC I’ve ever used. This is not a great mobile solution. It is awkwardly heavy. As a comparison, the ModBook is 5.5 lbs. Motion Computing’s LE1700 slate is 3.5 lbs. The ModBook is also 2 lbs heavier than the 3.5 lb Dell Latitude XT LED-based convertible Tablet PC.
  • Others have noticed my comments on the constant fan activity and the heat. They have indicated that their ModBook doesn’t act that way. So, it might be an isolated incident. I have not been running anything CPU intensive to kick off the fan, and it does run almost 100% of the time.
  • I’ve been corresponding with the good folks at Mage Software about InkBook, a Journal type application built for the ModBook. They’ve also been prepping some other cool demo apps for me to show you. Think “brainstorming”
  • No native rotation on the OS X side for the MacBook / ModBook, but thanks to the Mage Software folks, I’ve been clued in to some hacks that enable rotation on the ModBook. Stay tuned. I find the lack of native rotation to be quite bothersome because staying in landscape mode just isn’t conducive to slate use. Here is the weird part: rotation IS support on the MacBook Pro. Apple, for some odd reason, took out that support in the MacBook.
  • I have not given inking a try in Fusion or Parallels, but will be trying that out over the weekend.
  • The lack of any hardware buttons is very frustrating, especially the lack of scrolling buttons. The lack of hardware buttons, coupled with the weight, heat, and lack of native rotation support, reinforces my suggestion that the ModBook is not the optimal mobile choice.
  • I’ve really been enjoying Apple’s WriteAnywhere feature. It does a good job of breaking down the barrier of the Windows-based TIP. That said, the TIP is much more powerful in terms of correcting the recognition errors. I really hope Microsoft brings back WriteAnywhere in Vista, but improves upon it for correction purposes. Microsoft still has Apple totally beat on the whole reco side. I’ll video this in a comparison next week.
  • Is it a good Tablet PC? I’m not sure. I’ve certainly seen better designed slate Tablet PCs from the likes of Motion Computing, TabletKiosk, and others.
  • I’ve been trying to figure out where the ModBook makes the most sense and the point someone should seriously consider it. I’m not fully there yet
    • The artist that needs native digitizer support at the desk and occasionally goes mobile to meet with clients, work from home, etc. The integrated Wacom digitizer supporting 512 levels of pressure sensitivity is enough of a draw to cause someone to totally turn their head to the ModBook instead of a Windows-based Tablet. This is a no-brainer and fits the mark perfectly for the artist. The added benefit of being able to see what you are drawing on without messing with the hand/eye coordination issue of digitizer tablets is also a major benefit. Wacom’s latest digitizers, though, are starting to change that picture.
    • The bootcamp scenario offering native tablet support in both Vista and Mac OS X offers some major cost savings options for those current slate users who also live in a parallel Mac OS X world. If someone currently uses a digitizer on a Mac and also enjoys inking on a Windows-Tablet PC, then they should give the ModBook a serious look. Having both options at your disposal is huge, and has the potential to offer some serious savings.
    • The ModBook is not a good solution for those who primarily work in Windows, but occasionally work in OS X. There are better slates on the market for the windows user.
    • The ModBook is a better choice for those who either work entirely in OS X from a digitizing standpoint and who don’t need or rarely use the Windows functionality.

More to come when I start to release video reviews next week. I still need some more time over the weekend to get comfortable with the ModBook.