I’ve really been enjoying getting to know Axiotron’s ModBook Tablet these past several weeks. There is nothing like using a MacBook in slate mode with an active digitizer!
The ModBook has been one of the most challenging reviews I’ve ever taken on due to what the ModBook represents and offers: it is a slate Tablet PC, Apple’s own ink offerings ( or lack thereof ), the mobility aspect, Windows bootcamp, Parallels / VMWare Fusion, and more. It has been mind-boggling to wrap my head around and present in those various scenarios, each compelling in the own right.
With so much to offer, the ModBook represents the most options for how to use a Tablet PC that I’ve ever used before. Axiotron’s biggest hurdle for mobile pc users to seriously consider this offering is Apple’s own ink experience. There is so much potential there, but it is no where near Microsoft’s excellent work.
I’ve finished all of my video and will be launching them beginning on Monday, a few days later than planned. I’ll be presenting them in a series, focusing on each aspect: the ModBook, Axiotron’s included software, 3rd party apps, Apple’s Ink, Vista, VMWare, Bootcamp, Mobility, and more. I’m still deciding on the best way to produce the 2 1/2 hours of video I’ve got so I don’t end up with 10 different parts, nor end up with multiple segments that are 45 minutes long, either.
So, look for the first video to be launched on Monday, to be followed up with the other parts in subsequent days.
For those of you who can’t wait for the upcoming reviews:
- An excellent solution for artists who live in OS X. 512 levels of pressure sensitivity with a built-in digitizer – enough said. Highly recommend it.
- For the non-artist / non Windows tablet user – can’t recommend it. All the pieces are there, but they are not "finished" in typical Apple fashion. This has nothing to do with Axiotron – it is all Apple. If Apple gets their act together with regards to Ink, the ModBook would be a very compelling solution.
- Dual Windows / OS X tablet users: The ink experience in OS X is so frustrating at this juncture, I can’t recommend it as a dual solution for Windows and OS X mobile users. It just doesn’t make sense if the person would be spending most of their time boot camped to Vista, and having to use a keyboard with it all the time while in OS X. The only thing I would use the pen for in OS X is for navigation.
- Boot camp works awesome and it feels just like a regular Tablet PC. The built-in SuperDrive is a huge plus that is not offered in any other slate on the market. However, the time it takes to boot camp between OS’s makes it a productivity killer, especially if you only need to ink some notes in OneNote periodically. I’d rather have a small Windows based slate Tablet PC for Windows purposes and a regular Apple MacBook. Use a decent sycning solution like BeInSync or SugarSync and you are all set.
- In addition, in my VMWare installation of Vista, the calibration is way off and Vista doesn’t recognize a digitizer being present in order to correct the calibration. It is also very, very slow – took me close to 5 minutes to boot. I don’t have Parallels, so was unable to test it. I’m still experimenting with VMWare, though. I’ve just converted my boot camp installation to a VMWare virtual machine, so the experience might be totally different. If this proves to be so, then it might change a lot of things up. Stay tuned.
- UPDATE ON VMWARE: I just converted my boot camp partition to a virtual machine, and the calibration was right on the money, unlike my virtual machine that I copied over from my MacBook. However, Vista did not recognize the digitizer, so all inking was recognized as a mouse, so it was not smooth and was quite jerky – similar to a passive inking experience. There was no TIP floating toolbar, either. Definitely something for Microsoft, Wacom , and Axiotron to work on. To me, the virtual machine solution offers the most potential for dual OS X and Windows users if the three companies can get this worked out. Apple’s ink experience is still a major downer, though.