The world's first Apple-authorized pen tablet-based Macintosh computer, Axiotron's Modbook, started shipping this week, one year after the computer was showcased at the January 2007 Macworld Conference and Expo.
Axiotron, a hardware producer, worked with Wacom, a maker of pen tablets, displays and related components, to create the stylus-based input system for the ModBook, and it will function along with Apple's existing Inkwell handwriting recognition system, according to an Axiotron statement.
The ModBook is a modification of Apple's current MacBook. Axiotron added a new case and interior display frame built of magnesium, as well as featuring the new input technology.
Axiotron is targeting the product for artists, design oriented professionals and businesspeople who prefer writing to keyboard-based typing, and stressing the ModBook's enhanced on-screen writing and drawing functionality. The tablet's display provides 512 levels of pressure sensitivity, which is twice the sensitivity and pen control of any other available tablet PC, Axiotron says. It also ships with a set of specially designed pen nibs to increase flexibility, freedom and precision control, according to the company.
When the Axiotron ModBook was first displayed at the Macworld Expo in 2007, it was based on an earlier version of the MacBook. Axiotron has updated the tablets—even those ordered before the new MacBooks became available—to include a faster processor and Apple's newest OS, Leopard, according to Apple user publication Macworld.
The tablet computer is available with a 2.0GHz or 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, an internal iSight webcam, GPS and integrated 24x DVD combo drive or 8x DVD SuperDrive. Its wide-screen display is 13.3 inches, says the company, and the surface is enhanced to provide wider viewing angles, darker blacks and brighter colors. The ModBook has Intel GMA X3100 integrated graphics and support for up to 4GB of RAM, 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.0, according to Macworld. The ModBook pricing starts at $2,290.
The ModBook could soon have a competitor, however. Rumors are circulating about a Mac tablet from Apple itself, possibly manufactured by Asus, that could be unveiled during the upcoming 2008 Macworld Conference and Expo.