Microsoft’s yet-to-be-released Surface tablet has created buzz by having a model that offers users a complete desktop operating system in tablet form via a version sporting a laptop-style Intel processor (the other lower cost model will have an ARM chip common in Android tablets and a limited version of Windows 8 incapable of running desktop applications).
Someone might beat Microsoft to the punch, however- in a report from MacRumors a company by the name of Axiotron will be bringing a tablet-style device to market sporting a stylus-based touchscreen interface and a full version of Apple’s OSX operating system. The device has been dubbed the Modbook, and it skirts running afoul of Apple’s end user licensing that sunk Mac knockoff manufacturer Psystar by modifying actual MacBooks (hence the Modbook name) into tablet form. The internal components of a 13 inch MacBook Pro are transferred to a new enclosure with a unique Forceglass screen that utilizes a special pressure-sensitive pen interface. The new components are connected to the MacBook internals via USB 3 inside the enclosure.
The Modbook sports some impressive specs- the Pro version has the internal components of the MacBook they were harvested from: Intel i5 or i7 processors, up to 16 gigabytes of RAM, up to 1 TB hard drive, Intel HD 4000 graphics, 802.11 N wifi and Bluetooth 4.0, and something no other tablet will sport- a x8 Superdrive optical drive. The tablet still sports a Gigabit Ethernet port, one Firewire 800, one free USB 3 port, and a Thunderbolt port. It still uses Apple’s Magsafe power adaptor, as well. Because it’s running a full version of OSX the Modbook can be loaded with Windows as well via Bootcamp or virtualization software like Parallels.
Before you ditch your iPad for a Modbook there will be some drawbacks to consider. While no physical specifications are listed, the Modbook will have to be significantly heavier and thicker than an iPad due to the extra components and size; making the Modbook more of a slate than a tablet. The screen isn’t billed as a full touchscreen as the iPad‘s capacitive screen is, interaction is only described via the included pressure-sensitive stylus. Heat and fan noise may be an issue; cooling will likely still be via the MacBook’s original internal fans but will lack the heat dissipating ability of the original’s aluminum case. Lastly, the MacBook that the Modbook is created from is significantly more expensive than an iPad and the Modbook is likely to add a noticeable premium onto that price.
If you’re craving a full operating system in tablet/slate form, the Modbook should definitely be considered. Apple may be slowly moving to consolidate iOS and OSX, but the complete convergence will be a long time from now (if it ever completely happens). The Modbook offers a slew of inputs and functionality that mobile users have sought, and with the built-in Bluetooth it could be paired with a keyboard and mouse/trackpad to create a 13″ mobile-capable iMac for adventurous users. The stylus is particularly interesting; the manufacturers describe as a battery-less digitizer pen with two programmable side buttons, and it is stowed away in a magnetic catch on the Modbook’s case. This truly fascinating device will be available fall of this year.