You may remember Axiotron from when they released the Modbook, a portable tablet computer built around a hacked up 13″ Macbook. With a professional quality pen tablet screen the Modbook became a subject of lust for many designers and artists that have been forced to turn to Windows systems for a portable tablet.
Now that Apple has released the new line of Unibody Macbook Pros, Axiotron has stepped up to release the Modbook Pro, another portable tablet built around the guts of a 15″ Macbook Pro. The system is more powerful and has a bigger screen, but that’s not what has me most interested in the unit.
A major downfall of traditional tablet computers is that you lose many of the keyboard access you need for shortcuts and modifier keys while working in applications like Painter, Photoshop, Illustrator, Rhino, etc. Axiotron is trying to overcome this with the Modbook Pro though, touting their new Synergy Touch technology. This technology lets you use the pen while also using your fingers for touch input at the same time. System software overlays keyboards, numpads, or shortcut keys in floating transparent panels so that you can hold down modifier keys while giving input with the pen. If this works as well as they say it does I believe it could change the tablet industry. I’d love to see them license the technology out to other tablet manufacturers or even Wacom for use in the Cintiq line of displays.
As far as how they’re accomplishing these two input methods at once… I’m assuming it’s a capacitance touch setup for the hand input, and the typical RF Wacom technology for the pen. They must have a threshold set on the capacitance input to ignore a surface area much larger than a couple fingers, otherwise the palm of your pen-hand would be delivering all sorts of false input while you operate the pen.
The Modbook Pro is a pretty hefty investment at $5,000, but I imagine there are a few professionals who will see the pricetag as a bargain for such a mobile workstation. It will be interesting to see how Axiotron does with this product, and what else they’ll come out with.