By Neil Bennett | on May 14, 2009
Company: Computer Warehouse
Pros: Great for sketching out ideas and creating design work on the move or in front of clients; more sensitive than other tablet PCs.
Cons: Expensive; doesn’t convert into laptop; sensitivity not as good as Cintiq touchscreens; heavy.
The Modbook includes a pen is powered by the tablet’s digitizer board—it doesn’t need a battery of its own, and only activates when you bring it within an inch or so of the display. The pen has two programmable side buttons and an eraser function at the end, and a slot on the bottom left of the Modbook holds the stylus when it’s not in use. Other Wacom pens should work with the Modbook, provided they’re using the same technology as the Modbook pens.
The Modbook includes an internal GPS device. No, we don’t know why either.
Since the bottom half of the Modbook is a MacBook, the ports and its layout have the same Gigabit Ethernet, Mini-DVI, FireWire 400 port, two USB 2.0, and MagSafe power port.
Without a built-in keyboard, you have to rely on the pen for text input – though you can plug in a USB keyboard if you need to input a lot of text. Otherwise, you use either the Axiotron Quickclicks on-screen keyboard for tapping or the OS X’s Inkwell handwriting recognition software. Neither is particularly swift, but either is sufficient if you all you need to enter is the name of your artwork file when saving a new sketch.
Computer Warehouse includes Autodesk’s SketchBook Express 2009 (below), a very basic drawing package, but you’ll probably ignore this in favour of your standard package. We tested the Modbook with Photoshop, Illustrator and SketchUp, and found them all to run just as smoothly as you’d wish.
Our main issue with the Modbook is the price. Considering its relatively low processing power, you couldn’t use the Modbook as your main creative computer – and few creatives can justify £1,649 on a sketchbook, however funky. We can see the Modbook appealing to client-facing creatives at large agencies and very successful illustrators who can afford to splash out. But for most it’ll be out of reach.