The 'Book Review

Modbook Pro a Full OS X Tablet, MacBook Theft Prevention and Recovery, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.10.12

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in Mac News Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. Older Macs are covered in Vintage Mac News. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

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News & Opinion

Modbook Is Back: Modbook Pro a Full OS X Tablet

PR: As its name affirms, the Modbook Pro is a complete all-in-one OS X tablet computer based on conversion of an Apple MacBook Pro.

Modbook Pro
The Modbook is back, this time as a pro model.

Featuring a Wacom pen tablet digitizer, the Modbook Pro offers 512 pen pressure levels, a recognition rate of 133 points per second, and a recognition resolution of approximately 1/100th of a millimeter, providing a responsive pen input experience and extremely precise control of renderings.

The digitizer is custom-tuned to the electronics of the Modbook Pro and its base system, with a calibrated and fully tested radio frequency (RF) and electromagnetic shielding solution for smooth and undisrupted pen input.

The Modbook Pro's battery-less digitizer pen has two programmable side buttons and a digital eraser, and pen tucks away securely in the built-in pen garage with a magnetic catch.

The Modbook Pro's configurable base system includes a 2.5 GHz dual core Intel Core i5 processor or 2.9 GHz dual core Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16 GB of RAM, and Intel HD Graphics 4000 for unmatched processing speed and graphics-crunching power on a tablet computer. Also included are a 64 GB solid-state drive (configurable up to 480 GB), an 8x SuperDrive DVD burner, a built-in 63.5-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery, and a 60W MagSafe power adapter and port.

Available on the Modbook Pro's input/output panel are one Gigabit Ethernet port, one FireWire 800 port, one USB 3.0 port, one Thunderbolt port, one SDXC card slot, and one audio line in/out, with wireless connectivity via 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

SSD Architecture

Every Modbook Pro is equipped with a SATA 3 solid-state drive (SSD) as its primary internal storage device. The Modbook Pro's original SSDs employ asynchronous or synchronous NAND technology. The Modbook Pro comes installed with a 64 GB Nishara-class asynchronous SSD, and can be upgraded to a Sanshara-class synchronous SSD with up to 480 GB of storage space.

With its solid-state drive, the Modbook Pro boots fast and users can save files (even large graphics files) quickly. This speed of access and high performance will appeal to creative users working with multiple large files at the same time. In addition to their lively performance, the company says the Modbook Pro's SSDs are fine-tuned for the highly sensitive pen tablet interface of the Modbook Pro.

Modbook Pro with stylus
The new Modbook Pro with stylus.

Cross-Platform Capability, Maximum Software Compatibility

The Modbook Pro supports the full range of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion-compatible applications such as iTunes and iLife. Users can run OS X's Boot Camp utility to install 32- or 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 (sold separately) and turn their Modbook Pro into a tablet Windows PC. The Modbook Pro is the only tablet computer that can boot into both OS X and Windows 7, opening access to the whole world of available software on either platform, including Adobe Photoshop, Encore, and Premiere Pro; Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and AutoCAD; Apple Aperture and Logic Pro; and Corel Painter.

One-Year Top-to-Bottom Modbook Pro Protection Plan

The Modbook Pro comes with a one-year protection plan covering the complete hardware solution, including all of the components of the MacBook Pro base system.

Users will be able to have their Modbook Pro serviced at an authorized service center (the first of which will be announced prior to the Modbook Pro's ship date) with the assurance their system will be handled by a technician trained to handle both the Modbook Pro and its Apple base system components.

Sleek Design, Sturdy Construction

The Modbook Pro departs from traditional enclosure design in which parts are attached using frames and shells, and instead employs a unique AlphaBody design that provides superior structural strength by attaching components to a single core cut from a block of lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum (i.e.: Apple's unibody). Aspects of the design are base system-independent, allowing for rapid future adjustments to the ever-changing landscape of compatible base systems. Built from a unique enclosure conversion kit, the Modbook Pro incorporates and completely encases the original hardware of a new 13.3" MacBook Pro base system. Its Wacom digitizer delivers 512 levels of pen pressure sensitivity - claimed to be greater than any other tablet computer on the market. Its ForceGlass screen provides an etched, paper-emulating drawing surface.

To accomplish the inclusion of the MacBook Pro's hardware, the Modbook Pro uses a novel ExoConnect system as the primary high-speed connection linking the Modbook Pro components to one of the MacBook Pro's two standard USB 3.0 ports. This creates the most seamless integration possible, while the smart enclosure design permanently seals the connection and the port itself within the Modbook Pro, leaving all the other ports unobstructed. A fully standards-compliant USB device, the Modbook Pro closely follows the AppleDesign Guidelines for USB high-performance peripherals. The computer ships with a Modbook Pro PortDoubler dual USB 3 hub.

Natural Drawing

Durable and scratch-resistant, the Modbook Pro's etched ForceGlass screen offers a pencil-to-paper feel for a natural drawing and writing experience.

Easy to Prop Up

Users can easily prop up the Modbook Pro on any side, and its 3D-GripFeet will prevent the machine from slipping. The computer's distinctive sloped-edge shape and the 3D-GripFeet mean it can be propped up to 50° on all sides without slipping. With its compact form factor and relatively thin profile, the Modbook Pro can easily be slipped in and out of a backpack.

The Modbook Pro has a 13.3" (diagonal) display with a native 1280 x 800 pixel resolution. The display, digitizer, and ForceGlass screen assembly are flush-mounted, resulting in a completely level drawing area that optimizes onscreen workspace. Note, however, that the Modbook Pro does not have a touchscreen or multitouch capabilities.

The Modbook Pro sells for a MSRP starting at $3,499.

Size and Weight

  • Height: 0.93 inches (2.37 cm)
  • Width: 13.86 inches (35.2 cm)
  • Depth: 9.65 inches (24.5 cm)
  • Weight: 5.5 pounds (2.51 kg)

Modbook Pro Protection Plan

Covers complete system. Includes:

  • One-year manufacturer's limited hardware warranty on Modbook Pro components
  • One-year warranty-equivalent service plan on MacBook Pro base system

Modbook Inc. is not affiliated with, nor is the Modbook Pro sponsored or endorsed by, Apple Inc.

Publisher's note: The original Modbook, unveiled in 2007, was based on the consumer MacBook and began shipping in 2008. dk

Theft Prevention and Recovery Tactics to Keep Your MacBook Safe's Johnny Winter notes that many laptop thieves are opportunists who will steal your Mac, given the opportunity, if it is left alone at the coffee shop, in the workplace, in your car, or even in your home. He notes that there are deterrents you can use to prevent your Mac from being stolen as well as built-in technology that can be employed to locate your Mac - and even who is using it. Winter examines the deterrents and technology to help prevent the theft of your Mac (desktops too) in the first place, and techniques to facilitate its recovery should it be stolen.

Publisher's note: One option Winter doesn't mention is setting up your Mac to require a password to log in to your user account at startup. Not prevention, per se, but it could keep thieves from accessing your files. dk

Don't Ditch Your Laptop for an iPad Yet

Business Insider's Dylan Love affirms that he loves his iPad, but it's not about to replace his laptop anytime soon, citing four shortcomings in particular that prevent the iPad from becoming a satisfactory main computing device. They are, briefly paraphrased:

  1. Typing limitations of the onscreen keyboard and the hassle of carrying/pairing a Bluetooth KB with the iPad
  2. Limited connectivity with peripherals.
  3. Inability to display multiple application or document windows side-by-side.
  4. Inability to run a full-fledged desktop OS to support productivity applications.

Editor's note: I agree, and would add the lack of mouse driver support and support for real multitasking, and that interestingly, Microsoft's forthcoming Surface tablet computer will be hamstrung by none of those things. cm

Tech Trends

Ultraslim Laptops to Account for 1/4 of Mobile PC Market

PR: Ultraslim laptop computer shipments will grow from 3.4 million in 2011 to 65 million by 2015 - one-quarter of mobile PC shipments, according to the NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report. The mobile PC landscape is transforming from a performance-driven market to a convenience-driven market, where easy access to content and usage are the new preferred characteristics.

This fundamental change in preference is most noticeable in the slowing demand for notebook PCs and the increasing demand for tablet PCs. Tablet PC shipments are expected to exceed notebook PC shipments by 2016. Notebook PC players are responding by adopting the features of tablets that consumers have appreciated the most.

Tablet PCs have offered consumers what they have been requesting from the notebook market for years, instant-on activation, long battery life, and sleeker designs," says Richard Shim, Senior Analyst with NPD DisplaySearch. "These attributes are the basis for enabling greater and easier accessibility to content and services. Ultraslim PCs* are the notebook market's response to tablets and aim to balance performance and convenience."

Ultraslim PC adoption has been modest to date due to premium pricing and a lack of differentiation from standard notebooks. Prices have gradually decreased and adoption is expected to ramp up in 2013 as new processors aid in the achievement of more convenience-oriented computing.

In addition, maturing ultra-slim PC panel production processes will lower material costs and premium prices. A combination of improvements in thinner glass manufacturing and handling, as well as assembly of panels, will improve yields and lower the cost of panels, one of the most expensive components in an ultra-slim PC.

As part of its continued efforts to follow the development of emerging mobile PC form factors, NPD DisplaySearch has launched a one-time report, Ultra-Slim PCs: The Notebook Market's Response to Tablets detailing how the notebook market is realigning to offer more convenience-oriented features. The report examines how the evolution of ultra-slim PCs is different from the evolution of the mini-note PC, and why ultra-slim PCs will have a different fate.

NPD DisplaySearch will update the Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report to cover quarterly shipment tracking and forecasting for ultra-slim PCs, in addition to standard notebook PCs, mini-note PCs (a.k.a. netbooks), and tablet PCs.

The NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report covers the entire range of mobile PC products shipped worldwide and regionally. With analysis of global and regional brands, the Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report provides an objective, expert view of the market with insight into historical shipments, revenues, forecasts, and more.

* The definition of Ultra-Slim PCs is as follows: Notebooks with screen sizes greater than 14-inch" and must have a z-height (i.e. thickness) of less than 21mm, and notebooks with screen sizes less than 14" and must have a z-height of less than 18mm. Included in the category are notebook PCs fitting Intel's Ultrabook definition as well as Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina Display, among others.

Products & Services

Slappa Offers October Special Free Shipping on All Models

PR: Slappa's Free Shipping offer applies only to orders placed at and only on orders that ship standard ground in the continental USA. Any orders that ship outside the continental USA and orders that ship using a method other than ground, will be charged regular shipping prices.

Offer expires 10/31/2012 @ midnight PST.

Bargain 'Books

For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

We also track iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle deals.

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