Company converts Macbooks into tablets, sells them as "Modbooks"

By on June 29, 2012, 2:30 PM

Mac OS X on a tablet. Sound interesting? Los Angeles-based startup Modbook Inc. hopes you'll think so. The company intends to release its own tablet running Mac OS X, but there's one detail which makes these tablets especially fascinating: the devices are actually 13-inch Macbook Pros which have been converted into tablet form.

In 2008, a company named Axiotron had an identical idea that went by the same name: Modbook. However, when global financial uncertainty hit consumers -- and let's not forget the iPad, either -- Axiotron was pressured to close its doors. Modbook Inc. is actually the rebirth of Axiotron, according to CEO Andreas Haas, creator of the Modbook.

"When I started Axiotron, we had a great team and the company was fine. We had a great run until we went public—two weeks later, Lehman Brothers went belly up and took us down along with the financial system. Access to capital was a huge problem," Haas told Ars. "In order for me to continue on my vision of creating a tablet computer for the creative industry, the only way to do it was to create a new company."

Source: arstechnica.com

So, how does it work? All Modbook Pros start with a shiny 13-inch Macbook Pro. The company removes the display and flips it upside down, facing it outward. It's nestled atop the base while the company adds a pressure-sensitive Wacom digitizer and securely houses it all inside their own, custom conversion kit. 

One result is certain: you can bet it won't be as light as an iPad. Bear in mind though, the Modbook Pro is aimed at professionals -- digital artists, for example, who can make use of the tablet's raw horsepower and pressure-sensitive digitizer. This isn't your mom's tablet.

Needless to say, the process of chopping up a Macbook voids Apple's warranty, but the tablets get a one-year warranty provided by Modbook Inc. itself.

Although legal problems plagued Psystar's business of installing Mac OS X on PC hardware, Modbook treads slightly different territory. With the Modbook Pro, we have a genuine Macbook legitimately running Mac OS X. The laptop is merely being repurposed, repackaged and resold. When asked about legal issues, Haas said Axiotron never had troubles with Apple. In fact, Haas claims Apple even solicited him to become a "proprietary solution provider" once they discovered the Modbook back in 2008. 

No price has been set as of yet, but Modbook Inc. is advertising a September launch date. The tablet comes equipped with a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 CPU (upgradable to an i7 @ 2.9GHz), up to 16GB of RAM, Intel HD4000 graphics and a choice between a 1TB HDD or 960GB SSD. The Modbook Pro also includes a DVD-RW.




User Comments: 20

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Panda218 Panda218 said:

The ipad should have been running OSX to begin with. I don't understand why everyone is head over heals for them when it's such a limit system. I mean it's basically a blown up iphone and nothing else, but that is just my opinion...

Guest said:

You're not the only one panda.

Guest said:

Good idea ,Keeps it legal..The price is going to be pretty high since catering to professionals.Plus being a Apple product to start with.. Has good specs though.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

Watch Apple sue claiming one simply does not "buy" a Macbook Pro, you license it. According to the iTunes EULA you can keep it until the Human Cent'iPad comes out.

But seriously, there are some laws surfacing that you can't resell technology because of the patents.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

The ipad should have been running OSX to begin with.

I don't think OSX can run on ARM. I fear Windows RT is going to be similarly limited as iOS.

Panda218 Panda218 said:

The ipad should have been running OSX to begin with.

I don't think OSX can run on ARM. I fear Windows RT is going to be similarly limited as iOS.

yeah I hear ya there, but we wont know until we can play with one. If the ARM model has a fully function file explorer it has already blown away the ipad in my book. I think most people will want to shell out the xtra money for the intel based chip anyhow.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

So Samsung copies the iPhone design and gets sued up the ying yang, yet these guys can manufacture a modified Macbook tablet?

Signed,

Confused

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

So Samsung copies the iPhone design and gets sued up the ying yang, yet these guys can manufacture a modified Macbook tablet?

At the very least, Apple is getting paid every time these guys buy a Macbook to convert. It doesn't actually seem like such a bad deal for Apple.

As much as Apple likes control though (e.g. jailbreaking an iPhone), I would find it very difficult to believe Apple doesn't have a round table of lawyers mulling this one over, however.

scorpian007 said:

I don't think OSX can run on ARM. I fear Windows RT is going to be similarly limited as iOS.

It will be far superior to iOS, even the RT version will be a full blown computer. Only limitation will be it can't run legacy apps.

Rippleman Rippleman said:

What more do you want the iPad to do that it can't do now?

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

What more do you want the iPad to do that it can't do now?

Power-user applications. AppStore apps are pretty weak and generally aren't productive for any work.

It'd be nice to have mainstream driver support as well. And an emulator for x86 compatibility. A file manager and customizations not currently allowed. You can't even set your default browser. Maybe these "apps" will become as powerful as their ancestors, but not even close at this time.

The AppStore is both the greatest asset and the greatest handicap to iOS. Windows RT sounds hopefully will allow non-microsoft approved WinRT software, at least.

Guest said:

sounds the death of iPad for me :D

Guest said:

Cars are covered by all kinds of patents also, yet anybody can buy a Corvette and modify the living daylights out of it (and many do) and GM does not sue them.

And I surely would like to see a lawyer standing up in front of a judge and state that "you buy the license to a Macbook, not the actual hardware".

Guest said:

Of course not. Bigger, heavier and more expensive.

captainawesome captainawesome said:

Hmmm aimed at professionals and designers but limited it intel graphics. Not so awesome

Camikazi said:

Cars are covered by all kinds of patents also, yet anybody can buy a Corvette and modify the living daylights out of it (and many do) and GM does not sue them.

And I surely would like to see a lawyer standing up in front of a judge and state that "you buy the license to a Macbook, not the actual hardware".

Not exactly the same unless you modified the Corvette then started selling those modded Vettes. GM would go after you then since any problems (or deaths) that happen in your modded car would reflect on them. Buying an item and modding it for you own use is fine, they can void your warranty but they can't stop you but modifying them and reselling them to the public is def something you can get sued for.

Guest said:

Callaway Corvette

Guest said:

People mod and resell all kinds of cars. There are companies that exist solely to do this exact thing. The reason it is not illegal is that you purchased the original product to begin with. This is why Ford and GM have in house Mod shops to try and sell the same things and can usually compete for much less money. So, if Apple was smart, they would just offer this product themselves and put the company out of business before it gets started.

h4expo said:

Camikazi: Where are you getting your information?

That is only if that company falsely advertised as an OEM company. Car companies cant sue people for getting into wrecks just because they were driving their stuff. Nor does one commonly think that a bad driver means a bad car company. The only lawsuit possible would be civil, between the "Mod-Vett" company, and a potential client.

Never-the-less I don't put it past apple to "invent" new stipulations for this sort of thing.

Guest said:

H4expo:- Of course car companies can "sue people for getting into wrecks" etc. it's a perfectly valid point!

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