Axiotron ModBook Review Part 1

So, I've had this thing for a few hours short of a full day, and I've got some stuff to report, but I don't want to call this the end of the review, I am going to give it a few more days and then give the final part of the review. So far, I am not sold on it, but, my sister, who is taking classes in college for photography and the various digital arts got her hands on it and wouldn't let go until I took it away to charge it.

Due solely to the lack of a keyboard, and the fact that you have to use the digitizer pen for everything, I wouldn't recommend for any every day business or office user. However, if you are in the visual arts, architecture, design, or any of the fields where you might use the features of this tablet, I honestly don't think there is anything better for you out there.

That said, my sister loves it, and I don't use Photoshop for anything other than resizing product pictures, so, it hasn't been the best notebook for me, but the more and more I use it, the more and more I fall in love. The pen works great, the onscreen keyboard isn't too hard to use, and the possibility of directly connecting either a USB or Bluetooth keyboard (thanks to the integrated Bluetooth) and the same with a mouse makes it great, because chances are, if you are in a spot where you can't connect and easily use a keyboard and/or mouse, then you probably aren't looking to type much in the first place.

So far I have found 2 things this notebook is perfect for besides the obvious visual arts stuff, and those are watching movies, and GPS. Now, for some problems I've encountered so far.

First, the very edges of the screen seem to cause a slight loss of functionality of the pen, I don't know if this is because the Wacom tablet ends just short of the edges of the screen or what. Second, some update that I was installing came up with a message saying I needed to hold down the power button until the computer shut off and then restart it, when I did that, OS X came up with a message saying something to the effect of "there was an unexpected shut down" the options were report or ignore, obviously when this happened, I went to hit ignore, but the pen was dead, so I tried manually restarting the machine again, to see if it would go away, and it wouldn't, so I finally had to go find a spare mouse and plug it in to get past that, but after I did it this one time, manually powering off and restarting the machine has yet to yield the same results, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

I like that when you use the ModBook, it doesn't get too hot to use, and I also like the fact that it doesn't feel too heavy to hold for long periods of time, but not so light that you feel like you are going to break it every time you touch it. I also like that you can lie your hand on the screen when you are doing something with the pen and it doesn't affect what the pen is doing, and it doesn't squish the screen (you know how LCDs get all wiggly at the slightest sign of pressure, that doesn't happen, it takes some considerable pressure for that to happen). Although, touch sensitivity from your hand/fingers would be kind of nice at times, I am all about having a giant iPod Touch in my hands.

I am in the middle of running a DVD battery test on it right now, so I'll have the results from that when I report back again in a few days. Other than that, I ran some benchmarking software (XBench, you might be familiar with it) on it and pasted the results below. Like I said, I'll have more info, and some videos of this thing in action in a few days.

P.S. – all the shots of the keyboard are of the Axiotron QuickClicks keyboard layouts, the standard layout with the shortcuts is my favorite because I am a windows user and it has cut, copy, paste, and a few other functions at your disposal with one click.

Results 154.55

System Info

Xbench Version 1.3

System Version 10.5.2 (9C31)

Physical RAM 4096 MB

Model MacBook3,1

Drive Type FUJITSU MHY2120BH

CPU Test 126.08

GCD Loop 253.11 13.34 Mops/sec

Floating Point Basic 119.63 2.84 Gflop/sec

vecLib FFT 82.81 2.73 Gflop/sec

Floating Point Library 136.24 23.72 Mops/sec

Thread Test 201.07

Computation 182.79 3.70 Mops/sec, 4 threads

Lock Contention 223.42 9.61 Mlocks/sec, 4 threads

Memory Test 153.70

System 157.38

Allocate 244.02 896.11 Kalloc/sec

Fill 127.50 6199.41 MB/sec

Copy 140.44 2900.69 MB/sec

Stream 150.19

Copy 141.23 2917.08 MB/sec

Scale 143.38 2962.14 MB/sec

Add 159.01 3387.23 MB/sec

Triad 159.00 3401.36 MB/sec

Quartz Graphics Test 177.80

Line 144.59 9.63 Klines/sec [50% alpha]

Rectangle 186.12 55.57 Krects/sec [50% alpha]

Circle 149.62 12.20 Kcircles/sec [50% alpha]

Bezier 153.42 3.87 Kbeziers/sec [50% alpha]

Text 380.03 23.77 Kchars/sec

OpenGL Graphics Test 22.50

Spinning Squares 22.50 28.55 frames/sec

User Interface Test 237.46

Elements 237.46 1.09 Krefresh/sec

Disk Test 39.29

Sequential 74.53

Uncached Write 84.31 51.76 MB/sec [4K blocks]

Uncached Write 84.33 47.71 MB/sec [256K blocks]

Uncached Read 50.58 14.80 MB/sec [4K blocks]

Uncached Read 98.21 49.36 MB/sec [256K blocks]

Random 26.68

Uncached Write 8.90 0.94 MB/sec [4K blocks]

Uncached Write 72.11 23.09 MB/sec [256K blocks]

Uncached Read 69.77 0.49 MB/sec [4K blocks]

Uncached Read 106.05 19.68 MB/sec [256K blocks]

UPDATE: Alright, I just felt obligated to bring you a few updates to this article before I post a new one, first off, the issue where the digitizer would quit work has been solved, sort of, I haven't figured out how to make that not happen, but I found on the Axiotron forums a way to make it start recognizing the pointer again when that happens, for those of you who already have one of these systems, all you have to do is hold down the Mod Key (the one next to the power button) until all 3 lights go out, then let go, it restarts the controller board for the tablet portion of the ModBook, so, that is no longer an issue. Lastly, it took a while, but the battery finally died after playing a DVD for 2 hours, 34 minutes, and 20 seconds straight, and even then it had just enough reserve power left that if I had a document up or something of that nature, I could have saved it before the system actually shut down. By the way, anyone want to take a guess, judging from the pictures, what DVD it was that I watched?