Modbook has been making tablets out of Mac portables for years, combining the Apple computers with Wacom digitizers to let digital artists have all-in-one graphics-creating powerhouses that run full OS X software and come with ample pressure sensitivity. Now, the company’s latest effort incorporates the Retina MacBook Pro, and it’s turning to Kickstarter to fund this effort that should have artists drooling.
The Modbook Pro has the Retina MacBook Pro’s 2,880 by 1,800 display, and is configurable with up to 32GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, and the base version ships with Apple’s newly-announced 2.8GHz quad-core processor model. It’ll run Yosemite (which should be available by the time it ships next year) and the modified computer will still have NVIDIA upgrade options, two USB 3 ports, an SDXC slot, HDMI and two Thunderbolt 2 ports.
Changes include new option rear-mounted keybars that allow for quick entry of custom commands and shortcuts while they’re drawing and without requiring a physical or virtual keyboard, and a new keyboard stand that includes a way to prop up the device for drawing at angles between 30 and 90 degrees, and a full-sized ambient backlit keyboard that pairs via Bluetooth.
Microsoft has made some nice overtures to digital graphics pros with the Surface line of devices, which include pressure sensitive stylus input and ship with pens to boot. The Modbook option is a nice alternative for those looking for a Mac-specific alternative, but the iPad can also act as a stand-in for some of the functions that the Modbook once served, despite its limitations in terms of native pressure sensitivity and software compatibility. The Modbook also has Wacom tech built-in, with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, and it can be specced much higher than the Surface for those that need more power. But at $2,000 to modify your own existing MacBook Pro, it’s also a steep ask in terms of cost.
This is the first time Modbook has gone the Kickstarter route, so it’ll be interesting to see how much advance interest it can generate in what is obviously a specialized product, and whether the changes in the tablet and computer biz will affect its ability to appeal to potential customers.