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Nov 3 11 9:39 AM

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I am an architect who would like to sketch in front of my clients and e-mail sketches back to otherrs.   It seems like Mod Book is perfect for this, but.... with the demise of Axiotron; should I consider another option other than Mod Book or purchase a used one online.  Can you still get peripherals, such as pens and nubs,  and software?  How big of a RISK is it to buy my first Mod Book now?


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#1 [url]

Nov 4 11 9:16 PM

I would recommend against it to be honest, for the following reasons:

Lack of support.  I have never in all my years had the unpleasant experience of dealing with such completely inept customer support.  Axiotron simply does not care about its users, and if you have any doubt about that just do a search on line or check out their user bulletin board.  (I realize that they have had issues as a company, but their problems are largely DUE TO their attitude about the end user, rather than despite it.)

Lack of reputable, competent service.  If you have a problem with your Macbook, you take it to the apple store or a certified tech in your area.  If you have a problem with your modbook you get to send it half way across the country and get to do without it for however long it takes the tech to figure out what is wrong, get non-existent parts.  Or you could take it to a local tech for 'no-guarantee but I can look at it' service.  If you go this route, hang around and watch the tech's face when he opens your modbook up.  Watch for the "I-just-shit-my-pants" look on his face when he sees the modbook's inner workings and all the tape and spaghetti dinner of wires inside.  I'll bet you a fiver he won't fix it.

Lack of accessories. There were supposed to be VESA brackets, pens etc to go with this thing.  There is nothing.  Unless you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can get a sleeve, a tripod stand, and a slightly better pen, (if you can find them), that's it.

Poor design.  On many of the modbooks the metal bezel around the screen interferes wit the operation of the digitizer.  Touching it makes the cursor jump to the other side of the screen.  ANY static build up on the screen or the bezel causes issues for the digitizer.  Also, the unit simply does not cool properly, and in some cases they cooling fan interferes with the digitizer when it ramps up.

DJC. (Dreaded jumping cursor) This is a bloody plague of a problem for modbooks.  It is relatively common, and combined with the lack of support and lack of service options, you might well be stuck with a completely unusable device that cost you thousands of dollars.  You might be able to get it fixed, or not.  Many times this takes multiple returns to the shop (if you can find one to do it) and it very often magically comes back after a period of weeks to months. Often users get it back after weeks, supposedly fixed, only to find that it is not fixed at all.  The shops invariably claim that it was not doing it anymore when it left the shop, which considering the fact that it seems to magically return for whatever reason isn't entirely unbelievable. 

Do not underestimate the DJC issue.  There are at least four different and pretty much unconnected causes of DJC (that I know of). It is very very hard to get rid of, unless you get very lucky.  I have had my modbook for about 2 years.  When it works I love it.  In all it has been usable for about 6 months total.  I have repaired the DJC problem 3 times, using different methods, and all three times it slowly came back.   For a system that I've invested more than 2K in, that is a pretty horrid return.  If you get one with DJC, which you very well might, you WILL regret it, I promise you.

Company future.  Axiotron has had a pretty sketchy history.  Don't count on them to be around for long (though they sure have fought to survive... too bad they don't have the commitment to their customers that they have to their company).

All in all I would say stay away from the modbook.  I personal lament Apple's "if it has a stylus you are doing it wrong" attitude, and I'm a total Apple fanboy, but I'd buy a Windoze tablet before I'd ever consider buying a modbook again.  I do love the thing when it works, but it's a lot like some high end car that you have to spend a month servicing in order to drive it for two hours.  Not worth it.

Hope that helps. 

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#2 [url]

Nov 5 11 8:27 AM

I would have to disagree with the first response to your question.  It's not that what is stated is unture.  All of what has been presented are real issues with the Modbook.  What I have found, however, is the Modbook is very reliable and repair has never been as issue for me.  I have three Modbooks and have corrected the DJC issue without problem.  There is a company is North Carolina that provides excellent and very timely repair if needed and they can fix the cursor issue totally for a very reasonable price...about $150.  I have posted their contact info on this forum.

As far as support, OWC is excellent, but, really, what support is needed?  It's a MacBook and runs Mac software and OX.  I have Snow Leopard on mine and have no issues period.  It's an old model MacBook with an older model processor, but I haven't found that to be a problem either.

My daugher uses the Modbook for a communication device attached to a power wheelchair.  This thing gets banged around daily, over bumps and streets, door ways, etc.  No problems whatsoever.

Our pen works fine, but honestly, we dcn't use it since we use a wireless headmouse.  We found plenty of pens on eBay anyway. 

What you may want to consider is the weight.  It is heavy and can get a bit warm when in use.  As far as dependability, repair and support, I haven't had any problems at all.

If you would like any additional information regarding our experience with the Modbook, feel free to ask.

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#3 [url]

Nov 10 11 4:09 PM

Hi, all.

I too have suffered from the DJC issue.  When it happens, it is VERY annoying.  There are several things that I've done to limit it happening.

1) I've installed CoolBook Controller.  You can find it and get more info at:  This is a handy item to have even if you aren't on a ModBook.

2) I've installed the Pen Off/Pen On scripts that have been posted to this forum.  When not drawing, I just turn the pen off.

3) I've installed extra shielding.  My ModBook is out of warranty and I would have to pay to ship and have the shielding installed.  I spoke with the OWC recommended repair site in North Carolina.  The tech there said that if I felt comfortable, I could open the unit and install shielding myself.  To tell the truth, although I'm pretty tech savvy, I was a bit apprehensive.  But after reading the instructions sent, I was able to make my own shielding from old coax cables, open the unit and install the shielding.  It also gave me the opportunity to check for pinched wires and blow out some dust.

All in all, the machine is working great.  Any other issues are with OS X and the actual casing and battery of the original MacBook.  The casing is cracking and is barely holding together.  The battery has expanded and no longer fits flush with the casing.  When it's locked into place, it tends to stress the casing and pull it apart.

It's a shame that Axiotron isn't doing well.  I love my unit and was looking forward to Synergy Touch.  If you can pick up a used machine for a good price, I would do it.  Otherwise, if you just need to do quick sketches and no real heavy-duty number crunching, the iPad might be a viable solution for you.

On another note, I am so glad that Modbookish exists.  It has proven helpful and is a great place for ModBook owners to find support.

Oh, and as another sidenote, Rick Nielson (of Cheap Trick fame) is a proud ModBook owner.  He came and introduced himself to me at the Stateline Macintosh Users Group in Rockford, IL.

I'm an over-educated, over-medicated, under-paid, under-motivated, under-stimulated Beta-male.

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