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Modbook R&D Labs – The Inside Track, Issue No.19

MB_RnDLabs_TheInsideTrack-No19-0225sIMGHello my fellow Töpferlgucker (?).

Here’s a look at a new accessory for the Pro X, with a feature never before seen on any tablet computer: an integrated industry-standard 1/4-20 UNC screw thread like the ones found on camera tripods.

“How do I prop it up?”

During the redesign that led to the current Revision C (Rev.C) version of the Pro X, we reviewed feedback gathered from Pro X backers and others, as well as feedback on the current Modbook Pro. One thing came up repeatedly: how to quickly and easily prop up the system for use with the pen?

The Pro X’s Keyboard Stand was originally designed in part to address this concern, although its primary purpose is so the Pro X can be used as a regular computer (with secondary use as an easel even though the Keyboard Stand on its own doesn’t hold the Pro X entirely steady when used with a pen).

The team briefly explored options such as a built-in retractable stand like on some plug-in tablet devices, but our research showed this type of feature was not well liked (awkward, too flimsy, etc.).

We settled on a simpler method: a removable “leg” that could prop the system easily. A key consideration was that this accessory, dubbed the MonoProp, had to be incorporated into the Pro X’s rigid chassis (Alphabody) to provide ample support and for maximum structural strength. Thus, the MonoProp Mount was constructed at the rear-top of the device embedded within the Alphabody:

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The MonoProp itself is a simple accessory. The ridged design shown below is not finalized — we’re exploring other designs as well — and obviously it has not yet been anodized:

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The lightweight MonoProp is easily screwed in with a few twists, and a gasket buffers it from the back cover:

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As shown below with one of our recent pre-production units, the MonoProp holds the Pro X at an angle of 25°, and the nib on the bottom of the MonoProp and the grip feet at the base of the Pro X hold the device in place, even on surfaces with a lower coefficient of friction (surfaces with less traction).

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Based on our testing, the device is very stable in common use scenarios in which a user draws with the pen and applies pressure anywhere on the screen. Users can bring the MonoProp with them and prop the device easily for drawing and sketching at the office, at a coffee house or in any work setting.

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Presentation mode

Another interesting application for the MonoProp is the ability to rotate the Pro X 180° and use the device in Presentation Mode. (The Pro X, like the current Modbook Pro, has software called QuickFlip that enables you to rotate the OS X screen in 90° increments.) The device must be on a flat, stable surface so there is no risk that it can fall forward.

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With OS X rotated 180° and the device resting on the MonoProp in Presentation Mode, you can easily watch videos or run a presentation on the screen. Before the system ships, a set of small grip feet are being added on the top of the device near the ventilation grille to protect its finish and add more traction when it’s upside down in Presentation Mode, as shown below.

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Tripod compatibility

The screw thread on the MonoProp is the standard 1/4-20 UNC screw thread found on camera tripods. This offers another convenient application, the first ever on a tablet computer: the ability to attach the Pro X to a tripod as shown here (note the Pro X screen in the photo below is covered by a protective sheet):

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Photographers, videographers and others who are using the Pro X in the field will thus be able to mount their system to a tripod easily. (The tripod must obviously be placed on stable ground so there is no risk that it could be tipped over.)

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Since the MonoProp Mount is embedded in the system’s rigid internal Alphabody, there is ample structural strength to safely hold the device on the tripod.

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In short, the MonoProp and its tripod-ready mount offer a number of convenient possibilities for using the Pro X in various settings — a simple accessory that adds a lot to the Pro X experience. We are also exploring the potential of extensions and other add-ons to make the MonoProp even more useful.

Until next time,
Andreas & the Team

The Modbook Pro X is a one time, small production volume project to create a tablet mac computer solution based on Apple’s 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro notebook. While only backers of the project will be able to receive the Pro X, we’ll be sharing insights and updates as we advance the project. Follow us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/modbook/ for notifications our next posts.

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Disclaimer
The Modbook Pro and Modbook Pro X are enclosure conversion kits that transform an original Apple MacBook Pro notebook-style computer into a tablet-style computer. Apple Inc.'s warranty on the MacBook Pro base system is voided by the conversion and replaced with the Modbook Protection Plan, which covers the entire hardware solution, including the base system.