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May 23rd, 2013

CreativeDestructionThere are a lot of lessons to learn from economics, which the Austrian School of thought defines as the study of human actions. Humans have evolved, and our systems have evolved along with us, to build, trade, learn, improve, make progress, overcome challenges, and organize human societies in ways that support various social goals. In the West, particularly America, one of those goals became “full employment,” a vague term that left no room for nuance, much less the disruptions native to huge, complex financial markets. Astride the world like a colossus after World War II, America saw its economy boom and the computer era begin as technology began its now-70-year ascent.

A boom, not a kaboom

Predictions are hard to make, especially about the future. This nugget of wisdom was somehow overlooked as we sought to create our own reality by legislative fiat and industrial might. In 1948, this peculiarly American hubris led the father of cybernetics, Norbert Wiener—a “rock star” among scientists then as iMac creator Steve Jobs was more recently—to pen a dramatic letter of warning to the head of the United Auto Workers, Walter Reuther. The advent of computers, Wiener said, would bring about systems that are “extremely flexible, and susceptible to mass production, and will undoubtedly lead to the factory without employees [featuring] the automatic automobile assembly line.” It was Wiener’s apocalyptic prediction that with such an “industrial set-up” the resulting unemployment would be “disastrous.”

Of course, the sun also rises, and Wiener was so mistaken about unemployment that physicist Wolfgang Pauli’s famous retort about string theory—that an assertion can be “so far off it’s not even wrong”—seems reasonable to apply. In fact, employment figures in the U.S. swelled to a historic peak of 146 million in 2007 from 59 million in 1950 as technology marched in unrelenting progress—bringing the laser printers, plasma display rentals, and Apple products like the iPad that define modern technology. Starting in that same year, U.S. GDP increased by a factor of nearly seven by 2012, from $2 million to $13.6 (in 2005 dollars). Still, the robot assembly lines were being built, and auto workers lost hundreds of thousands of jobs between 1948 and 1990, but mass unemployment à la Wiener never happened. Why?

A history lesson first

Between about 1810 and 1820, a group called the Luddites destroyed then-revolutionary power looms and weaving frames in the north of England. Although some of their motives were born of wider concerns about class and privilege, this assemblage of mostly fabric artisans also saw technological progress as a route to unemployment, particularly their own. Predictions of “permanent technological unemployment” are revived from time to time, and the latest may be a working paper done for the National Bureau of Economic Research in late 2012. Titled “Smart Machines and Long-Term Misery,” Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff and Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs pose a question: Are machines so smart, with such powerful CPUs, that they no longer need unskilled labor to operate?

Now let’s back up. Mass unemployment didn’t follow even the loss of entire industries, like occurred in America in the postwar era. Creative destruction implies not only the end of something, but the beginning of something else. Joseph Schumpeter explains that it would have been silly to try saving the buggy whip industry in 1905, too, as whip sales began slipping with the increase in horseless carriage sales. With the auto industry would come much greater economic growth, more companies hiring more people to build more new things that will replace other aging things, and the cycle of “creative destruction” continues. It’s how we got render farms, it’s how we got tablet PCs, and it’s how we’ll get to the future. It’s not neat and clean, and it’s certainly not predictable.

The lesson?

The lesson is a tough one, and runs counter to the human predilection for control, certainty, and order. Progress, unfortunately, is messy, unpredictable, counter-intuitive at times, and only appears clearly in hindsight. Will the iPad destroy the Laptop?In our present Age of Electronic Miracles, the continuously increasing power of computers is evident if you rent laptops and compare specs to just two years ago. The challenge, as always, is to remember that not everything “new” signifies progress. We can see now, for example, that progress in the MacBook line means Thunderbolt connectors instead of Firewire, and the loss of the internal DVD—which, of course, means fewer jobs at Firewire cable makers and more jobs making external optical drives.

Need a Mac or a Windows workstation? A call to (877) 266-7725 or a short message puts an experienced Account Executive to work finding just the right high-end computer rentals or a solution to your digital storage problem. Already know what you need? Use our Quick Rental Quote form and get it now. Whatever the technology challenge, your solution is always CRE!

May 16th, 2013

Adobe Creative CloudAdobe’s announcement that its leading-edge Creative Studio programs are now “the Creative Cloud,” available exclusively via subscription, has generated more than the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth in the tech sector. Interestingly, in the past this kind of anger was typically directed at Apple, not “trusty old Adobe,” as people have called it for years. There are still details to be worked out, but the basics are clear enough, and we have them for you.

Creative Studio’s switcheroo

First, there’s a huge misconception, a basic error repeated even by “tech pundits” that should know better. Some people interpret “Cloud” in “Creative Cloud” to mean that the applications will be web-based, like the online Photoshop Express that makes “web crawling” seem positively supersonic. No deadline-driven designer will tolerate the lag of an 800MB photo file loading into a browser. Nobody at Adobe, which has helped power the Information Age since before you could rent laptops, would ask them to. The programs install locally and Adobe checks your subscription status now and then to confirm its validity. If you stop paying, you’re turned off.

The whole thing started in earnest with the release of Creative Suite 6 (CS6) in 2012, when Adobe offered it on DVD (the whole shebang is over $2,000) as well as by monthly subscription ($49.99) to the new Creative Cloud. For that, a user gets all the CS6 programs—but to sweeten the deal, students and current owners of CS versions 3 to 5.5 get the first year for $29.99 monthly. A single app (think Photoshop, the one indispensable program for all creatives) is $19.99 a month or some $240 annually. Doesn’t matter if you work in Windows or on an iMac, both OS types are covered as long as you’re net-connected, and you can install both.

Reasonable rants

So, does it cost you more or less? We’ll give you the conclusion of a good dollar-comparison discussion that you should read after this blog:

  • If you are a professional and use CS6 extensively, and always upgrade, you will definitely save money.
  • If you use several CS6 programs and upgrade every other year or so, you may break even but are likely to pay more.
  • If you use just Photoshop or another single application and/or upgrade rarely, there’s only a 50% chance that your costs will go up. Unfortunately, the other 50% chance is that they’ll go way up.

The core problem is that many people resist the notion of another monthly bill, like an additional insurance payment. They would rather buy software and use it until it doesn’t work anymore, rather than be compelled to pay—and to upgrade yearly! If you’re already doing high-end work on Mac Pros and Apple Cinema Display Rentals, running CS6 day and night, these new costs are probably incidental to you (or corporate accounting). For a freelancing college student or a self-employed designer, every penny counts.

Okay, then: Why?

Adobe claims that the move from CS to CC was done to put new features in the hands of users as easily and quickly as possible, instead of their waiting for yet another update or major release. The truth is probably a bit more complicated. Veteran Photoshop trainer John Arnold blogged that “50% of the people I talk to…are using a pirated copy [since] they feel they have to have it but they can’t afford it.” Arnold says the iconic program is “already way over priced” and “out of reach of most amateur photographers.”

Adobe has been having difficulty persuading creative freelancers and small firms—who are paying for render farms, mass storage, and other things—to pay for upgraded software when older (legacy) versions will do. (Microsoft and other companies seem to have decided that subscription services are the solution, too.) Low- and no-cost Photoshop alternatives on Mac and Windows include Rawstudio,GIMP, and GraphicConverter, all very good programs. However, Adobe products are uniformly excellent, and there is no way a pro CS user will ever accept a lesser program as a substitute.

Adobe Creative Cloud Software

 Verdict?

If you make money in modern media, you must have industry-standard tools. You have to have what you have to have, a circular logic that pro users—freelancers, corporate employees, educators, and grad students—recognize and accept. Both amateurs and certain professionals, however, will have the entire spectrum of reactions, considering the amazing range of people using Adobe products. Tell us your experiences and we’ll share them with other readers when we return to update you on this continuing saga.

CRE is the smart source (!) for everything you need, from high-powered computer rentals with Adobe software installed for graphics and post-production to audio visual (AV) equipment rentals . Your solutions on-site, on the road, or at a conference are all right here. Call an experienced Account Executive at (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit our Quick Rental Quote page if you know what you need. We are here, and we’re ready to help!

May 7th, 2013

Windows 8 RTIn all the talk about the never-ending debut of Windows 8—and there has been a veritable tidal wave of verbiage—there have been a few references to the inauspicious debut of New Coke in 1985. Last year, Microsoft tied a much-changed Windows 8 to its new Surface devices, wagering that a ton of marketing hoopla would establish them as competitors to our iPad rental. But the public isn’t buying it (or them). At the point in the New Coke story where the public made its preferences known, Coca-Cola did the right thing, right away. It brought the favored flavor back as “Classic Coke” while “unhitching the wagon” from the newfangled, widely detested recipe. Subsequent years saw huge sales increases for the firm.

The Coca-Cola chairman and CEO at the time, Roberto Goizueta, recounted the company’s New Coke maneuvers in a 1995 interview, declaring that company execs “really were ready to do whatever was necessary” to make things right. In Microsoft’s case, instead of acknowledging the problems, execs are doubling down on Metro. Many tech bloggers are ready to dump the “new, unimproved” Metro look in favor of getting Windows 7′s Aero UI back, or some of it, anyway. The question rang out on ZDNet: “Does [Microsoft chief Steve] Ballmer have the guts to admit he made a mistake and give users what they clearly want?” It’s a mystery, but there are a few clues, so let’s do some sleuthing…

Windows 8 and Windows RT sales

NetMarketShare regularly reports worldwide tech statistics, and the latest news about Windows 8 and Windows RT is not good at all. How “not good” is it? In April 2013′s report on OS use, Windows 8 was at a meager 3.82%, which means Windows 8 still lags behind Microsoft’s last OS failure, Vista, after about nine months on the market. Tablet PCs and other touchscreen devices with Windows 8 and Windows RT totaled 0.02% and 0.00%, respectively—and you read that last figure right. The launch of the Surface RT is probably the worst in Microsoft history.

Windows8Fail_Chart

The release of Windows 8.1 sometime next month will, according to top tech writer Mary Jo Foley, mark the return of the “lost” Start button, as well as an Aero-influenced UI. In a recent ZDNet debate, it was determined by a wide majority that Windows 8 had already failed, and the only remaining question was whether or not it could be saved. Now, there will always be the need for the desktop PC and general-purpose computer rental, so they’re not going away. So the next question is: Will Microsoft keep doubling down on Metro?

The future comes a day at a time

Sure, we’re moving into a new era, a “post-PC” future, with tablets and smartphones becoming more powerful, more necessary, more intimately integrated into our lives. Desktop PCs are not going away because of this, any more than mainframes disappeared when PCs debuted—because we regularly do any number of things that require an iMac or an HP Pavilion, things that can’t be done that easily with an Android tablet or an iPhone. Furthermore, even if it’s true that much of our computing (and even more of our storage) will be cloud-based, using a keyboard is still the easiest way for human beings to enter data besides dictation. (Think you can dictate an Excel spreadsheet?)

Windows 8 represents a colossal failure, and not just because of its bad design. If Microsoft stays the course it appears to have set—“appears” because so much is unknown, misunderstood, deceptive—it could be the end of Windows’ dominance in end-user computing. Such Wall Street denizens as KPCB (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers) and Goldman Sachs are on record stating that Windows market share has peaked. From here on, they imply, it’s downhill all the way to the dustbin of history. All we can tell you for certain is that we’ll keep you posted!

With wide-ranging, state-of-the-art expertise, our Account Executives can help you set up a new production workflow with a Mac Pro rental and mass storage, or show off your corporate pride with thoroughly modern and stylish trade show convention rentals. Call us at (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit the Quick Rental Quote form if you know what you need. Whenever you’re ready, we’re here to help!

April 18th, 2013

OneOffice 2.0 can find the beginnings of Web 2.0, that mythical/virtual world where Office 2.0 has its headquarters, all over the map of the high tech universe, as well as its timeline. In 1984, John Gage of Sun Microsystems said, “The network is the computer,” and suggested that joining that network, with yesterday’s PC or today’s iMac, further empowers us all. Such thinking, plus inevitable technological progress, was widely predicted to bring Web 2.0 to fruition, well, any minute now.

Office 2.0 … slowly but surely

“Web 2.0″ and “Office 2.0″ were long ago pressed into service as marketing terms, with great buzz potential but no standardized definitions. Clearly, however, they both seek to position the Internet as a computing, communications, and collaboration platform by leveraging emerging technologies. As these changes usher in a wealth of interactive tools and capabilities, the web is no longer a one-way street. With everything from smartphones to ipad rentals offering wi-fi today, the pioneers of network computing certainly appear vindicated.

Now, by using the Internet as a common platform; creating intimately responsive web pages for 3.5-inch phone screens and 30-inch Apple Cinema Display rentals; and providing more effective collaboration via social networking, wikis, and blogs, corporate managers with a Web 2.0 environment have more flexibility than ever to support the differing needs of “everyone in the office” (plus some who are not in the office) with Office 2.o approaches.

2.0 technologies – signs of the times

A simple example of Office 2.0 in use is the personal (and personalized) “start page,” an easy preference setting in any modern browser. (Outside the corporate environment, social networks like Facebook have taken over from independent start pages.) Another characteristic of “2.0″ technologies, devices, and operating systems is extensibility. This describes an architecture that is open enough now to accommodate existing needs (like allowing web access from your MacBook Pro rental in addition to your home computer) and amenable to adding new capabilities later.

From a simple starting point for searching and browsing, the early “start pages” have evolved to include widgets, apps, and feeds for keeping tabs on the weather, managing to-do lists, scheduling calendar events, watching the news (on a text or visual feed), and checking e-mail. More and more people are using start pages that are configured entirely to be “workspaces in the cloud” with Microsoft-compatible apps, as much as 10GB of storage, and first-rate security. Office 2.0 is meant to be all this, and more.

The benefits of Office 2.0

The positive things about Office 2.0 are quite clear after millions of hours and trillions of bytes, and include:

reduced support costs, since IT personnel won’t have 11, 32, or 1716 software upgrades to do, or 10 kinds of presentation programs to explain and troubleshoot;

increased productivity, where gains in productivity, some argued about and disputed, come from advantages both large and small of the shared environment, from ease of collaboration to new connections impossible within previous hierarchies; and

flexibility and independence, because the single central location for all files and applications, as well as e-mail and video-call connectivity, lets employees work (even be at work) in any location with web access.

Corporate users can choose any device, or several in several places, running any modern web browser. In fact, there’s no better way to inaugurate your own Office 2.0 transition than to rent laptops from CRE that are especially configured to put your team on your new platform.

The downside

The major drawback of Office 2.0 is security, but of a slightly different kind. A plumbing firm may be comfortable having its financial records on another company’s servers, but a bank might not be. Besides encryption solutions, some enterprising firms lease entire servers, the same way CRE rents Xserve RAID units. The leased servers are for organizations that prefer security under their own control. Other solutions, such as more and better cloud desktops, are coming every day.

Count on CRE to keep you updated! A call to (877) 266-7725 or a short message will put an expert Account Executive to work finding solutions for you. If you know what you need, visit our Quick Rental Quote form (and right now is fine).

August 9th, 2012

NetbookNetbooks were set to take over the world just a few years ago. Optimized for social media and web surfing, these smaller, lighter offerings flooded the market, especially Europe. Now no one even uses the word, much less the (original) devices. What happened, and what can we learn from it? Let’s take a look.

What’s in a name?

With the introduction of the Asus Eee PC in 2007, the term “netbook” gained currency. Acer Aspire models were also popular, due in no small part to the ease with which one could install OS X on them (and pretend to own a MacBook). Then, after a couple of roller coaster years, netbooks started losing that “cool” factor. And when CRE stocked its first iPad rental in 2010, it signaled the end of the upward curve for netbooks. By mid-2011 the netbook craze was over.

After being trumpeted as the most significant computer innovation since the trackpad (maybe the Magic Trackpad?), the netbook was finally seen for what it was – an inexpensive mini-laptop with no optical drive. With most keyboards too small for serious work and the CPUs generally underwhelming, the traveling professionals that were field-testing them finally gave up. It made more sense to buy or rent laptops with desktop-level power, since a new generation of potent CPUs was beginning to provide it.

Cupertino category killers

A two-round volley from Apple put the final kibosh on netbooks. First, in 2010 the iPad immediately captured the entire world’s imagination (like iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 are doing now, before they’re even released). If you just needed a tool for browsing, e-mail and buying the occasional widget, you could now do so with the iPad – along with a slew of other handheld devices, smart phones and tablet PC rentals. With both Apple and Android devices now flooding the market, there is no reason to maintain an artificial product category like “netbook.”

The second move from Apple was the repositioning of the MacBook Air. Initially underpowered and under-loved, the model had been around a short time when Apple gave it that 11-inch screen. Diminutive and super light, the upgraded Air sported a full-sized keyboard while its souped-up components made it a true desktop-replacement machine.

If you don’t want to use a Mac, the “Ultrabook” form factor is the Next Big Thing in PC laptops. With proper CPUs, generous helpings of RAM, huge amounts of SSD storage and full-size keyboards, connectors, ports and plugs, Ultrabooks are real computers ready for real work. To summarize: “Netbook” is dead, “Ultrabook” is ascendant – and we’ll keep you posted on what comes next!

CRE Account Executives can recommend the appropriate PC desktop computer rental for your expanded telemarketing project, as well as processing and storage technology for post-production work. One call or e-mail, or a trip to our Quick Rental Quote page, is all it takes!

June 12th, 2012

Google’s Chrome Web browser just keeps getting better, with some pundits calling the recent release, Chrome 19, ”perfect.” Google has a Chrome Operating System (OS), too, but it has yet to make low-cost “Chromebooks” a viable replacement when you need to rent laptops that offer desktop-grade power. Chrome the web browser, on the other hand, is a huge international hit.

Chrome Browser

Chrome rules

Chrome rules now. As of May 2012, Chrome had 33% of the world browser market, inching past Internet Explorer (IE) in a big PR win for the California company. Microsoft had gotten quite used to being #1, while Apple is content to have browser share beyond its computer share (Safari is for Windows, too). Want your iMac rental outfitted with Chrome, IE, Safari or all three? Just ask.

Chrome 19’s most useful new feature is tab syncing. Chrome has always been a great “syncer” and now – in addition to apps, history, themes and other settings – you can sync your open tabs. This works with all your computers, from your home PC and office workstation to the MacBook Pro rental you got for that upcoming conference. Further, it will also work with any smart phone running on Android Ice Cream Sandwich with a copy of the Chrome beta release for Android. Warning: Don’t leave your work PC on with this feature engaged unless you want all your coworkers to see that you download Hannah Montana posters at home.

Privacy, security upgrades

Of course, Chrome has all the privacy tweaks you need. Head to the Options menu, then to the Under the Hood tab. From there you can control what goes on with cookies (now including Flash cookies), JavaScript, image displays, pop-ups, plug-ins and location data. This is definitely the browser to run if you are setting up a conference booth or breakout session and want to put live Internet on some plasma display rentals – the control is total and nearly glitch-free.

Some users reported trouble with Chrome 18, the last version, particularly under the Windows 7 OS (64-bit). Two different reviewers this past month decided to try duplicating the problems, which seem to occur when multiple tabs with heavy Flash requirements are open. On powerful systems, neither tester could cause a crash. Bottom line? “I can’t say that you won’t have problems with this new version of Chrome,” concluded one reviewer. “All I can say is that on my Windows 7 box, and on my various Linux and Mac boxes as well, Chrome 19 never faltered no matter how heavy a load I put on it.”

No matter how heavy a load is put on you, CRE is here to help. Whether you need trade show convention rentals or high-end post gear, help is always a single call or e-mail away. If you know what you need, visit our Quick Rental Quote page and be done in minutes!

June 7th, 2012

There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of different web browsers that you can get from open-source apps to The Big Guns (Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Opera). Today we will bring you up-to-date  on the pros and cons of the top web browsers to ensure that you know how to meet your web browsing needs.

Top 5 Web Browsers

In reviewing information from Tom’s Hardware, CNET.com and other sources, we found a solid consensus on the top five browsers. Here are the top five browsers:

Internet Explorer (current version 9) is notorious for not following standards. The famous “Destroyer of Netscape Navigator” has a huge installed base – it’s on our PC desktop computer rentals – but in one tech site’s “browser showdown”,IE finished dead last in over half the 20-odd tests. Its media tools are good with Silverlight excelling at interactive media, but one of the “showdown” judges said that IE’s overall results were “nothing less than sad.”

Opera (current version 12) was one of the first browsers, debuting in 1996. It is considered a RAM hog, but in test after test is a close second to Chrome in speed. Many creative pros, including CRE customers working with AJA IO HD and other potent technology, seem to gravitate to Opera, possibly due to the company culture (old hippies?).

Safari (current version 5.1.6) is not “the world’s fastest web browser.” Chrome is the true “speed champ” and Opera beats Safari, too. On  iMac rental, Safari is tightly integrated into the OS, an advantage it loses when running on Windows – and which may have kept it out of first place. Overall, Safari is still behind Google – for now.

Firefox (current version 13) goes back to the 1990s and is an international presence. Although a test judge noted its “staggering number of customization options,” Firefox has somehow managed to lose its edge. Tablet PC rentals and touch devices make use of some of its custom strengths, but as a go-to browser, Firefox loses to all but IE.

Chrome (current version 19) is the undisputed winner of all the browser comparisons it has appeared in. In fact, Google’s browser has so very many unique, powerful features that it deserves its own blog. Look for that next time, on Tuesday, June 12th.

In the meantime, look to CRE when you need to impress a conference crowd with plasma display rentals or furnish an entire breakout room. Media professionals appreciate our huge inventory of Xserve RAID rentals, potent Mac towers and monstrous mass storage devices. One call or e-mail, or a short visit to our Quick Rental Quote page, and you’re back to work!

May 24th, 2012

It started with “enterprise software” companies like Oracle and Microsoft offering ever-more-centralized control over a firm’s data, storage and workflows. Now Adobe Systems and other SaaSsoftware makers are jumping on the bandwagon, too, giving startup firms and solo professionals some of the flexibility they need to compete with “the biggies.”

We’re talking about software subscriptions, a niche within a large new tech service category known as Software as a Service (SaaS). While some tech categories are dead (netbooks) or dying a slow death (fax machines), subscription software packages are booming. Let’s take a look.

Subscription software options = advantages

Reasons both economic and managerial can support choosing subscription software services over buying programs outright. Whether you’re running Microsoft Office on a PC desktop computer rental or a 3D design package on a top-rated Macintosh, you now have options you didn’t have just a few years ago.

Of course, even when you pay $1,000+ for Adobe Creative Suite, you don’t “own” the software. Rather, you have a license to use it, a “perpetual” one that lasts forever. The downside? It doesn’t matter if you’re using a PC, an iMac or a laptop – updates, upgrades and ongoing tech support are not free, and can be as much as 20-25% of the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Make your best subscription deal

With a subscription deal, you pay for a certain term (a month-to-month or year-long agreement) and can’t use the software if you don’t renew. For example, if you decide to rent laptops for your conference team, and need special software installed, the cost-effective way would be short-term subscriptions or other SaaS arrangement. For longer periods, cost effectiveness improves, as upgrades, support and repairs are all included in your recurring payments.

You will always need the latest version of the program(s) you and your firm rely on daily, so the subscription model is best if you have a tight budget. Like plasma display rentals from CRE, your software rental is always ready to work, will be replaced immediately if defective and is guaranteed to do the job. There does come a point at which a purchase makes sense, but this differs for everyone and the variables are quite numerous. Rely on your trusted number cruncher to advise you.

If your company needs a dozen tablet PCs, a breakout session setup or a range of trade show convention rentals, then CRE is where it’s at. Just call or e-mail an experienced Account Executive. Know what you need already? Visit our Quick Rental Quote form and you’ll be on your way in no time!

May 17th, 2012

In Part 1, we reviewed the progress of PC technology in 2011 and pointed to the probable advances of 2012 – faster graphics, better tablets but no real increase in CPU potency. Today, we will add some details to the ultrabook tale (mentioned in Part 1), and tell you how a special version of the upcoming Windows 8 will challenge the reigning tablet champ, the iPad rental.

Laptops of the future?

Apple may not have invented the “ultrabook” form factor – ultra-light, ultra-thin, ultra-capable-for-its-size and equipped with a Solid State Drive (SSD) – but its MacBook Air was the first to market. From the original Bondi Blue iMac to the upcoming iPhone 5, Apple products have always carried a price premium, as they are well designed, well made and highly coveted. Now that the Air has the latest Intel chips, plus other upgrades like the super speedy Thunderbolt that debuted in early 2011 on the MacBook Pro rental, its price is surprisingly competitive.

In 2012, we will likely see successive waves of low-priced ultrabooks from the big guns in PC manufacturing. The “sweet spot” for pricing is under $1,000, much less than current high-end “thin and light” notebooks from Sony, Acer and Dell. By the third quarter of 2012, according to more than a few pundits, you’ll have your choice of a wide range of light, high-powered, Windows-based notebooks that will run all day on a single charge while offering the computing experience of a capable PC desktop computer rental.

Windows 8 tablet strategy

According to many of the same pundits that got the ultrabook prediction right, last year was to have witnessed a “tablet transition” with Apple’s iPad pushing the tablet “paradigm” into the mainstream. They got that one wrong, but clearly Microsoft is now taking mobile platforms seriously, so this particular prediction is being recycled for 2012. The “mobile edition” of Windows 8 – for pads, phones and tablet PC rentals – will have a proper touch interface born of Windows Phone and its leading edge UI (User Interface), Metro.

The arrival of Windows 8 also raises questions about the future of the PC, which until now has been based on what’s called the “x86″ processor family. Is a PC still a PC without an x86 processor? The fact is, Microsoft will ship a version of Windows 8 with support for ARM (WOA, Windows On ARM) as well as one for x86 processors, the former for mobile devices and the latter for desktop PCs. It will be interesting to see how it all works out – and we’ll keep you posted!

CRE is ready to supply you with the finest trade show convention rentals as well as whatever post-production gear, high-end A/V equipment, monitors, touch screens, workstations and computers you need to get the job done. Call or e-mail an Account Executive – or use our Quick Rental Quote form – to get the right solution, right now!

May 15th, 2012

Apple scores the most headlines, but far more people in the world use Windows PCs than Macintoshes. 2011 brought speed increases for buyers of some new PC and Mac models, but progress by Intel was nearly canceled out by the flop of AMD’s so-called “Intel-killer” chip, nicknamed Bulldozer. Still, Intel helped the iMac achieve power rankings in Mac Pro territory with the latest, third-generation “Core-i” chips.

Ironically, now that a basic PC desktop computer rental can sport a high-end CPU – and since AMD is no competition – speed gains are no longer Intel’s “goal #1.” The newest Core i7, the fastest PC processor ever, is only marginally speedier than its predecessor. Even with two of its six cores turned off, it powers some iMacs past a Mac Pro rental in speed tests. That’s why Apple is reconsidering the future of its tower models (more in an upcoming blog).

What’s coming in 2012?

The modest progress in CPU power was widely expected, but so too were advances in graphics processors – and Android tablets were going to take over the world at $99, remember? For 2012, the following developments seem likely:

• CPUs will take a back seat to GPUs (Graphics Processor Units);

• Android tablet makers will finally field a worthy competitor to the  mighty iPad rental; and

• light, thin laptops from numerous makers – with SSDs (Solid State Drives)  – will try to knock off the “original Ultrabook,” the MacBook Air.

The CPU/GPU scene

There won’t be a big increase in core count or clock speed in 2012, with the former number maxing out at four (“quad-core”) and the latter at 3.5GHz (3.9 with Turbo). But potent integrated graphics means speedy encoding times, and images will get to plasma display rentals or other high-end monitors with greater speed, resolution and clarity.

Summarizing PC hardware trends for 2012, we expect to see:

• the race for the fastest PC chip to slow down, as Intel’s Core i7 outperforms the competition even with two of six cores turned off;

• graphics performance to make gains in 2012, meaning Apple Cinema Display rentals will look better, react faster, reproduce color more accurately and use less electricity; and

• the new Ultrabook form factor to pack desktop power into an under-two-pound, half-inch thick form factor. (If you want to see the future now, check out the Asus Zenbook. More on Ultrabooks in Part 2.)

At CRE, we serve experts in post-production who need render farms and other high-end gear, just as we serve marketing managers who need trade show convention rentals. If you know what you need, use our Quick Rental Quote form. But if you need help to overcome today’s bottlenecks – and prepare for tomorrow’s – then one call or e-mail puts you in touch with an expert Account Executive. Just let us know how can we help!

Watch for PC Progress in 2012, Part 2 on Thursday, May 17th.

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