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January 7th, 2015

If onDSCN4301fe of the goals of your business event is to engage your attendees (of course it is!), then gamification is one of the best techniques that you can utilize. Studies are revealing more and more proof that games—and the gamification of business goals—are excellent at increasing interaction, retention, and attendee satisfaction. It’s an all-around win!

Simply put, there are basic and fundamental reasons why gamification increases interaction at business events, meetings, trade show exhibits, training sessions, and more. Consider these reasons:

  1. Games are fun—whenever and wherever people gather for recreation and socializing, games are present. From darts, billiards, and pinball, to bingo, bridge, and poker, games are the ideal way to pass the time, entertaining ourselves while engaging with the people around us. No matter whether you win or lose, what matters is that you PLAY!
  2. People love a challenge—while it’s easy to say that it’s not about winning, it’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t rise to the challenge! The moment we step “up to the plate” (or table, or board, or screen) we immediately begin to dream of winning it all—BIG TIME! While the competitive nature certainly varies from person to person, it’s hard to find someone that just can’t wait to come in . . . last. Our brains, our senses become heightened the moment that we discover our reputation is on the line.
  3. No one likes to be left out—it’s impossible not to be drawn to a group of people who are laughing and exclaiming over their triumphs and failures as they all strive toward a common goal. Maybe we don’t have the skills to be actually competing on the field at the professional level or have the courage to risk it all when the stakes are high—but you CAN bet that we’re fascinated by people that DO have the skills and the courage. There’s a reason that reality competition TV shows are so popular. Even when we’re not in the running, a good game is too much fun to ignore!
  4. Games run on participation—a video game without players is just a frozen image. Without players, packs of cards or board games are just pieces of cardboard and paper. The human element is what brings games “to life”—and conversely, games bring life to us!

CRE Rentals has the computer servers, iPad rentals, audience response systems, and touchscreen monitors that can help you bring the excitement and energy of gamification to your next corporate event!

June 26th, 2012

On Monday, June 18th, Microsoft staged a media event almost as stylish and savvy as an Apple press party, with CEO Steve Ballmer announcing “a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft.” Of course, Ballmer was speaking about his firm’s iPad competitor, the new Microsoft Surface tablet, so he meant “new to Microsoft” as opposed to “new to the world.” While the latter would have really been like an Apple announcement, Microsoft’s tablet is still a bold move for several reasons.

 

Microsoft Surface specs

Microsoft Surface TabletMicrosoft’s “new family” begins with two models, both under two pounds with 10.6-inch screens and similar magnesium cases (built-in stand, cameras front and back, keyboard and trackpad in the cover). Both models will run the new Windows 8 OS, with the 1.5-lb., 9mm-thick basic unit getting the “low-power” RT build with the “Metro” tile interface. The 2-lb., 13.5mm-thick Pro will compete with our iPad rental and other high-end tablets, pairing Metro with a full Windows desktop. Intel’s powerful Ivy Bridge chip lets users type on the Pro keyboard, use fingers on its touchscreen or write with a stylus.

The basic model comes with 32 or 64GB of memory, the Pro with 64 or 128. Some vital specs were not discussed, including screen resolution, battery, release date or price. (Windows 8 is set to debut “later this year” so it will obviously be after that.) The original ancestor of our iMac rental was a “Bondi Blue” piece of eye candy in a putty-colored PC world, and now the Surface tablet is breaking the mold, too (albeit 15 years later). The design is “über-modern,” stressing flat, black, thin and shiny for the hardware, perhaps to balance the “Disneyland look” of Metro tiles.

Sink or swim for Microsoft?

The Surface tablet is an uncharacteristically risky move by Microsoft, driven, some say, by a “loss of faith” in its corporate partners. The Xbox game console is one of the few hardware successes from the Redmond firm, as the Zune music player was discontinued and the KIN phones for teens lasted about a month. Microsoft dominates personal computing with its software (DOS, Windows, Office), and Windows 8 is the first “MS OS” designed for everything from desktops and tablet PC rentals to mobile touchscreen devices.

MS boss Ballmer said the company “took the time to get Windows 8 and Surface right,” and went on to call the new MS tablet “a tool to surface your passions and creativity.” Whenever the Surface debuts (autumn or ?) the tech world will be watching to see if the new device sinks or swims. We’ll keep you posted!

It’s hard to separate facts from rumors, but we do it every day to keep you informed and productive. Whether you need the best trade show convention rentals or humongous mass storage for post-production, a single e-mail or call does it all (or use our Quick Rental Quote page if you know what you need).

March 27th, 2012

Before today’s tablets, devices like tablet PC rentals ran the special “pen-driven” Windows OS and offered some of the flexibility – in mobility, input, display, etc. – that we now love about tablet technology. As with any “hot new product” there are now both high- and low-end tablet makers rushing to supply this growing market.

While cheap tablets rarely lead in power or build quality, they often introduce new features that, following consumer acceptance, end up on higher-end models – all of which are chasing the Big Kahuna, Apple’s iPad. Today we will take a look at the top three Android tablets from Samsung, Asus and Sony.

Samsung Galaxy Tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Pros: Also a Honeycomb device, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 combines a complete Android experience with Samsung’s nifty custom touches. It’s (most) everything you love about the Galaxy Tab 10.1, reduced about 10% in size and weight.

Cons: Some users will miss the ports, and the plastic rear cover is a little cheesy next to the world’s best industrial designs like the iMac (and everything else with an Apple logo on it).

Verdict: Samsung is one of the leading firms working against the “one-size-fits-all” trend in technology, and the Galaxy Tab 8.9 is a powerful argument.

Asus Transformer Prime

Pros: The Asus Transformer Prime is the most like an iPad (a bit thinner, almost as light) but adds a microSD slot, micro-HDMI port and an 8-megapixel camera that numerous reviewers call the best of any tablet. The Prime runs the latest Android release, Ice Cream Sandwich, and docks on a special keyboard for laptop-type use.

Cons: The quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU, powerful enough for a PC desktop computer rental, is not fully utilized in some apps and games, so video can suffer. The top-heavy Prime tends to separate from the keyboard, and both screen and bezel are fingerprint magnets.

Verdict: The Asus Transformer Prime is arguably the best of the best, a svelte but full-featured Android unit with quality materials and a superior camera.

Sony Tablet S

Pros: The Sony Tablet S is not your typical tablet. It runs Honeycomb, the OS that came right before Ice Cream Sandwich, but distinguishes itself with great proprietary apps, PlayStation-certified gaming, DLNA music/video streaming and a universal remote control.

Cons: It’s a Sony. It’s not cheap (even the charger is proprietary, so replacing it will be costly) and a few reviewers have griped about insufficient screen brightness.

Verdict: Sony didn’t rush the Tablet S to market, as it did with the ill-fated Dash. It’s solid and dependable, which should appeal to plenty of non-Apple folks.

If your company needs a dozen tablets, we can explain why it makes sense to rent vs. buy any needed technology. It’s different for every business so call or e-mail an experienced Account Executive and talk about it. Know what you need? Hit our Quick Rental Quote form and you’ll be on your way in no time!

April 15th, 2010

Apple did it again, apparently. On the first day of availability, the company sold over 300,000 iPads. Apple's iPadAs of 10pm Thursday, April 8, the total was approaching 600,000, and between 3.5 and 4 million apps had been downloaded for the device. This has left some tech bloggers and perennially pouting anti-Apple pundits perplexed, as many had predicted a dud.

The “dud” warnings were not all based on insignificant details, however, and the iPad does deserve some smacks for obvious weaknesses – such as having no webcam, doing no multitasking and being, in essence, a big iPhone.  Of all these shortcomings, the notion that one has to quit browsing to look up a phone number or send a quick e-mail is perhaps the most distressing, which is why multitasking was the first of the upgrade announcements that got the Apple fan community chatting (even before the first sale).

Where’s the iPad competition?

One reason the competition has been a bit quiet (or, at least, dispersed) is that both the public and the gadget makers call the iPad a lot of different things. This means a range of competitive strategies and no “critical mass” of focused opposition. Is the Kindle book-reader a competitor? Well, for e-book readers, perhaps. Is the Neofonie WePad overpriced, with too few Android offerings? What are the big boys – Dell, HP, Asus, Acer – doing in this product niche?

HP, for its part, sees the iPad’s screen resolution, Wi-Fi capability, long battery life and mid-range cost as strengths that its long-awaited Slate cannot match. On the other hand, its core hardware specs – CPU, hard drive, USB port, SD card slot, front- and rear-facing cameras, a screen that supports digitizer-based input – are clearly to the Slate’s advantage. Of course, it is the seamless, near-magical “Apple user experience” that is the joker in this high-tech deck of cards.

Spec comparison: iPad vs. competitor-like “Pad”

Fusion Garage JooJooLike the Fusion Garage Joojoo and the WePad, Slate has a 1.6GHz Atom processor that is quite a bit beefier than Apple’s own A4 chip, and will take the HP unit from its Windows 7 Home Premium default installation to any of the many solid Linux OS packages. The USB 2 port and the two cameras are great, too, but Apple already planned for a camera (the spot for it is molded into the iPad case already) and has now addressed other shortcomings that its legions of fans pointed out en masse.

In fact, Apple has already announced plans for a smaller, 5- to 7-inch screen unit, to be focused more on output (music, Web, e-books) than input (typing especially). HP’s Slate has a smaller screen and a netbook standard resolution of 1024×600. Surprisingly for an on-the-go device, HP is coming up 50 percent short in battery life compared to the iPad. The Joojoo and WePad have decent battery life, but when Acer, Asus and some other heavyweights (Nokia? Samsung?) weigh in with their iPad-killers, they had better have more juice than the Slate if they want a good share of this new market.

How do you see the iPad integrating into the corporate environment? Do you plan on using one this year? We’d love to hear from you on this.

In the meantime, when you are faced with crunch time, like a new project with no available workstations, we are here to keep you moving forward. For everything from Mac Pro rentals to tablet pc rentals, and everything you need to attend or exhibit at a convention or conference, call or send an e-mail to our expert Account Executives today. If you know what you need, complete our Quick Rental Quote form now.

February 4th, 2010

The rumors met reality on January 27th as Apple unveiled its iPad tablet. As opposed to the iPhone launch, however, this one was not met with 100% support from the Apple/Mac fan community. In fact, some folks were downright displeased, predicting failure with a capital “F.” Of course, only time will tell, but right now we know all the specs and can at least tell you the pluses and minuses of the device.

iPad from Apple

Ups and downs

The first thing you need to know is that the iPad is not a small MacBook in tablet form. It’s a big iPhone, except that the only kind of calling you can do is VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) with WiFi and a tool like Skype. Lacking a webcam, of course, means voice only, no cool video chats. The unit will run all the iPhone Apps, although it will have its own Apple store.

It’s not a Kindle-killer, either. Amazon’s one-trick pony is perfect for the one trick it does – let you read, even in direct sunlight, with its e-ink technology. When Amazon did its research, it discovered that having color, WiFi, a browser and lots of other doohickeys interrupted people’s concentration on reading. Plus, the iPad has perhaps 8-10 hours of battery time, whereas the Kindle and the Sony e-book readers go 150-200 hours on a charge.

The specs

The specifications are at least as interesting for what is missing as what is there. Powered by a special, Apple-designed, 1GHz A4 chip built by PA Semiconductor, the iPad comes with 16, 32 or 64GB of solid state flash storage, but there is no separate graphics chip, so no multitasking – you can do one thing at a time. The color screen is 9.7 inches, but it won’t display most of the video on the Web (except YouTube) because there is no Flash support. With all the Flash on the Internet, this is a total head-scratcher. Neither is there a USB port, just the single Dock Connector, which accommodate special (and, ahem, separately priced) adapters for a USB connection or an SD card reader.

What it does have is: WiFi in the latest 802.11b/g/n variety; Bluetooth, so you can use a wireless keyboard, at least if you’re at a table, instead of the on-screen iPhone-y keyboard; and a 3G version coming out a month after the base model. There’s also a microphone, speaker, headphone jack, digital compass, a few sensors (light, accelerometer, proximity) and A-GPS, “Assisted GPS.”

Bottom line

Just a tad smaller than a regular magazine and weighing 1.5 pounds, the iPad is hardly a shirtpocket take-along. It needs a case so you won’t scratch it, and a data plan with AT&T so you can use the WiFi or 3G. What remains to be seen is, Who will buy this thing? Apple fans with iPhones already shell out to AT&T, so it’s hard to believe they’ll double their monthly bill for a larger iPhone with little added functionality. MacBook Pro rentals at CRE won’t be threatened, since the iPad doesn’t run any Mac software. People who are PC-centric and don’t like Apple in the first place are hardly going to rush out to buy this device, either.

The iPad appears to a number of observers to be the first pure entertainment play from Apple since the iPod. It is not a productivity enhancer, not easy to use as a phone or book reader, has a closed platform that may hinder third-party development and costs from $500 to over $800 in a somewhat bizarre pricing structure. It just may be that Apple has made an expensive toy for jetsetters and tech collectors, but if you see the “Steve Jobs magic” at work again, post a comment and let us know!

In the meantime, for true Apple productivity, CRE has the Mac Pro rentals and laptops, along with convention technology and everything else you need from Apple, H-P and other companies. From office equipment to Audience Response System rentals, our Account Executives have the expertise and the equipment to help you get the job done. Call, send an e-mail or fill out the Quick Rental Quote form and we’ll get right on it for you.

May 21st, 2009

There’s no question about it. We’re going to need some new product names or acronyms, and soon. Taiwanese computer maker Asus is set to debut its Eee PC T91 touch-screen convertible-tablet netbook laptop computer, and it’s unlikely tech scribes will want to write that verbose description for very long. Although the components are made of plastic, metal and silicon instead of potatoes, perhaps we can dub it the EBOC (“Everything and a Bag Of Chips”).

Tablet PCs have been around as long as laptops, although they have never quite caught on the way that a few score marketing departments thought they would. Tablet PC rentals from CRE Computer makers are beginning to get interested in the form factor again—the market is presently dominated by Motion Computing, Lenovo, Fujitsu, HP-Compaq, Toshiba and just a few others—following the raging success of light, web-centric netbooks. The entry point remains very accommodating, too, with HP-Compaq’s TC1100 at a street price under $600. Top-of-the-line tablets can cost up to five times as much, depending on how much internal zing and external bling is required.

Seems a solid niche

It would seem that the tablet PC should have a very solid niche for certain functions and activities. It’s a no-brainer, or should be, for purchasing and stores clerks, various mobile workers and medical professionals. For all of these people—and anyone else that will attend one, two or 20 conferences, conventions, seminars or training sessions every year—the combination of portability, first-rate handwriting recognition and WiFi is right on target. In fact, the handwriting recognition in Windows XP is downright crude compared to the “ink handling system” of the Windows Tablet OS.

For its promoters, it’s always the “next year” or the “next great product intro” that is finally going to lift the tablet PC off the launching pad that it’s been sitting on since its debut. For some of its intended demographic, it may have waited too long, as low-end, no-wireless-needed note-takers can now get into “digital ink” for just about $100. With such products as the Adesso CyberPad, one can transfer handwritten notes and graphics to the PC, converting the handwriting to text and the doodles into vector or bitmap graphics. A number of different digital ink solutions are just now percolating up into the market.

A “green convention” winner

The tablet PC today is, despite its slow acceptance in some circles, an important ingredient in the formula for “green conventions.” An astonishing amount of paper, ink, time, energy and money goes into printing and disseminating millions of convention brochures, programs, maps, registration forms and (of course) dinner menus, year after year. There is a better way.

A convention strategized around wireless PCs—from basic netbooks at a minimum, to tablet PCs with their note-taking abilities as the preferred unit—can save trees, reduce pollution and minimize waste. Perhaps this really is “the year” that the tablet PC breaks through a low-price barrier and catches on with consumers. Perhaps these new tablet-slash-netbook products like the Eee PC T91 really are the ones that will do that. As for what to call them—TabBooks, NetTabs, Booklets, whatever—we’ll leave that to the marketing departments, but if you have a good idea, drop us a line!