It took a while, but cooler heads are now prevailing in the discussion about whether or not professionals in film, TV, video, and the Web should continue with Apple on its Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) journey. In one of the best recent round-ups of opinion, Mac Daily News had a month-long thread in its forum about FCPX that was so productive, so informative, that one forum reader (“reader”) felt obliged to say, “What a relief to have [this] conversation without name calling or political thread-jacking!”
There is one big difference in the current discussion compared to last year’s: Leaving FCPX no longer means ditching Apple hardware (the new Mac Pro that media mavens are drooling over, the mighty MacBook Pro rental). It began as (almost) a Mac vs. Windows thing, but with the improvements to Adobe Premiere and other competing products it has become more of a software battle on OS X territory. That’s a bit better for Apple’s bottom line, but still leaves a lot to fight for.
Entertainment professionals speak out
One pro TV editor who “used FCP extensively for many years” at a national TV production company says there are 30 editing suites there, and FCP X is not running on any of them. He says some users moved to Avid (on Mac and PC), others to Premiere, as the omission of OMF export (Open Media Framework) from FCPX for the first year sent “a clear signal to pro users” that they were no longer the target demographic. This editor concludes that “Apple chose to make FCPX into a semi-pro” product (emphasis in original). Is the eventual target the iOS user?
Pro editors, confirms another “reader”, are now using Adobe Premiere CC (or 6), Avid Media Composer 7, and even FCP 7 (which can handle the 1080HD format). As FCPX is to software like the iMac is to hardware, one editor is certain that Apple does not want to “support the pro user.” She says this is “understandable, looking at [Apple’s] evolution direction.” Understanding, however, only goes so far—in this case, not that far. “I can still work on FCP 7,” one comments, “but how much longer? 1-2 years, I think.”
Slow Death or Revival?
Perhaps some of the most distressing news for FCPX (all of which you can get from an ongoing FCPX forum at CreativeCOW) comes from the editing suite rental companies. A manager of one such firm reports that, among the freelance editors over the past year, “By far the least used app is FCPX,” while Adobe Premiere is picking up fans fast. Checking his logs reveals that FCPX “has been used 3 times in 2 years [and mostly] for very small jobs.” This manager minces no words: “It was dead on arrival and is still dead.”
No matter which editing software you need, CRE Rentals has the latest PC, Mac computer rental to get your project done. We have served entertainment clients for over 30 years and are an experienced technology rental provider. Give us a call today at 1-877-266-7725 or contact us to learn more about our rentals and services.
The mid-June introduction of the new Macintosh Pro, a futuristic 10-inch-tall rocket (or silo, or trash can) of a computer with radically revised approaches to construction and operation, has added more fuel to one of the oldest fires in the history of tech-head in-fighting: customization, especially internal vs. external expansion. This new Apple model, which could join the existing version in our Mac Pro rental inventory come fall, is the perfect example of a new PC paradigm that redefines expansion, customization, and upgrading.
A little background
It was the 1970s that saw the first attempts at scaling down “computing machines” to something smaller than a commercial refrigerator. The Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Altair, and Commodore logos were among the first to decorate the “microcomputers” that flooded the market by the end of the decade. Numerous OS versions, lack of broad standards, poor build quality, and other problems abounded. We can date the beginning of standardization to the release of the IBM PC (IBM 5150) in 1981.
This IBM PC’s case was built to allow for repair, expansion, connectivity, and future developments. Essentially, IBM standardized the motherboard design, used replaceable RAM, established the serial, parallel, keyboard/mouse, and peripheral connections, and installed MS-DOS. The paradigm: Tower or box case with open slots, open drive bays, power connectors, and room for various plug-in cards. This paradigm has aged for decades now, through different case form factors, expansion card designs, and cooling systems, but the changes have been evolutionary, not revolutionary. Tomorrow’s new PC paradigm, though—an entirely different approach—is suggested by the new Mac Pro.
Apple has a plan
Through the years, higher-end PCs started getting separate (discrete) GPUs to power better graphics, and now WiFi and Bluetooth are standard in most models. As a leading supplier of Xserve RAID units and similar solutions, we at CRE know that “there’s never enough storage.” Some people want extra hard drives inside their PC case to minimize the “rat’s nest” of wires and plugs, but the iMac and other all-in-ones already make this expansion impossible. If there is room in your PC’s case, installing additional devices adds heat, the dissipation of which often requires active cooling. But wireless hard drives are available, and getting cheaper all the time. Hmmm…
The new Mac Pro, with its revolutionary “triangular core” cooling design, has no internal room for additional drives, and the PCIe card with the flash drive is proprietary (so it seems you can only get a bigger flash drive through Apple at this point). The only user-serviceable parts are the RAM modules (four slots). But with six Thunderbolt 2 connections (on three controllers), four USB 3 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet, and HDMI 1.4, external expansion is easy. Each Thunderbolt 2 port supports up to six devices, and with the USB and all the rest (don’t forget the WiFi and Bluetooth) there will be no problem connecting anything and everything.
Housekeeping issues? Okay, a few
Cable management is not that difficult, and should be eased by the number of wireless options you have. In summary, here are the main reasons that external expansion could be the new PC paradigm:
At CRE, we are committed to the smooth running of yourbusiness, and the troubleshooting of your problems. Perhaps you need render farms to push a few projects out the door. Maybe you want to to pull people to your booth at an upcoming conference with some great trade show convention rentals arranged just right (we help with that, too). Call us at (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit the Quick Rental Quote page and tell us what you need. We are always ready to lend a hand! Call now!
Apple fans and detractors alike enjoy the firm’s conferences, like the recent WWDC 2013, because both groups eagerly await the latest and greatest from Cupertino—one to praise the firm, one to pick on its “fanboyz.” This year’s WWDC delivered a host of new goodies, from upgraded MacBook Air and Mac Pro models to the latest Apple OS releases, iOS 7, and OS X Mavericks (10.9). The latest OS X version institutes a new naming convention, which many thought to be “box office flops,” since Chasing Mavericks was a dud of a surfer flick last year. But no, it’s a location name—a beach, in fact.
Both iOS 7 and Mavericks will be available in final form this fall, but betas will start floating around the Internet in mass quantities starting next week as developer-only “beta time” runs out. As the firm did with the new Mac Pro, in the final push before an OS release Apple tallies feedback from developers and early adopters to refine the package. You can get complete technical specifications for iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks from Apple, but we’ll tell you what you need to know in plain English. We’ll start today with Mavericks and get to iOS 7 in the next blog or two. Let’s get to it!
Mavericks (not the movie!)
Shoring up its green bona fides, Apple retooled OS X 10.9 with power-optimizing features that reduce CPU use, compress memory, and put your other software programs into “App Nap” when not needed. Apple has supported collaborative use since before you could rent iMac models, and has finally made using a second (and third) display simple—you get a menu bar and dock on all screens, and can drag assets from one to another even with full-screen apps running. Some tweaks to the Finder are in the “took you long enough” category, like the ability to combine multiple open windows into a single one with tabs (like some browsers). Another is a minor “yay” moment: You can now assign certain tags (Draft, Important, etc.) when saving files, and use them to locate others similarly tagged.
Apple’s browser, Safari, is part of Mavericks, too, and got a decent reworking. A new sidebar now houses your bookmarks, the Reading List, and the Shared Links section that has Twitter and LinkedIn updates (only from people you follow) with web links they send you. The new iCloud Keychain will save, encrypt, and automatically enter passwords for the websites you visit on all your Apple devices, plus give you highly secure password suggestions when you register for a new one. In your screen’s upper right corner, Mavericks’ new “push notification” will display pop-up messages for particular apps, some of which you can manage without launching a program. The Maps app is now able to send directions directly to the lock screen of an iPad rental or iPhone, and tighter ties to the Calendar app means it will calculate when you need to leave to make your appointments on time, based on current weather, your location, traffic reports, and the time of day.
Work in progress? Always!
Science and technology are never “finished” since we never stop learning and improving our tools, from the Stone Age through the Iron Age and into the Cyber Age. Humans are like that (certainly you’ve noticed). The humans at Apple, even without their iconic co-founder at the helm, still seem to be doing the right things, with enough “insanely great” products and services to remain a key arbiter of tech and style. OS X 10.9 Mavericks may just be the hippest among the new offerings. We’ll keep you posted—count on it!
Count on CRE, too, every time you need industry-leading render farms and other tools for high-tech heavy lifting. And call us when you want to put your best corporate face on a few big screens, and situate them in a stylish expo floor space created with our great trade show convention rentals. Call (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit our Quick Rental Quote page and we’ll find the precise solutions to your unique challenges. We’re here to help—so call now!
Apple announced new hardware at the recent WWDC 2013, and both the new MacBook Air models and the futuristic Mac Pro have excited, and divided, both reviewers and fans. Much of the post-announcement fuss has focused on what the two model-line updates might mean about the upcoming new iMac models and the “amazing” new model that CRE may be adding to its MacBook Pro rental inventory. We’ll leave the speculation to others and deal with the facts, okay? Here we go…
A new Air there!
Most reviewers sang the same song about the new MacBook Air models—something like, “Yippee, they’re here, but all of the changes are under the hood and the new Air is, you know, evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary.” In fact, the under-the-hood changes are few, but one is major: the new Haswell Core i5 CPU, which sucks just half the power of the previous Ivy Bridge processors and thus nearly doubles battery life. The new Air models differ only in screen size, 11 and 13 inches, with two flash storage options of 128GB or 256GB (resulting in four model versions). All share the same dual-core 1.3GHz Haswell Core i5 CPU, so they also have the newly incorporated Intel HD Graphics 5000 that also boosts performance (though not as much as Apple claims). Finally, Apple is among the first computer makers to use ultraspeedy 802.11ac WiFi. All good stuff.
Of course, there are plenty of criticisms, too. While Apple is boasting in every media crack and crevice about the “amazing” battery life, other laptops with the Haswell chip, like the Sony Vaio Pro 13, are getting even better performance. An even more disturbing observation is one that is being made about many of Apple’s latest computer designs—upgrading RAM and hard drives is getting tougher all the time as Apple continues “closing their mostly-open systems” and reducing opportunities for owner upgrading, a trend that arguably began with the 2012 MacBook Pro. The same argument is being rolled out as a reaction to the new paradigm introduced by the upcoming Mac Pro. It appears that Apple was ready to counter the negative press. Cupertino has a plan!
Will pros buy Mac Pros?
The new Mac Pro is a work of art, but is it the next-paradigm platform for media pros to create their art? Initial reviews, again, were mixed, with the “hooray for Apple” clique saying, well, “Hooray!” while others took the trouble (and time) to examine the specs, the math, and the probable (real-world) meaning. The new inner cooling core, the small form factor, Thunderbolt 2 at 20Gbps, USB 3—sounds pretty potent, right? Well, yes. But some reviewers point out that internal upgrades and expansion are limited, suggesting a return to the rats’ nests of cables from yesteryear. Um, but aren’t more devices going wireless all the time, including hard drives, rechargers, printers, and more? That answer would be, “Yep.”
Apple is not abandoning as many technologies as it once did with its model-line upgrades. With the original Thunderbolt (and the new T2), Apple saw fit to retro-engineer the standard so that it would continue supporting multiple device types through the connector originally called DisplayPort. It offers access to FireWire, FireWire 800, USB of all flavors, and other standards, through standard cabling and device-chains. Contrary to some rumors over the last year, Apple has made a credible effort to update its flagship computer. Now if they can keep pro users happy with Final Cut and this new Pro model, it’ll be one heck of a sustained turnaround. We’ll keep you posted!
Apple’s sales message for last week’s Worldwide Developers Conference—WWDC 2013, June 10-14 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center—sounded as evangelical as “original Macster” Guy Kawasaki (who just joined Google’s Motorola division, by the way). The event would provide developers “an in-depth look at what’s next in iOS and OS X” plus the opportunity to hang around “with Apple engineers and fellow developers for an incredible week of inspiration.” By many accounts, Apple delivered.
WWDC 2013 was “shared” with the world via live blogging and photo/video uploads from various sources including Time and the core Macintosh magazine and dedicated Apple sites. Like all Apple events, however, there was no live streaming. Apple has already posted the keynote, major presentations, some lab videos, and a variety of other media from and about the event to various websites.
Rumor mill review
The big deal as the event got underway, of course, was discovering what fabulous new product or service Apple had dreamed up now. It had to be “insanely great” or there would be more wailing and gnashing of teeth about Apple’s post-Jobs apocalypse. How did the rumors pan out? There is no new iMac, Apple “phablet,” or candidate for a new CRE iPad rental. Outside of the bogus rumor about the iWatch and the half-right one about the MacBook Air models, most of the pre-WWDC scuttlebutt was about software and services, where expectations were happily shattered.
So what about the “new stuff”? In brief:
Apple recycled the John Sculley-era Mac II codename (“Cabernet”) into the new OS X 10.9 Mavericks, which ends the cat-themed naming spree. The next iteration of Mac OS X, debuting this fall like most announced products, will have “power-user enhancements,” more full-screen-app support and functionality, an updated-and-sped-up Finder, and fine-tuned power management. Our potent MacBook Pro rental, for example, will get increased battery run-times to solidify its “green” standing.
Apple added the MacBook Air model to the MacBook line as a muscular response to the original, small, light, but impotent Windows, Linux, and (later) Chrome netbooks. Now the svelte Air gets even beefier CPUs, improved WiFi, and, as a matter of fact, insanely great battery life.
The free iTunes Radio service was no surprise, as Apple spent a year or more securing licensing/distribution deals with every major music group including Universal, Warner Music, and, finally, Sony. Google’s All Access subscription service launched already, and several sources report that Amazon is looking to expand into the volatile “net radio” market, a natural for the music-, video-, and book-sales powerhouse. Apple felt it had to make the move to keep iTunes on top.
iOS 7 was a major step forward. Operations-wise, tighter integration with OS X on your iMac or other Macintosh is on the menu. Design-wise, many rumor mills settled on a description of “black, white, and flat all over,” but design chief Jony Ive surprised most everyone with a very colorful and not-quite-flat theme.
The best-kept secret: the new Mac Pro. This model is directly from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Wow! Thunderbolt 2, all flash drives, central cooling core in a revolutionary “silo” shaped computer—many see this as both a work of art and a technological marvel. Still, others are disappointed by reduced internal expansion options—Apple counters that a single Thunderbolt 2 connection (it has six!) adds six peripherals, and one external “chassis” can hold all of them—while some say the “silo” resembles a trash can. CRE has always proudly offered the flagship Macintosh, our Mac Pro rental, for the ultimate in workstation creativity and power. Whether you feel the latest model secures Apple’s position as the style and power leader for the entire industry, or you prefer the previous iteration, we are here to assist with the technology you need.
Over the next several weeks, we will examine these new products and services in individual detail. Our goal in doing so is to give you, our readers and customers and colleagues and friends, information that is accurate, relevant, and useful concerning the wizardry of Cupertino. Please let us know how we are doing!
We are excited about all the great news out of WWDC 2013, but our primary concern is helping you nail that big project with powerful high-tech helpers like the AJA IO HD, or make an impact at your next conference with effective trade show convention rentals. Call (877) 266-7725, send a message, or use our Quick Rental Quote form to get what you need. We always do an insanely great job for you, too!
Last week, Apple released its first computer operating system without “Mac” or “Macintosh” in the name: OS X 10.8, with the cute kitty code-name of Mountain Lion. It is available only by direct App Store download and only to users with either of the last two OS versions installed (10.6 or 10.7, Snow Leopard and Lion, respectively). Should you upgrade? Should you specify OS X 10.8 when you rent Macbook Pro laptops?
Let’s take a look at Mountain Lion…
When Apple introduced Lion in 2011, almost six of every 10 Mac owners passed on converting to Lion completely, including many a high-end user like those that rely on a CRE Mac Pro rental. Oddly, as Mountain Lion now appears to deliver on its predecessor’s promises, it’s not quite living up to its own pre-launch hype. Apple hasn’t made its intentions clear about the future of OS X, and the company’s reticence promotes FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt), as well as occasional bad reviews. What gives?
New dividing line?
Apple has upset a number of its most loyal customers by dumbing down Final Cut Studio and letting the Mac Pro go stale over the last several years. High-end users feel abandoned (subject of an upcoming blog), and oppose the Mac’s “iOS-ification.” The sort of media pros that use AJA IO HD-level technology are not as concerned with look and feel as they are with brains and brawn.
For non-pro users, it’s all about “social networks,” despite Facebook integration being delayed until a fall update. When iOS 6 is released around the same time, a CRE iPad rental will integrate just as seamlessly with OS X devices as other “pads, pods ‘n’ phones.” In the meantime, other new Mountain Lion features push “Mac socialization” forward, like Messages, the Notifications service and system-wide iCloud support. This last feature is not as intuitive as it should be, and it is strange how hard Apple worked to make it invisible.
Mountain Lion features …lots to look at?
Apple claims “over 250″ new features, but this includes changing the typeface on some dialog boxes. Peruse that new features list carefully, as some features only work with select Macs, such as Power Nap that collects messages and updates while asleep. Right now it only works on two Air models and the Retina Display MacBook Pro. There’s a lot to go over, so we’re going to live with the new OS for a bit and report back to you with what we discover.
Here’s your first Mountain Lion heads-up: Coinciding with the release of OS X 10.8 was the launch of new Mac-specific malware. Go here to check it out and get the antidote (if you need it).
For everything from trade show convention rentals to high-end post-production technology, your solutions are a single call or e-mail away, right here at CRE. And if you know what you need, visit our Quick Rental Quote page and be done and gone in minutes.
Apple made a number of announcements last week at its Worldwide Developers Conference, but the Mac Pro – the stylish aluminum tower that has always represented the ultimate in Macintosh computing power – got exactly zero stage time. After the show, an unnamed Apple exec contacted David Pogue, the New York Times tech columnist, and “announced” that the first Mac Pro upgrade in over two years was “under way.”
The big improvements? You can now get “slightly faster two-year-old CPUs,” griped Instapaper developer and longtime Mac partisan, Marco Armendt. He noted there were no top-of-the-line Xeon chips, no USB 3 and not even a Thunderbolt port, the very thing that media pros using render farms and other post-production gear need. The “new model” even has “the same two-year-old graphics cards [and] motherboard.” To Armendt, the message is quite clear: “Apple doesn’t give a —- about the Mac Pro.”
An Apple vet speaks
Andy Hertzfeld was a member of the original Macintosh development team whose influence can be seen all the way to today’s powerful iMac rental. He says he was “worried” when the Mac Pro wasn’t mentioned from the WWDC stage, but “was in for a shock” when he found the Apple tower “stuck in time in 2010.” Bottom line? “The only thing that’s still high-end about it,” Hertzfeld concludes, “is the bloated price.” (CRE has the fastest Mac Pros anywhere, set up right and ready to go – and rentals save you from big capital expenditures.)
Clearly, Apple’s management team believes that mobile iOS devices are the firm’s best bet for the future. Chris Foresman of Ars Technica observed at the end of 2011 that “the iOS ecosystem has come to represent 70% of Apple’s revenue.” At the same time, Apple has upgraded and added Thunderbolt ports to MacBook Pro rental and the rest of the Mac line – the mini has Thunderbolt and the Pro doesn’t? Some high-end users just might switch…how many will desert Apple for Windows or Linux?
Desktop computer dead?
It is bad business to “utterly disappoint your most loyal customers,” as Hertzfeld puts it. He ends with a couple of irritating questions: “Why do an update at all if you hardly change anything? What’s going on here?” As journalists attempted to clarify the situation after WWDC, Apple didn’t immediately respond. When the blowback built to a boiling point, however, that “unnamed executive” called the NYT‘s Pogue and began damage control. Some Apple watchers wonder if Apple thinks desktop computers have a future, since nothing was said at WWDC about the iMac, either. “An executive did assure me” about new models, says Foresman, “probably for release in 2013.” Okay, so we’ll keep you posted. Again.
CRE will keep you moving forward, too, with everything from event production rentals to post-production technology and mass storage. One call or e-mail, or a trip to our Quick Rental Quote form, gets it done. Call now!
It’s hard to make predictions about technology trends, killer apps or which Palo Alto start up will be the next Google. Even when we go real slow and simply review products “in the pipeline” – as we did in the two-part “10 New Technologies You’ll See in 2012″ last August – it is still hard to forecast accurately.
It gets even harder when Apple is involved. The most successful, respected, innovative and admired brand in the world is the subject of literally thousands of blogs, magazines, websites, user forums and conferences. No matter how hard you work to sort through the rumors and hype, it’s tough going and never-ending. Now that the CRE iPad rental is the latest and greatest from Cupertino, Apple fans have turned their attention to the next big deal, iPhone 5.
iPhone 5 rumors abound
The iPhone 5, of course, was developed alongside the model christened the iPhone 4S. MacRumors.com and other top Apple watchers seem fairly certain about a release date of “early summer”. Interestingly, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is in San Francisco this year from June 11-15, and it has seen many key product announcements, including MacBook Pro rental introduced last year.
The iPhone 5 rumors range from ludicrous (a new length of four inches!) to such safe bets as iCloud integration. The form factor is set, so it’s all about ensuring that the iPhone’s software and hardware continue to “mature” so that the device — like iPads, the iPod touch, the iMac and other Apple computers – is fully functional in Apple’s iCloud environment. As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, such as “Cloud of Confusion?” in January, “total connectivity” is the mantra of the moment, so the new iPhone will have GSM, CDMA and LTE network compatibility. The final prediction is for dual 8MP cameras.
A little surprise, perhaps?
Among the “iffier” rumors, Apple is alleged to be working on a low-cost “mini iPhone” connected to iCloud. One imaginative blogger likens the concept to a “nano phone” that is specifically targeting a young demographic that expects low prices on high tech. An A5 dual-core processor with a clock speed of around 1.2-1.5 GHz – the “CPU class” and power level equivalent to a tablet PC rentals – will supposedly power the small phone, whose flash memory storage capacity is thought to be 1GB. But who knows? It’s a rumor, right?
Sometimes it’s hard to separate rumors from facts, but at CRE we do that every single day. We try to keep you informed, and we run our business to keep you productive. Whether you need a range of trade show convention rentals or some mass storage for a video project or post-production task, a single e-mail or call does it all. In a hurry? Head to our aptly named Quick Rental Quote page and tell us what you need.
DT Videolabs has a short, sweet product line. Along with two versions of its playback software, PlaybackPro and PlaybackPro Plus, the firm makes two USB keyboard controllers and a few other products. Adding Playback Pro Plus software and the 40-key PlaybackPro Plus USB Controller turns your computer into a digital video powerhouse. DT Videolabs’ products work with Apple towers, laptops and the iMac, but not Windows PCs.
Setup and use
The PlaybackPro Plus software is a snap to install, and the keyboard simply plugs into a USB port. Because the products are Mac-centric, DT Videolabs recommends that you save clips in Apple’s ProRes 422 format on a RAID 0 drive to ensure the best quality and reliability. CRE, of course, is an expert in Xserve RAID and other mass storage solutions.
This software/controller combo gives you a flexible multi-channel player that becomes a recorder, too, when you add the RecordPro application. The features are extensive:
cut and dissolve between clips
variable fade and kill settings
individual control of gain, saturation, gamma, volume and black levels
automatic adjustment of output resolution and aspect ratio
works in any ratio (4:3, 16:9, etc.) with infinite adjustability of sizing, stretching and cropping
With keyboard controls logically laid out, the learning curve is short, and adding the appropriate QuickTime components lets you use almost any file format. With a switching system that accepts VGA, DVI, DisplayPort or HDMI high-res inputs – which the Thunderbolt port on new Macs like our MacBook Pro rental can handle with simple adapters – you can connect directly, and even gen-locked signals can be handled with just a simple add-on or plug-in.
The same kind of tight hardware/software integration that makes using a Mac Pro a “seamless experience” enables the DT combo to give you total control of every function. The device is essentially half a keyboard with buttons in clearly divided Preview and Program areas (left and right, respectively), with Loop, Freeze and Link buttons in the middle. Group buttons are color coded, and there’s a double-sized green “Take” button on the left and a same-sized red “Kill” button on the right. It all makes sense – and works great.
The PlaybackPro Plus software/controller combo is perfect for corporate presenters, and is even making inroads into the hotel, theater and concert/touring industries. Adding DT’s controller and software to a Mac yields a dependable, professional presentation solution. And we should know – CRE is the leader in trade show convention rentals, as well as potent post-production gear, high-end A/V equipment, plasma display rentals, touch screens, workstations and computers. Call or e-mail an Account Executive, or use our Quick Rental Quote form, to get the right tool for the right job – right now!
Although Apple does not capitalize the model name “mini,” the smallest Macintosh has still earned a reputation as “the little Mac that could.” Although it is always a generation behind in the CPU department, both G4 and Intel minis are popping up in some interesting places. Here are the top five creative uses for the Mac mini.
1). Network storage – Soon, every office (and home) will need a central hub for storage, so Network Attached Storage (NAS) is going to proliferate. A new iMac would be overkill, but the Mac mini is ideal, with both wireless remote access and Gigabit Ethernet for heavy transfers. Post-production pros require our Xserve RAID with its swift 2Gb Fibre Channel interface, but small-to-medium sized businesses can do well with the mini.
2). Videoconferencing – With a little effort, you can connect an iSight camera and a DVI-to-S-Video adapter to the mini and use a TV set for videoconferencing. You can use it for business, or set it up with a wireless ADSL router and Apple Remote Desktop and run it remotely for less-techie colleagues. You could also insert an iPad rental into the mix as a remote control with the right apps.
3). Office automation – For post-production, you need a potent Mac Pro. But even the “lowly” mini makes a great office automation server. One of the first (and best) basic automation programs is Indigo, and the new version supports both Insteon and X10 devices.
4). Media hub – You can configure the mini as a media server, connecting it to something like our LCD touchscreen monitor rental. Add the Mac’s “cover flow” interface for instant access to music and movies, then enjoy! You can set custom schedules for different playlists based on time of day, weather, etc.
5). Conversion strategy – After upgrading to a new Mac, some mini owners have given their little Macs to parents, siblings or friends to replace Windows PCs. Once they use a Mac, many “PC forever” folks make the change (yes, it’s a two-way street). Minis of any vintage are capable computers if you know their limits (forget gaming and complex 3D work, for instance).
• You can attach a Firewire drive to a mini and use it as a file server for storage/streaming of HD video. Even an old G4 won’t break a sweat.
• Presenters can use minis for Power Point presentations, and by attaching a digitizer tablet they can demonstrate solutions right inside Power Point. Great idea!