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July 11th, 2013

new-MacProThe 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.

IBM 5150 PC - the old paradigmThis 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 internalMany ports on the New Mac Pro 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:

  • You won’t overheat your desktop computer,
  • you can turn hot-pluggable drives on and off without rebooting your system,
  • connected devices remain transportable and swappable,
  • and, at least in the case of Apple computers, the advanced power-management features in OS X Mavericks can dramatically simplify the smooth running and troubleshooting of complex (or just numerous) connections.

At CRE, we are committed to the smooth running of your business, 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!

May 28th, 2013

If you don’t read the quarterly financials of the technology sector, join the club. Most people couldn’t care less. On the other hand, if you work for one of the many companies that completely missed “emerging technologies” and devotedtablets/iPads take PC market share themselves to PCs instead of smartphones and tablets, you might care when your job evaporates. And PC and tablet makers most assuredly do care about those quarterly reports, and they’re looking at the latest one from IDC (International Data Corporation, a market research, analysis, and advisory firm specializing in IT) that tallies 49.2 million tablets shipped in Q1 2013 (up 142.4% year-over-year), compared to 76.3 million PCs (down 13.9% y/y). Tablet sales are soaring, while PC sales are tanking, with the worst quarterly drop ever.

Tablets are fast approaching the point where they can do everything a typical PC can, while also being pressed into nearly continuous service as cameras, movie players, videophones, game arcades, and remote controls for household appliances. Even today’s low-end tablets can handle most jobs, even in corporate settings (where you could order a MacBook Pro rental if you want more power for a temporary project). This is the primary challenge facing PC manufacturers today: How can the desktop PC compete with lower-priced, portable devices that use less power, accomplish many common computing tasks, and also have that “hip-and-fun” factor?

Who’s who in the new crew

IDC shows Apple still leading in market share with 39.6% of tablet sales, with Samsung in (distant) second place with 17.9%. But the bigger story here is the number of leading firms that are not on the list. Think a minute: Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Sony, and Toshiba are all missing from the top spots, despite some of them making belated attempts at entering the fray. Dell and HP are hugely important, influential firms in the history of PCs, and a desktop computer rental is likely to be one of these premier brands. So how did they miss out on the biggest product debut since, well, the PC?

Short answer: Who knows? Perhaps some of the long-time computer makers…

  • didn’t see or understand the trend away from the desktop and toward portability,
  • came “late to the game” and can’t seem to catch up,
  • were indecisive and wouldn’t make a commitment, or
  • decided against the tablet market in favor of their “sure things.”

Interestingly, many of the same companies that missed out on tablets this time around missed out on smartphones last time around. Of course, smartphones currently outsell PCs by a huge margin, and there is a growing trend (think Galaxy Note) toward the phone/tablet combo (sorry, they’re going to be called “phablets” no matter what). Either set a trend or get on someone’s coattails, but if you miss out again—we’re talking to you, Michael Dell—your brand may be ready for retirement.

Whither the “withering Windows”?

At GigaOm.com, Kevin C. Tofel analyzed the 2012 tablet and PC sales results back in January, dubbing Microsoft’s flagship OS “withering Windows.” The point was that, despite the hundreds of millions of Windows users on Earth, a full third of all new devices sold don’t run Windows—they run Android and iOS. In the ‘90s and 2000s, if you were to rent laptops you’d find over 90% of them running Windows. The bar’s been lowered to under 70% of all devices now, and Tofel sees “no reason why the growth of non-Windows tablets will stop.” In fact, he “wouldn’t be surprised if by this time next year non-Windows tablets actually outsell Windows computers.”

In the last 30 years Microsoft’s presence in the technology sector of the economy has been dominant. It’s not merely its market share in tablets that signals a problem for the firm, it’s the burden of a legacy OS that has been pushed aside by flexible (and fun) new platforms. Combining a small form factor, touch capability, media prowess, WiFi, and long battery life, devices like iPad rentals, tablet PCs, and the latest/greatest thing, phablets, will experience strong sales as PC shipments continue tanking. You could argue that it’s all a semantic “construct,” that you can “define” things in and out of categories, compare apples and oranges, even ‘prove’ that 0=1. It’s all marketing, right?

What’s in a name?

Wrong. There really has been a irreversible change. Tablets have done so well because they are convenient and cover most of the bases for most folks. There are growing numbers of people, in fact, who are not replacing their PCs as often as they once did. They keep one around because PCs do excel at certain things—writing everything from letters to novels, editing digital audio and video, rendering graphics, and acting as both analog and digital hub for connecting and interconnecting this, that, and the proverbial other thing.

This is why PCs—let’s call them desktop workstations, shall we?—are not going away completely. It’s a needed form factor: A top-flight HP Pavilion or Apple Mac Pro rental has the expansion slots, drive bays, flexibility, and power needed for demanding work. Creative pros, scientists, photographers, designers, writers, engineers, and others will populate the “high-end” niche, which CRE will continue to serve with everything from audio visual (AV) equipment rentals to the mass storage needed for post-production. Wherever you find your challenges—on-site, on the road, or at a convention—your solutions are all right here. Call an experienced Account Executive at (877) 266-7725, send us a message, or visit our Quick Rental Quote page if you know what you need. We are always ready to help you!

March 22nd, 2013

Long a standard part of the professional film editor’s toolbox, Final Cut Pro (FCP) truly dominated the film and video industries. It was tightly integrated with Mac OS X, very powerful, intuitive to use, andIs there a future for Mac Pro? adaptable to any number of different workflows. Add a CRE Mac Pro rental and you’ve got a big-league film editing solution, running Apple software on Apple hardware. In comparison, Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, and even Avid Media Composer came up short. FCP ruled.

End of an era?

When Apple released Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) in mid-2011, it was a radical departure from preceding versions, so radical that it couldn’t open FCP files (a major gripe, of course). In a manner similar to what Adobe did with Dreamweaver and Muse in 2012, Apple seemingly “dumbed down” the product in order to attract soccer dads and family filmmakers. Those Cupertino captains of industry obviously noticed that the average iMac buyer wasn’t bundling her new computer with FCP, so they revised the film editing application to more closely resemble iMovie and iOS apps.

At CRE, we provide many fine Apple products—from the iPad rental to the fire-breathing Mac Pro tower—so we are continuously observing tech trends “up close and personal.” Today it’s all about mobile computing, the cloud, icons on touchscreens, ease of use, simplicity, and speed. Apple’s iOS, its various iDevices, the MacBook line, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the still-iconic iMac are right in that moneymaking middle of the road zone, so they get the lion’s share of attention at Apple these days. High-end towers and editing software for tens of thousands versus iPhones and iPads for tens of millions? No contest.

No longer a niche firm

As of March 1, 2013, the Mac Pro is no longer being shipped to European Union countries, EU candidate countries, or the four European Free Trade Association countries of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. (It has something to do with failing to cover the internal fan blades or some such nonsense.) While Apple has reportedly confirmed that a new Mac Pro will be available in 2013, the last disappointing revision in June drove a lack of faith in Apple’s seriousness about the line. And FCPX, despite minor revisions since its debacle of a debut, is dropping down on the list of go-to programs for pro film editors, although some still swear by it.

The prospect of no professional-grade Mac and the absorption of FCPX into iMovie 15 or so are scary scenarios for many Mac-loving creative professionals. So much for taking care of the “pro users.” Of course, Apple is no longer a niche firm, but a world brand that was, for a time, more valuable than any other. You might think that a company sitting on billions in cash and straddling the tech world like a colossus could keep a niche operation going to serve professional users. You would be right, it could be done. What does it mean that Apple isn’t doing so?

Whether you 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 for your next project, or a solution to your digital storage woes. Know what you need? Use our Quick Rental Quote form and get it done now. Remember: Whatever the technology problem, the solution is CRE!

February 21st, 2013

The headlines are scary: “Apple Disappoints Wall Street” appears one week, “Apple Losing Its Edge” the next. Is it the end of the road for the once-mighty House of Jobs?Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple

Those particular headlines didn’t herald the company’s demise. They’re from 1997. Just 18 months later a reinvigorated Apple—under its “new and improved” dollar-a-year CEO, Steve Jobs—took its first step toward eventual industry domination with the debut of the iMac. Rather than honest assessments of Apple’s viability, we always seem to get the foregoing tabloid-style silliness. For Apple, even record sales aren’t good enough for Wall Street, so here come the naysayers again—only now they include Steve Wozniak. What’s up with that?

What the Woz?

In a TechCrunch interview in November 2012, one still being culled for tendentious quotes, Wozniak built his case against some of Apple’s high-profile failures (and he detests Siri). iPad sales numbers are still strong, so Wozniak knows the Cupertino firm’s upside. Still, in early February as Apple stock continued its slide, Wozniak spoke excitedly about the new home of “wow” products for the future: Microsoft. Yep, the “evil empire” of Apple’s original SuperBowl ad. What convinced him? The Xbox, Windows 8, the Surface Tablet? Nope. It was the rumor of Redmond’s work on simultaneous translation, a hardware/software solution far “more fluid [and more] colloquial” than Google, Siri, or anything else right now.

Wozniak says Microsoft, whose Surface line was one of our “Business Tech Hits of 2012,” is also making “strides in [the] voice recognition area” because smart folks are “sitting in their labs trying to innovate.” On the other hand, Wozniak says that Apple has settled for “cranking out the newest iPhone and falling a little behind, and that worries me greatly.” Apple has had smart, solid niche products like the Xserve RAID that get few headlines, but consumers don’t buy them in the millions as they are not iAppliances for 21st Century Work, Socializing, & Entertainment. (Watch for a blog with that title coming soon.)

Speaking of tweaking…

Tweaking, says Wozniak, is not innovating, and that’s all Apple has been doing to the MacBook and its other Mac models, which “is not Apple-style innovation.” Making bold moves is. He doesn’t think Apple is “turning its back on creativity,” but seems conflicted about CEO Tim Cook. Cook runs Apple in a buttoned-down manner, minus the art school dress code, notoriously bad vibes, and high drama of Steve Jobs. Wozniak and others may not like Cook’s style, but it is an advantage, not a hindrance, as Apple evolves into whatever a “leading edge firm” needs to be in the “post-PC” era.

Repositioning Apple as a mass-market consumer products firm is no small feat when you consider its multiple-personality past. Before iTunes, iPhones and iOS, Apple was known for both easy-to-use Macs and peerless pro-level powerhouses like our Mac Pro rental. Apple’s “towers of power”—loaded with Final Cut Pro, Shake, and other pricey software—dominated professional video, film, music, web, and print production for years. Now that Apple is the source of “iEverything” for the masses, professional users feel seduced and abandoned (again!)—and they’ve been grousing about it for two years now. We’ll tell you what they’re saying, and what it means for Apple’s shrinking share of the pro market, in a coming blog.

Remember, CRE is your one-stop shop for everything—from the first-rate event production rentals you need for next month’s conference, to the post-production gear you need this minute for a rush job. One call or message, or a moment spent filling out our Quick Rental Quote form, is all it takes!

December 4th, 2012

With every new smartphone, tablet or multifunction-Wi-Fi-enabled personal doohickey comes at least one prediction that this latest device is really—really!—the long-awaited laptop killer. In the early 2000s, before mobile processors evolved to be as powerful as the ones found in the typical desktop computer rental, the notion of  a “desktop replacement” laptop was only a dream. But now that high-end units like our MacBook Pro rental are more potent than many desktops, the battle is on to see which phone, tablet, or geegaw will emerge as the laptop replacement. As the frontrunner in the tablet race, Apple’s mega-selling tablet is first up: So, can an iPad replace your laptop?

Can an iPad replace your PC?

Early Tablets

When the original iPad debuted in 2010, it was the “Year of the Netbooks,” those low-priced 9-to-11-inch mini-laptops that were generally far less expensive than the iPad. When CRE stocked its first iPad rental, it was something like a netbook without a keyboard—but it was also like a supersized iPod touch. Had it been built to run OS X, it may have qualified as a “little computer.” But it came with iOS, which limited your installation options, abandoned Flash, and came up far short of being a full-fledged computer OS. (The current version, iOS 6, still isn’t one.) At the same time, this brought improvements in its simple and ergonomical ease-of-use. The Windows-based tablet PCs had some of the right puzzle pieces—touch capability, handwriting recognition, convertible operation—but were, and arguably still are, works in progress. (Microsoft’s Surface Pro debuts in January 2013. Is it a laptop killer, or a new paradigm?)

Developments

Fast-forward now: The iPad 2 added cameras, the third generation debuted the Retina Display, and now the supply of iOS apps is in the zillions. Users are still quarantined behind the “walled garden” of apps, but web-based tools are proliferating – capitalizing on the user-friendly interface. There are any number of things that an iPad can do as well or better than a laptop (or desktop)—reading, managing e-mail, watching movies/TV, staying plugged in to social media, and gaming. These activities may also be work-related, though some people consider the iPad better for watching entertainment than producing it. Yet, with every new advanced app in every area of media expertise—content, production, PR, even event planning—this is changing.

For example, the newly updated iMovie and iPhoto apps are powerful enough for video and photo editing/management, capturing HD (stills, video), audio recording, and more. Media pros still use such advanced computer-based tools as our AJA IO HD, but can now integrate the iPad into their workflow, on-set and in the editing bay, for a variety of purposes.

The Conclusion?

Given its growing capabilities—running major office programs, leveraging cloud storage, doing lots of cross-platform tasks—the iPad can now probably be considered a replacement for that secondary laptop you use for traveling (or when the kids take over the PC). How long until it replaces your number one computer? Stay tuned…!

A single call or e-mail, or a simple visit to our Quick Rental Quote form, will get you exactly what you need to overcome every challenge and meet every deadline. We’re here for you, right now!

October 30th, 2012

It was yet another Apple media circus last Tuesday, Oct. 23rd, but with four rings this time:

  1. the new iPad mini,
  2. the fourth-generation iPad,
  3. a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and
  4. a wholly revamped iMac line.

Watch for detailed blogs coming up, but right now we will hit the highlights for you.

Star of the Show

iPad mini debutThe star of the day was the iPad mini, and “mini” it is at a bit over 10 ounces, a smidgen over a quarter-inch thick and sporting a 7.9-inch screen. Design chief Sir Jonathan Ive assured the assemblage that the mini was not a “shrunken replica” of the original, but “a concentration” of it. It ships Nov. 2nd to compete with such 7-inch heavyweights as the Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7 that are priced starting at $199, while the mini is $329 (16GB Wi-Fi base model). Opting for cellular (LTE) adds another $140 to the price.

iPad Turns “4″

If you like the CRE iPad rental then you will love the fourth generation model that made its surprise debut last week. It has the same price points, 9.7-inch Retina Display and dimensions as the current model, but along with the smaller, sturdier and reversible Lightning connector, the latest iPad has an A6X processor that Don Reisinger at CNET figures will “double the current CPU and graphics power.”

New 13-inch MacBook Pro

CRE’s popular MacBook Pro rental got a new sibling, too, as Apple Apple Introduces Latest iPadadded the Retina Display to the 13-inch model. Apple is dropping optical drives, but the laptop has two USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, an SDXC card slot, HDMI port, headphones/line-out jack, and a MagSafe 2 charging port. MacBook Pros also use Solid State Drives (SSDs) now, instead of spinning-platter hard drives, so they boot up and launch programs a lot faster.

The Flagship Sails On

Apple veep Phil Schiller reaffirmed that the iMac was the company’s “flagship” at last Tuesday’s event. The computer whose 1998 debut saved the Cupertino company is now in its eighth generation, with two models carrying the last few editions’ 21.5-inch and 27-inch screens into the future in a body that tapers to just 5mm at the edges (it’s thicker in back). The new iMacs have Intel’s potent Ivy Bridge Core i5 and i7 chips, separate (discrete) graphics cards, and up to 3TB of disk space.

With the new iMac, Apple also introduced its “Fusion Drive.” This hybrid mates a 128GB SSD with a 1- or 3-TB hard drive, so the OS and applications go on the SSD for speed, the files on the hard disk for storage. Again, there is no optical drive, but you get four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, an Ethernet port, and a headphone/line-out jack. The new iMacs start shipping in November (21.5-inch model) and December (27-inch).

Need real tech support? A single call or e-mail, or a simple visit to our Quick Rental Quote form, will get you exactly what you need to overcome every challenge and meet every deadline. We’re here for you, right now!

September 18th, 2012

Phil Schiller and Tim Cook are, respectively, senior VP of worldwide marketing and CEO of Apple. Last Wednesday, Schiller and Cook (sounds like a personal injury law firm, doesn’t it?) regaled a receptive crowd at San Francisco’s Moscone Center with a handful of long-awaited product upgrades, delivering yet another heralded Apple media circus of equal parts high-tech hype and earnest fanfest.

The good pre-event buzz about iOS 6 and the new iPods –  an iPhone 5-derived touch, a serious nano upgrade (all names are lowercase now), Siri migrating to other iOS devices – didn’t come close to predicting the insanely great consumer reaction. Our original iPad rental started its life like that, too, coming from nowhere to score a consumer electronics KO.

Pre-orders sell out in hours

Both the iPhone and iOS 6 were originally going to be available for purchase on September 19, although you could pre-order the phone. (No longer, of course, as pre-orders sold out so fast that Apple is delaying shipments between one and three weeks.) If you’re sufficiently geeky and (really, really) know what you’re doing, you can get the final developer’s version of iOS 6 online.

Over the next few weeks, we will update you on the new Apple products and services, starting right now with…

Apple's iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Specs & Such

  • The iPhone 5, 112 grams of aluminum and glass in a 7.6mm-thin form, is 20 percent lighter and 18 percent slimmer than its predecessor.
  • The iPhone 5′s densely saturated 1136-by-640-pixel version is the precise 16:9 aspect ratio of an HD movie.
  • Battery life is much improved (so says Schiller), with 8 hours of talk and browsing on 3G, 8 hours of browsing on 4G, up to 10 hours of Wi-Fi use and a similar amount of video watching. Standby time? Over a week.
  • With the Apple A6 chip, more potent than the first few years of iMac CPUs, you can reasonably expect up to 50% speed increases.
  • The main (forward-facing) camera’s 8 megapixel, f/2.4 aperture specifications are like the iPhone 4S, but it is smaller with more computer-assisted features. A Panorama feature smartly stitches together gorgeous, and huge, pictures.
  • You get full 1080p HD video with the main camera, like our MacBook Pro rental, but the back-facing camera that puts your mug on YouTube only does 720p.
  • With these new devices, Apple introduces the Lightning connector, a sturdy stub of a reversible, all-digital jack. It may take some time before showing up on Apple computer rentals, but new consumer electronics will certainly be appearing with Lightning soon. Unfortunately, if you want to use your now-legacy “iClock” docks you will need to buy a 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter for $29, available only from Apple for now. Hong Kong vendors should have their $3 versions soon.  Just make sure your 30-pin iGadget doesn’t require video output, because the adapter doesn’t support it.

From the best event production rentals to powerful post-production gear, our experienced Account Executives can help with a single call or e-mail. You can help yourself, too, with our Quick Rental Quote form.

September 13th, 2012

Tech giant Apple posted record-breaking numbers in Q1 2012, selling 15.4 million iPads, 15.4 million iPods, 37 million iPhones, and 5.2 million Macintosh computers for total sales of $46.33 billion. While scoring records for its other lines, the iPod number was down over 20% fromThe State of the Mac 2012 Q1 2011. Through the next two quarters the Mac and iPhone figures dipped, too. In Q3 2012, sales were at  17 million iPads, 6.8 million iPods, 26 million iPhones, and 4 million Macs .

Changing times

Apple now sells about four times as many iPads as Macs each quarter. In fact, with the proliferation of iPad rental units and booming sales worldwide, the Cupertino firm sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it has sold Macintosh models, ever. Clearly, iOS is now Apple’s “money” platform, and the company is working to adapt the Mac OS to the iOS look, feel, and “vision.”

This has prompted speculation that future Macs will operate on a “converged” OS. This is unlikely. Despite declining Mac sales, the computer will be with us for at least another decade, though some say not much longer. As long as there are iMacs, of course, CRE will have iMac rentals, as well as this blog to keep you in the know.

Mac to the future

If we imagine the kind of computer that people will be using 10 or 15 years from now, it would doubtless be more of an iPad than a Mac. A simple, low-cost, touch-based tablet seems a good guess, although it wouldn’t replace a notebook or desktop PC rental for everyone. Video pros, engineers, audio recordists, graphic artists, and others will always need as much power as possible, plus graphics accelerators, large monitors, special plug-in cards, and so forth.

The market for high-end, premium computers has always been a niche, and will remain one. Apple definitely wants to continue as the go-to brand for creatives and geeks, and it will. The Mac isn’t going anywhere. Will it last another 30 years? Who knows? All indications suggest that it should be around for at least another 10, and probably 20 years. Expect Apple to anchor both of its platforms with iCloud, so that people can use any Apple device, with either OS, in a more synchronized, unified, seamless manner.

We shall see…

And yet, as long as its notebook and desktop models rely on trackpads and mice, not touchscreens, with different considerations for battery life, processing power, and application support, Apple will maintain two significantly different operating systems. Going forward, the iOS calls for continued simplicity and ease, while the Mac OS, currently at version 10.8, Mountain Lion, calls for more sophistication and power.

For now, a formal combination of the two into a hybrid OS doesn’t appear to be Apple’s plan. Bridging them together? That’s the ticket. As always, we’ll keep you posted!

For everything from event production rentals to post-production and massive amounts of high-speed storage, one call or e-mail connects you to an expert CRE Account Executive. If you already know what you need, just use the handy Quick Rental Quote form!

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!

July 31st, 2012

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 OS X Mountain LionMountain 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.

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