The thing about new paradigms, real ones like the new Mac Pro and solid state drives, is that no one predicts them with much accuracy, but when they appear there’s no mistaking them, either. Their uniqueness and dramatic superiority are immediately apparent. With a few caveats, a new paradigm seems about ready to make itself known – memristors (basically a fancy name for computer memory). If it pans out, it’ll be one of the biggest breakthroughs of 2014.
Is it Time for Memristors?
Soon, your smart phone, the kid’s portable game console, and our iPad rental will need charging only every few weeks—or months. Their speeds and memory capacities will increase by thousands, perhaps millions of times. Equip your sales force with new desktop computers, or rent laptops for a fully mobile workforce, and either way your employees will save time with hardware that boots up instantly. These are the near-magical powers of the memristor—and we’re supposed to see them, well, soon. At least, that was the consensus in 2010. Interest faded until a minor resurgence in mid-2012, then dwindled again until some muted rumblings of late. What gives?
For years the traditional view of electronics held that there were three fundamental elements in circuits. These elements—resistors, capacitors, inductors—were joined in 1971 by a new theoretical element, the memristor (memory + resistor). Standard computer memory stores information by turning electronic switches on and off. Memristors, which are nanoscale devices with variable resistance, remember resistance levels when turned off. The bottom line is they are denser, more energy efficient, incomparably faster than existing electronics, and able to perform multiple functions (processing, storage, etc.). This reconfigurability makes for behavior reminiscent of human brain synapses, a main advantage of which is their incredible adaptability.
What’s the Hang-up?
The memristor design has matured over some 40 years of research and development, much of it undertaken by Hewlett-Packard (HP), a company known for quality and innovation whose workstations are in our computer rental inventory. Although the technology was supposed to begin hitting the market in 2014, “HP has not yet committed to a specific product roadmap,” according to a Wired story of July, 2012. There is no newer statement from HP. The firm appears to be dithering once again, unable to pull the trigger on new initiatives, possibly still gun shy following its WebOS debacle.
This is a project that iMac visionary Steve Jobs would have loved, as the next step is electronic circuits that adapt to varying scenarios—and learn from their choices. Computers with human brain-like behavior may emerge from a future memristor component that will likely start out in a consumer device. That happens all the time if you think about it: Medical diagnosis wasn’t the first task undertaken by the original PC, but the platform matured from a glorified typewriter and Pong game into all kinds of lifesaving tools (on many of which you can still type and play games). Frankly, though, it really is about time for a new paradigm.
Are we ready to make this shift? We’d love to hear from you on this or any other technology trends you think are heading our way in 2014. Not sure about any of this? Contact CRE Rentals, a leading technology rental company based in Los Angeles, for help.
It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. This is meant to underline the folly of “static thinking” – assuming that today’s pace of resource depletion and waste will continue unabated into the future. The fatal flaw? There is no acknowledgment of the greatest resource of all, human imagination. For example, the dawn of the Computer Age saw predictions that beige boxes would cover the landscape. Instead, we have smaller, lighter, recyclable products, and new technologies and services for taking care of e-waste, outmoded gadgets, and “used tech.” Human ingenuity wins again.
There are various ways you can participate in recycling and re-purposing old tech. We’ll take a look at four major ways to:
trade, recycle, or dispose of branded electronics with most of the big-name tech firms, as well as retailers;
sell or trade them in, putting them back into the (used) market;
donate devices to nonprofits and others—government agencies, churches, community groups—to repair and give to others; and
repurpose various tech products via DIY projects at home, school, and other locations.
1. Trade, recycle, dispose — Some firms (Lenovo, Canon, Dell) will accept only their own products for recycling, while others (HP, Sony EcoTrade) take any device regardless of maker. In addition to big phone makers (LG, Motorola), niche firms like appliance maker Dyson and game company Nintendo offer programs for their products, too. When you return an Apple product, whether it’s an iMac or MacBook, the firm will apply any monetary value it may have to a gift card.
2. Sell or trade in — You can easily go on the Internet and list your used tech for sale. There are brand-specific sites that specifically want, say, Apple’s Macs, Xserve RAID units, and iPhones. Other firms will buy any and all used devices to refurbish and resell. Gazelle is well known for this, while others such as Glyde will even estimate the varying amounts you’d get from selling on various websites. The Amazon Trade-In Program issues gift cards for eligible used electronics (plus books, DVDs, phones).
3. Donate for redistribution — Your working used tech can be quite beneficial to someone else. Many nonprofits and groups collect and refurbish cellphones, PCs, tablets, and other devices to give to those in need. Both the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)—which works with Cellular Recycler—and Verizon’s HopeLine are connecting survivors of domestic violence with important resources. You can direct your donations to soldiers, the disadvantaged, and even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
4. Repurpose via art, DIY Projects — An old television makes a great picture frame, among other things. Consider using your old tech gear as containers, frames, bases for lamps or sculptures, vases, or freestanding “statements.” Some project sites are meant for true, soldering-iron-wielding geeks who want to make robots or Rube Goldberg contraptions. However, there are also scores of websites that show you how to turn old tech gear into works of art (or sheer whimsy) with no special skills required.
Of course one of the easiest ways to recycle is to rent technology for short-term office use, projects or events. CRE Rentals is stocked with the latest computer, audiovisual rental inventory, ready to deliver (or ship) to your location to meet your needs. Learn more about our products and services by calling (877) 266-7725.
CNET’s Josh Lowensohn declared a week or so ago that the “disc drive is dead,” explaining that it hadn’t happened to “PCs just yet, but certainly in Apple’s Macs.” There has been buzz about the death of optical drives for a few years. As it coincides with the advent of small, net-connected devices—including laptops in new form factors like ultrabooks, our own iPad rental, the iPhone, and the zillion Android tablets and smartphones—the story of its demise is somewhat cloudy. The choice of terms is deliberate. Let’s put this trend in historical perspective, and acknowledge up front that the interactive Internet with “that whole cloud thing” is both a cause and result of today’s coalescing, interrelated tech advances.
Apple recently updated its MacBook Pro line and introduced the futuristic Mac Pro. Lost in the fine print of a press release was the news that Apple was dropping the 15-inch, non-Retina MacBook Pro, leaving a single 13-inch non-Retina model with an optical drive. Lowensohn says this is Apple’s way of signaling “imminent extinction.” You may recall that Steve Jobs’ insanely great original iMac was released without a floppy drive and soon enough, all of Apple’s computers were floppy-less. Ditching optical drives merely continues the effort begun with the disc-less MacBook Air in 2008. Since the App Store didn’t open until 2011, it was “a gamble,” concedes Lowensohn, to drop a major conduit for getting software into your computer. Looking back, it is hard to argue against Apple’s prescience.
Size, weight, and waste
Dropping the optical drives in the Air reduced power consumption, system complexity, weight, and size. Building on this experience, Apple engineers trimmed the new 2013 iMac’s girth and volume by some 40% and estimated that the new Mac Pro is “one-eighth the volume of the previous generation.” Such other new components as flash storage (replacing the moving parts of the hard drive), high-speed wireless (802.11ac vs. 802.11n), and Bluetooth have sped up Macs by providing alternative connectivity for storage, communications, peripherals, etc. Apple has also taken the “connectivity crown” with Thunderbolt 2, capable of two simultaneous 20Gbps streams. Real world transfer speeds? Recently, Intel put up a demo showing “peak performance…just under 1100MB/s.” Over a gig per second? Fast!
Lowensohn notes the practical impacts of Apple’s hardware-trimming campaign, one of which is a huge reduction in shipping and storage costs. There are important marketing considerations; there are enough environmental benefits to call this continuing reduction of size, weight, and waste a “green program,” right in line with enlightened corporate goals and social values. When you consider the ingredients we’ve discussed—flash memory, WiFi, Thunderbolt 2—it is sobering to remember what is on the way. Holographic displays, gesture sensors, voice control, visual commands, instant translation, virtual keyboards—what crazy combo or brand-new idea will make our devices easier to use, smaller, less costly, more powerful, and more attuned (and tuned-in) to our individual lives? Well, we know the future is disc-less—and we think it will be “cloudy” for a while, too.
So if you need a disc-less computer or laptop, feel free to contact the experts at CRE Rentals. We have the latest technology rentals to suit your office or corporate event needs.
Netbooks 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!
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.
For all our scientific progress, humans have a dismal record of predicting the future. There is not a scintilla of evidence for supernatural prognostication, despite people believing in so-called psychics like Sylvia Browne (a proven fraud). Of course, the scientists and skeptics that expose psychic charlatans are no better at making predictions than phony seers are – yet they continue trying.
When a bespectacled fellow in a lab coat speaks, many of us lower our intellectual guard. Scientists are intelligent – the moon landing! the paleo diet! the iMac! – so we may listen even when they hold forth on subjects beyond their expertise. There are no experts at predicting the future, which these five embarrassingly wrong tech predictions prove quite conclusively.
1. “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Ken Olson founded Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), one of the first manufacturers of mainframe computers for government and industry. Asked about the home-use potential of the PC in 1977, when Apple and others already had minicomputers on the market, Olson may have shown a lack of imagination, but he had a lot of company.
2. “We will never make a 32-bit operating system.”Bill Gates said this in 1983 at the launch of MSX, a computing architecture that was going to take the world by storm. It didn’t. On the other hand, the latest three OS packages from Microsoft – Vista, Windows 7 and the upcoming Windows 8 – have both 32- and 64-bit versions, which are installed on a wide range of PC desktop computer rental units.
3. “There is practically no chance [that] space satellites will be used to provide better [communications] inside the United States.” In 1961, the FCC Commissioner – appropriately named T. Craven – announced this conclusion of an in-depth government study. Today, whether people buy tablets or rent laptops, they can connect to the world wirelessly because commercial communications satellites began blasting into orbit in 1965.
4. “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable.”Albert Einstein gave this gloomy prediction about nuclear power in 1932. As part of the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb, Einstein worked with ENIAC, the first “real” computer, which was less powerful than a 1980s-vintage Casio DataBank watch. A MacBook Pro rental would have seemed like alien technology to ol’ Albert.
5. “Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years.”Alex Lewyt, a vacuum cleaner manufacturer, was thus quoted in a New York Times article in 1955. The early years of the Atomic Age were exciting (and scary). Today, render farm rentals from CRE comprise technological components so powerful and advanced that Mr. Lewyt just might have thought them nuclear-powered.
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!
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 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
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.”
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.
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!
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 software 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.