Tobii Technology is among the early global leaders in the final-frontier field of “eye tracking,” “gaze interaction,” and “vision-based control.” On Sept. 19 of this year they debuted the Tobii EyeMobile, “a lightweight, highly portable peripheral that brings true eye-control capabilities to popular Windows 8 tablets…for assistive purposes.” The EyeMobile offers people with limited mobility full, unfettered use of modern digital technologies. To get control of off-the-shelf Windows 8 devices and tablet PCs—and everything else, too, before long—will take only simple, unforced, utterly natural eye movements.
And that’s just the beginning. “Eye control” is now a fully funded R&D activity for many companies, large and small. Have we reached a “perfect storm” point where all the pieces are available but lack a proper arrangement? The folks at The Eye Tribe seem to think so: They are selling a tracking device for $99 to early adopters and developers. It comes with an SDK (Software Development Kit) so geeky users can code their own apps to accept tracker input (or finish that new eye-controlled game). Even basic research is getting done, ranging from the nexus of human behavior and anatomy (how do people move when using an iPad rental?) to color perception.
Eye tracking, one step at a time
We sense a critical mass building in the field, so let’s take a quick, necessarily simplified look at what eye tracking involves. Eye trackers use optical sensors and projection patterns to determine, with greater and greater accuracy, the direction of eye movements. Most of the current products employ the principle of corneal-reflection tracking, one of the reflected-light methods. The process relies on five essential steps:
Eye trackers bring signal sensors, image processors, and near-infrared microprojectors together in a precise, particular way;
microprojectors are used to send reflection patterns to the user’s eyes;
image sensors capture the user’s image, eyes, and projection/reflection patterns in real time;
image processors identify features of the user, user’s eyes, and projection/reflection patterns; and
mathematical models continuously crunch the unending stream of numbers representing the eyes’ positions and the user’s “gaze point.”
Humans use “eyecasting” and “eye gazing” as a most efficient means of indicating direction—pointing without fingers. People do this all the time, and not just with other humans. After 50,000 years of co-evolution and two-way domestication, dogs are born hardwired to look into humans’ eyes. With eye-tracking technology we can use our natural gaze to communicate with animals, humans, computers, and other devices. One day, an eye tracker will be as common on a basic computer rental as a webcam is now. Fast, natural, and intuitive, it’s a potent tool just waiting for a few more thoughtful applications—which we will tell you about in coming blogs!
At CRE, we pay close attention to all the tech trends that you need to know about, always working to anticipate your rental needs. With great service to complement the expertise of our Account Executives, calling (877) 266-7725 or sending a message will get you the right answers, right away. If you know what you need, of course, using our Quick Rental Quote gets you in and out and on your way, fast! Call or click now!
In the early years of the World Wide Web there were many so-called words of wisdom. One saying with a million variants was, “It doesn’t matter what it is, just throw a website up there!” It was the Stone Age: just having a website gave you points. Today you can take nothing for granted. You must know the crucial components of your site, the elements with financial and brand impact. To that end, we present “5 Website Musts for Today.” Although elementary for some, there are always beginners—and even pros need a good reminder now and then.
1. You MUST know your audience: Critically important to producing appropriate website experiences is knowing your market and audience, and speaking to them. Google has the most widely used tools to make sure your messaging is doing that (especially among small and medium-size firms) but there are others. Minimalytics is blazing something of a new path by crafting site-specific solutions with custom tool combinations—Stripe, Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Asana, etc. They provide site owners the meaning found within, behind, and beyond the numbers, to better understand their audience.
2.You MUST be mobile-ready: With the astonishing advance of smartphones, and the current popularity of our iPad rental and small WiFi devices in general, mobile will be the major segment in just about no time. You can create separate sites for mobile users by adding a mobile (“m”) subdomain—“m.mydomain.com” is the mobile site for “mydomain.com”—but Adobe Dreamweaver, RapidWeaver, and other software can create single sites that scale to smartphone, tablet, or computer browser windows. If you need to, you can rent devices that you don’t own to test across platforms.
3. You MUST investigate changes in ranking and traffic: Loss of traffic/ranking may be due to an inability to create enough “buzz,” neutral or negative reactions to your content (or colors), or problems both simple and complex related to site usability. For example, if the “pages viewed per visit” metric is decreasing, it could indicate that people are using devices smaller than a standard computer rental—poking links with your finger on a 5-inch screen is a lot harder than clicking them on a 24-inch monitor. You should work at least as hard to discern the reason(s) for improved metrics, as well.
4. You MUST have current, relevant content: What pops into your mind when you visit a site where the blog hasn’t been updated in months, or the home page has a banner advertising an event that happened last year? It’s probably not something positive. Just about everyone on Earth has a net-connected iPad rental, smartphone, or PC, so there is nowhere to hide. Creating a blog is an ideal way to keep fresh content up at all times, but letting it die in plain sight tells everyone that you can’t follow through on your own marketing plans. Cleaning up the problem doesn’t erase it, either. Remember: The Internet never forgets.
5. You MUST stay up-to-date with design standards: This means that your overall page layout and theme—as well as the copy, photos, and graphics therein—cannot get stale. There really is a “generational continuum” in the look of the web and its component websites, so sites built in 1999do look ancient. With dated-looking pages, users will, without knowing it, alter the way they approach, use, and remember the site. Of course, the bottom line is managing your brand identity and displaying it in a clean, clear, stylish, unique way—consistently, across all media, all the time.
CRE keeps you moving forward, all the time, with first-rate iMacs and MacBook Pro rentals for the creative power needed to update your website, to event production rentals and all the mass storage, rendering power, and post-production gear you need. Call us at 877-266-7725, send us a message, or make a visit to our Quick Rental Quote form. There are plenty of ways to get the ball rolling—and, at CRE, we never drop it! Call now!
Sometimes the people we honor as first and foremost in their fields weren’t really the first, and aren’t always foremost, either. The father of the automobile, Henry Ford, was years behind other pioneers. The father of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, didn’t make the critical breakthroughs that led to the weapon’s success. But if there’s anyone who really deserves the title “father of computing”—besides the brilliant Alan Turing and the amazing Charles Babbage, who have their supporters for the title—it’s John von Neumann.
Born in 1903 in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, von Neumann was a child prodigy who earned his Ph.D. in mathematics at 22—and earned a diploma in chemical engineering the same year. Before the age of 25, von Neumann had been the youngest teacher at the University of Berlin and published more than a dozen papers in major journals. In 1930, he moved to the U.S.
Before Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, and the insanely great Macintosh and iMac computers, there was Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Studies, Albert Einstein, and the University of Pennsylvania’s historic EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer).
The Number-Crunching Visionary
Einstein and von Neumann were among the first few faculty members of the Institute for Advanced Studies, and von Neumann remained there from its inception in 1933 until his death, even as he continued working on EDVAC and other projects. In 1945, von Neumann described what later became known as “von Neumann Architecture” when he published a set of incomplete notes as First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC. This foundational characteristic of computing—that memory can store and manipulate both sequenced instructions and data—was one of many von Neumann breakthroughs. It’s why we have iPad rentals, smartphones, and robotic dogs today.
The von Neumann Architecture became the early, de facto standard for computing, and although there are now more advanced ones, “the original” is still in use. From punch-card input and room-size computers, via big beige boxes and CRTs, to today’s LCD touchscreen monitor rental and potent laptops, von Neumann’s fingerprints are all over the place—and not just in computing. The fields of physics, mathematics, game theory, economics, strategic thinking, logic, and quantum mechanics owe von Neumann big thanks, as well. So do we all, as von Neumann was also a deep thinker but, unlike Einstein, was not troubled by the nuclear genie escaping the bottle, and did not fear an Armageddon.
Died Too Young
“Can We Survive Technology?” was the title of a Fortune magazine article that von Neumann wrote in 1955. (His answer: “Yes.”) Since he knew science and technology could be put to both good and evil ends, he said that solving future problems (meaning today’s problems) would require “patience, flexibility [and] intelligence.” Invited to give the Silliman Memorial Lectures at Yale, he died before he could do so, in 1957, aged just 53. Published posthumously by Yale University Press in 1958 as The Computer and the Brain, von Neumann’s Silliman presentation compares “computing machines” with the human brain. Various notes and manuscripts that von Neumann kept over the years were organized and edited by his EDVAC colleague, Arthur Burks, and published in 1966 as Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata. It is read widely today.
John von Neumann was a brilliant and original thinker, and we honor his many contributions. Without him, we would quite simply not have the problem-solving, leading-edge render farms and mass storage devices that help you get your work done. Whether you need tools, tech, or expertise, call us at (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit the Quick Rental Quote page.
The times they are a-changin’—since nothing is constant but change, right? Changes in the tech world don’t come any bigger than Steve Ballmer leaving Microsoft. It’s a whirlwind for Microsoft right now—a new Xbox debuting soon, the purchase of Nokia’s wireless biz for about $7 billion, the meandering journey of Windows 8, ad nauseam. Yet it is certainly no secret that a solid, growing majority of pundits, tech analysts, industry observers, and ratings firms have signaled that Ballmer’s departure is probably a good thing.
Without a doubt, Mr. Ballmer is the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today. Not only has he singlehandedly steered Microsoft out of some of the fastest growing and most lucrative tech markets (mobile music, handsets and tablets) but in the process he has sacrificed the growth and profits of not only his company but “ecosystem” companies such as Dell, Hewlett Packard and even Nokia. The reach of his bad leadership has extended far beyond Microsoft when it comes to destroying shareholder value—and jobs.
Hartung notes that Microsoft’s stock price reached its historic high of about $60 in 2000, the year Gates handed off control to Ballmer. Just two years later it was in the $20 range, and has yo-yo’d between that and the low-$30s ever since. It’s not any one thing, but a succession of miscues that affected every aspect of the business. The firm is still ubiquitous—most any computer rental will likely run Windows 7 or 8, unless you opt for a Mac or a Linux box—but is no longer the leader, innovator, or style-setter that once challenged Apple in those categories (it’s true, youngsters!). It’s hard to imagine any tech writer favorably comparing the troubled Surface tablets to our potent iPad rental. No one looks at Microsoft and thinks, “They’re so hip! They’re so stylish!”
Ballmer Bummers & Blunders
So, what has Ballmer’s decade-and-a-third accomplished for Microsoft? It’s not an exhaustive list—since making one would be exhausting—but here’s a sample of Ballmer Bummers & Blunders:
The Ballmer era has seen constant, continual delays on rollouts of new/upgraded hardware and software.
The lack of added value in upgrades encouraged user avoidance and piracy.
The future of Microsoft apparently rests on Windows 8.
Hartung characterizes that last one, betting on Windows 8, as an “insane bet for any CEO,” and it would not have happened had the Microsoft board of directors replaced Ballmer “with a CEO that…would have kept Microsoft current with market trends.” While Microsoft has by no means become a failure, Hartung says that no CEO should have been “allowed to take such incredible risks with investor money and employee jobs.” The Forbes contributor ends by advising Ballmer to go home and “enjoy his fortune” instead of making it impossible for employees and investors to make their own.
We will keep you posted on all things Microsoft in the coming weeks: the transition to a new CEO, the debut of the new Xbox, the marketing campaign for Windows 8, and all the rest! In the meantime, we’re here 24/7/365 to solve your problems. Call 877-266-7725, send us a message, or visit our Quick Rental Quote page to take care of things in your own time. CRE’s got you covered!
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!
Meeting Professionals International (MPI) brings its World Education Congress (WEC 2013) to Las Vegas from July 20-23. Implementing “transformational leadership” is the key challenge for the future of business, so the meeting industry is continuously working to transform itself and perfect its role as a catalyst of change. And “change” means finding the “inspiration to think in new ways and try new things,” as the WEC 2013 site explains. This is the attitude that drove the development of the first IBM-PC, just as it did the first iMac, and it’s the mindset that looks at the future and feels optimistic. Good stuff!
WEC will have the educational sessions and the people that can help you change “how you do what you do.” Alexis M. Herman, the first African American Labor Secretary, will address Tuesday’s General Session and present a challenge to the meetings industry: to work harder and smarter, and realize its “full potential as an industry [and] a global force.” As the iPad rental and other new tech tools continue to transform individuals, Herman looks to transform corporate culture, finding profit plus purpose in social action and pushing through traditional boundaries into new territory. If you’re a meeting professional, don’t miss out! Exhibiting? We are the premier trade show convention rentals firm. Call us!
Comic-Con International: San Diego 2013
The original comic book conference is coming to the San Diego Convention Center from July 18-21. Through the years (decades!) Comic-Con’s special guests have included comics publishers, TV/film professionals, sci-fi and fantasy writers, and creators from every nook and cranny of popular and fine arts. Also joining in are masses of tech heads—some in alien makeup and space-cowboy costumes—as well as every kind of comic book fan in the known universe.
There will be fabulous films, celebrities, networking, parties, demonstrations, swag, silliness, exclusive panel presentations, and downright serious speechifying, too. Comic-Con truly has it all, including:
a humongous Exhibit Hall (currently 460,000+ square feet);
a giant program schedule with hundreds of events, from hands-on workshops to academic offerings;
the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the comics biz “Oscar” now in its 25th year; and
film, cartoon, and anime screenings as well as a separate film festival.
If you’re an exhibitor this year, you know you need more than colorful signage on your great LCD touchscreen monitor rental. You’re in the land of the insanely creative, remember? You need great ideas executed with compelling artistic originality in a captivating, provocative, experiential extravaganza. (Yikes!) Aim very, very high. CRE can help, if you need technology ideas. Consider Comic-Con’s own perfect summation of what the event has signified for over 40 years: “[L]ove of the comics medium continues to be its guiding factor as the event moves toward its second half-century as the premier comic book and popular arts style convention in the world.” You’re in the Hall of Kings. ’Nuff said!
From Sunday, July 21 through Thursday, July 25, 2013, SIGGRAPH 2013 will draw designers, computer artists, and “interactive tech” professionals from scores of nations to the Anaheim Convention Center for what is widely agreed to be the industry’s premier conference. The first-rate technical and creative sessions are the “big deal” of the event—if you’re going, there is still time to get the trade show convention rentals you need—and SIGGRAPH’s contributions to science, art, computer animation, music, education, gaming, and the web have been many and influential.
This year, a special three-day exhibition of products and services from various computer, graphics, and interactive-tech firms will take place from July 23-25. In fact, there is so much going on that you really should bookmark the conference chair’s page if you’re attending. There you can learn about the new SIGGRAPH 2013 app, and read tips on maximizing your conference experience. The app lets you leave session feedback; check maps, schedules, and exhibitor information; and network with other visitors.
If you’re planning to exhibit at any of these or other upcoming events, call CRE’s expert Account Executives to get first-rate advice about everything from specialized high-tech gear like video walls to such basic but essential needs as office equipment rentals. Call (877) 266-7725, send us a message, or head to our Quick Rental Quote page. However you reach us, we are on the job for you immediately, saving you time, money, and energy.
The Microsoft Build Developer Conference (subtitled “The Next Generation of Modern Apps”) took over a chunk of San Francisco last Wednesday through Friday (June 26-28, 2013). It’s a year-round ritual for Big Tech to roll out the revival meetings and fanfests (er, conferences and breakout sessions), and since Google had theirs and Apple just dominated the June news, it’s arguably Microsoft’s “turn.”
This year, there was a strange mix of anticipation and giddiness, as there are more positive developments coming out of Redmond now than have been seen in many moons. With the iMac, and desktops in general, sales continue to slide, but Microsoft’s in a good position with its own tablet hardware/software “ecosystem”–every bit as closed as Apple’s iOS walled garden, at least so far–and Windows 8.1 is looking to make good on the predictions of Windows 8′s success (and make up for the slow uptake that spelled failure for 8.0).
In three geeky days in The City by the Bay, the Build Conference delivered the goods to a grateful crowd, then the world. We took it all in, considered all the different views, then boiled it down to just the news you can use. And we’re off…!
Missing parts restored
From the first news last year that the Start button would be retired, a huge majority of users derided the move. When Windows 8 was released without it, the derision turned into barely contained rage. Though Windows 8.1 restores the apparently life-sustaining tool, rather than invoking a narrow menu it routes you right to the start screen tiles, now the kind of eye candy that looks downright edible on our LCD touchscreen monitor rental. The entire user interface (UI) has been “unbolted” a bit to allow for additional, unique user customizing—and better accessibility for keyboard & mouse users without touchscreens.
Windows 8.1 adds back something else that was inexplicably left out of the initial release: support for a range of screen resolutions and dimensions. On ultra-high-res displays–as on CRE’s MacBook Pro rental and the Chromebook Pixel–some Windows 8 buttons are so small they’re impossible to click. The 8.1 update fixes this. Microsoft knows that 18 months from now, if you rent laptops, you’re as likely as not to get ultra-high-res screens. The company sees the zillions of 7- and 8-inch tablets coming, too, so it’s tweaking Windows to look right wherever it’s used.
And some new things, too
Let’s not forget that next generation of apps line, as the near future may see touch-enabled Microsoft Office apps. This was the most buzzworthy of in-conference buzz. Several Microsoft speakers mused about swiping and poking their way through PowerPoint presentations. Presently, Office apps are usable only in “desktop mode” and not via start screen tiles (“Metro”), thus still run fine on any basic Windows computer rental you can find. But if PowerPoint, Word, and Excel do go touchy-feely, it could be huge for Microsoft.
Bing’s overhaul bolstered visual search aids and results, while Xbox Music and Mail underwent cosmetic surgery. One of Windows 8.1′s many under-publicized features lets you “snap” apps together, using them simultaneously for true multitasking. Finally, despite lukewarm sales of the Xbox One, Microsoft hinted that building apps for Windows 8.1 would be a “head start” on subsequent development for the slow-selling game console. Windows 8.1 has no official release date yet, but a preview is available for download.
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!