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September 6th, 2012

The invasion of the SSDs (Solid State Drives) has begun. Although hard disk drives (HDDs) will likely survive – some contrarians even expect the 50-year-old technology to beat back the flash memory challenge – the fact is that SSDs are poised to sweep most HDDs into the dustbin of history. Solid State DriveAn SSD will no longer be just a high-end choice on a MacBook Pro rental or mobile device, either. Dropbox and Amazon are both deploying SSDs in their data centers now, and others companies big and small are jumping on the bandwagon. So what gives?

Time for a paradigm shift?

The veep that runs Intel’s Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, Rob Crooke, puts it succinctly: “We’re not talking 10, 20 percent improvement here. [SSDs] can be 10 times more reliable [and] a thousand times faster than a hard disk.” This means that web searches – on your desktop PC rental, smart phone, or tablet  – return increasingly accurate results with every letter you type. The newer, cheaper, faster type of flash memory in today’s SSDs that makes all this progress possible is called NAND.

Industry analysts predict that shipments of NAND flash memory for SSDs will hit 16.3 billion gigabytes in 2015, an astonishing increase from the 1.6 billion in 2011. Intel’s Crooke says the growing capabilities of SSDs will increase demand and “disrupt” the computing industry in a big way. The new svelte PC “ultrabooks” (based on the trailblazing MacBook Air) demonstrate that disruption and exemplify the superior characteristics of SSDs:

  • speed and responsiveness,
  • cooler and quieter operation,
  • reduced power consumption,
  • greater reliability and
  • longer life.

The future is now

At its data centers, Intel has deployed some 80,000 SSDs. Company records show HDD failures of around 4 percent per year, but for SSDs it is a mere one-half of one percent. So why doesn’t everyone just convert right now? It’s more expensive, at least for now. But CRE’s iPad rental holds the answer: With Apple’s tablet as a top seller, and numerous competitors coming out of the woodwork, the Cupertino firm is a big part of the growth in SSDs. Even at today’s prices, many companies have demonstrated that the total cost of converting to SSDs gradually decreases over time as employees become more productive.

Samsung and Toshiba are Intel’s major competitors in this niche, but the dramatic growth in SSD demand has encouraged a lot more companies to enter the fray. Some target specific segments like server SSDs and “commodity SSDs” for widespread use in embedded systems. We will keep you posted on the progress of SSDs, as the scope of their influence ranges from enterprise storage and high-end computing to phones, gadgets, and tablet PC rentals. There will be few high-tech niches untouched by this future-is-now technology. Stay tuned!

CRE Account Executives can suggest the right plasma display rentals for your conference booth or the appropriate Xserve RAID configuration for your mass storage needs. One call or e-mail, or a visit to our Quick Rental Quote page, and you’ll have the right solution, right now!

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 26th, 2012

In Part 1, we met übergeeks creating applications from scratch, and also discovered conference-oriented plug-ins that essentially make WordPress a development platform. In Part 2,  we offer an overview of custom conference app development as well as some basic features.

Bring on the expert coders

From freelancers specializing in coding to specialized app makers, there is a dramatic surge of custom app creation due to the growing use of “smart” electronics like GPS units, interactive devices, phones and tablets. Today’s business professionals – the people that attend conferences, corporate meetings,  trade shows – wouldn’t leave the house without their iPads, tablet PC rentals and smart phones.

Since marketing strategies need to “reach people where they are” (via whatever devices they have), you will likely need a few versions of your custom app – iOS, Android and web-based (HTML). Among the most successful apps are those that help organizations connect with their members, clients and/or customers, wherever they are, with products that are simultaneously effective and mobile (like guidebook to name one). The kind of custom conference app(s) businesses need are varied, but share some fundamental characteristics.

Custom app basic features

Besides continuing to promote the event after it has begun, which requires a bit of finesse, your custom conference app must

  • have versions for iOS (iPhone, iPad rental), Android (tablet, phone) and the web;
  • provide correct, up-to-date schedules for speakers, sessions and exhibit-floor events;
  • include an exhibit floor map that scales to viewers’ devices, whether they decide to rent laptops or bring their personal smart phones;
  • enable social media coverage via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and the new Google+ Events (subject of an upcoming blog);
  • introduce out-of-towners to the area (what to do, where to eat); and
  • give attendees a guaranteed way to reach you if they still have questions.

As you look into producing custom iOS and Android conference apps, consider using content that your marketing department has already created (website, brochures, etc.) to guarantee the same look and feel as your app. Whether viewing your site via MacBook Pro rental or using the new app on a smart phone, you want prospects, customers and other visitors to feel at home. Using certain kinds of custom apps in conjunction with one of our Audience Response Systems just might result in the most specific, useful prospect and customer information you’ve ever gotten.

Various firms and individuals can build a custom conference app to your exacting specifications. CRE works to a similarly high standard, with expert Account Executives who can suggest the right PC desktop computer rental for your new outbound sales team, as well as the appropriate Xserve RAID for your storage needs. One call or e-mail, or a trip to our Quick Rental Quote page, and you’ll have the right solution at the right price – right away!

June 26th, 2012

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

 

Microsoft Surface specs

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

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

Sink or swim for Microsoft?

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

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

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

March 15th, 2012

new iPad

In “The New iPad: Some Nice Surprises (Part 1),” we told you about the astounding new Retina display, the faster A5X processor and the impressive camera specifications. These great upgrades, however, may not be required by every user. Are there other reasons to move to the new iPad with the early adopters, or should you play it safe until the first bug reports?

Familiar feel, predicted prices

The new iPad adds but a sliver to the sleekness of the iPad 2. It’s 3/100th’s of an inch thicker (.37 vs. .34) with about 1-3/4 ounces more heft (1.44 vs. 1.33 lbs.), nearly imperceptible increases that should have no effect on day-to-day use. Like the iMac through its history, some upgrades leave the look alone and focus on the insides. If you liked the iPad 2 ergonomically – the design, the look and feel – you’ll recognize the new iPad’s pretty face and svelte body, but you don’t need to upgrade to enjoy these features.

For the new iPad, Apple kept the starting price the same (for the Wi-Fi model with 16GB of flash memory) and lowered its iPad 2 price. You won’t be giving up much if you’re not a gamer and don’t lust for that Retina display. If you do need it, and the cameras, you’ll have the extra oomph of the A5X to get the most from them – but if you have a good cell phone, forgo the 4G model and save some dough. Apple packed every bit of its smarts, style, quality and value into the entry-level price.

What to do?

It comes down to the cameras, the display and the CPU. It’s not like Apple engineers threw everything out and went back to Square One, as they did with the mighty Mac Pro some years back. They took a great product and did a combo update-upgrade with three very powerful improvements. Everything the company learned in years of making Apple Cinema Display rentals went into creating the new Retina display. If you spend time reading and playing high-end games, you are one of Apple’s top upgrade candidates.

Two more types are on that list: people who depend on mobile data networks, and the early adopters and pioneers of tablet photography. The 4G speed jump is far too great to pass up if you work and live online. You can rent laptops to cover the territory, of course, but when you need an iPad, well, you need an iPad! A mobile photographer, on the other hand, commonly uses a PC laptop or a MacBook Pro for processing, indexing, editing and “Photoshopping” – but a solo iPad can be note-taker, indexer, editor, camera and digital lab.

Not convinced? Don’t know what your business should use? Discuss it in a call or e-mail to CRE. Our expert Account Executives know their stuff, and everyone else’s, too. Whether you need audio visual (AV) equipment rentals or high-end post-production gear, CRE is your one-stop shop. And visit our Quick Rental Quote form day or night!

March 13th, 2012

The rumor mill is closed, the guesses and predictions are old news, and the new iPad is here. It has neither “3″ nor “HD” in its name. It’s “the new iPad” or, simply, “the iPad.” For CRE, iPad rentals will include iPad 2 as well as the model just introduced, which has some serious upgrades. Enough to get every iPad 2 owner to make the move? Let’s find out. Here’s part 1 of a two-part blog all about Apple’s latest core product.

new iPad

The top upgrades

The consensus “killer feature” is the Retina display that debuted on the iPhone, which doubles the pixels of the iPad 2 screen to a bright, sharp 2048 x 1536. The enhanced pixel count blows away the previous screens, and finally competes with other ultra-HD tablets in browsing, reading and especially gaming. The type of tech going into a high-resolution LCD touchscreen monitor rental is now being configured for smaller and smaller devices. Your eyes will be quite pleased with the new iPad.

In addition to having a great new screen – will rumors have it hitting the MacBook next? – the iPad marks Apple’s first “true” 4G device. Much faster than 3G, today’s 4G networks from Verizon and AT&T (which calls it “LTE”) promise video and everything else in a fast, fluid, stable stream. Of course, greater data speed makes it easy to download “stuff,” leading to costly overages, a main gripe against one of the Big Two iPad carriers (AT&T).

CPU, graphics, cameras also improved

As expected, Apple increased CPU power. While most prognosticators claimed the new iPad would have the A6, it has the quad-core A5X processor, which naturally has much in common with both the iPad 2′s dual-core A5 and the quad A6. Now endowed with true “high-def  gaming” power, the new iPad moves beyond the level of tablet PC rentals, and pretty close to pricey gamer dream machines like the Razer Project Fiona.

The original iPad had no cameras. The iPad 2′s front-facing one is okay for video chatting, but the back-facing one has under one megapixel for stills. The new iPad now surpasses the MacBook Pro in this department, with a solid 5MP camera for sharp stills and 1080p video, and Apple’s “photo-friendly experience” includes an iOS version of iPhoto. The “tablet photography” sector is brand new, so Apple is intent on conquering it. How? By helping you create as much or more content on the iPad as you consume with it.

Now appearing at CRE, of course, are all the great computers, trade show convention rentals and the high-tech post-production gear that media pros need. One call or e-mail, or one short visit to our Quick Rental Quote form, puts us to work for you right away!

Make sure to check out – “The New iPad: The More Things Change… (Part 2)” – on Thursday, March 15, 2012.

March 6th, 2012

Green GlobeThe green movement is no longer a fringe phenomenon, but a mainstream business strategy and lifestyle choice. One study shows that 56% of Americans are willing to pay a premium for green electronics that use less energy and are easily recycled. Thus, saving energy while reducing waste is a goal for manufacturers of tech devices, from the high-powered render farms that media professionals rely on, to new laptops that weigh (and cost) less all the time.

A comprehensive “green tech strategy” is unique for every product, addressing energy, cost, waste and sustainability in all phases of its life – R&D, design, manufacturing, marketing and sales, usage and disposal/recycling. Lenovo’s new ThinkPad laptops, for instance, use 10-25% recycled plastic. Apple products, from the entire Macintosh line to CRE’s popular iPad rentals, are designed with great attention to raw materials, advanced manufacturing techniques and easy recycling.

Multiple solutions

Companies are creating both hardware and software solutions. New energy-efficient desktops can run on one-third of the power a four-year-old PC requires. Intel’s new chips are more powerful without using more energy, like the one that appears destined for an updated Mac Pro. There are various methods for keeping computers in low-energy mode until users need more “juice” for tough tasks.

Even mundane products like office equipment rentals get the energy-smart treatment. Hewlett-Packard and other firms are making great progress with printers, scanners and “all-in-ones” that snap out of sleep mode quickly when needed, then go back to snoozing until needed again. Various new energy sources and strategies are being studied, but the best ways to reduce the overall eco-impact of computing are common sense and low-tech:

  • plug computers, monitors and printers into a single power strip and turn them off when not in use;
  • set your monitor to darken during inactivity, not run a bright, watt-hungry light show;
  • keep air slots unblocked, don’t let dust build up inside your PC and “keep it cool” computer-wise; and
  • extend the useful life of high-tech devices with proper care and maintenance.

We’re getting there

Tech firms need to consider environmental impact when crafting IT solutions and developing products for long, useful lives. Whether it’s a specialized Xserve RAID or something as common as a PC desktop computer rental, when high-tech devices reach the end of their usefulness, manufacturers and retailers work together to ensure that reusable components are properly reclaimed and recycled. Cradle to grave environmental responsibility? Not quite, but we’re getting there!

CRE takes its commitment to the environment seriously, the same way we take every customer question, concern or need. Got a conference coming up where you need to make a big splash with big plasma display rentals? Need some energy-efficient iMac rentals for that new project? One call or e-mail puts an experienced Account Executive on the job for you. If you know what you need, visit the Quick Rental Quote form and be on your way in minutes!

February 23rd, 2012

When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ran computer security tests in 2010 and 2011, the results were disappointing. In one incident, DHS agents surreptitiously dropped USB thumb drives, CDs and DVDs – compatible with every PC desktop computer rental and Mac in the world – in parking lots of both government departments and contractors.  Some 60 percent of the people that picked up these unmarked items inserted them into computers. Of the items with a government or industry logo, over 90 percent were inserted.

The results were not unexpected, as computer security professionals have known for some time that humans are the weakest link in the security chain. This is why hackers study psychology and sociology in addition to every possible kind of computer from a mainframe to an iMac. They exploit human vulnerabilities in addition to technological ones.

Computer security…it’s not like the movies

When people think of computer security, they imagine geeks with a MacBook Pro battling nerds with Windows 7 PCs. In real life, however, “all forms of online theft” cost the world’s economies about $1 trillion according to the Silicon Valley computer security firm, McAfee, Inc. The best defenses, corporate firewalls costing millions to build and manage, have done a decent job of blocking malware aimed at infecting computers, disrupting networks and stealing credit card numbers, account data and passwords.

But humans are the weak link, remember? The low-tech, virus-free “phishing” technique – sending e-mails that appear to come from a legitimate company – still gets plenty of confidential and extremely valuable information. Whale PhishingThe latest version is dubbed “whale phishing” as it targets senior executives whose computers contain, and link to, tons of valuable info. Data on iPad rentals or personal tablets can also be swiped, as they are backed up regularly via iCloud or USB.

Anti-phishing tips

After leveling off in previous years, phishing incidents were up almost 7 percent between June 2010 and May 2011, according to Symantec Corp. In addition to updating firewalls and strengthening security practices against other threats, here are some simple things you can do to combat phishing:

  • Check the sender of any e-mail that has attachments or embedded links. Don’t know them? Don’t open it.
  • Don’t enter personal or corporate information on a web or e-mail form.
  • If you get an info request that is supposedly from your bank or vendors, call them up.
  • Do not click on any links in any e-mail whose sender is unknown. One click to the wrong place can ruin your day (and your hard drive).

Remember, one call or e-mail to the right place, CRE Rentals, puts an experienced Account Executive to work just for you. You can also use our Quick Rental Quote form to get things going even faster. From event production rentals to the latest in high-end post-production gear, CRE is your one-stop shop.

February 14th, 2012

The news and debuts from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) have had some time to percolate among analysts, bloggers, businesspeople and gadget fans. We gave you some CES 2012 highlights a few weeks ago, but now we’re starting to get a feel for what’s hot, so let’s get to it!

Idea Pad YOGA

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga – The new product category of “ultrabook” could be defined as “a PC version of the Mac Air” – the original thin, lightweight MacBook variant. Now the first ultrabook/tablet hybrid, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, is made possible by a 360-degree hinge and the forthcoming release of finger-friendly Windows 8. Use the 13-inch touchscreen as a normal laptop display while typing on the keyboard, then flip it “around and over” for tablet use. Finally, a computer that really bends over backwards for you!

Blue Spark Digital – Blue manufactures professional audio gear, so calling the Spark Digital an “accessory” for iPad rentals doesn’t quite do it justice. This first studio-grade condenser microphone has two cables, one for the iPad, the other with USB connectors for PCs and Macs. A  condenser capsule enables high-fidelity recording. Along with adjustable desk stand and built-in shockmount, the Spark Digital includes a headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring.

Sony Xperia S – This smartphone with an 8MP camera, 4.3-inch HD screen and dual-core CPU provides a potent foundation. The device, which could debut as either a Sony or Ericsson product, has the latest near-field communications (NFC) technology. Tap the phone on an NFC terminal to pay, on another NFC phone to swap numbers – and stick the included SmartTags in convenient spots so you can customize various settings just by tapping them.

Fujifilm X-Pro 1 – Fujifilm delivers the first compact camera with serious swagger. It is both innovative and powerful, with an aluminum body, unique optical-plus-digital viewfinder and massive 16MP sensor. With three great lenses for this beauty, the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 will get you some beautiful shots, and make you look good doing it.

Blast Chiller – LG has a line of Smart appliances, including refrigerators, and the Blast Chiller is the super cool component to add for cooling cans (of soda, right?) in five minutes flat. The LG Jet Flow system fits inside one of the fridge’s French doors, and can also bring a bottle of wine to 42 degrees in eight minutes.

For media professionals that need render farms, or companies that need to double their online sales force with a room full of iMac rentals, CRE is the place.  Whether you call, e-mail or click over to our convenient, 24/7/365 Quick Rental Quote form, we’re tops in tech, so you get the right tools – and tops in service, so you get them right now.

January 12th, 2012

Sure, Apple will continue to upgrade its Macintosh line in the coming year, with the next changes in the iMac likely to be with the display (as well as a cosmetic facelift). The potent Apple portables, with the MacBook Pro rental at the top of the food chain, will probably get some “evolutionary” refinement, but no major changes. So what insanely great changes are coming up this year?

Apple’s 2012 strategy

The real action at the Cupertino company in 2011 was with its iOS devices, which will continue to be the firm’s big newsmakers in 2012. One thing we know:  iPad rental will have a “3″ at the end of its model name. It seems pretty clear that Apple’s big-ticket product in the first half of 2012 will be the iPad 3, with the iPhone 5 debuting in the second half of the year. We will take a look at the iPhone in an upcoming blog – the iPad 3 is the first order of business this year.

iPad3

Despite the proliferation of mobile devices like tablet PC rentals, Apple will doubtless continue to rule the market in tablets (and smart phones). There are literally dozens of iPad-centric sites, but the original is iLounge, and its recent coverage of iPad 3 rumors (and others) is cautious and thankfully un-hyped.

Where was iPad 2 weak?

The iPad 2 added some potent new features to the original model, but still failed to live up to several expectations. The dual-core A5 chip was a bona fide improvement, but both cameras in the iPad 2 are somewhat underwhelming compared to some competitors. Not for long. All this will change with third iteration of the iPad, which will likely feature an A6 processor and new, high-definition cameras, probably the same ones that will end up in a revamped MacBook rental line, too.

When the new iPad does launch, it will probably cannibalize sales of the iPad 2. However, this gives Apple the opportunity to place its legacy model in the mid-range tablets market, currently topped by Amazon’s new $199 Kindle Fire. Despite a great deal of speculation about Apple introducing a “mini” version of its hit tablet, or putting the iOS in a downsized MacBook Air, but there has been no evidence of this being seriously considered.

CRE Rentals stays abreast of technology and supports all your important work, from intense post-production tasks with an AJA Io HD to conference breakout sessions with our first-rate trade show convention rentals. Our expert Account Executives will respond swiftly to your call or e-mail, or you can speed things along even faster with our Quick Rental Quote form. When you’re ready, we’ll be here to help!

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