Microsoft debuted the Consumer Preview (beta) version of its Windows 8 Operating System (OS) recently, looking for the public’s input (read: free troubleshooting) for a critically important product designed to run on devices big and small. Now that laptops and tablets outsell desktops, we’re seeing the same thing from Apple – the convergence of its legacy desktop system, OS X (now at 10.7.3), with elements from the newfangled smartphone/tablet system, iOS (now at version 5).
OS…aging but not obsolete
This convergence is more of a challenge to Microsoft than to Apple. New Macintoshes like the iMac will only run the latest versions of OS X, and those will only run on post-2006, Intel-based Macs. On the other hand, both new and old PCs will run XP, Vista, Windows 7 and, soon enough, Windows 8. This is the “product line fragmentation” that Microsoft has been trying to resolve for years, despite its leading to such niche products as the special “pen-based” OS installed on our tablet PC rentals.
XP is now an 11-year-old platform. Although it still reigns as the most popular Windows OS, and is a popular choice for a PC desktop computer rental, it is gradually giving way to Windows 7. NetApplications, the research firm that tracks such things, reports that XP’s market share slipped from 47 percent in January 2012 to 45 in February. In this same period, Windows 7 added what XP lost, rising from 36 to 38 percent of all users. Vista is a distant third at roughly 8 percent.
The future’s spelled “8″
Since its debut in October 2009, Windows 7 has gained ground every month. It has picked up XP users slowly – but Vista users quickly. It was Vista, in fact, that introduced some of the design elements of the new Windows 8 look and feel. You can still rent laptops with Vista if you need it, but Microsoft wants users to move from XP and Vista to Windows 7, in accordance with the firm’s “Map for the Future.” Microsoft does not want XP and Vista users waiting for the commercial release of Windows 8.
Microsoft is reminding everyone, especially firms with large numbers of PCs, that official support for XP ends April 6, 2014. After that, no more updates, bug fixes, security tweaks or patches. Despite the fact that it would make for a more efficient transition, the firm will not require XP or Vista users to install Windows 7 before upgrading to Windows 8. (The Windows 8 Consumer Preview download has install-in-place options for XP, Vista and 7.) They may have their druthers, but Microsoft will take Windows 8 users any way it can get ‘em.
Need a desktop computer with Windows OS? Simply call or e-mail CRE Rentals to get an experienced Account Executive to assist you, or use the Quick Rental Quote form if you know what you need. We’re always ready with the right solution at the right price – right now!
The 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.
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!
Computers are not optional. They’re a way of life. But desktops, laptops, servers and other IT devices can take as much energy to cool as they do to run, so there is substantial environmental impact. Even CRE’s individually efficient Mac Pro rentals add to the challenge when you have a company full of them, plus as many (or more) PCs and other equipment.
Stanford University recently reported that 15% of total campus electricity use is for an IT infrastructure with 40,000 computers and 6,000 servers. At some firms, the IT energy share can reach 50%. The double-barreled challenge is to reduce both financial and environmental impacts.
Sustainable IT management targets both the systems and the facilities that house them. Mitigating the cost and environmental impact of IT-related activity includes
reducing the electricity demands for computing and telecom equipment,
minimizing the energy used for cooling,
decreasing the total amount of energy used to build the systems,
reallocating the resources needed for new facilities, and
reducing the electronic waste resulting from equipment disposal.
Every business is different, so you will have to consider your unique situation, but here are some things to keep in mind while doing so.
Computers and office equipment
Companies can start saving energy one computer at a time and make a dramatic impact. The iMac, like Windows PCs, has utilities to manage energy consumption, automate backups, simplify maintenance and protect against crashes. “Smart” power strips also help.
The Stanford study estimated that just dimming monitors and letting computers “sleep” saves the university over 2 million kWh of electricity annually. All computers, whether generic beige boxes or an all-in-one multitouch display PC, must meet EnergyStar requirements.
Advanced new instrumentation enables ongoing monitoring and automated temperature control. Energy requirements are reduced by “cold-aisle containment” and variable speed drives on air-handling devices.
The Satellite Server Room section of Stanford’s study indicated that, whether you use Apple’s Xserve technology or some other, how you design and manage server rooms “can make a 2x difference” in operating costs. Design matters, big time!
Server virtualization gives you multiple virtual servers on a single physical one, reducing energy use tremendously. Virtualization also means improved increased flexibility, superior crash recovery and reduced operating costs. VMware and others make virtualization products for use in any modern computing environment, from mainframes on down.
Energy savings via mobility
Various types of “work anywhere” systems allow mobile and remote access, communication and collaboration via smart phones, tablet PCs and iPad rentals. Costs (and greenhouse gases) associated with travel go down, while overall efficiency goes up.
A great deal of effort goes into planning for sustainability. CRE is part of that plan because of our own “green philosophy” and the efficiencies of renting vs. buying certain technology. It’s different for every firm, so call or e-mail an experienced Account Executive and talk about it. Know what you need? Hit our Quick Rental Quote form and you’ll be on your way in no time!
DT Videolabs has a short, sweet product line. Along with two versions of its playback software, PlaybackPro and PlaybackPro Plus, the firm makes two USB keyboard controllers and a few other products. Adding Playback Pro Plus software and the 40-key PlaybackPro Plus USB Controller turns your computer into a digital video powerhouse. DT Videolabs’ products work with Apple towers, laptops and the iMac, but not Windows PCs.
Setup and use
The PlaybackPro Plus software is a snap to install, and the keyboard simply plugs into a USB port. Because the products are Mac-centric, DT Videolabs recommends that you save clips in Apple’s ProRes 422 format on a RAID 0 drive to ensure the best quality and reliability. CRE, of course, is an expert in Xserve RAID and other mass storage solutions.
This software/controller combo gives you a flexible multi-channel player that becomes a recorder, too, when you add the RecordPro application. The features are extensive:
cut and dissolve between clips
variable fade and kill settings
individual control of gain, saturation, gamma, volume and black levels
automatic adjustment of output resolution and aspect ratio
works in any ratio (4:3, 16:9, etc.) with infinite adjustability of sizing, stretching and cropping
With keyboard controls logically laid out, the learning curve is short, and adding the appropriate QuickTime components lets you use almost any file format. With a switching system that accepts VGA, DVI, DisplayPort or HDMI high-res inputs – which the Thunderbolt port on new Macs like our MacBook Pro rental can handle with simple adapters – you can connect directly, and even gen-locked signals can be handled with just a simple add-on or plug-in.
The same kind of tight hardware/software integration that makes using a Mac Pro a “seamless experience” enables the DT combo to give you total control of every function. The device is essentially half a keyboard with buttons in clearly divided Preview and Program areas (left and right, respectively), with Loop, Freeze and Link buttons in the middle. Group buttons are color coded, and there’s a double-sized green “Take” button on the left and a same-sized red “Kill” button on the right. It all makes sense – and works great.
The PlaybackPro Plus software/controller combo is perfect for corporate presenters, and is even making inroads into the hotel, theater and concert/touring industries. Adding DT’s controller and software to a Mac yields a dependable, professional presentation solution. And we should know – CRE is the leader in trade show convention rentals, as well as potent post-production gear, high-end A/V equipment, plasma display rentals, touch screens, workstations and computers. Call or e-mail an Account Executive, or use our Quick Rental Quote form, to get the right tool for the right job – right now!
Smart phones, iPods, tablets and netbooks have joined the venerable laptop on the list of web-connected mobile devices. Screen sizes range from under an inch to 10 inches for leading tablets like an iPad rental, wreaking havoc with many website layouts. This motivated Microsoft, Google, Vodaphone and Nokia to form Mobile Top Level Domain (Mltd) as both a source for the dot-mobi domain and a promoter of new standards.
So what’s the big deal? A huge audience, that’s what. There are about 330 million cell phones in the U.S. alone, with Apple selling a big chunk of them (plus iPads, iPods and Macs). Add in all the Android tablets and e-readers and the number gets big enough to make marketing managers positively giddy. The Online Publishers Association (OPA) estimates that some 75% of mobile devices already access the Internet and, as time goes by, more of them will have real browsers.
General rules for website design
All businesses need to make it easy for clients and customers to connect with them. That used to mean a Yellow Pages ad. With the advent of the Internet, it came to mean a website viewed on a home or office monitor. Today it means being available to people everywhere – at home, at work and, increasingly, on the go – whether they’re using a phone, an iMac or a laptop.
So, what’s the best way for your site to meet the mobile challenge? Here are a few rules of thumb:
• Take a test-drive: At the very least, your company’s basic business information (name, address, phone, e-mail) should display clearly on a cross-section of mobile devices. Visit your site from a smartphone or two, a 7- or 10-inch pad and a tablet PC rental, for example. If you need a new site to accommodate mobile devices, you will know it immediately.
• Your existing site may work: If it is simple HTML, without e-commerce capabilities and a Content Management System (CMS), your current site may be fine for mobile devices. If it is, you can get away with simply registering a dot-mobi extension and forwarding visitors to your existing site.
• Color counts, too: If you are going to tweak colors across devices – using calibrated color management or Pantone color-matching – you need a big, high-resolution monitor made for color accuracy. Of course, this perfectly describes our plasma display rentals.
• Double up: If you have a complicated site, it may be best to host a brochure or bullet-list version of your website on your dot-mobi domain (same as your .com, if possible). Remember, your mobile site exists so that people can find and contact you, quickly and simply, by phone, e-mail or a (secure) browser form.
With the advent of the computer era, and the ongoing miniaturization of circuitry, the world is fairly awash in electronic “stuff,” and it’s cheaper to replace many devices than fix them. So we throw away tons of electronic waste (e-waste) including TVs, monitors, laptop and desktop computers, printers, cell phones, faxes, copiers, etc. Even today’s iMac is tomorrow’s e-waste. Government at all levels has taken steps to deal with the issue. As CRE is headquartered in California – among the states that lead in eco-friendly initiatives – we will focus this e-waste primer on the Golden State.
If electronic waste is disposed of in landfills or illegally dumped, it could introduce toxic matter into the ground water and otherwise pollute the environment. Also, with limited landfill area available, it is basic good sense to reduce, reuse and recycle what we can. With these matters in mind, California passed its Electronic Waste Recycling Act in 2003 (expanded in 2005). It included an “Advance Recycling Fee” of $6-10 charged at the point of sale on video displays, as well as recycling and administrative requirements.
What should I do with e-waste?
E-waste is collected for free at L.A. County Household Hazardous/ Electronics Waste Collection Events that are scheduled every weekend throughout the year. Various cities, including the City of Los Angeles, also operate centers for the public. Most services are available at no charge to residents. There are currently six permanent HHW collection centers in the County.
If your electronics are still usable, you can list them on LACoMAX, the County’s materials exchange website, or donate them to charity. Some charities, notably Goodwill, even accept broken-but-repairable electronics like obsolete computers. (If you buy instead of rent laptops, you’ll be giving them yours every couple of years, too.) In addition, you can contact your own City’s recycling department to learn of other programs.
To find a recycler in L.A. County, use the DWP’s Smart Business Recycler Locator or check the databases maintained by CalRecycle (particularly useful for businesses). Here are the links:
• Reduce waste – buy only what you need, use only what you buy. CRE’s business model is green at its very core, as our entire inventory – from event production rentals to high-tech production gear – is available without making large capital outlays. We’re “sharing the wealth” tech-wise and reducing unnecessary consumption.
• Reuse what you have – by giving useful items to friends or charity.
• Recycle things – when they’re no longer useful to anyone.
CRE is your one-stop shop for high-end post-production gear, convention rentals, computers, office equipment, audio/visual support – everything you need, for everything you do. Call or e-mail an expert Account Executive, or use the Quick Rental Quote form, and get exactly what you need for what you do!
Newsweek magazine’s second annual Green Rankings for 2010 rates the most environmentally conscious, least wasteful companies in America. For the second time (the list started in 2009), the rankings were dominated by technology firms, which took eight spots in the top 10. The Green Rankings reward firms that save energy and eliminate waste, with a company’s “green score” being a weighted average of three “subscores” that quantify green policies, environmental impacts and company reputation.
New for 2010 is an additional assessment of corporate transparency, that is, how much data each firm discloses about its environmental policies, procedures and programs. CRE’s own Green Statement makes clear our own commitment to transparency, sensible stewardship and sustainability, and we feel it’s important to recognize the great work of other high-tech firms. So, who’s the greenest of them all?
Who’s on first?
Computer maker Dell won the #1 spot on the second annual Green Rankings with such strong and innovative environmental policies as free product recycling worldwide and a strict ban on exporting e-waste to developing nations. At #2 this time, and the 2009 winner, is Hewlett-Packard, whose energy-efficient models are well represented among CRE’s PC desktop computer rentals.
Like Dell, #2 HP brings its new, clean, future-oriented thinking to bear on all facets of its business. So, while warm, fuzzy, feel-good ads might interest some potential customers, making efficient products will actually get green consumers buying. Dell, H-P, #3 IBM and other PC makers now produce desktops and laptops that use up to 25 percent less energy than 2008 models. Many such models are available when you rent laptops from CRE.
Not only hardware
Media companies like #8 Yahoo earned points (and respect) for unique cooling solutions in their data centers, which are voracious consumers of energy. Yahoo’s “evergreen” data centers now consume 40% less energy and an astonishing 94% less water than typical installations. With all the tablet PC rentals, iPads, smart phones and mobile web gadgets in the world, and the growing demand on such data centers, this is an important development.
The rest of the tech firms in the top 10 (U.S.) are #4 Intel, #5 Sprint Nextel, #6 Adobe Systems and #7 Applied Materials.
You’re the top!
Every CRE client and customer is a “top firm,” and we’re ready to give you our very best to help you overcome a wide range of challenges. From trade show convention rentals to high-end post-production gear like mass storage and render farms, we’ve got you covered. Call or e-mail an expert Account Executive today, or “go self-serve” with our Quick Rental Quote form if you know what you need. Either way, we’ll equip you to succeed as “greenly” as possible!
In Part 1 of “10 New Technologies You’ll See in 2012″, we gave you the first 5 new technologies to expect in the future. Today, lets get the last five blockbuster developments which includes even more hardware, software, smart appliances and multipurpose devices.
6. Android 4. Technoids are looking forward to the Samsung Nexus, and not because of the phone – it will be the first smart phone to run Ice Cream Sandwich or Android 4. (Android 3 was called Honeycomb. Go figure.) Although Apple holds the lead in smart phones and tablets with its iOS-powered devices, Android is a solid alternative in both product categories, and new ones like embedded systems.
7. Branded tablets. Following the successful Kindle 3, Amazon is revising its approach to branding and product development. There has been talk of a touchscreen version, and the rumor mill now suggest that Amazon will release two different Android tablets in 2012. Aggressive pricing is a given, as is the entry into the tablet market of innumerable other companies.
8. Hybrid hard drives. Solid State Drives (SSDs) are fast, but expensive. Rotating-platter hard drives are inexpensive and offer huge storage capacities, but can’t keep up with CPU and system bus speeds. Until SSD prices come down with time, hybrid drives will combine fast-booting SSDs with big conventional drives to speed things up a bit. For swift, large- scale storage today you can rely on Ethernet disk RAID rentals, but tomorrow’s technology will encompass a variety of drive types and configurations.
9. Multi-touch commands. The futuristic trackpads on the new MacBook Pro rentals and Apple’s Magic Trackpad, introduced multi-touch commands to modern computing. Other manufacturers’ laptops, tablets and digitizing pads are moving the same direction, as the touch interface is natural for humans. As the screen costs continuing dropping, you will find touch commands on everything from vending machines to refrigerators.
10. Wireless everything. We had a blog with that title last November, which is ages ago in “tech time.” Suffice it to say that we really mean everything this time. You’ve seen the WiFi all-in-one office devices, right? HP was a trailblazer, but WiFi printing and scanning is old hat now, especially compared to the astonishing new “EyeFi” SecureDigital cards. They’re so astonishing, in fact, that they made our “Gadget Fun for August” blog last week. Pay attention, in particular, to advances in wireless power and charging stations.
CRE pays close attention to tech trends, as well as what its customers need. With great service to complement the expertise of our Account Executives, your call or e-mail will get you the right answers, right now. If you know what you need, of course, our Quick Rental Quote form will get you in, out and on your way.
We’re deep enough into 2011 to make some “tech predictions” for 2012, despite the big non-tech prediction calling it humanity’s last year of existence. We prefer to think positively, and we’re positive you will find the “10 New Technologies You’ll See in 2012″ Parts 1 and 2 – as useful as they are interesting.
1. Windows 8. Windows 7 came out ahead of the usual Microsoft (MS) schedule due to the low adoption rates of Vista. Windows 7, more stable than its predecessor, has been well received on CRE computer rentals. (Meanwhile, so many people stuck with XP that MS finally had to declare an end to XP support in April 2014 to prod its installed base of users along the upgrade path.) Watch for Windows 8 in 2012, with cloud integration and a complete overhaul of the file system.
2. New components and form factors. The cylindrical tube in the accompanying image looks very much like a futuristic scroll. Unlike great laptop rentals, this device isn’t ready for work yet, but computer scientist and designer Hao Hua’s “next generation laptop design” does feature emerging tech like a flexible OLED screen, flexible pull-out keyboard, straps with USB outlets and a wrist-mounted webcam. You will see these features debuting independently in new products that will compete for attention (and buyers) starting next year.
3. Smart TVs. The Vizio XVT3D6SP has a very easily satirized model name – it looks like comic book swearing – but it won CNET’s Best of CES award in the TV category and is a major hit. Passive 3D functionality, LED backlighting and Google in the DNA makes it part of a true dynamic duo when paired with an Android phone or tablet. The era of net- and computer-connected TVs is fully upon us, and this is the trailblazer.
4. iPhone 5. Rumors of a radical new design are based on the assumption that the Apple iPhone 5 needs a new lease on life. Instead, say other observers, Apple will follow its usual evolutionary path. The iPhone isn’t new, and doesn’t need much in the way of new excitement to stay wildly popular. It is much more likely that internal improvements – an A5 processor, FaceTime cameras like those found in MacBook Pro rentals, improved battery life – will get the nod, as the body and screen are already gorgeous.
5. LightPeak aka Thunderbolt. Sony is incorporating leading-edge technology throughout all its product lines. For its VAIO PCs and laptops, some of which are in our computer rentals inventory, Sony has now added the same next-gen connection technology (LightPeak, aka Thunderbolt) that the new iMac rentals have, and other computer makers are poised to follow.
Unfortunately, we can’t help you with these new technologies just yet but we can offer you some other digital strategies to improve your company’s workflow. Talk it over with an expert Account Executive in a phone call or e-mail, or use the Quick Rental Quote if you know what you need. We’re always ready to help!
Don’t forget to check out Part 2 – “10 New Technologies You’ll See in 2012.”
Reports from last week’s WWDC 2011 conference confirm that Apple’s Mac OS X Lion (10.7) is going through a process of “iPadification,” borrowing visual cues and multi-touch gestures from the iOS that runs CRE’s iPad rentals. But the two operating systems will not merge. OS X will remain a computer-only creature while iOS will run Apple’s tablets and phones.
Microsoft has decided to think different, to coin a phrase. Following the botched Vista and the well-received Windows 7, Microsoft settled on a new tablet-style interface for Windows 8 and will deploy it for desktops, laptops and tablets. In the MS lineup, it will be phones not PCs, that have their own OS (now called Windows 7 Phone). Microsoft has to begin seriously competing in an insane tablet market of the iPad’s making.
Share and share alike
Windows has an installed base of some 93% of the world’s PCs. Sounds great, but it’s a big challenge: MS must keep existing Windows users happy on their desktops and laptops, while capturing (and satisfying) tablet users with the same user interface. Remember, too, that Windows 8 will be designed for touch functionality.
Blogger Mike Halsey runs the Web site Windows8News, where he recently likened the upcoming OS to a “mashup.” Programmers drafted bits and pieces of Zune, Windows Phone and Media Center Metro to fashion a tablet-type user interface, but “big chunks” of classic Windows are there to maintain the “MS look and feel.” Its designers must make it as efficient with laptops and computer rentals as with the various styles and sizes of wireless devices.
Shared OS…it just might work
Some pundits are dubbing Microsoft’s strategy a “have your cake and eat it, too” approach that will only work if MS can merge the two interfaces seamlessly. From recent peeks, official and otherwise, they may be getting close. In the Apple universe, it would be as if the iPad had a secret “stealth mode” for using OS X when needed. But that’s not how the story was written, and Apple’s astonishing success suggests Steve Jobs made the right call.
A shared-OS approach doesn’t make sense for Apple. Does it for Microsoft? Perhaps. If the company retains ties to Windows’ original, “old school” heritage as it moves into the mobile market – pads, phones, tablet PC rentals, etc. – it will have a potent OS offering real options. If users don’t like the Windows 8 “tile” user interface, for instance, they can easily switch to the “classic” Windows look. Windows 8 will be released in 2012, according to a Senior Marketing Executive.
Windows has always given users the freedom to choose software, hardware components and drivers, so providing a choice of interfaces builds on a core strength. CRE’s core strength is helping you break through challenges and workflow bottlenecks. Call or e-mail an expert Account Executive, or use the Quick Rental Quote form, and get hold of the solutions you need right now!