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!
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!
Tech giant Apple posted record-breaking numbers in Q1 2012, selling 15.4 million iPads, 15.4 million iPods, 37 million iPhones, and 5.2 million Macintosh computers for total sales of $46.33 billion. While scoring records for its other lines, the iPod number was down over 20% from Q1 2011. Through the next two quarters the Mac and iPhone figures dipped, too. In Q3 2012, sales were at 17 million iPads, 6.8 million iPods, 26 million iPhones, and 4 million Macs .
Apple now sells about four times as many iPads as Macs each quarter. In fact, with the proliferation of iPad rental units and booming sales worldwide, the Cupertino firm sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it has sold Macintosh models, ever. Clearly, iOS is now Apple’s “money” platform, and the company is working to adapt the Mac OS to the iOS look, feel, and “vision.”
This has prompted speculation that future Macs will operate on a “converged” OS. This is unlikely. Despite declining Mac sales, the computer will be with us for at least another decade, though some say not much longer. As long as there are iMacs, of course, CRE will have iMac rentals, as well as this blog to keep you in the know.
Mac to the future
If we imagine the kind of computer that people will be using 10 or 15 years from now, it would doubtless be more of an iPad than a Mac. A simple, low-cost, touch-based tablet seems a good guess, although it wouldn’t replace a notebook or desktop PC rental for everyone. Video pros, engineers, audio recordists, graphic artists, and others will always need as much power as possible, plus graphics accelerators, large monitors, special plug-in cards, and so forth.
The market for high-end, premium computers has always been a niche, and will remain one. Apple definitely wants to continue as the go-to brand for creatives and geeks, and it will. The Mac isn’t going anywhere. Will it last another 30 years? Who knows? All indications suggest that it should be around for at least another 10, and probably 20 years. Expect Apple to anchor both of its platforms with iCloud, so that people can use any Apple device, with either OS, in a more synchronized, unified, seamless manner.
We shall see…
And yet, as long as its notebook and desktop models rely on trackpads and mice, not touchscreens, with different considerations for battery life, processing power, and application support, Apple will maintain two significantly different operating systems. Going forward, the iOS calls for continued simplicity and ease, while the Mac OS, currently at version 10.8, Mountain Lion, calls for more sophistication and power.
For now, a formal combination of the two into a hybrid OS doesn’t appear to be Apple’s plan. Bridging them together? That’s the ticket. As always, we’ll keep you posted!
The first Macworld expo was in 1985, a few lifetimes ago in “tech time.” Compared to the Apple of today, the company that was the focus of the event was defined by its one product, the Macintosh. In 2012, Apple’s iOS devices are a big part of the story, along with the ever-evolving Macs. Given the “new Apple,” there is now a new name for the event, too. From now on it will be known as Macworld-iWorld: The Ultimate iFanEvent, and the 2012 edition is set for January 26-28 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
Event producer IDG and its partners at Macworld magazine are balancing a “heavy influence of OS X developers on the show floor” with products and people from the iOS “sister universe.” With everything from iDevices to the new iMac, the event brings top media outlets, industry experts and people like you (and us) together for the unique value that comes from networking, seeing and/or showing new products, taking part in some first-rate technical training and enjoying diverse educational programs. And all of it is about Apple gear!
Macworld-iWorld also offers important cultural and social opportunities within the Apple universe, creating multiple channels for reaching attendees with your firm’s marketing message. You can leverage CRE’s event production rentals expertise into a powerful floor presence. Alternatively – better yet, in addition – you can take prospects off the floor to a breakout session and gather valuable feedback with our Audience Response Systems (ARS). Whatever your plan, we have the mobile gear, presentation devices, plasma display rentals and everything else you need for success.
Music is expected to play a major role at Macworld-iWorld 2012, with showcase performances at the ongoing “Music Experience” and a list of evening events at other S.F. venues. Film, media and post-production pros – the kind that use our render farms and other high-end gear – will find things with which to fascinate and entertain themselves, on center stage and elsewhere. Draw passersby into your booth with custom interactive programs running on our all-in-one multitouch display PC. You can also collect contact info from people that aren’t passing by if you rent interactive kiosks and set them in the high-traffic areas that your conference team can’t get to.
IDG is estimating some 20% growth in total exhibitors, a dramatic increase from the 2010 and 2011 shows, which experienced a major down-scaling from 2009, the last time Apple exhibited. The turnaround is in full swing, so don’t miss out! If you’re a conference pro, use our Quick Rental Quote to get rolling right away. If you need expert assistance, simply call or e-mail an experienced Account Executive and we’ll work out a strategy, deliver the goods, set it all up and even take it all down for you, too. If you want to make the first Macworld-iWorld event a memorable one, let us help – we’re good at it!
Although Apple does not capitalize the model name “mini,” the smallest Macintosh has still earned a reputation as “the little Mac that could.” Although it is always a generation behind in the CPU department, both G4 and Intel minis are popping up in some interesting places. Here are the top five creative uses for the Mac mini.
1). Network storage – Soon, every office (and home) will need a central hub for storage, so Network Attached Storage (NAS) is going to proliferate. A new iMac would be overkill, but the Mac mini is ideal, with both wireless remote access and Gigabit Ethernet for heavy transfers. Post-production pros require our Xserve RAID with its swift 2Gb Fibre Channel interface, but small-to-medium sized businesses can do well with the mini.
2). Videoconferencing – With a little effort, you can connect an iSight camera and a DVI-to-S-Video adapter to the mini and use a TV set for videoconferencing. You can use it for business, or set it up with a wireless ADSL router and Apple Remote Desktop and run it remotely for less-techie colleagues. You could also insert an iPad rental into the mix as a remote control with the right apps.
3). Office automation – For post-production, you need a potent Mac Pro. But even the “lowly” mini makes a great office automation server. One of the first (and best) basic automation programs is Indigo, and the new version supports both Insteon and X10 devices.
4). Media hub – You can configure the mini as a media server, connecting it to something like our LCD touchscreen monitor rental. Add the Mac’s “cover flow” interface for instant access to music and movies, then enjoy! You can set custom schedules for different playlists based on time of day, weather, etc.
5). Conversion strategy – After upgrading to a new Mac, some mini owners have given their little Macs to parents, siblings or friends to replace Windows PCs. Once they use a Mac, many “PC forever” folks make the change (yes, it’s a two-way street). Minis of any vintage are capable computers if you know their limits (forget gaming and complex 3D work, for instance).
• You can attach a Firewire drive to a mini and use it as a file server for storage/streaming of HD video. Even an old G4 won’t break a sweat.
• Presenters can use minis for Power Point presentations, and by attaching a digitizer tablet they can demonstrate solutions right inside Power Point. Great idea!
Hollywood has been “talking the green talk” in movies and TV shows for some 30 years now, promoting sustainability, energy savings and green ideals like CRE’s all the while. Like any other group of people, of course, not all of them practiced what they preached, and critics still claim that Hollywood productions are plagued with waste and overspending.
With today’s economic challenges, cutting waste by going green is a perfect strategy for a Hollywood that already drives Priuses, eats granola, recycles and loves Apple’s iMac (because it’s green and insanely great). By adopting sustainable production techniques and rejecting waste and excess, is Hollywood now becoming the greenest of them all?
Hollywood Greens get organized
The Environmental Media Association (EMA) started its Green Seal program in 2003. EMA’s president, Debbie Levin, called on some of her board members – actors Wendy Malick and Ed Begley, Jr., producer Bill Gerber, Fox chief Kevin Reilly and others – to come up with energy-saving, waste-reducing ideas that would do some good “without driving the crews crazy.” They did so, establishing a comprehensive EMA best practices guide that continues to evolve to this day.
The EMA guide essentially walks production crews through a detailed process of “greening” their shows, covering everything from set construction to computerized reporting. As experts in post-production, computers, audiovisual equipment rentals and event production services, CRE knows that part of the “green solution” is energy-saving technology. Another important part, of course, is how you use it.
The general goal of “going green” means cutting inefficiencies, reducing waste and designing sustainable systems, and Hollywood set managers started making changes. Every department and every production step was up for greening – post-production, too, where the efficient use of render farms saves time and money (especially if you rent render farm). Some changes were obvious, some were subtle, but they showed a comprehensive approach that still continues:
Construction chiefs are now sourcing sustainably-harvested lumber and using alternative power sources where possible.
Shooting scripts use many reams of paper and are typically sent via messenger to sets on a daily basis, but tablet PC rentals are just one of the paperless solutions to this distribution challenge.
From actors to electricians, everyone’s drinking bottled water on set, so installing water filtration systems for people with reusable containers is a no-brainer.
“Craft services” (food providers) produce huge amounts of garbage that is compostable (perishable foods) and other trash that should be compostable paper (plates, cups) but are typically plastic and Styrofoam. Our iPad rental can be outfitted with apps showing you how to calculate the quantities, order the compostable supplies and add the resulting waste to your compost heap.
Apple’s ever-greener Mac Pro features the latest, greatest, greenest technology yet, with similar energy-saving changes showing up in PC desktop computer rental inventory. One call or e-mail – or a few clicks on our Quick Rental Quote page – will put an expert Account Executive on the job for you, crafting the perfect “green” solution for your unique challenges.
The new iMac models (released Tuesday, May 3rd), show that Apple is still at the top of its game. Let’s take a look at what makes the 2011 iMac a winner.
Quad-core processor in every model
The previous iMac models offered quad-core processors (Intel Core i3, i5 and i7) on some models, but all iMacs now have at least a quad-core i5. The four “stock” models include two with 21.5-inch screens and two 27-inchers, with the former getting 2.5 and 2.7GHz i5 chips and the latter offering 2.7 and 3.1GHz i5′s. Build To Order ( BTO) models get you the most potent CPU’s: a 2.8GHz i7 with the smaller screen, and a 3.4GHz i7 with the larger, which will make them among the fastest (and definitely the coolest) computer rentals available.
Three new AMD Radeon HD cards offer two to three times the graphics performance of previous iMacs. The base 21.5-inch iMac (same size as the current iMac rentals) has 512MB of dedicated graphics memory. The top 21.5″ version and the base 27″ model have the mid-range card (also 512MB) and the top 27-inch model boasts the best card with an incredible 1GB of video memory. (The BTO option gets you 2GB of memory.) All models support a second monitor up to 30 inches in size – which brings us to Thunderbolt.
Lightning fast data transfer
Thunderbolt is a new high-speed connection that works with multiple devices (using adapters for some). In addition to new Thunderbolt devices, you can connect USB and FireWire drives, scanners, cameras, etc., as well as LCD monitor rentals and other displays. There is one Thunderbolt port on 21.5-inch models and two on the 27″ models, carrying two simultaneous streams (in and out) at up to 10Gbps, over 20 times faster than USB 2. Top tech firms such as AJA (maker of our AJA Io HD rentals), Avid and Western Digital are already making Thunderbolt products including displays, storage devices, audio/video interfaces and more.
The iSight camera is gone, replaced by the same HD FaceTime camera that debuted in the recently revamped MacBook Pro (along with Thunderbolt). Other common components are 4GB RAM standard (max 8 to 16GB depending on model), 1TB hard drives (512MB on base model), SDXC card slot (32GB to 2TB), FireWire 800, four USB ports and audio in/out. Solid State Drives (SSDs) up to 256GB in size can be added as a BTO option (with an interesting twist). Finally, of course, the iMac has Gigabit Ethernet for hooking up to networks and Ethernet disk raid rentals. Every iMac comes with a wireless keyboard, plus either a Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad.
CRE will keep you posted as to when the new iMacs will be in stock, what configurations will be available and so on. Call or e-mail an expert Account Executive about the new iMacs, or anything else you need to get the job done. We’re here with the solution – and if you already know what it is, save time with the Quick Rental Quote form.
There’s been a ton of talk lately about “net neutrality,” but one of the major problems in the discussion is the lack of an accepted definition. Google has been explaining for a few years where they stand on the subject: “Network neutrality,” Google says, “is the principle that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet.”
This issue, hopefully, will be worked out in the marketplace and not in the halls of Congress. But you don’t have to wait to establish your own kind of net and computer neutrality. With Mac computer rentals, you can run both Windows (XP, Vista or 7) and Mac OS X, and “be in control” of what applications you use, whatever OS they run on.
Third party saviors
Back in Spring 2009, one of our first blog posts concerned Steve Jobs’ decision to begin using Intel processors in Macs in 2006-2007. By 2008 the transition was complete, from the Mac mini to the potent Mac Pro rentals. What “changed everything,” as Jobs remarked, was an Apple utility, Boot Camp, that let users install and run Windows.
By May 2009, a few “virtualization” utilities from Parallels Computing and VMware had brought a new dimension to multi-OS computing. With them, you can run Windows and the Mac OS simultaneously, even cutting and pasting between programs on the different platforms. These applications now run swiftly on the entire Mac line, from the latest iMac rentals to the powerful Mac towers.
A clear advantage of an OS-neutral Mac
The advantages of the “OS-neutral Macintosh” to regular users are clear. You don’t have to be a “code head” to understand how efficient it is to use a single computer to run both Windows and Mac OS X. Many artists and engineers that work with AJA Io HD rentals and massive video files settled on Macs long ago – as did graphic artists, writers, musicians, publishers and other “creatives.” Now, they can avail themselves of important Windows applications and be right at home in the firm’s Windows-based network environment, too.
Our Account Executives know the hardware and software, and understand what you need to accomplish your project. They’ll converse in fluent “computerese” if you want, but can translate for you too either by e-mail or over the phone. Know what you need? Complete the Quick Rental Quote and be on your way to “OS-neutrality”.
Budgets are busted all over. The federal government may shut down. The State of California is nearly bankrupt. There is strong agreement at all levels of government that we need to do more with less. In tough economies, some businesses have to do the same thing.
One very important benefit of CRE computer rentals, like all our high-tech rentals, is a straightforward financial one: You save money. If you need render farm rentals a few times per month, purchasing the equipment is not a good investment for you. You have to maintain it, repair it and upgrade it – and ultimately you have to replace it. It’s a costly cycle. For monthly training sessions, getting a dozen or 20 iMac rentals is a bargain compared to buying the computers to sit idle most of the time.
The dismal science
Every business has a unique situation with respect to equipment needs, budgets, production demands and so forth. Yet no matter what your needs, CRE has you covered. As just one example of the real-world edge CRE offers, we know that your marketing and trade show dollars need to go farther and do more than ever. CRE convention rentals will bring your exhibit area to life.
You could have your interactive product demos running on touchscreen LCD monitor rentals, or stop passers-by and show them the same thing on the bright, colorful screen of our iPad rentals. Send some of your team members around the conference center, with iPads or even tablet PC rentals, and they can stay in touch with Wi-Fi, capture information from attendees, show product videos or PDF brochures, and check work e-mail. Work efficiently, follow your plan, remain positive – and you will stretch that budget.
Micro and macro
On the micro level – you, your company – it’s easy to see the benefits of CRE for everything from the aforementioned tech gear to office equipment rentals. There’s lower capital investment, reduced production overhead and predictable expenses. On the macro level – everyone else, the rest of the planet – CRE rentals are a nice shade of green. With multiple production companies, studios and animators using potent Mac Pro with Kona Card rentals just when they need them, there is no “inefficient ownership.”
CRE offers efficient rentals to counter the inefficiencies that some businesses experience with costly hardware that needs continuous upgrading. Whether it’s one of our Xserve RAID rentals or a slick way of enhancing your small firm’s presence in a cavernous conference center, we’re ready to equip you for whatever it is that you need to do. Call or e-mail an Account Executive and we’ll show you how efficient and effective CRE service and support can be.