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August 6th, 2013

GAMES_Nintendo-WiiUNintendo inaugurated the next generation of game consoles with the Nintendo Wii U, the company’s first high-def system with enough graphical horsepower to bear comparison to the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Arguably the Wii U’s unique selling point is the enormous “control tablet”—essentially a chubby, button-loaded iPad rental—that brings the Wii’s motion controls, the Xbox’s physical ones, and the Nintendo 3DS’s touch screen together. This fits into the recent trend toward experimentation we’ve noticed in the tech sector, such as the new computing paradigms being promoted in both the high-end (Mac Pro) and low-end (Chromebooks).

Game consoles are very big business. Competition is fierce in 2013, and will culminate this November in a game console smackdown that PCmag.com says is “shaping up to be the fight of the century.” That’s when both Sony and Microsoft start selling their own “new paradigm game consoles” to counter the Nintendo Wii that’s already on sale. The Nintendo flagship is a unique system, more potent than the average computer rental, but there are few titles for it so far. Its other major new feature, the TVii subsystem for live TV and digital media, is not quite fully baked. The high-definition video is a nice addition but the Wii U’s future depends on other developers turning the new paradigm into popular games and entertainment.

Sony PlayStation 4

The Sony PlayStation 4 will retail for $100 less than Microsoft’s Xbox One. Although the PlayStation 4 price won’t include its new PlayStation Eye camera while the Xbox One will come bundled with Microsoft Kinect, the $100 difference is enough to catch consumers’ attention. As with such Apple products as the iconic iMac, though, many consumers gladly pay more for good design, attention to detail, and superior craftsmanship. But, Sony has the better reputation for quality control.

Playstation 4 pkgImportantly, you can play games (virtually) forever on the PlayStation 4 while remaining offline, and use your games from previous PlayStation models. While Microsoft proposed and reversed several controversial policies concerning the Xbox One, Sony has whipped its fan base into a frenzy the way Apple did at WWDC 2013. Fanboyz and fangirlz are good for business. A strong selection of top titles are lined up behind the launch-day games to keep the fans happy.

Microsoft Xbox One

The Xbox One is Microsoft’s third-generation console and its definition of “living room tech” has expanded far beyond mere gaming. The basic system combines the next-generation Kinect 2.0 sensor—more sensitive with better recognition ofGAMES_XboxOne small and/or quick gestures—with a 500GB hard drive, a single wireless controller, and its first Blu-ray drive. Connectivity is covered with HDMI in/out and USB 3.0 support. Frankly, you could connect everything from our plasma display rentals to external mass storage to this device, as it’s compatible with just about everything. Coincidence? Hardly. Microsoft is not even positioning the Xbox One as a game console. It’s meant to be the center of your life.

For spending leisure hours enjoying media and entertainment, the Xbox One has channel guides for live TV, on-demand, and subscription options; and you can split screens and jump among games, TV shows, movies, music, photos, Skype video calls, the camera at your front door, and anything else with a digital signal that you can connect to it. The proposed “security” measures initially proposed for the Xbox One (various disturbing restrictions on trading or even playing used games) were nixed in June. Exclusive Xbox One titles at or near launch day include a new Halo plus Forza Motorsports 5, Dead Rising 3, and Minecraft: Xbox One Edition.

One call to (877) 266-7725 or a quick message will result in the right answers to your unique challenges. If you already know what you need, the Quick Rental Quote page is the route to an even quicker solution. Whenever you’re ready, we’ll be here!

July 2nd, 2013

The Microsoft Build Developer Conference (subtitled “The Next GenerationMSBuild02 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.

CRE, always the smart source for everything you need, from computer rentals for post-production to audio visual (AV) equipment rentals for conference training sessions. An experienced Account Executive is awaiting your call at (877) 266-7725. You can also send a message or visit our Quick Rental Quote page if you know what you need. We’re always here, and always ready to help!

May 28th, 2013

If you don’t read the quarterly financials of the technology sector, join the club. Most people couldn’t care less. On the other hand, if you work for one of the many companies that completely missed “emerging technologies” and devotedtablets/iPads take PC market share themselves to PCs instead of smartphones and tablets, you might care when your job evaporates. And PC and tablet makers most assuredly do care about those quarterly reports, and they’re looking at the latest one from IDC (International Data Corporation, a market research, analysis, and advisory firm specializing in IT) that tallies 49.2 million tablets shipped in Q1 2013 (up 142.4% year-over-year), compared to 76.3 million PCs (down 13.9% y/y). Tablet sales are soaring, while PC sales are tanking, with the worst quarterly drop ever.

Tablets are fast approaching the point where they can do everything a typical PC can, while also being pressed into nearly continuous service as cameras, movie players, videophones, game arcades, and remote controls for household appliances. Even today’s low-end tablets can handle most jobs, even in corporate settings (where you could order a MacBook Pro rental if you want more power for a temporary project). This is the primary challenge facing PC manufacturers today: How can the desktop PC compete with lower-priced, portable devices that use less power, accomplish many common computing tasks, and also have that “hip-and-fun” factor?

Who’s who in the new crew

IDC shows Apple still leading in market share with 39.6% of tablet sales, with Samsung in (distant) second place with 17.9%. But the bigger story here is the number of leading firms that are not on the list. Think a minute: Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Sony, and Toshiba are all missing from the top spots, despite some of them making belated attempts at entering the fray. Dell and HP are hugely important, influential firms in the history of PCs, and a desktop computer rental is likely to be one of these premier brands. So how did they miss out on the biggest product debut since, well, the PC?

Short answer: Who knows? Perhaps some of the long-time computer makers…

  • didn’t see or understand the trend away from the desktop and toward portability,
  • came “late to the game” and can’t seem to catch up,
  • were indecisive and wouldn’t make a commitment, or
  • decided against the tablet market in favor of their “sure things.”

Interestingly, many of the same companies that missed out on tablets this time around missed out on smartphones last time around. Of course, smartphones currently outsell PCs by a huge margin, and there is a growing trend (think Galaxy Note) toward the phone/tablet combo (sorry, they’re going to be called “phablets” no matter what). Either set a trend or get on someone’s coattails, but if you miss out again—we’re talking to you, Michael Dell—your brand may be ready for retirement.

Whither the “withering Windows”?

At GigaOm.com, Kevin C. Tofel analyzed the 2012 tablet and PC sales results back in January, dubbing Microsoft’s flagship OS “withering Windows.” The point was that, despite the hundreds of millions of Windows users on Earth, a full third of all new devices sold don’t run Windows—they run Android and iOS. In the ‘90s and 2000s, if you were to rent laptops you’d find over 90% of them running Windows. The bar’s been lowered to under 70% of all devices now, and Tofel sees “no reason why the growth of non-Windows tablets will stop.” In fact, he “wouldn’t be surprised if by this time next year non-Windows tablets actually outsell Windows computers.”

In the last 30 years Microsoft’s presence in the technology sector of the economy has been dominant. It’s not merely its market share in tablets that signals a problem for the firm, it’s the burden of a legacy OS that has been pushed aside by flexible (and fun) new platforms. Combining a small form factor, touch capability, media prowess, WiFi, and long battery life, devices like iPad rentals, tablet PCs, and the latest/greatest thing, phablets, will experience strong sales as PC shipments continue tanking. You could argue that it’s all a semantic “construct,” that you can “define” things in and out of categories, compare apples and oranges, even ‘prove’ that 0=1. It’s all marketing, right?

What’s in a name?

Wrong. There really has been a irreversible change. Tablets have done so well because they are convenient and cover most of the bases for most folks. There are growing numbers of people, in fact, who are not replacing their PCs as often as they once did. They keep one around because PCs do excel at certain things—writing everything from letters to novels, editing digital audio and video, rendering graphics, and acting as both analog and digital hub for connecting and interconnecting this, that, and the proverbial other thing.

This is why PCs—let’s call them desktop workstations, shall we?—are not going away completely. It’s a needed form factor: A top-flight HP Pavilion or Apple Mac Pro rental has the expansion slots, drive bays, flexibility, and power needed for demanding work. Creative pros, scientists, photographers, designers, writers, engineers, and others will populate the “high-end” niche, which CRE will continue to serve with everything from audio visual (AV) equipment rentals to the mass storage needed for post-production. Wherever you find your challenges—on-site, on the road, or at a convention—your solutions are all right here. Call an experienced Account Executive at (877) 266-7725, send us a message, or visit our Quick Rental Quote page if you know what you need. We are always ready to help you!

May 7th, 2013

Windows 8 RTIn all the talk about the never-ending debut of Windows 8—and there has been a veritable tidal wave of verbiage—there have been a few references to the inauspicious debut of New Coke in 1985. Last year, Microsoft tied a much-changed Windows 8 to its new Surface devices, wagering that a ton of marketing hoopla would establish them as competitors to our iPad rental. But the public isn’t buying it (or them). At the point in the New Coke story where the public made its preferences known, Coca-Cola did the right thing, right away. It brought the favored flavor back as “Classic Coke” while “unhitching the wagon” from the newfangled, widely detested recipe. Subsequent years saw huge sales increases for the firm.

The Coca-Cola chairman and CEO at the time, Roberto Goizueta, recounted the company’s New Coke maneuvers in a 1995 interview, declaring that company execs “really were ready to do whatever was necessary” to make things right. In Microsoft’s case, instead of acknowledging the problems, execs are doubling down on Metro. Many tech bloggers are ready to dump the “new, unimproved” Metro look in favor of getting Windows 7′s Aero UI back, or some of it, anyway. The question rang out on ZDNet: “Does [Microsoft chief Steve] Ballmer have the guts to admit he made a mistake and give users what they clearly want?” It’s a mystery, but there are a few clues, so let’s do some sleuthing…

Windows 8 and Windows RT sales

NetMarketShare regularly reports worldwide tech statistics, and the latest news about Windows 8 and Windows RT is not good at all. How “not good” is it? In April 2013′s report on OS use, Windows 8 was at a meager 3.82%, which means Windows 8 still lags behind Microsoft’s last OS failure, Vista, after about nine months on the market. Tablet PCs and other touchscreen devices with Windows 8 and Windows RT totaled 0.02% and 0.00%, respectively—and you read that last figure right. The launch of the Surface RT is probably the worst in Microsoft history.

Windows8Fail_Chart

The release of Windows 8.1 sometime next month will, according to top tech writer Mary Jo Foley, mark the return of the “lost” Start button, as well as an Aero-influenced UI. In a recent ZDNet debate, it was determined by a wide majority that Windows 8 had already failed, and the only remaining question was whether or not it could be saved. Now, there will always be the need for the desktop PC and general-purpose computer rental, so they’re not going away. So the next question is: Will Microsoft keep doubling down on Metro?

The future comes a day at a time

Sure, we’re moving into a new era, a “post-PC” future, with tablets and smartphones becoming more powerful, more necessary, more intimately integrated into our lives. Desktop PCs are not going away because of this, any more than mainframes disappeared when PCs debuted—because we regularly do any number of things that require an iMac or an HP Pavilion, things that can’t be done that easily with an Android tablet or an iPhone. Furthermore, even if it’s true that much of our computing (and even more of our storage) will be cloud-based, using a keyboard is still the easiest way for human beings to enter data besides dictation. (Think you can dictate an Excel spreadsheet?)

Windows 8 represents a colossal failure, and not just because of its bad design. If Microsoft stays the course it appears to have set—“appears” because so much is unknown, misunderstood, deceptive—it could be the end of Windows’ dominance in end-user computing. Such Wall Street denizens as KPCB (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers) and Goldman Sachs are on record stating that Windows market share has peaked. From here on, they imply, it’s downhill all the way to the dustbin of history. All we can tell you for certain is that we’ll keep you posted!

With wide-ranging, state-of-the-art expertise, our Account Executives can help you set up a new production workflow with a Mac Pro rental and mass storage, or show off your corporate pride with thoroughly modern and stylish trade show convention rentals. Call us at (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit the Quick Rental Quote form if you know what you need. Whenever you’re ready, we’re here to help!

April 16th, 2013

Microsoft will probably releasewindows 8.1 BLUE the public preview of Windows Blue, now officially dubbed “Windows 8.1″ in the Apple style of “point releases,” at its June developer conference, Build2013. The Redmond firm is abandoning its traditional operating system release cycle, where every three years or so it drops a Big & Different OS on an unsuspecting user base. Some Windows 8 and RT users might pay to upgrade, but if Microsoft uses the Apple style of pricing, too, folks will be happy: OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) is $19.99.

What it is, what it isn’t

Windows runs on the majority of the world’s computers, so all the people that use company PCs, rent laptops, or have both at home have a strong incentive for the latest iteration of the OS to be good, not just “good enough.” Windows 8.1 is bringing targeted feature improvements, cosmetic refinements, and operational changes to an OS that has exhibited more than its share of quirky behavior since its debut. Interestingly, whenever inaccurate speculations began to get traction on the Internet over the last 15 or 20 months of discussion about Windows 8, a curiously well-timed leak would set things straight.

A fairly recent build of 8.1 leaked online and showed among other things that Microsoft has refined Windows’ internal search function: rather than divided among the three default categories (apps, settings, files), results are displayed in a single, easily scanned screen. You only click if you need to filter them. The poor search function is one of the major annoyances with Windows 8, so this would be a welcome change.

Evolutionary, not revolutionary

Apple has its iCloud service available to all its products, from an iMac running OS X to the latest iPad mini with iOS, and the cloud is critically important for Microsoft, too. (“Three screens and a cloud,” remember?) Along with new Live Tiles in a range of sizes and formats, plus revisions and upgrades to the OS’s bundled applications, Windows 8.1 will also feature much deeper integration with Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud services. (We will discuss this critically important move in an upcoming blog.)

Like all software (all science, one might as well say) Windows 8 is a work in progress. Following the first public showing of the Windows 8 concept, where Microsoft unveiled a partial build of the OS that was complete “in feature terms,” the company released a developer preview without e-mail, a consumer preview with time limits, and a release preview. After Windows 8 was officially released, its apps and communications programs were updated and extended. Windows 8.1 continues the process, and it looks like things are getting good.

CRE has everything from trade show convention rentals to office equipment, servers, and post-production gear for media pros. Call (877) 266-7725 or send a message and get fast, knowledgeable help. If you know what you need, then a visit to our Quick Rental Quote page will work every time—and any time, too, since it’s always open!

March 5th, 2013

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft (MS), is feeling his oats these days. Lately he’s been trying to sic the Feds on Google, but the fact is that Ballmer has been calling his adversaries “insane” (anOutlook.comd worse) for years now. Ballmer may have his own sanity questioned after MS committed to spending at least $30 million to wrest control of the world’s email from AOL, Yahoo, Google, and everyone else. All MS mail portals—Live, Hotmail, MSN—will close in favor of the single Outlook.com website, and if you have an account at any of the former, you’re being transferred whether you like it or not. (If you don’t do it yourself by summer, you’ll be absorbed in MS’s heavy-handed, Borg-like manner.) And whether he likes it or not, Ballmer himself will be judged on the success or failure of this major maneuver.

Frequent visitors with ID = cash

There are many reasons to use web-based email beyond the obvious convenience: extra security, universal access, more control, better tools. It certainly is “better” for the email provider. As you regularly check your inbox, or stayed logged in, you are established as a “frequent visitor with confirmed ID”—just what the sites need for selling ads (plus it keeps the service free). If you’ll be using CRE’s iPad rental and/or Android tablets at an upcoming conference, you’ll have an Outlook.com or other app tailored to the device you’re using. Unlike “mail” apps, which download messages (or at least transfer them for reading), these apps will directly connect to the webmail server—no muss, no fuss, no wasted space locally if that’s your preference.

Users can keep and continue to use their old addresses, and all saved messages, settings, and contacts will be transferred to the new Outlook.com. You may want to take the lead here if you have important correspondence to save (of course, you have a full backup, right?). Now that email is available on all your devices, from your phone to your iMac, it is likely more central in your life than ever. This is why email has become a big battleground—even as people increasingly use texting, IM, and Twitter, as well—and why Google, Yahoo, and MS are now spending major moolah revamping their web-based email services.

Outlook.com now “ready”

Outlook.com has been operating in a “preview” mode since last July, but is “ready to accept all comers,” and the feisty Ballmer probably loves the boxing lingo in all the PR emanating from Redmond. MS claims it is doing “the biggest marketing blitz in the history of email,” with Outlook.com ads running on primetime TV as well as the Internet, radio, buses, and billboards. MS touts such new Outlook features as the ability to attach files of “massive” size, even a thousand photos, to a single email. Also, as you access Outlook.com from your office MacBook, home PC, and mobile whatever-it-is, your address book stays updated and automatically adds new contact info from connections’ Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter posts. And compared to the Hotmail service, there are only about a third as many ads.

Not a single one of Outlook.com’s new features are particularly revolutionary. They’ve all been done before, and Google already has opt-in services and a new version of Gmail that allow larger (and/or more numerous) file attachments. And although Gmail doesn’t do its data-mining in LinkedIn and the others yet, it does fetch new contact data that your contacts post on Google Plus. MS wants to join Google in offering you all this “total connectivity” from anywhere—your PC desktop computer rental at work, your favorite tablet at home, and your trusty smart phone in the car. The question gets harder to answer all the time. You know the one: When am I supposed to rest when my computer, tablet, and phone are always on and my webmail is always in my face?

For Steve Ballmer, on the other hand, the question is rather more pointed: Will Outlook.com be in enough faces to win the email war?

From audio visual (AV) equipment rentals to the right post-production gear for that special project, CRE is your one-stop technology shop. One call to (877) 266-7725, a simple message, or a visit to our Quick Rental Quote form—that’s all it takes to get (or stay) productive. And we’re always ready for you!

February 21st, 2013

The headlines are scary: “Apple Disappoints Wall Street” appears one week, “Apple Losing Its Edge” the next. Is it the end of the road for the once-mighty House of Jobs?Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple

Those particular headlines didn’t herald the company’s demise. They’re from 1997. Just 18 months later a reinvigorated Apple—under its “new and improved” dollar-a-year CEO, Steve Jobs—took its first step toward eventual industry domination with the debut of the iMac. Rather than honest assessments of Apple’s viability, we always seem to get the foregoing tabloid-style silliness. For Apple, even record sales aren’t good enough for Wall Street, so here come the naysayers again—only now they include Steve Wozniak. What’s up with that?

What the Woz?

In a TechCrunch interview in November 2012, one still being culled for tendentious quotes, Wozniak built his case against some of Apple’s high-profile failures (and he detests Siri). iPad sales numbers are still strong, so Wozniak knows the Cupertino firm’s upside. Still, in early February as Apple stock continued its slide, Wozniak spoke excitedly about the new home of “wow” products for the future: Microsoft. Yep, the “evil empire” of Apple’s original SuperBowl ad. What convinced him? The Xbox, Windows 8, the Surface Tablet? Nope. It was the rumor of Redmond’s work on simultaneous translation, a hardware/software solution far “more fluid [and more] colloquial” than Google, Siri, or anything else right now.

Wozniak says Microsoft, whose Surface line was one of our “Business Tech Hits of 2012,” is also making “strides in [the] voice recognition area” because smart folks are “sitting in their labs trying to innovate.” On the other hand, Wozniak says that Apple has settled for “cranking out the newest iPhone and falling a little behind, and that worries me greatly.” Apple has had smart, solid niche products like the Xserve RAID that get few headlines, but consumers don’t buy them in the millions as they are not iAppliances for 21st Century Work, Socializing, & Entertainment. (Watch for a blog with that title coming soon.)

Speaking of tweaking…

Tweaking, says Wozniak, is not innovating, and that’s all Apple has been doing to the MacBook and its other Mac models, which “is not Apple-style innovation.” Making bold moves is. He doesn’t think Apple is “turning its back on creativity,” but seems conflicted about CEO Tim Cook. Cook runs Apple in a buttoned-down manner, minus the art school dress code, notoriously bad vibes, and high drama of Steve Jobs. Wozniak and others may not like Cook’s style, but it is an advantage, not a hindrance, as Apple evolves into whatever a “leading edge firm” needs to be in the “post-PC” era.

Repositioning Apple as a mass-market consumer products firm is no small feat when you consider its multiple-personality past. Before iTunes, iPhones and iOS, Apple was known for both easy-to-use Macs and peerless pro-level powerhouses like our Mac Pro rental. Apple’s “towers of power”—loaded with Final Cut Pro, Shake, and other pricey software—dominated professional video, film, music, web, and print production for years. Now that Apple is the source of “iEverything” for the masses, professional users feel seduced and abandoned (again!)—and they’ve been grousing about it for two years now. We’ll tell you what they’re saying, and what it means for Apple’s shrinking share of the pro market, in a coming blog.

Remember, CRE is your one-stop shop for everything—from the first-rate event production rentals you need for next month’s conference, to the post-production gear you need this minute for a rush job. One call or message, or a moment spent filling out our Quick Rental Quote form, is all it takes!

January 15th, 2013

The New Year brings new resolutions, another birthday — and the obligatory “year in review” articles. (We’ll get to the “what’s ahead next year” pieces, too, but first things first.) Over the next few weeks, we will take a look back at 2012 and run down the hits and misses, first in business tech (enterprise computing, strategy, IT) and then consumer tecBusiness hits word cloudh (personal computing and consumer electronics). To keep it orderly, we’ll have separate blogs on business tech hits, business tech misses, consumer tech hits, and consumer tech misses, for a complete picture of the year gone by. Let’s go!

Responsive Web Design (RWB) — HTML5 was going to save the Internet from Flash overhead and other disasters but has only succeeded in muddying the waters. How are businesses responding? They are hitting back with responsive web design (RWD), which is a strategy and workflow for creating web pages that “query” the user’s device and, via “fluid grids” and scalable design elements, tailor pages to the device’s resolution and screen size. Build one web page, not four or five, that will look fine on a CRE iPad rental or your 70-inch home theater screen. Watch for more on RWD in a future blog.

Microsoft’s New Hardware Move — Apple’s original nemesis is using the Cupertino firm’s formula now and selling integrated systems, such as the Surface RT and Surface Pro. This is a departure from Microsoft’s historical focus on the OS. At the November 2012 shareholders’ meeting, Microsoft (MS) chief Steve Ballmer announced that “there is no boundary betweeMicrosoft Surface Tabletn hardware and software” that the company will allow to become an “innovation barrier.” Now, in a time when software profits are down and “computing devices” are a commodity item, MS can assure itself of profitability by bundling — a smart, long-term move.

In-Memory Computing — Everyone who has used a desktop computer rental knows the benefit of having the maximum amount of RAM installed: The more data you get into the nanosecond RAM realm the less time you waste moving it in and out of the hard drive. At the enterprise level with mainframe computers, in-memory computing dispenses with electromechanical hard drives, tape or any other media for storage. The amount of change involved in moving to the in-memory model is considerable, but the technology is approaching a transitional point. It’s been building momentum, in case you didn’t know, and is proving to be a serious productivity booster. The technology’s first adopters are in countries like India that have been working hard to establish themselves among the high-tech leaders of the world.

We have everything you need, from high-end post-production equipment to audio visual (AV) equipment rentals, so the solutions to your challenges, on-site or on the road, are a single call or e-mail away. Know what you need? Visit our Quick Rental Quote page!

January 8th, 2013

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is among the largest showcases of new technology every year, and this time around CES 2013 takes over Las Vegas from January 8 through 11. After Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gaCES 2013ve the company’s last-ever keynote at CES 2012, any number of industry pundits bemoaned the show’s supposed decline. So, is CES passé? A waste of time and money? A candidate for virtualization?

Still a “heady mix”

To judge from what we’re hearing, you’d have to answer a resounding “No!” to all of the above queries. CES 2013 promises a heady mix of keynote surprises, sneak peeks, and high-tech hullaballoo. Even more than usual, press leaks abound—all the better for us to bring you the latest, most useful information. Here’s some of what you can expect to see coming out of Las Vegas this week:Tablet TV

A “real” TV tablet: You can jump through a few hoops with our iPad rental and get TV shows, but RCA’s new DMT580D combines an Android tablet with an actual TV tuner for free over-the-air digital broadcasts.

A Google TV device or three: Manufacturers TCL, Asus, and Hisense are all expected to exhibit new Google TV “devices,” according to CES press statements. Google’s current partners Sony and Vizio will debut the recently upgraded TV service on “new devices,” as well. Interestingly, the term wasn’t defined so it could mean anything from set-top boxes to integrated screens.

Samsung rebranding move: It has the best-selling smart phone on Earth, but with its headline-grabbing legal woes Samsung is reportedly preparing a serious rebranding. Stephen Woo, president of Samsung’s device solutions division, will set the tone for the company’s new image in his January 9th keynote address. The company’s Full HD Super AMOLED display arrives at the show, perhaps mounted in the new, also-headline-grabbing Galaxy S4.

The birth of Ultra High-Definition TV: There will be plenty of these on display. To qualify as an Ultra High-Definition (UHD) screen, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA, parent of CES) requires a minimum resolution of 3840×2160, at least 8 million pixels, and a 16×9 or better aspect ratio.

The big Kahuna of CPUs: Intel is not the only chipmaker coming to CES 2013, but is expected to “show up big” and possibly announce a new mobile processor or two, as well as some for the iMac and Mac Pro lines. The rumors that Apple may not use Intel as its CPU provider resurfaced after Apple developed the A6X for the iPad 4—a CPU that is twice as fast as those in current iPads. We’ll keep you posted on this.

Nvidia debuting the Tegra 4: Nvidia’s Tegra 3 made its way into phones from HTC, Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, and Microsoft’s new Surface PC/tablet, which may be a big hit for Microsoft and future king of tablet PC rentals. It is likely that the firm will debut the Tegra 4 at CES, with initial clock speeds up to 1.8GHz and a target of 2GHz by mid-year.

CRE is your one-stop shop for convention rentals, computers, office equipment and all the top post-production gear. A call or e-mail puts you in touch with an experienced Account Executive, while the Quick Rental Quote page will get you in and out in minutes if you know what you need. Either way, we’re here to help!

December 18th, 2012

Both Apple’s third-generation iPad and the new Microsoft (MS) Surface RT are in the same price range ($500-800), weigh about 1.5 pounds and run a touch-based OS. The Surface Pro model, on sale in early 2013, will run Windows 8 desktop software on x86 processors with full-fledged laptop power at the expense of battery life—it’s more like a hybrid between a tablet and an ultrabook.

Therefore, the only fair iPad comparison is against the RT—at least until the fourth-generation iPad, already on sale in India, appears in the U.S. next year.

iPad vs. Surface RT - who will it be?

OVERVIEW

RT: The RT includes a unique version of Office, but you need a business license to use it for work—and the keyboard/cover is an extra $100. For companies now using tablet PC rentals, the RT can integrate (somewhat) with enterprise-level users on Windows 7/8, giving it a slight edge with the IT crowd.

iPad: You can use third-party Bluetooth keyboards with our iPad rental, plus Office-compatible apps and honest-to-Office web services from MS licensees like CloudOn. All that’s a chore for IT folks to “harmonize.”

APPLICATIONS

RT: This is not your office’s Office—the RT version has Excel, PowerPoint, Word and OneNote, but no Outlook. For now you may need to rent laptops with Windows 7/8 to use some ”real PC” programs such as Outlook, as RT uses only specified Windows Store apps.

iPad: Apple’s App Store is heading toward a million apps (700,000+ as of October), while Windows apps are just getting going. For now the iPad has a huge advantage.

OPERATIONS

RT: MS’s cloud-based tool, Intune, will soon offer secure device management, while Exchange ActiveSync empowers synchronized messaging. Modern office computers, like our desktop PC computer rentals, will thereby maintain a degree of intra-office and -system interoperability with Surface devices.

iPad: Apple’s iOS supports Exchange ActiveSync, too, and third-party mobile device management platforms that even monitor corporate compliance. OS X Server on our Xserve units does all this, too, but properly licensing iPads for corporate use is complicated however you try it.

SECURITY

The RT owes its superior security to (1) a hardware-level “secure boot” that checks for tampering and (2) anti-malware that loads first. The RT’s hardware security module also does smartcard duty for authentication, and supports full disk encryption.

iPad: Although iOS provides disk encryption, as Mac OS X does for MacBook Pro rentals, the iPad’s boot routine uses read-only memory and offers no smartcard abilities.

BOTTOM LINE

Neither the iPad nor the RT are particularly strong candidates yet for an enterprise workforce. The Surface Pro may be, but depending on configuration a tricked-out Pro could top $1,350. The Apple comparison at that price is a MacBook Air or 13-inch MacBook.

As iPads and the Surface Pro both support virtual desktops, using PC/Mac software will sooner or later be possible. But hosted virtual desktops (HVDs) are expensive, says Gartner Research, increasing retail cost “by more than $600″ per device. We’ll keep you posted as it all shakes out.

What’s shakin’ with your company? CRE keeps you moving forward with first-rate event production rentals and the post-production gear you need. One call or e-mail, or a short visit to our Quick Rental Quote form, gets it done—and right now’s a good time!

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