Technology news can seem like “all Apple, all the time” pretty much, well, all the time. With the recent hype storm over the new iPhone 5, and the storm of derision that greeted iOS 6 and its lousy Maps app, there’s still some explaining to do before we can move on to other topics.
Here are the latest twists and turns on Apple’s rollercoaster ride through recent headlines, including the latest word on the iPad mini.
The comScore industry watchers say that pre-orders for the iPhone 5 took a mere three days to nearly match the iPhone 4S’s first month of online sales. Incredibly, Wall Street was disappointed in the record 5 million units. Meanwhile, reports of a labor strike at a Foxconn factory have raised questions about iPhone shipment disruptions, and brought working conditions under scrutiny once again.
As users are rapidly finding out, the new and far-from-polished Maps app that replaces Google Maps isn’t particularly good at navigation, which brought a swift apology from Apple CEO Tim Cook. The maker of the iconic iMac has a firm, iTunes-powered grip on a big chunk of the entertainment biz, along with an historically sterling reputation. This debacle hurt; just how much remains to be seen. Google Maps is, thankfully, still accessible - but only from the browser for now.
Apple makes its quarterly conference call on October 25. Continuing the trend that began in 2010, the company is selling more of its MacBook laptops than desktops, and iPod sales are strong. The CRE iPad rental has always been a big hit, reflecting its ongoing strength in the retail market. The firm may, in fact, set a few records in Q4, but so much is expected of Apple that the business press may still grumble.
AppleInsider.com reports that Martin Hajek, the artist who wowed the media with his speculative renderings of the iPhone 5, has also created 3-D images of the so-called iPad mini which is expected to be released later this month. Based on data assembled from numerous leaks to the press, his illustration of the classic black-bezeled case with aluminum back looks great, but less like a scaled-down iPad and more like a stretched-out iPod.
The Thunderbolt connector that brings 10Gbps transfers to our MacBook Pro rentals and other new Macs is joined in the Apple lexicon by a related term. Lightning is the name of the new “iDevice” connector and port. Plugs are smaller and sturdier than the “30-pin dock connectors” they replace, as well as being symmetrical so they go in whichever way they’re facing. Already in use on the iPhone 5, it also seems likely to appear on the iPad mini.
Despite no official statement from Apple at all about the product, the Wall Street Journal put its considerable reputation behind an October 3 report that production of the iPad mini had already begun. It is expected to debut sometime in late October, in time for holiday shopping.
CRE is committed to ensuring the best possible results when you avail yourself of our high-tech tools and support. A single call or e-mail, or a visit to our Quick Rental Quote form, will get you exactly what you need to knock down every challenge your production schedule throws at you. We’re here to help!
Phil Schiller and Tim Cook are, respectively, senior VP of worldwide marketing and CEO of Apple. Last Wednesday, Schiller and Cook (sounds like a personal injury law firm, doesn’t it?) regaled a receptive crowd at San Francisco’s Moscone Center with a handful of long-awaited product upgrades, delivering yet another heralded Apple media circus of equal parts high-tech hype and earnest fanfest.
The good pre-event buzz about iOS 6 and the new iPods – an iPhone 5-derived touch, a serious nano upgrade (all names are lowercase now), Siri migrating to other iOS devices – didn’t come close to predicting the insanely great consumer reaction. Our original iPad rental started its life like that, too, coming from nowhere to score a consumer electronics KO.
Pre-orders sell out in hours
Both the iPhone and iOS 6 were originally going to be available for purchase on September 19, although you could pre-order the phone. (No longer, of course, as pre-orders sold out so fast that Apple is delaying shipments between one and three weeks.) If you’re sufficiently geeky and (really, really) know what you’re doing, you can get the final developer’s version of iOS 6 online.
Over the next few weeks, we will update you on the new Apple products and services, starting right now with…
iPhone 5 Specs & Such
The iPhone 5, 112 grams of aluminum and glass in a 7.6mm-thin form, is 20 percent lighter and 18 percent slimmer than its predecessor.
The iPhone 5′s densely saturated 1136-by-640-pixel version is the precise 16:9 aspect ratio of an HD movie.
Battery life is much improved (so says Schiller), with 8 hours of talk and browsing on 3G, 8 hours of browsing on 4G, up to 10 hours of Wi-Fi use and a similar amount of video watching. Standby time? Over a week.
With the Apple A6 chip, more potent than the first few years of iMac CPUs, you can reasonably expect up to 50% speed increases.
The main (forward-facing) camera’s 8 megapixel, f/2.4 aperture specifications are like the iPhone 4S, but it is smaller with more computer-assisted features. A Panorama feature smartly stitches together gorgeous, and huge, pictures.
You get full 1080p HD video with the main camera, like our MacBook Pro rental, but the back-facing camera that puts your mug on YouTube only does 720p.
With these new devices, Apple introduces the Lightning connector, a sturdy stub of a reversible, all-digital jack. It may take some time before showing up on Apple computer rentals, but new consumer electronics will certainly be appearing with Lightning soon. Unfortunately, if you want to use your now-legacy “iClock” docks you will need to buy a 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter for $29, available only from Apple for now. Hong Kong vendors should have their $3 versions soon. Just make sure your 30-pin iGadget doesn’t require video output, because the adapter doesn’t support it.
All kinds of people use all kinds of digital devices in all kinds of ways. One thing they all have in common is the need – occasionally for some, continually for others – for dependable tech advice. With literally millions of blogs, tech writers and “digerati” out there, how do you find it? The following list is by no means exhaustive, but we present 10 sources of dependable tech advice, in alphabetical order.
1. Anand Tech – For geek-level analysis of hardware like our MacBook Pro rental, this is your site. It covers motherboards, CPUs and other components, and does its own testing.
2. Apple Insider – Here you get Apple-specific news and rumors, as well as price reports, buyer guides and tips for both OS X and iOS devices.
3. Ars Technica – A favorite of media pros, the site ranges widely over science, technology, design and gaming. Among the first to have a mobile site for smart phones, tablet PC rentals and other handheld devices, Ars Technica is one of the most linked-to sites on the Internet.
4. Cnet.com – This is the place for tech reporting for and about business. With reliable sources, Cnet.com writers and reviewers deliver breaking news and exclusive features in a no-nonsense style.
5. Computer World – This “old timer” has always been a leading source of tech news, but also encourages visionary thinking among movers and shakers in science and technology. Whether you’re doing research on a smart phone or writing on a PC desktop computer rental, it’s invaluable.
6. Engadget – Around-the-clock coverage is tough enough. Covering a gazillion gadget makers is like a labor of Hercules. Engadget’s recently departed founder, Joshua Topolsky, made the site number one with short, witty articles. Loyal readers will expect the high quality to continue.
7. Lifehacker – If it’s about working smarter, saving time and getting the inside story on the apps and software we really need, you’ll find it at Lifehacker. Productivity tips and DIY articles balance with reviews of the latest all-in-one multitouch display PC and features on “personal tech.”
8. Macworld – The site is the Macworld print magazine on steroids, with a direct line back to the first days of the Macintosh. You get iOS coverage, some consumer electronics and a whole lot of Mac advice, from tweaking an Xserve RAID to performing your own repairs.
9. PCWorld – Another (not as stylish) online version of a venerable magazine, the site boasts the same well-sourced news, authoritative reviews and price tracking as the print publication. The bonus is a phenomenally large collection of freeware and shareware that you can download.
10. Techcrunch – Among the top three or four tech sites year after year, Techcrunch remains the premier source for “the skinny” on social networking, startups, Web 2.0 and venture capital.
Last week, Apple released its first computer operating system without “Mac” or “Macintosh” in the name: OS X 10.8, with the cute kitty code-name of Mountain Lion. It is available only by direct App Store download and only to users with either of the last two OS versions installed (10.6 or 10.7, Snow Leopard and Lion, respectively). Should you upgrade? Should you specify OS X 10.8 when you rent Macbook Pro laptops?
Let’s take a look at Mountain Lion…
When Apple introduced Lion in 2011, almost six of every 10 Mac owners passed on converting to Lion completely, including many a high-end user like those that rely on a CRE Mac Pro rental. Oddly, as Mountain Lion now appears to deliver on its predecessor’s promises, it’s not quite living up to its own pre-launch hype. Apple hasn’t made its intentions clear about the future of OS X, and the company’s reticence promotes FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt), as well as occasional bad reviews. What gives?
New dividing line?
Apple has upset a number of its most loyal customers by dumbing down Final Cut Studio and letting the Mac Pro go stale over the last several years. High-end users feel abandoned (subject of an upcoming blog), and oppose the Mac’s “iOS-ification.” The sort of media pros that use AJA IO HD-level technology are not as concerned with look and feel as they are with brains and brawn.
For non-pro users, it’s all about “social networks,” despite Facebook integration being delayed until a fall update. When iOS 6 is released around the same time, a CRE iPad rental will integrate just as seamlessly with OS X devices as other “pads, pods ‘n’ phones.” In the meantime, other new Mountain Lion features push “Mac socialization” forward, like Messages, the Notifications service and system-wide iCloud support. This last feature is not as intuitive as it should be, and it is strange how hard Apple worked to make it invisible.
Mountain Lion features …lots to look at?
Apple claims “over 250″ new features, but this includes changing the typeface on some dialog boxes. Peruse that new features list carefully, as some features only work with select Macs, such as Power Nap that collects messages and updates while asleep. Right now it only works on two Air models and the Retina Display MacBook Pro. There’s a lot to go over, so we’re going to live with the new OS for a bit and report back to you with what we discover.
Here’s your first Mountain Lion heads-up: Coinciding with the release of OS X 10.8 was the launch of new Mac-specific malware. Go here to check it out and get the antidote (if you need it).
For everything from trade show convention rentals to high-end post-production technology, your solutions are a single call or e-mail away, right here at CRE. And if you know what you need, visit our Quick Rental Quote page and be done and gone in minutes.
CRE Rentals offers the latest on new technology gadgets and goodies for work and play that include software updates, music and robots.
iOS 6: Update
Apple’s iOS 6 is not a gadget, but it powers some of the most widely used ones in the world, so it is always newsworthy. The latest: Apple just sent “iOS 6 beta 2″ to its developer community, but don’t expect any surprises or “aha” moments since the primary focus is on bug fixes to advance the software to final release. There will be more incremental beta releases before that, so there are plenty of bits and pieces for Apple to polish over the summer.
Mini music mixer
IK Multimedia’s latest gotta-have-it gear is the iRig MIX, which does exactly what its name implies. Plug two instruments (or devices) into the two independent channels, or split the signal from a single iOS device into dual mono. With a few items from our range of professional audio visual (AV) equipment rentals, you could build an entire exhibit booth extravaganza around this gadget. Although it was designed as a portable mixing solution for solo musicians and small ensembles that use iOS devices in live shows, the iRig MIX would be a great addition to any professional presenter’s gig bag.
High-end ear candy
The Marquee Media Center 2.0, described quite accurately as an “imposing” device, is a high-end one, too, with a price approaching $1,000. Simple, elegant aluminum encases a 2.4GHz dual-core Intel chip, DVD drive, 2TB of storage and 4GB of RAM enabling the unit to play files from discs, drives, USB mass storage and the Internet. “No-brainer” setup requires two simple connections to (1) an external display like one of our Apple Cinema Display rentals and (2) your home network (WiFI or Ethernet). Okay, movie time!
Your robot servant
Is it an appliance, a robot or a radio-controlled toy? If you’re talking about iRobot’s Roomba 790, a robotic vacuum with a touchscreen remote for real-time control, then the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” The wireless remote, sized halfway between an iPhone and our iPad rental, lets you control movements, schedule cleanings and get instant robot action by pushing the “Clean” button. This is the first Roomba with radio technology as opposed to infrared, so the Roomba doesn’t have to be in your line of sight for you to order it around. And it fairly sips power, running three to six months on four AA batteries (depending on how much of a “clean freak” you are, of course).
On Monday, June 18th, Microsoft staged a media event almost as stylish and savvy as an Apple press party, with CEO Steve Ballmer announcing “a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft.” Of course, Ballmer was speaking about his firm’s iPad competitor, the new Microsoft Surface tablet, so he meant “new to Microsoft” as opposed to “new to the world.” While the latter would have really been like an Apple announcement, Microsoft’s tablet is still a bold move for several reasons.
Microsoft Surface specs
Microsoft’s “new family” begins with two models, both under two pounds with 10.6-inch screens and similar magnesium cases (built-in stand, cameras front and back, keyboard and trackpad in the cover). Both models will run the new Windows 8 OS, with the 1.5-lb., 9mm-thick basic unit getting the “low-power” RT build with the “Metro” tile interface. The 2-lb., 13.5mm-thick Pro will compete with our iPad rental and other high-end tablets, pairing Metro with a full Windows desktop. Intel’s powerful Ivy Bridge chip lets users type on the Pro keyboard, use fingers on its touchscreen or write with a stylus.
The basic model comes with 32 or 64GB of memory, the Pro with 64 or 128. Some vital specs were not discussed, including screen resolution, battery, release date or price. (Windows 8 is set to debut “later this year” so it will obviously be after that.) The original ancestor of our iMac rental was a “Bondi Blue” piece of eye candy in a putty-colored PC world, and now the Surface tablet is breaking the mold, too (albeit 15 years later). The design is “über-modern,” stressing flat, black, thin and shiny for the hardware, perhaps to balance the “Disneyland look” of Metro tiles.
Sink or swim for Microsoft?
The Surface tablet is an uncharacteristically risky move by Microsoft, driven, some say, by a “loss of faith” in its corporate partners. The Xbox game console is one of the few hardware successes from the Redmond firm, as the Zune music player was discontinued and the KIN phones for teens lasted about a month. Microsoft dominates personal computing with its software (DOS, Windows, Office), and Windows 8 is the first “MS OS” designed for everything from desktops and tablet PC rentals to mobile touchscreen devices.
MS boss Ballmer said the company “took the time to get Windows 8 and Surface right,” and went on to call the new MS tablet “a tool to surface your passions and creativity.” Whenever the Surface debuts (autumn or ?) the tech world will be watching to see if the new device sinks or swims. We’ll keep you posted!
Apple made a number of announcements last week at its Worldwide Developers Conference, but the Mac Pro – the stylish aluminum tower that has always represented the ultimate in Macintosh computing power – got exactly zero stage time. After the show, an unnamed Apple exec contacted David Pogue, the New York Times tech columnist, and “announced” that the first Mac Pro upgrade in over two years was “under way.”
The big improvements? You can now get “slightly faster two-year-old CPUs,” griped Instapaper developer and longtime Mac partisan, Marco Armendt. He noted there were no top-of-the-line Xeon chips, no USB 3 and not even a Thunderbolt port, the very thing that media pros using render farms and other post-production gear need. The “new model” even has “the same two-year-old graphics cards [and] motherboard.” To Armendt, the message is quite clear: “Apple doesn’t give a —- about the Mac Pro.”
An Apple vet speaks
Andy Hertzfeld was a member of the original Macintosh development team whose influence can be seen all the way to today’s powerful iMac rental. He says he was “worried” when the Mac Pro wasn’t mentioned from the WWDC stage, but “was in for a shock” when he found the Apple tower “stuck in time in 2010.” Bottom line? “The only thing that’s still high-end about it,” Hertzfeld concludes, “is the bloated price.” (CRE has the fastest Mac Pros anywhere, set up right and ready to go – and rentals save you from big capital expenditures.)
Clearly, Apple’s management team believes that mobile iOS devices are the firm’s best bet for the future. Chris Foresman of Ars Technica observed at the end of 2011 that “the iOS ecosystem has come to represent 70% of Apple’s revenue.” At the same time, Apple has upgraded and added Thunderbolt ports to MacBook Pro rental and the rest of the Mac line – the mini has Thunderbolt and the Pro doesn’t? Some high-end users just might switch…how many will desert Apple for Windows or Linux?
Desktop computer dead?
It is bad business to “utterly disappoint your most loyal customers,” as Hertzfeld puts it. He ends with a couple of irritating questions: “Why do an update at all if you hardly change anything? What’s going on here?” As journalists attempted to clarify the situation after WWDC, Apple didn’t immediately respond. When the blowback built to a boiling point, however, that “unnamed executive” called the NYT‘s Pogue and began damage control. Some Apple watchers wonder if Apple thinks desktop computers have a future, since nothing was said at WWDC about the iMac, either. “An executive did assure me” about new models, says Foresman, “probably for release in 2013.” Okay, so we’ll keep you posted. Again.
CRE will keep you moving forward, too, with everything from event production rentals to post-production technology and mass storage. One call or e-mail, or a trip to our Quick Rental Quote form, gets it done. Call now!
Google’s Chrome Web browser just keeps getting better, with some pundits calling the recent release, Chrome 19, ”perfect.” Google has a Chrome Operating System (OS), too, but it has yet to make low-cost “Chromebooks” a viable replacement when you need to rent laptops that offer desktop-grade power. Chrome the web browser, on the other hand, is a huge international hit.
Chrome rules now. As of May 2012, Chrome had 33% of the world browser market, inching past Internet Explorer (IE) in a big PR win for the California company. Microsoft had gotten quite used to being #1, while Apple is content to have browser share beyond its computer share (Safari is for Windows, too). Want your iMac rental outfitted with Chrome, IE, Safari or all three? Just ask.
Chrome 19’s most useful new feature is tab syncing. Chrome has always been a great “syncer” and now – in addition to apps, history, themes and other settings – you can sync your open tabs. This works with all your computers, from your home PC and office workstation to the MacBook Pro rental you got for that upcoming conference. Further, it will also work with any smart phone running on Android Ice Cream Sandwich with a copy of the Chrome beta release for Android. Warning: Don’t leave your work PC on with this feature engaged unless you want all your coworkers to see that you download Hannah Montana posters at home.
Privacy, security upgrades
Some users reported trouble with Chrome 18, the last version, particularly under the Windows 7 OS (64-bit). Two different reviewers this past month decided to try duplicating the problems, which seem to occur when multiple tabs with heavy Flash requirements are open. On powerful systems, neither tester could cause a crash. Bottom line? “I can’t say that you won’t have problems with this new version of Chrome,” concluded one reviewer. “All I can say is that on my Windows 7 box, and on my various Linux and Mac boxes as well, Chrome 19 never faltered no matter how heavy a load I put on it.”
It’s hard to make predictions about technology trends, killer apps or which Palo Alto start up will be the next Google. Even when we go real slow and simply review products “in the pipeline” – as we did in the two-part “10 New Technologies You’ll See in 2012″ last August – it is still hard to forecast accurately.
It gets even harder when Apple is involved. The most successful, respected, innovative and admired brand in the world is the subject of literally thousands of blogs, magazines, websites, user forums and conferences. No matter how hard you work to sort through the rumors and hype, it’s tough going and never-ending. Now that the CRE iPad rental is the latest and greatest from Cupertino, Apple fans have turned their attention to the next big deal, iPhone 5.
iPhone 5 rumors abound
The iPhone 5, of course, was developed alongside the model christened the iPhone 4S. MacRumors.com and other top Apple watchers seem fairly certain about a release date of “early summer”. Interestingly, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is in San Francisco this year from June 11-15, and it has seen many key product announcements, including MacBook Pro rental introduced last year.
The iPhone 5 rumors range from ludicrous (a new length of four inches!) to such safe bets as iCloud integration. The form factor is set, so it’s all about ensuring that the iPhone’s software and hardware continue to “mature” so that the device — like iPads, the iPod touch, the iMac and other Apple computers – is fully functional in Apple’s iCloud environment. As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, such as “Cloud of Confusion?” in January, “total connectivity” is the mantra of the moment, so the new iPhone will have GSM, CDMA and LTE network compatibility. The final prediction is for dual 8MP cameras.
A little surprise, perhaps?
Among the “iffier” rumors, Apple is alleged to be working on a low-cost “mini iPhone” connected to iCloud. One imaginative blogger likens the concept to a “nano phone” that is specifically targeting a young demographic that expects low prices on high tech. An A5 dual-core processor with a clock speed of around 1.2-1.5 GHz – the “CPU class” and power level equivalent to a tablet PC rentals – will supposedly power the small phone, whose flash memory storage capacity is thought to be 1GB. But who knows? It’s a rumor, right?
Sometimes it’s hard to separate rumors from facts, but at CRE we do that every single day. We try to keep you informed, and we run our business to keep you productive. Whether you need a range of trade show convention rentals or some mass storage for a video project or post-production task, a single e-mail or call does it all. In a hurry? Head to our aptly named Quick Rental Quote page and tell us what you need.
There is always a sense of both excitement and dread when Adobe announces the development of a new product. It’s exciting because Adobe has great products that have helped the firm corner the market for high-end photo-and-image software (Photoshop) and dominate the publishing world (InDesign). These are two superb programs, running on everything from plain vanilla PCs to the beefiest customized Mac Pro rental around.
Of course, the other members of Adobe’s Creative Suite, soon to be at version CS6, are also heavyweights in their respective categories – Illustrator for design, Acrobat for PDFs and Dreamweaver for websites. But Adobe has also put dread in the hearts of its customers by showing signs of “Microsoft Frontpage-itis,” a condition characterized by a dumbing down of software.
With the introduction of Muse, yet another website program, comments in the blogosphere are gaining in number as well as negativity.
Who’s the target?
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Muse is aimed at Microsoft Frontpage level users, people who (1) don’t want to drop hundreds of dollars on a top-of-the-line program like Adobe’s own Dreamweaver, and/or (2) will never, ever learn HTML. Muse will compete with Apple’s iWeb, MS Frontpage and a slew of other paint-by-the-numbers website makers from Intuit, Coffee Cup Software and Xara. Adobe will differentiate the product by offering more control, precision placement and power user options. Differentiation and branding in its own product line will be a bit tougher.
Available until release (late 2012?) as a free beta download, Muse is aimed at non-coding web designers who want to work in a powerful WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) environment. “Earth to Adobe, Earth to Adobe: You already have that capability in Dreamweaver!” In Adobe’s existing web program, Dreamweaver CS5, you can split the screen to show both the code and the design preview, or work in one or the other. Like some of the self-contained online site builders, Dreamweaver is an advanced program, but beginners can get decent results with practice.
Rare Adobe misfire?
In fact, if Dreamweaver were just a bit more user-friendly, it could arguably command more market share. What is the compelling case for Muse? Inquiring minds want to know – but will have to wait, perhaps until Muse is headed toward version 2.0. As presently constituted, it is not quite entry-level and certainly not advanced. It’s as if a post-production pro were using floppies (but nice, new multicolored ones) instead of an Xserve RAID for mass storage: Sure, you can do it, but why would you?
We could ask you the same question when it’s time to rent laptops or get state-of-the-art trade show convention rentals. Why would you go anywhere else but CRE? One simple call puts an experienced, expert Account Executive on the job for you. And your visit to the Quick Rental Quote page can get you set up in mere minutes. We’re here, ready to help!