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April 10th, 2014

Oculus RiftFacebook is buying Oculus VR, the maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset, for around $2 billion. This is a fact—as opposed to much of the hype about the purchase,  and the product itself. Recently, Sony announced its own headset, dramatically named Project Morpheus, so the momentum is building for “the breakthrough” that has been decades in the making. It’s time for a reality check on virtual reality.

The challenges now are legion. The public sees VR headsets as “gamer gear,” so Facebook will need to merge the technology into its huge (and still growing) social space. In an investor call after the purchase announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke of “sharing not just moments [but] entire experiences and adventures. Oculus,” he opined, “has the potential to be the most social platform ever.”

A Call for Clarity

In a statement reminiscent of Apple’s reactions to rumors about our original iPad rental, one PCWorld.com columnist went so far as to say, “Everything you’ve heard about the Oculus Rift is wrong.” Brad Chacos thinks the Oculus Rift is “a groundbreaking, affordable virtual reality headset,” but the public has “a skewed picture.” He lists five top “inaccuracies,” but two deal with Kickstarter funding and the Oculus SDK (Software Developers Kit). The other three points, however, are crucial to clarity here.

Not Just For Games: The “early software” for the Rift, or any other VR headset, will focus primarily on games and other diversions. But Zuckerberg did not buy Oculus to make shoot-’em-ups more realistic. Like Steve Jobs with the iMac, he “sees the future” and aims for it. What might he see? One simple example: Bossa Studios’ Surgeon Simulator is a game today, but delete the horror-movie elements and tomorrow it could be part of a medical school curriculum.

Not Ready for Primetime: The Oculus Rift can be purchased at the company’s website. The firm has sold some 75,000 of them since March 2013, but the “product” is not a finished consumer product, but a developer’s kit to help you create VR software. There is no date set for a consumer-ready device, and when one debuts, it will require the horsepower of a CRE computer rental. Until power requirements are reduced to work with tablets and smartphones, the VR social “dimension” will remain constricted.

Not the Only Game in Town: With Facebook’s clout (and cash), Oculus—which will operate “semi-autonomously” like recent acquisition WhatsApp—often appears to be the only VR company around. CRE agrees with PCWorld.com’s Chacos that you should keep an eye on a “wide range of companies [that] are developing virtual and augmented reality headsets…including game-industry heavyweights like Sony (of PlayStation fame) and Valve (creators of the Steam PC gaming platform).” We know you’re busy, so we’ll keep an eye out for you—and so, as we like to conclude, we will keep you posted!

CRE Rentals  keeps you informed on future technologies while continuing to provide the technology that  you need to get your projects finished today.  If you’re looking for the new Mac Pro…we’ve got it!  Give us a call today to find out about all of products and services. 877-266-7725

April 3rd, 2014

Classic Arcade Watch

Arcade WristwatchSince the Apple iWatch is an “official rumor” awaiting the mere technicality of the Cupertino firm’s own announcement, industry observers have already moved on to wondering about the competition (and it’s not just Samsung). There will be doubtless  scores of lookalike iCounterfeits, as well as watches running on Android and other mobile OS flavors. But something tells us that the Classic Arcade Wristwatch is going to have a corner on the 1980s arcade game look.

For telling time, the bitmap display (good ol’ pixelated B&W) shows a large comet (hour hand), a small comet (minutes), and a rocket ship (seconds). The small joystick is nonfunctional, but the “Fire” button results in screen flashes and appropriate sound effects. The detail work is very good, and it’s definitely more of a conversation-starter than, say, our iPad rental. Still, this is a true niche product: not just for geeks, but retro ones.

Nothing Succeeds Like Excess

American pen maker Cross once had a pretty tight grip on the premium pen market in the U.S. Graduations, promotions, and other commemorative events would spike their sales year after year. Today there’s a huge supply of pens that can cost as much as our MacBook Pro rental. As one example, the Monteverde One Touch Engage Retractable Ink Ball Pen, a premium pen at a premium price, does offer some usefully simple features, like doubling as a stylus for touchscreens.

Like a Mont Blanc pen, this model from Monteverde fairly oozes class. Built of carbon fiber and other primo components, the One Touch has Monteverde’s ultra-cool retractable rollerball (unscrew the tip and behold!), as well as a fountain pen’s ability to suck up any ink and make it work. Substantial without being heavy, with a reportedly “sublime” on-paper feel, the One Touch is as futuristic as our new Mac Pro rental, as well built as a Swiss watch, and as classy as a pen can be.

Plugged… or Mugged?

Girl Plugged InThe Sensory Fiction project at MIT, with no trace of irony, is using The Girl Who Was Plugged In by James Tiptree Jr. as its initial foray into “multimedia reading.” To experience Sensory Fiction, you wear a high-tech harness equipped with a scanner that reads encoded directions to dial up coldness or warmth and adjusts built-in LEDs to establish time or mood. Vibrating mechanisms affect the heart rate while an airbag compression system loosens and tightens around the torso. And it all follows the story’s plot.

“Traditionally,” the Sensory Fiction project objective states, ”fiction creates and induces emotions and empathy through words and images… Sensory Fiction [conveys] plot, mood, and emotion while still allowing space for the reader’s imagination.” Leave space, too, for those words and images that, when wielded by the sort of skilled creatives who use CRE render farms, bring you that “emotions and empathy” stuff.

Not sure about a high-tech harness that tightens around your torso?…we’re with you on that one.  For today’s technology rental needs your best source is CRE Rentals.  Interested to know about our products and services?  Give us a call today 877-266-7725

March 6th, 2014

In August 2012, the Consumer Electronics Association decided to retire the term “4K” and dub the latest resolution champ “Ultra High Definition” instead. Partially defined as a resolution of “at least 3,840 x 2,160 pixels,” Sony decided the very next day to call the technology “4K Ultra High Definition,” now the industry-wide term. With the advent of 4K-UHD, there are now four major screen resolutions used: standard definition (480p/540p), high definition (720p), full high definition (1080i/p), and ultra high definition (2160p).

Today, with HD and 4K sets widely available, most television programs, online videos and DVDs are still broadcast in standard definition, which is 480 “lines” per the tube-TV-era specification. There’s a good reason that graphics and post-production pros get up close and personal with a 4K monitor rental. The benefits of 4K are even greater for professionals in design, multimedia, video, film, or post than for home theater aficionados, who are understandably excited about the new resolution, too.

4K: For doers, not watchers

TV makers big and small will release 4K models or lines in 2014, most of them in the “premium” niche, along with the “smart” TVs that display streams from your MacBook Pro rental, PC, iPad, or phone. For the kind of creatives that CRE supports with render farms and other high-powered tech tools, there is a lot of work ahead. That’s a double-edged sword: They’ll work a lot on 4K displays, creating better and better graphics and viewing experiences for others to watch on their own home theater 4K screens. (More about consumers and 4K coming soon!)

The TVs at CES 2014 revealed that manufacturers have accepted the fact that we have entered “the 4K era.” Today’s creative and production pros depend up0n the highest possible resolution for use in the entertainment industry and a 4K display offers unmatched visual clarity. CRE now offers a 50-inch ultra high definition monitor with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, perfectly suited for film editing, video, and post production with its stunning picture clarity and superior color saturation. CRE has worked closely with the entertainment industry, from music and TV shows to feature films, awards shows, and state-of-the-art animation. 

Good for Business, Too

What works in the entertainment industry can also do double duty in the business world, where clear and direct communication that gets noticed is essential to corporate events. A 4K display monitor will grab the attention of conference attendees by replacing traditional printed signage with motion graphics, beautifully rendered. You can easily control messaging and everything else with a MacBook Pro or iPad rental. Since 2014′s the year that 4K screens will replace the current “high-end” 1080p models to become the latest and greatest, don’t wait too long to ask us about how they can help you, too!

You can also depend on CRE Rentals for technology rentals you need to set up a production office or to make a splash at your next corporate event or conference. Our seasoned professionals can help so complete a Quick Quote (if you know what you need) or give us a call at 877-266-7725.

June 21st, 2012

Comic-Con 2012 comes to the San Diego Convention Center from July 12th to 15th (“Preview Night” is the 11th) for what has arguably become one of the most far-reaching, influential events in the entertainment multiverse. Comic-Con brings top professionals from the publishing, animation, gaming, TV/film, technology and toy industries together in one fast-paced, media-centric happening.

At past events, Comic-Con has invited the foregoing, specified media pros as well as those from “related industries” (plus aliens, Star Wars nerds, those Trekkies and assorted geeks, of course). This year, Comic-Con more precisely defined those industries as firms that “produce material based on comic book, graphic novel, comic strip, animation [or] fantasy/sci-fi properties.”

Whether you are going to exhibit or make a presentation, we don’t just have the trade show convention rentals you need. We have wireless PCs, tablets and ipads for staying in touch and on top of things. We also have some “news you can use,” especially if you want to do some pinpoint niche marketing at the conference.

Know your targets at Comic-Con

You have a range of targets this year, as Comic-Con’s registration program offered two badge categories – a “creative professional” badge and a “trade professional” one. The creative professional badge – for pros with active roles in designing, creating, writing/editing or producing animation, comic books, films/TV, video games, books or toys – is complimentary. These are the kind of pros that rely on CRE for AJA IO HD rentals and other post-production gear.

So remember: If you intend to dazzle folks on the exhibit floor with some plasma display rentals, the “creative” category also includes retired careerists from comics and other pop art industries, web “curators,” website artists and webmasters whose sites promote the historic and ongoing contributions of comics to society. If you have PDF materials prepared for both target groups, every attendee with an iPad rental can receive your message via AirDrop (very cool).

Trade badge for convention floor

The trade professional badge, says Comic-Con, is for “agents, publicists, managers, executives, marketing, sales, business development, advertising, legal representatives, and other industry professionals [attending] for business reasons.” Media pros who did not also qualify as creative professionals were eligible to purchase trade badges, but either way, be prepared with targeted materials for them, too, if it makes sense for your product or service. Get the iPad, get some tablet PC rentals – be ready for anything and everyone!

Of course, all badges to Comic-Con 2012 were gone in 80 minutes or so in early March, and the last batch of some 5,000 made available via cancellations, etc., were gone in minutes on May 31st. That means at least 130,000 people, near SDCC’s capacity. Watch for our wrap-up in about a month!

From the best in event production rentals to the most powerful post-production technology, our experienced Account Executives have the solution you need. We are ready, willing and able to help you properly exhibit at Comic Con – just call or e-mail, or a visit our Quick Rental Quote form today!

May 31st, 2012

In Rejuvenate-Part 1, we talked about doing business in a bad economy and offered 5 tips to grow your business. One of the takeaways is the importance of optimism. Another important principle is “actions speak louder than words” – and the challenge humans always face is taking insights and ideas and acting upon them to effect positive change. Talk is cheap. And inaction is expensive.

As you get ideas, get right into action. If there’s a conference coming up where you will hold a breakout session, setting up one of CRE’s Audience Response Systems (ARS) gets you immediate feedback on anything “new and improved” that you incorporate into your presentation.

So what else can an organization do to grow? Here are the final five tips:

6. Marketing fundamentals. As we start the third decade of the InternetMarketing Strategy Era, many websites still lack proper menus, user-friendly layout, consistent style, etc. At the very least, use your color scheme and logo throughout all marketing materials (print and digital) and support your branding with buzzword-free value propositions. Even if your firm is small and on a tight budget, an iMac from CRE has all you need to create and maintain a clean, effective website.

7. Creative funding. Most businesses fail due to undercapitalization (not enough dough). If you need funding, think creatively, as venture capitalists are presently occupied putting out fires in their existing portfolios. Speak with friends and family about investing, and don’t forget “shadow investors” like suppliers that might offer extended terms in exchange for a long-term purchase order, special discounts, rebates and/or other perks.

8. New partnerships. Both UPS and FedEx are installing workstations like computer rentals at their larger customers’ locations. This doesn’t merely save time and money, but makes the shippers proactive business partners with their customers. If you don’t have the clout of a Fortune 500 firm, you can still approach shippers and suppliers for special terms, just-in-time deliveries, co-op ads, joint promotions, etc.

9. Honest PR. The press releases that most webmasters and editors get are full of fluff and buzzwords. What business doesn’t claim “market leadership” or “best practices”? Avoid words and phrases that editors see every day. Original, honest PR – written in plain English, please! – will separate you from the pack.

10. No boundaries. Companies should position themselves to serve customers around the world, unless it makes no sense. If your product or service fills a need in other countries, and you don’t have resources or staff there, then connect with a local manufacturer, dealer or distributor with the established presence you need.

Speaking of needs, CRE has everything from event production rentals to high-octane post-production gear like render farms and mass storage. One call or e-mail, or a trip to our Quick Rental Quote form, is all it takes. Call now!

May 29th, 2012

As the U.S. economy sputters along, it’s hard to know what to believe from the financial analysts in the media. If you base business decisions solely on industry trends and financial indicators, even with guidance from the “latest and greatest” book of the moment, you’ll be depressed, confused or both.

Don’t despair! There really are ways to survive – even grow – in times of economic uncertainty, and the following 10 suggestions (five today, five in Thursday’s Part 2) will help you concoct your own, unique plan. From marketing strategies to website components, here are the first five of 10 tips to rejuvenate your business.

Rejuvenate your Business

1. Pinpoint marketing. Who are your customers – exactly? How do you get your message to the right desktop, laptop and/or iPad rental? Your advertising, partnerships, distribution channels and retail strategy must work together to win and retain your prime customers. If you can’t readily identify them, revise your model until you can. Then consider opt-in mailing lists for pinpoint marketing.

2. Quick answers. A first-rate website answers customers’ questions, often before they ask, with a thorough FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. Website visitors should be invited to speak with customer service personnel via their preferred means – real-time messaging, phone, e-mail, even video chat – further ensuring a positive customer experience.

3. No hype. Sure, the new wireless tablets from Apple, Acer, Samsung and others are wildly popular. But buying everyone on your conference team a new one because they’re “cool” is not a good idea. In fact, the cost-effective move is to call CRE for a deal on tablet PC rentals, not make a four-figure capital expenditure for geek chic!

4. Flexible pricing. When chaos is the order of the day for the global economy, you must be flexible. It’s a delicate balancing act, but you should be reasonable in negotiations, creative about bringing in new customers – and up to speed on how flexible pricing mixes with marketing in new and interesting ways.

5. Maximum outsourcing. Minimizing fixed costs is crucial, so the latest “efficiency expert” idea is to outsource such core functions as marketing, HR, finance, IT and manufacturing, getting specialists with greater proficiency for less than the cost of new, full-time employees. The same principle is at work in #3 above, namely: Slow down, crunch the numbers and decide whether to rent laptops or buy them, create a phone bank in-house or hire a contractor, build a new exhibit booth or repaint last year’s, etc.

What one person can you talk to about everything from laptops to exhibit booths? An expert Account Executive at CRE, that’s who. You can call or e-mail to talk about computers, tablets, audiovisual  equipment rentals and everything else you may need. Already have a list? Visit our Quick Rental Quote form and you’ll be done in no time!

Don’t forget to return for 10 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Business, Part 2, on Thursday.

May 22nd, 2012

After Apple announced this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2012), Apple's WWDCits annual event in San Francisco, tickets sold out in just two hours. West Coasters have reason to be annoyed, too, since sales started at 8:30am Eastern time, meaning the sales door closed at just 7:30am Pacific time. So the five-day conference, being held June 11-15, is sold out, but Apple promises “full coverage” of WWDC 2012 at CBS’s Tech Talk site (and possibly other online venues). The company will post videos of all sessions “shortly after the conference” concludes.

Why attend Worldwide Developers Conference?

Thousands of developers flock to San Francisco every year for keynote speeches, seminars, product announcements and special events orchestrated and led by Apple executives, marketing managers and, most importantly, about a thousand engineers. This year’s conference will focus on iOS 5, the firm’s latest operating system (OS) for mobile devices like the iPad rental, as well as its latest one for computers, the soon-to-be-released OS X Mountain Lion (10.8).

Those 1,000 Apple engineers will conduct some 100 hands-on labs to help developers with techniques for strategizing, coding and developing applications. In addition to digging deep into the firmware of an existing MacBook or studying the specs of one on the drawing board, WWDC attendees will also benefit from an ideal networking environment – think “geeks gone wild” for a mental picture. Remember, too, that the WWDC has historically been one of the venues where Apple launches new products.

New Apple Announcements, anyone?

Some high-profile tech bloggers have speculated that the iPhone 5 will be announced at next month’s WWDC. Apple has typically launched iPhones in the summertime, and has done so at previous WWDCs (although the iPhone 4S announcement was delayed until October last year). The company has used its summer conference to announce software, Mac models, operating systems, the Xserve RAID and other non-Mac hardware. Any bets on what comes out of WWDC? Check back after June 15th and find out!

Going to WWDC? Need a dozen macbook pro rental, a rockin’ exhibit booth or complete breakout session setup with an Audience Response System (ARS)? Your one-stop shop is CRE. Every business faces different and unique challenges, so call or e-mail an experienced Account Executive and tell us about the obstacles you face – then we’ll brainstorm a solution for you (or two, or three). Already know what you need? Visit our Quick Rental Quote form and you’ll be on your way in just a few minutes!

March 27th, 2012

Before today’s tablets, devices like tablet PC rentals ran the special “pen-driven” Windows OS and offered some of the flexibility – in mobility, input, display, etc. – that we now love about tablet technology. As with any “hot new product” there are now both high- and low-end tablet makers rushing to supply this growing market.

While cheap tablets rarely lead in power or build quality, they often introduce new features that, following consumer acceptance, end up on higher-end models – all of which are chasing the Big Kahuna, Apple’s iPad. Today we will take a look at the top three Android tablets from Samsung, Asus and Sony.

Samsung Galaxy Tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Pros: Also a Honeycomb device, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 combines a complete Android experience with Samsung’s nifty custom touches. It’s (most) everything you love about the Galaxy Tab 10.1, reduced about 10% in size and weight.

Cons: Some users will miss the ports, and the plastic rear cover is a little cheesy next to the world’s best industrial designs like the iMac (and everything else with an Apple logo on it).

Verdict: Samsung is one of the leading firms working against the “one-size-fits-all” trend in technology, and the Galaxy Tab 8.9 is a powerful argument.

Asus Transformer Prime

Pros: The Asus Transformer Prime is the most like an iPad (a bit thinner, almost as light) but adds a microSD slot, micro-HDMI port and an 8-megapixel camera that numerous reviewers call the best of any tablet. The Prime runs the latest Android release, Ice Cream Sandwich, and docks on a special keyboard for laptop-type use.

Cons: The quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU, powerful enough for a PC desktop computer rental, is not fully utilized in some apps and games, so video can suffer. The top-heavy Prime tends to separate from the keyboard, and both screen and bezel are fingerprint magnets.

Verdict: The Asus Transformer Prime is arguably the best of the best, a svelte but full-featured Android unit with quality materials and a superior camera.

Sony Tablet S

Pros: The Sony Tablet S is not your typical tablet. It runs Honeycomb, the OS that came right before Ice Cream Sandwich, but distinguishes itself with great proprietary apps, PlayStation-certified gaming, DLNA music/video streaming and a universal remote control.

Cons: It’s a Sony. It’s not cheap (even the charger is proprietary, so replacing it will be costly) and a few reviewers have griped about insufficient screen brightness.

Verdict: Sony didn’t rush the Tablet S to market, as it did with the ill-fated Dash. It’s solid and dependable, which should appeal to plenty of non-Apple folks.

If your company needs a dozen tablets, we can explain why it makes sense to rent vs. buy any needed technology. It’s different for every business so call or e-mail an experienced Account Executive and talk about it. Know what you need? Hit our Quick Rental Quote form and you’ll be on your way in no time!

March 22nd, 2012

Microsoft PowerPoint is the leading software for creating slide presentations, but the tips here can be applied to any workflow using open source, commercial or proprietary software, on a Windows PC or an iMac. Of the many commonsense tips for writing, designing and delivering an effective presentation, the top eight are below for your consideration.

Presentation

1. Key phrases, essential info – Use key phrases and essential information only. Repeat key phrases from your top three or four points. Text should be short and sweet with a maximum of three bullets, as “negative” surrounding space makes it easy to read.

2. Go with the flow – Make your presentation easy to follow by having the title at the top of the slides. If you are using one of CRE’s Audience Response Systems rentals you should confirm with your audience that they can see the slide copy from the back rows.

3. No font follies – Use fonts designed for reading, like Verdana, Arial or Times New Roman. Use two fonts at most, one for headings and one for copy (no hard-to-read script). A MacBook Pro, or any other late-model Mac, will have excellent typefaces for all uses.

4. Simple language and NO CAPS! – On slides, punctuation marks diminish readability, and thus understanding, as do obscure words and all capital letters. All caps is also interpreted in our Internet culture as SHOUTING, but all it screams is, “low class!”

5. Play it safe– Themes or templates must be appropriate for the target viewers. For business, a no-nonsense layout is best. If you display your slides on a large-screen plasma display rentals, you can use any colors you like and get bright, clear, lifelike images.

6. Use images often – All kinds of images “speak louder than words” – charts, photos, graphs, even embedded video – and help keep your audience tuned in. Don’t do too many text-only slides.

7. Don’t overdo it – A reasonable number of slides ensures that the presentation will not be too long. One slide per minute is a common benchmark. Use digital recorder rentals to get your spoken presentation in sync with the slides.

8. Keep it simple – Transition effects and animation can add some emphasis (and fun), but the slides are visual aids for your presentation, not the focal point. Use a single transition style consistently.

If you have an upcoming presentation, call or e-mail an experienced CRE Account Executive and talk about displays, audio visual (AV) equipment rentals and everything else you may need. Already know what you need? Visit our Quick Rental Quote form and you’ll be on your way in no time!

March 20th, 2012

NAB 2012

The National Association of Broadcasters’ annual convention, NAB 2012, set for April 14-19 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is among the premier electronic media shows and the primary one covering film, cable and TV. With a full range of trade show convention rentals – everything you need to make your best impression from booth to breakout session – CRE will help you get the most from this event.

Since everyone involved in creating, producing and delivering content across today’s multiple channels – TV, satellite, cable, smart phones, the Internet, the iPad, etc. – will be there, you need to be there, too. NAB 2012 combines 90,000+ attendees from over 150 countries with 1,500+ exhibitors, creating what it calls the “ultimate marketplace for digital media and entertainment.” From creators that use CRE’s render farms to communications firms streaming those creations to every sort of digital device, NAB 2012 is a true melting pot of innovation and progress.

Entice show-goers into your booth with an interactive presentation on a bright LCD touchscreen monitor rental. In the “interconnected world” of the 21st century, the NAB event has become renowned for solutions that, as the group explains, “transcend traditional broadcasting and embrace content delivery to new screens in new ways.” If you need some “new ways” to promote your firm more effectively at this trade show, contact CRE about NAB rentals.

Trade Show

ISRI 2012

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries will take over the Mandalay Bay Resort from April 15-19 for the ISRI 2012 Convention and Expo. Invited experts, attendees and exhibitors will take part in over 40 workshops, “spotlight” meetings and general sessions. That doesn’t even include the exhibits, where renting a 65″ plasma display will support your efforts to reach the 5,000+ attendees from 50 countries.

ISRI 2012 is the world’s biggest recycling industry event, with more than 250 vendors using 300,000 square feet of exhibit space to reach thousands of industry professionals. With so many people in constant motion, consider supplementing your booth outreach. Rent interactive kiosk technology to capture attendee contact data in convention areas you cannot cover with Sales staff.

The expo floor is always the centerpiece of ISRI’s yearly get-together, and organizers work hard to keep the attendees in front of the exhibitors. In fact, the Exhibit Hall Opening Gala Reception and a couple of other smaller events will be held right on the trade show floor. In addition to your booth and kiosk “virtual assistants,” your convention team will find that tablet PC rentals and other tools from CRE contribute to a successful team effort.

In addition to everything you need for conferences, CRE offers straightforward advice and solid solutions for digital workflows. From A/V equipment and powerful workstations to special post gear like the AJA Io HD, we’ve got you covered. One call or e-mail (or a few clicks on our Quick Rental Quote form) and we’re on it!

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