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June 7th, 2012

There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of different web browsers that you can get from open-source apps to The Big Guns (Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Opera). Today we will bring you up-to-date  on the pros and cons of the top web browsers to ensure that you know how to meet your web browsing needs.

Top 5 Web Browsers

In reviewing information from Tom’s Hardware, and other sources, we found a solid consensus on the top five browsers. Here are the top five browsers:

Internet Explorer (current version 9) is notorious for not following standards. The famous “Destroyer of Netscape Navigator” has a huge installed base – it’s on our PC desktop computer rentals – but in one tech site’s “browser showdown”,IE finished dead last in over half the 20-odd tests. Its media tools are good with Silverlight excelling at interactive media, but one of the “showdown” judges said that IE’s overall results were “nothing less than sad.”

Opera (current version 12) was one of the first browsers, debuting in 1996. It is considered a RAM hog, but in test after test is a close second to Chrome in speed. Many creative pros, including CRE customers working with AJA IO HD and other potent technology, seem to gravitate to Opera, possibly due to the company culture (old hippies?).

Safari (current version 5.1.6) is not “the world’s fastest web browser.” Chrome is the true “speed champ” and Opera beats Safari, too. On  iMac rental, Safari is tightly integrated into the OS, an advantage it loses when running on Windows – and which may have kept it out of first place. Overall, Safari is still behind Google – for now.

Firefox (current version 13) goes back to the 1990s and is an international presence. Although a test judge noted its “staggering number of customization options,” Firefox has somehow managed to lose its edge. Tablet PC rentals and touch devices make use of some of its custom strengths, but as a go-to browser, Firefox loses to all but IE.

Chrome (current version 19) is the undisputed winner of all the browser comparisons it has appeared in. In fact, Google’s browser has so very many unique, powerful features that it deserves its own blog. Look for that next time, on Tuesday, June 12th.

In the meantime, look to CRE when you need to impress a conference crowd with plasma display rentals or furnish an entire breakout room. Media professionals appreciate our huge inventory of Xserve RAID rentals, potent Mac towers and monstrous mass storage devices. One call or e-mail, or a short visit to our Quick Rental Quote page, and you’re back to work!

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!

January 26th, 2012

When Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer did his keynote address at CES 2012, more than a few attendees (and most of the media) thought that the overproduced hip-hop-techno-video-extravaganza introduction was a bit odd. Plus, there was no “core messaging” at all regarding Microsoft’s focus of  “three screens and a cloud.”

The three screens are PCs, tablet/game devices and phones, all with online storage and apps in the “cloud.”

PCs – Microsoft’s “first screen”

Microsoft is doing great with the “first screen” – PCs. Windows 7, which powers all of CRE Rentals’ PC desktop computer rental units and PC laptops, has shipped over half a billion copies since 2009 and is solidly ensconced in both homes and businesses.

Games & Tablets – “second screen”

Following the introduction of Kinect, the Xbox 360 has overcome its slow start to become a billion-dollar success. With new film and TV partnerships, Xbox is becoming a media hub for moms and dads, at least when they can get the kids off the thing. Chasing the success of iPad rentals are hundreds of Android tablets, but Microsoft can’t field a tablet product until later in 2012, after Windows 8 ships. Hardware details are nonexistent at this point but it’s fair to say that Microsoft is moving in the right direction with the “second” screen.

Smartphone – “third screen”

The firm’s biggest problem is with the third screen – smart phones. Windows Phone got mostly positives reviews, but market share is tiny after more than a year and attempts to use it on devices like tablet PC rentals didn’t work out. Apple and Samsung products dominate phone hardware, while iOS and Android own the software side. Windows Phone has a big challenge ahead.

The big question…what about the Cloud?

cloud confusion

With little information about how and when Microsoft and its partners plan to roll out Windows 8 tablets, even the rosiest scenario puts the company in a distant third place at the end of 2012. So much for the three screens – what about the cloud that ties them all together, like Apple’s iCloud? For consumers, Microsoft has steadily refined SkyDrive and Windows Live, introducing new features and planning much better Windows 8 integration. For business users, Office 365 is doing well against Google Apps as Windows Azure continues a slow but steady growth.

Since the company’s cloud strategy requires customers loyal to Microsoft on all three screens, can Microsoft bring smart phones into the mix? The firm has been slow to deliver solutions for Android or iOS, and there are no Office apps on non-Microsoft devices. Microsoft already has a presence on the iMac and other Apple computers – as Macs run the Windows OS natively. If the company dedicates itself to “invading” the iPad and iPhone, this will be a very interesting year.

One call or e-mail puts an expert Account Executive on the job for you, or use our Quick Rental Quote if you know what you need!

December 15th, 2011

“The times they are a-changing,” Bob Dylan sang over 40 years ago. He was right then, and he’s still right. In the tech world, change moves at supersonic speed, and there is so much to keep up on that doing so can be a full-time job. Lets take a look at what’s happening to Windows and Mac OS X as a direct result of advances in “tablet tech.”

Windows & Mac OS X

Tablet tech…small is (now) beautiful

When the first practical tablet devices debuted in the early 1990s – Apple’s Newton, the Palm Pilot and other Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) – they weren’t ready for prime time. The CPUs were slow, handwriting recognition was spotty and wireless didn’t exist. Just making room for batteries required a larger form factor, the predecessors of tablet PC rentals. It wasn’t until the first decade of the 21st century that WiFi, faster processors and new battery technology got small and inexpensive enough to usher in the “mobile computing era.”

In the mobile universe, screen space is limited (compared to your desktop’s monitor) so icon-based operation, whether via touchscreens like on an iPad rental or smart phone buttons, is a sensible approach. Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Windows Phone (7.5 was just released) were all developed with ease of use in mind.

Icons, apps, constant connection

As devices began to proliferate and improve, special software programs (“apps”) were developed to do specific, focused tasks. While WiFi didn’t become a standard feature until just a couple of years ago, every device of every kind (and size) is now built to be “always on.” Expect your desktop OS – Mac, Windows and, to a lesser degree, Linux – to continue making communications and connectivity as easy, simple and fast as a phone. You will get a familiar “look and feel” whether you’re on a phone, a tablet/ipad or an iMac. At long last … convergence!

Many more small-device developments will find their way into both Windows and Mac OS X, but some are already visible in current releases. The latest Mac OS X release is Lion, 10.7, but it’s not the first to use elements of Apple’s iOS (now at version 5). The App Store is now, well, an app, permanently situated in the Dock, and like others in Lion it opens into “full screen” mode. With the newly inaugurated iCloud, which we wrote about recently, you can synchronize everything from work documents to iCal entries among all your devices, from the Mac Pro at your office to the iPhone in your pocket.

Mobile advances really are changing your desktop, and fast. Whether you need high-tech advice, high-tech gear – render farms, mass storage, A/V equipment – or the best trade show convention rentals, one call or e-mail (or a few clicks on our Quick Rental Quote form) will put you on the fast track to a solution!

November 1st, 2011

Hollywood: Greenest of Them All?Hollywood has been “talking the green talk” in movies and TV shows for some 30 years now, promoting sustainability, energy savings and green ideals like CRE’s all the while. Like any other group of people, of course, not all of them practiced what they preached, and critics still claim that Hollywood productions are plagued with waste and overspending.

With today’s economic challenges, cutting waste by going green is a perfect strategy for a Hollywood that already drives Priuses, eats granola, recycles and loves Apple’s iMac (because it’s green and insanely great). By adopting sustainable production techniques and rejecting waste and excess, is Hollywood now becoming the greenest of them all?

Hollywood Greens get organized

The Environmental Media Association (EMA) started its Green Seal program in 2003. EMA’s president, Debbie Levin, called on some of her board members – actors Wendy Malick and Ed Begley, Jr., producer Bill Gerber, Fox chief Kevin Reilly and others – to come up with energy-saving, waste-reducing ideas that would do some good “without driving the crews crazy.” They did so, establishing a comprehensive EMA best practices guide that continues to evolve to this day.

The EMA guide essentially walks production crews through a detailed process of “greening” their shows, covering everything from set construction to computerized reporting. As experts in post-production, computers, audiovisual equipment rentals and event production services, CRE knows that part of the “green solution” is energy-saving technology. Another important part, of course, is how you use it.

Wide-ranging changes

The general goal of “going green” means cutting inefficiencies, reducing waste and designing sustainable systems, and Hollywood set managers started making changes. Every department and every production step was up for greening – post-production, too, where the efficient use of render farms saves time and money (especially if you rent render farm). Some changes were obvious, some were subtle, but they showed a comprehensive approach that still continues:

  • Construction chiefs are now sourcing sustainably-harvested lumber and using alternative power sources where possible.
  • Shooting scripts use many reams of paper and are typically sent via messenger to sets on a daily basis, but tablet PC rentals are just one of the paperless solutions to this distribution challenge.
  • From actors to electricians, everyone’s drinking bottled water on set, so installing water filtration systems for people with reusable containers is a no-brainer.
  • “Craft services” (food providers) produce huge amounts of garbage that is compostable (perishable foods) and other trash that should be compostable paper (plates, cups) but are typically plastic and Styrofoam. Our iPad rental can be outfitted with apps showing you how to calculate the quantities, order the compostable supplies and add the resulting waste to your compost heap.

Apple’s ever-greener Mac Pro features the latest, greatest, greenest technology yet, with similar energy-saving changes showing up in PC desktop computer rental inventory. One call or e-mail – or a few clicks on our Quick Rental Quote page – will put an expert Account Executive on the job for you, crafting the perfect “green” solution for your unique challenges.

October 27th, 2011

Although you can use it as an remote archive, Apple’s new iCloud service that debuted on October 12th is not primarily for storage. It is made to keep your data synchronized among your iOS devices and computers (Mac, PC). After it’s set up, you can work on your iPad rental and know that the document will instantly be ready for editing on any synced device. Transferring files by e-mail or USB flash drives is on the fast track to obsolescence.

iCloud by Apple

How iCloud works

First off, iCloud doesn’t work without the latest OS X Lion update, 10.7.2, and the latest iTunes update, 10.5. For better iCloud integration, Safari also got a bump to 5.1.1. Pages, Numbers and Keynote – the iWork programs that run on every Macintosh, from the cutting-edge laptops to the mighty Mac Pro – now sync documents via iCloud. Contacts, Calendar and Mail data also updates automatically on multiple devices. Just as importantly, iCloud also stores device settings, apps, screen layouts, ring tones and text messages, so all your vital data comes with you when you upgrade devices.

The new Photo Stream lets you download up to 1,000 photos for 30 days without counting against your storage total (see “What’s the deal?” below). Third-party apps can also leverage iCloud services, and it’s vital to remember that iCloud is “open territory” where tablet PC rentals running Windows are free to roam, too. Future blogs will update you on the features developers implement for their various iCloud products and services.

What’s the deal?

You get 5GB of iCloud storage for free, and iTunes music, e-books, apps and Photo Stream pics do not count toward your total. Your iCloud real estate will be populated by documents, application data, mail, non-Photo Stream photos, settings and other information. You can buy more storage for annual fees of $20 (10GB), $40 (20GB) and $100 (50GB), but Apple’s customer research indicates that 5GB of storage should be sufficient for most people. There are numerous variables – the size of your Camera Roll, how many documents you carry around, how much application data you’re amassing, etc. – so you will have to figure out what works for you.

iTunes Match confuses

There is a possible point of confusion with iCloud, and that revolves around iTunes integration. When you buy tracks from iTunes, they are automatically synced to your devices and don’t count toward your free storage total. However, if you want to sync music that was not purchased from iTunes, the privilege requires paying $25 a year for the separate iTunes Match service.

CRE, like Apple, is all about “value added” and excellence. From Audience Response Systems (ARS) to high-end digital gear and Xserve for that new post-production project, we’ve got you covered. One simple call or e-mail puts an experienced Account Executive on the job for you, while a couple of clicks gets the ball rolling with our Quick Rental Quote. We’re ready with solutions for whatever challenges you face!

August 9th, 2011

The “green” movement promotes the wise use of existing energy and the development of new, renewable resources. It’s a long-term goal, certainly, and one that CRE supports, but in the meantime you can still bring green thinking to your company’s meetings, conferences and other events. Stay on the road to sustainability with 7 simple steps for greener meetings.

1. Save trees. Materials can be distributed via Web sites, e-mail or peer-to-peer communication using iPad rentals, WiFi-enabled laptops and smart phones. For everything from pre-event PR to post-event customer follow-up, cross-platform file formats like PDF and HTML make it easy to reach wired and wireless devices of every kind.

2. Make a personal pitch. Whether in a PC video chat, over the phone, in a YouTube clip or, better yet, in person, you need to open your mouth and promote that meeting, seminar or trade show presence. Put promotional materials on the tablet PC rentals that you provide your conference team.

3. Cultivate “enviro-allies”. Share your company’s green statement, or a new one created for your planned event, with vendors, attendees, exhibitors and speakers. Get everyone on the same page and working together toward a mutual goal.

recycling bins

4. The three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Your efforts to use the three Rs should be visible and accessible. As you reduce the use of paper, also reuse glassware instead of buying disposable cups and recycle as much metal, glass and plastic trash as you can.

5. Energy saving plans. Whether you’re running the show or using CRE’s event production services, you will need to ensure, among other things, that lights and air conditioning are turned off in empty rooms. You can tailor other energy-efficient strategies depending on the event type and building.

6. Eat green. Make local, seasonal produce part of the fare if you are also playing caterer. Fresh, healthy foods are never out of style, and eating wisely is an important part of a positive lifestyle.

7. Save gas and time. For off-site events, keep traveling distances short. The host city should be close to as many attendees as possible, and within that city pick one of the hotel conference centers near the airport.

Meeting planning and convention rentals are just two areas of CRE Rentals’ broad expertise, which ranges from all kinds of computer rentals to serious post-production gear. A simple call or e-mail gets an experienced Account Executive on the job, focused on the solution to your unique challenges. (Know what you need? Use our handy Quick Rental Quote form to start “greening” your next event.)

January 27th, 2011

Touchscreen technology now works on screens of all sizes, so it’s turning up everywhere. CRE has a range of touchscreen devices, because there are many ways they can help you. We’ve blogged about touchscreens before, but here’s a review of CRE’s wide-ranging touchscreen capabilities, from “small” to “extra large.”

Small touchscreen

Rent an iPadCRE Rentals iPad rentals show just how good touch technology has gotten. Like the iPhone and iPod Touch, the device runs iOS 4.2 for integrating into any digital workflow. It’s great for sales pros, department managers and conference-goers, as there are few better tools for staying in touch, scheduling, collaborating and showing presentations – on the go and without an extension cord.

The iPad is already so potent that you can plan a conference with it, and when it debuts “sometime in 2011″ the upcoming iPad 2 will sport two cameras that definitely make it ready for prime time. More importantly, it will be ready for FaceTime, the videochat app with a version for every Apple computer and “iDevice.”

Medium touchscreen

When you need first-rate tablet PC rentals, go with the company that set the standard: Motion Computing. The workhorse portable that CRE rents has a fast Intel Core 2 Duo processor and weighs just three pounds. It features a 12.1-inch UltraView screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and twin batteries for extended use.

You also get a choice of OS (Windows XP or Ubuntu Linux). This unit excels at the demanding regimens of doctors, warehouse professionals, sales reps, meeting/event planners and others needing portable power and total connectivity in a tough, dependable package.

Large touchscreen

The Sony VAIO L, a special member of our computer rentals lineup, offers a giant 24-inch multitouch screen. Get a few for your next trade show booth so potential customers can “touch” their way through product and service offerings. The simplicity of the interface and endless variety of Windows programs also make the VAIO L perfect for customer service and order-taking duty.

CRE also has interactive kiosk rentals with touchscreen interfaces. Kiosks can extend your reach beyond your exhibit to other high-traffic areas, displaying presentations or offering touch-to-see options. The communication goes both ways, too, so the kiosk will also take contact information for later use.

Extra large touchscreen

For your breakout session or presentation, nothing holds attention like 42″ HD touchscreen LCD monitor rentals.  With infrared touch technology, this sleek touch-sensitive display recognizes multi-touch gestures for onscreen interaction. The high definition resolution and ultra-wide viewing angle make it an ideal “digital signage” display for all types of events.  It just gets better when you connect it to a MacBook laptop for a “super-sized” iPad feel.

Are you ready to add a touch of class to your next event?  CRE Rentals can help you get the right touch. Just call or e-mail or submit our Quick Rental Quote form to get an Account Executive on the job for you – now!

January 6th, 2011

CES 2011 – the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the annual rite of passage for all things high-tech – begins today and runs through the 9th. It is by far the planet’s biggest get-together of gadgeteers, tech writers and assorted geeks. You know the type (you may be one): If you use our Mac Pro rentals and memorize every Dashboard widget, you share the mindset prevalent at CES. We have other blogs on New Year’s resolutions, and several recent looks at tech predictions past and future, so we’re not making any predictions here. We’re just reporting on the buzz, which is already at a high pitch.

Tablets ad infinitum

You may be tired of hearing it, but tablets will be humungous this year. CRE offers iPad rentals because Apple has sold about 14 million in nine months and people want them. Now Toshiba, Asus and other firms are rushing tablets to market. Some units will run Android, and some may even run Windows. CRE began offering high-quality Motion Computing tablet PC rentals when they were about the only game in town. Before we add any new products to our list, we’ll check them out up, down and sideways. What to watch for: A tablet from HP running the “WebOS” system. What to watch out for: Cheap tablets with an old Android OS (if it’s under 2.0, fuggedabowdit).

Is that “screaming” or “streaming”?

The streaming media market took off somewhat surprisingly last year. In no time we had Google TV, a new and improved Apple TV, revamped Boxee and Roku, new offerings from Logitech and plenty of Chinese lookalikes. Many of these units attach to large LCD monitor rentals to create a great presentation setup, but TV makers are way ahead of that. Instead of using large-screen LCDs or plasma rentals with the streaming devices, you can now get a TV with Web capabilities built in, so Netflix, Hulu and other sources will stream from “the cloud.”

Another shot at 3D

The far future of 3D monitor technology looks great, and your 2018 iMac rentals may be equipped with 3D screens that are great for design, layout, engineering and (of course) watching movies. Consumers pretty much ignored the TV makers’ 3D-TV push in 2010, possibly because of the expense, possibly because of the lack of 3D content – but definitely because of those silly glasses. Vizio is attacking the price problem, while Nintendo and Toshiba are making headway in developing goggles-free 3D viewing. And James Cameron is going to make two more Avatar flicks!

We follow the technology wherever it goes, and new products that prove themselves will enter the CRE inventory. In the meantime, we have state-of-the-art equipment for your media production needs, as well as convention rentals and great advice across the board. Call or e-mail an Account Executive, or fill out the online Quick Rental Quote form, and we will find the right solution for you – right now!

December 21st, 2010

It’s not polite to point!

Microsoft’s powerful Xbox 360 got a boost in 2010 with the debut of the Kinect motion-sensing control. Players interact directly with games through gestures tracked in 3D space by two cameras. Now the company behind that technology, PrimeSense, is supplying it to makers of HTPCs (Home Theater PCs) to give movie/TV watchers remote control without the remote. Starting in 2011, watch for gesture control to move into the same areas staked out by touch screens, as well. We don’t know if CRE’s iMac rentals will be outfitted in the future with gesture control, but it is clear that through trial and error we will discover which devices are best controlled with touch, and which are best simply to wave “goodbye” to.

“Year of the Tablet”

Research In Motion (RIM), maker of the Blackberry, is set to unveil its entry into the lucrative tablet market in 2011. Its PlayBook will join such products as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Dell Streak, HP Slate 500, Toshiba Folio 100 and a slew of Android tablets in trying to siphon off some of the cash flowing to Apple’s iPad. With phone makers (Nokia), PC brands (Acer, Asus) and appliance firms (LG) all ready to jump in, watch for tablet power to increase and price tags to decrease. Heading from the Year of the Netbook into the Year of the Tablet makes a certain kind of sense, and if a solid product appears that will be of value to our customers, we will get it – just like we added tablet PCs way back when, and iPad rentals this year. Stay tuned for the next addition!

Wireless displays

The WiGig Alliance announced in November that it would partner with VESA – the international non-profit that “supports and sets industry-wide interface standards” for PCs, workstation and consumer electronics – on wireless DisplayPort. It will support the same two-way speeds as wired DisplayPort, carrying both audio and video data for every imaginable display device from tablets to monitors like CRE’s plasma rentals. Such diverse tech firms as Broadcom, AMD, Microsoft and Dell have joined the WiGig Alliance, and some movie studios are already expressing interest.

A great list!

The best, most complete list of 2011 “things to watch for” is at Writer Martin Carstens doesn’t describe any of the devices or technologies; he merely breaks it down into 13 categories including Desktop Computing, Mobile Phones, Tablet Computing, Device Interfaces and Peripherals. It’s a fascinating list!

At CRE, we actually do know what all this new technology means. Give our experienced Account Executives a call, send an e-mail or put them to work by filling out the Quick Rental Quote form. From computer rentals to conference planning, we’re on the job for you!

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