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January 3rd, 2012

It’s too early yet to decide what 2011 will be most remembered for, in the culture at large or its individual niches. For those of us in the technology niche – and the growing portion of the public that follows early adopters – there was plenty to like about 2011.

Smarter smartphones

Apple’s iPhone 4S is still a generation or two ahead of its rivals, a growing number of which are getting quite good, like the Samsung Galaxy and Nexus. The iPhone’s dual-core chip (which also powers our iPad rental) and camera technology, front and back, are both much improved. What sets it apart, though, are two future-is-now features: (1) its revamped antenna, which has markedly improved connection rates and call quality on both AT&T and Sprint networks, and (2) Siri, a talking voice-control system that starts out good and learns to be, well, insanely great.

Lighter laptops

Netbooks arrived a few years back and seemed to define a new form factor for lightweight laptops: low-power CPUs, limited RAM, a few gigabytes of flash storage, WiFi, pygmy-sized keyboards and a low price. Manufacturers stepped up, however – Apple with the MacBook Air, Sony with its VAIO line, Samsung with Series 9 – and brought Grade A design, power and style (at higher prices, naturally). Still, as with the iconic iMac, Apple sets the standard. Bottom line for the Air: The 2011 makeover brought a big power boost, it does Windows, the 11- and 13-inch screens are gorgeous and a 15-inch version is rumored to be in the works.

iPad, tablets and apps

In 2011, the “Year of the Tablet,” the second generation Apple iPad arrived with impressive new features, including the fabulous iOS 5 software. But it’s the several hundred thousand fun, productive and/or useful apps that make it numero uno. No other pads or tablets, not even our tablet PC rentals, have the iPad’s extensive library, and if you’re a “creative” type there is really no alternative. For less demanding people, however, a growing number of new tablets – Android no-names, the very good Samsung Galaxy Tab and, in particular, Amazon’s new Kindle Fire – will gobble up all the TV episodes, movies, music, YouTube clips, e-books and other media you care to consume.

Need for speed…USB3.0 and Thunderbolt

Another set of technologies, the protocols for connecting digital devices, kept improving throughout 2011. USB 3.0 on new PCs operates at 4.8Gbps and the new Thunderbolt bus, featured on the Mac Pro and other new Apple computers, runs two 10Gbps channels simultaneously. Apple’s previous high-speed connection, FireWire 800, is less than one-tenth as fast as Thunderbolt and not bi-directional.

If you want to move in a new direction, CRE can help. Find out how new technology can help you blast through production bottlenecks, or how our event production rentals can help you make a dramatic impact at your next conference. Contact us by phone or e-mail, or use the handy Quick Rental Quote form. We’re here, ready to help!

And don’t forget to check out Thursday’s blog, Technology in 2011: The Downside.

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