Technology moves fast. Today’s latest and greatest is tomorrow’s old news, and keeping up with what’s hot can sometimes feel like a full-time job. Plus, new gear is expensive! Have no fear, we’ve compiled a list of the 15 coolest tech items that you can rent, so you can have your cake and eat it too, all without breaking the bank.
It’s truly amazing how far display technology has come in the last decade. After being the same old Standard Definition for almost 60 years, we’ve gone from HD to 4k to 8k resolution standards in practically no time. These displays are incredible, with resolution so high you can’t even see the individual pixels no matter how close you look. Let’s take a look at some of the uses for these bright, beautiful displays.
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1. Get Interactive with Kiosks
Every planner knows that sign printing can be expensive. Having directional signs made on even the cheapest of materials can really add up. And what about when the inevitable happens and you wind up having to move a breakout session? Changing which way the arrows point with a Sharpie looks unprofessional. Or maybe you get a last-minute sponsor? Printing requires lead time, pickup or delivery. All of that hassle can be avoided by using interactive displays or kiosks spread throughout your event. There’s a reason more and more hotels and other venues are embedding displays into the walls outside of their meeting rooms: they’re attractive and easy to update. New sponsor? Room change? No problem, just update the graphic for the session, update the kiosks, and you’re all set.
Trade shows are a natural for kiosks as well. Sure, you could fumble for your phone, open up the event app, and try and find the booth you’re looking for, but a lot of people would rather just walk up to a kiosk with a touchscreen display, get their answer quickly, and be on their way. Even the kiosks themselves can be a sponsorship opportunity.
2. Go Even Bigger with Video Walls
Why stop with a kiosk? It’s time to think big. Interactive, touchscreen video walls can be rented in sizes over 15 feet wide. Whether it’s an interactive timeline about the history of your organization, a fun game to get things rolling as people arrive, or some other multi-touch experience, these display walls can really add a high-tech punch to an entrance or side-wall of your event. If interactivity isn’t required, you can combine modular LED panels into almost any configuration and size.
As displays get thinner and thinner, screens are no longer bound by the same rules. In fact, they’re bending them. Aria now stocks a gorgeous 65” curved display that would look elegant in any space and features a display on both sides of the unit for maximum visibility and effect.
3. Break Out of the Breakout with Flat-screen Displays
We’ve seen it a thousand times. You walk into a breakout room and see a projector halfway down the aisle of the room on a junky old cart, skirted in black. Tucked in a corner there’s an 8’x6’ tripod projector screen, or if you’re lucky, one of the fastfold screens with the drape around the screen. Either way, the presenter is dancing around, trying to avoid getting blasted in the face by the light of the projector and blocking the presentation. It’s time to give your breakouts a sleek, modern look by scrapping the projector and tripod and replacing them with high-definition, flat-screen displays. By strategically placing multiple displays around the room, you can make sure every attendee can see perfectly, and the presenter can work the entire room without the fear of being blinded!
4. Get Creative with Projection
Just because you’ve replaced them in the breakouts doesn’t mean it’s time to scrap the projectors completely. Every year projectors get brighter brights, darker darks, and higher-resolution output. Creative event planners around the world have discovered that projectors can be used for amazing and dramatic effects not only in their main meeting rooms, but also in registration areas, reception spaces, and even outside the venue on the walls of the building. You might think these effects would cost an arm and a leg, but you’d be surprised what can be done with a bright projector, something interesting to shine it at (think ice sculpture, bar, or even a cake!), and a little creativity. Looping a PowerPoint with even basic animations of sponsor logos projected onto a wall beats a traditional “gobo” projection any day of the week.
Devices, Devices, Devices
One of the reasons display technology has come so far, so fast, has been the constant push by smartphone manufacturers to have thinner, higher-resolution displays. Even the flexible display technology mentioned above came from the research being done by the likes of Samsung and Apple. The smartphone revolution has helped create entirely new product categories and pushed others to new heights, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that our next batch of cool rentals all revolves around the devices planners, and attendees, demand.
5. Love Your Laptops
With laptops being one of the earliest tech rental options available to planners, we’re frequently surprised how often we see junky, old laptops on events. Registration is one of the first areas your attendees get to interact with your event, so when you stock it with a mish-mash of 3-5 year-old laptops of varying brands and speed, it doesn’t look great for your brand.
When it comes to presentations, you don’t have time for “My PowerPoint doesn’t work!” Make sure all your meetings have the latest laptops, running the latest software. Sleek, modern laptops are just a few clicks away and can be delivered on-site so nobody has to pack a carry-on bag with 5 laptops in it.
6. Dive into Desktops
While laptops are great, it’s hard to beat the power of a true desktop workstation. The latest 3D and virtual reality software can require a little something more under the hood than your average laptop, and the gold standard for production video playback runs best on a Mac desktop. For your event office, why squint your eyes at a laptop screen, when you can have a full-size keyboard, mouse, and monitor to help you get your on-site work done quickly and efficiently? Renting equipment from a trusted technology provider ensures you’ll have the power you need when you need it.
7. No More Business Center Printers
OK, printers may not seem “cool”, but we’re including them in the list because you know what is cool? Saving a ton of time and money. By renting printers for your show office, you no longer have to run back and forth to the business center to print or pay exorbitant prices to rent a printer from the facility (which more often than not looks like it was removed from someone’s office, or even the business center). For a fraction of what they’d charge you, you can rent your own, with a choice of styles to fit your needs. Whether it’s a couple pages here and there, or a full-sized network copier/printer, it can be the best move for efficiency and savings on-site.
8. Staff Phones
While you’re outfitting your staff office, here’s an opportunity to get your staff all on the same page, technologically speaking. Relying on your staff’s personal devices for important communications can be a recipe for disaster. Different networks, Android vs. iOS, WhatsApp vs. Facebook Messenger vs. text messaging… there are just too many variables. All you need to do is find out what carrier has the best reception at your venue, and rent smartphones for your staff. You can have software pre-installed, so people don’t have to worry about junking up their own phones with all the things they’ll need, and buy enough mobile data to cover everyone’s needs. Then they can stream Netflix on their own devices later.
9. Wireless Hotspots
If you’re not ready to provide your staff with phones, you can at least give the office internet a bump in connectivity, and again potentially save some money. Many venues are still charging an arm and a leg for WiFi service and, even if they’re not, who knows what kind of range or speeds you’ll get. Providing your staff with these portable internet hotspots can make sure they’re always connected, no matter where they roam around the venue, and frequently have more powerful cellular antenna than smartphones alone.
10. Topped Off with Charging Stations
Back to the attendees! Whether it’s a custom cocktail table with built-in cables, a standing station with a flat-screen display, or a secure and interactive lockbox, charging stations are must-have technology for today’s events. If you’re just putting out a table with some power strips, you’re missing an opportunity to impress your attendees and give your sponsors up-close visibility.
11. Get Inventive with iPads
It’s hard to believe it’s been less than 10 years since the iPad was released. Born from the iPod and the iPhone, it’s the tablet that redefined tablets. From using them as interactive kiosks (mount them on a stand in high-traffic areas), to competing in quizzes for fabulous prizes (trivia challenge contests are always a draw), to asking their most pressing questions (which are truly anonymous, and can’t be traced back to their personal devices), to art contests using the Apple Pencil, to following along and taking notes on the day’s presentations – the possibilities are as endless as your creativity. By renting the iPads, once again you avoid the issues of having to install polling, mobile event app, or other software on your attendees’ devices, and whatever you need can be pre-installed before you even get on site.
12. Options with Other Tablets
Of course, iPads aren’t the only tablets out there. While the iPad may have set the bar, other manufacturers are right behind. Smaller, more portable ( and less expensive ) Android devices have all the horsepower you’ll need for basic interactivity, and newer Windows-based tablets mean you can have the power of a full Windows machine in the palms of your hands. Windows and Android tablets also are much easier to install custom software, allowing for next-level demonstrations and interactivity.
Fun and Games
Once the work is done and it’s time to play, it’s time to bring out the big guns. “Gamers” are no longer the stereotypical teenage boys sitting in their parents’ basements playing Mario, but rather span all demographic groups. While you might want to know your audience well enough to know what games they might like (or dislike!), there are plenty of can’t-miss hits appropriate for most groups.
13. Get Your Game On with Consoles
It’s easy to rent and set up the latest game consoles, whether it’s Nintendo, PlayStation, or Xbox. If you want to appeal to a wide selection of your audience, you could even rent all three. While many people think of gaming as a solo activity, you can combine the technology with the large wall displays mentioned above to create a dynamic group experience. Pit four executives or VIPs against each other in a modern warfare game, displaying the views of all four players on the big screen, or race into competitive action with the latest in car-racing fun (or maybe just a little Mario Kart).
14. Level Up with Gaming Laptops/Desktops
For the ultimate gaming experience, you need a souped-up PC. Game consoles are only upgraded every couple of years, with major upgrades only every 5-8 years. If you want the latest and greatest gaming rig, you have to go with a monster Windows PC. Only then can you have the latest graphics hardware, fastest processor, and ultimate in high-resolution monitor displays. While consoles are great for most people, if you have a tech-savvy audience that knows their bits from their bytes, you might need to take things up a notch.
15. Immersive Fun with Virtual Reality
There’s no doubt about it, VR is finally coming of age. Whether it’s offering views of far-away scenic vistas, technical demonstrations, blowing away aliens, or showing off a new product, nothing makes a splash like virtual reality. With the right partners, headsets can be linked to produce a group experience for hundreds, even thousands simultaneously, or just a single attendee. Either way, renting VR headsets for your group can be an eye-opening experience your guests will remember.
So there you have it. 15 ways you can rent the latest gear to add a little pizzazz to your event, or just make the lives of you, your staff, and your attendees a little better. Renting is a fantastic way to keep your events fresh, and allows you to try new things without investing a ton of money. And as your attendance grows, and hopefully your budgets grow, you can keep providing new and exciting experiences, year after year.