All day on December 25, TUAW presents "Now What?" We've got first steps and recommendations for all the Apple gifts you (hopefully!) found under the tree today. Happy holidays!
It was probably the biggest box under the tree (unless you really splurged on the anniversary edition of the Radio Flyer wagon); now that you've got your new, speedy iMac unpacked and plugged in, what's next?
USB + Input
Despite a full set of three USB ports on the back of the iMac, you're inevitably going to need more ports up front at some point. A hub that makes a fashion-forward statement -- or a retro one -- will be a nice add-on for your machine. If you're going to be importing loads of holiday pictures from your new digicam to your iMac, a standalone SD card reader will be faster than using the camera's tethered upload.
If you're feeling restricted by the included wired Mighty Mouse, you could spring for the wireless Bluetooth version... but believe it or not, Microsoft makes a snazzy Mac-friendly wireless mouse too.
If you've already got a Time
MachineCapsule or other outboard storage, you're all set to begin backing up your new iMac; otherwise, a drive for backup should be first on your post-Christmas shopping list. Western Digital's MyBook Studio Edition matches your iMac's aluminum finish and provides quad-interface storage for backups and more. If you forgo the Firewire, you can find USB-only 1TB drives for around $100US -- no excuse not to get the storage you need. Of course, if you need lots of storage, there is another way.
The onboard iMac speakers aren't that bad, but they can't rock the house like a dedicated audio system can. Speakers are always better purchased in person if possible, so you can give them at least a cursory evaluation, but if you can't make it to the Apple Store or your local stereo shop then either the M-Audio Studiophile or the Altec Lansing Expression Bass units will provide ample bang for your buck.
Nothing says you have to run some flavor of Windows on your Mac from time to time... but in some ways, it's comforting to know you can. Apple's Good to Know guide covers the basics of both Boot Camp config and virtualization tools like VMware, Parallels and VirtualBox (recently updated to version 2.1, still free as in beer for non-commercial use). For occasional Windows application use without the overhead and license cost of Windows itself, Codeweavers' CrossOver Mac product may fit the bill.
Virtualization isn't just about running Windows, either; scores of open-source OS projects will happily coexist on your iMac if you let them. You can fire up Ubuntu or other Linux distributions, or get yourself a Jumpbox and run one of many prepackaged server and web applications with ease.
I've long been a fan of HP printers on the Mac, but recent aggravation with scanner drivers for my PSC 2175 (there ain't any, sad to say, for Leopard; I'm using Hamrick Software's VueScan instead) has got me thinking about a new printer from a new vendor. One device that caught my eye and might catch yours: the Samsung SCX-4500W multifunction unit costs $350US and includes a WiFi card along with an Ethernet connection. It's monochrome output only (the scanner does work in color) but the design is reminiscent of the original NeXT Cube's companion laser printer, so that's a plus. For a color output companion to the iMac you might consider the Canon PIXMA line, which has models for most budgets and feature needs.
Got other vital suggestions for new iMac owners? Let us know below.