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So you just got a MacBook Pro -- now what?

Cory Bohon

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!

Congratulations on your new MacBook Pro!

For the Desk
While you are on the go, the MacBook Pro allows you to have the best mobile Mac experience; however, when you get home, you might want to have a more complete desktop config. The first place to start is by purchasing a display. Apple's 24" LED Cinema Display is the ultimate MacBook Pro accessory that combines a huge 24" glossy screen with additional speakers, iSight camera, and power for your MacBook via a MagSafe adapter. While the Cinema display is gorgeous, it is also expensive -- if you don't mind how your external display looks, then you can go with a Dell display. It's true, Dell displays can give you more "bang for the buck" with bigger screens for less money.

If you plan on using your MacBook Pro in desktop mode some of the time, then you might want to consider getting an external mouse and keyboard. I would recommend the Apple Bluetooth keyboard because of its portability and cool design. I would also recommend the MightyMouse, but have a warning for you: It may break sometime within the first year of owning it. The Mighty Mouse most commonly has a problem with the scroll ball failing to scroll after some use; however, a good cleaning can normally free up the scroll ball.

Other Desktop accessories that go great with a MacBook Pro:

  • Griffin Technology's Simplifi is a clean, simple solution to docking your iPhone/iPod, accessing photos/other media on media cards, and it does triple duty as a USB Hub.
  • The Rain Design, Inc. mStand (or Griffin Elevator) is a great way to get your notebook up to eye level for better ergonomics.

Read on for more applications, cases, and software for your new MacBook Pro.

For the frequent traveler
If you often travel for vacation (or those "business meetings") then you will appreciate the MacBook Pro's ~5 hour battery life; however, it is always important to carry another power source with you. I would recommend a spare replacement battery for anyone who travels. After all, you never know when your flight might lay over and you can't find a wall plug at the airport. Apple's replacement batteries are around $130US depending on where you purchase them.

If you find yourself stuck in an airplane with those fancy DC outlets, then you should take a look at Apple's MagSafe Airplane adapter. This adapter is the only official way you can get power to your notebook when in the air, due to Apple's unwillingness to license the MagSafe adapter (although there are some third-party approaches as well).

A backup drive is a great addition to your new machine; since you'll be mobile, your drive probably should be too. Seagate's FreeAgent Go for Mac comes preformatted for Mac OS X in multiple capacities, and offers both USB and FireWire connectivity for maximum flexibility (since your MacBook Pro has a FireWire port, and you paid for it, you might as well use it).

For the Gamer
Some of the best games are available for the Mac platform (no, really!), and the MacBook Pro is a powerful machine to play games on. If you are looking for some great games to run on your MacBook Pro, then start here:

  • Call of Duty 4 - This is a first person shooter game that simulates modern warfare. This games carries a "Mature" rating, so it is not suitable for anyone below 17 years of age.
  • World of Warcraft - An MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game -- yes, that's a mouthful) that has beautiful graphics. If you like playing other online role playing games (like RuneScape), then you will love it. With WOW you must purchase a subscription, however. If you plan on joining the WOW world, then checkout WOWInsider -- our sister site that covers all things Warcraft.

Cases & Other Accessories
If you wish to keep your precious MacBook Pro intact, then you might want to think about a notebook sleeve for your MacBook Pro. I would recommend the following notebook sleeves:

  • RadTech's Sleevz & ScreenSaverz - RadTech's sleeve is a nice way to carry around your MacBook Pro. It keeps it from getting small dings and scratches, but won't do much if you drop it. If you are not too great with balancing $2000 notebooks, then you might want to get a well-padded bag for your MBP.
  • Tucano Second Skin - When I upgraded to the MacBook Pro, I took a look at the Tucano sleeve, and it exceeded my expectations. This case has great padding, and zips up for security. Oh yeah, it also has a great feel, and even includes a keyboard cover.
  • Mac-Case Sleeve - OK... I must admit: I love notebook sleeves. I had a Mac-Case sleeve for my iBook G4, and I loved it. These sleeves are well padded, and provide a great look for your notebook.

If you travel, then you might want to invest in a good notebook bag to carry your MacBook Pro in. Bags provide more support than sleeves, and also allow you to carry more stuff. I use a Swiss Gear bag for carrying my notebook to and fro. I don't have to worry about my MacBook Pro, because the bag is padded extremely well. Plus there's plenty of room for books, bottle of water, cables, adapters, CDs/DVDs, external hard drive, etc.

As Robert and Megan have pointed out already, AppleCare is worth considering for mobile users; laptops get more wear and tear than desktops. The AppleCare extended coverage may come in handy during the life of your MacBook Pro. You have up to one year from the date of purchase in order to get AppleCare -- I always like to take advantage of this and wait it out for a few months past the original buy date, as the price of AppleCare is $349US. You can learn more about AppleCare by visiting Apple's Support website.

Do you have another MacBook Pro accessory that you like or can't live without? Be sure to tell us in the comments below!

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