Making the switch to Apple? Get the perfect setup

With the growing popularity and success of its devices, Apple is seeing more consumers switch to it than ever before.

Apple

With the undeniable popularity and success of the iPhone 4 (despite the antenna debacle), iPad, and ever-increasing Mac sales, Apple is gaining customers faster than ever. If you're thinking about making the switch, this could be your perfect setup.

Component one: iPhone 4
Now in its fourth iteration, Apple's iPhone has forever changed the mobile phone landscape by thrusting touch-screen technology to the tips of every tech geek's tongue and every consumer's wish list. Despite its early and somewhat overblown issues, iPhone 4 has had record-setting sales. With the exception of the complaints from a vocal minority regarding its antenna , critics love the iPhone 4.

Think of iPhone 4 as your mobile communications component in this setup. With it, you can send text messages; make calls; send e-mail, instant messages, and tweets; update Facebook; and check in with Foursquare. Of course, you can play games and download other apps to the iPhone, but component two in this setup may be your best bet for that part of your Apple experience.

Apple

Component two: iPad
What many bloggers called "just a big iPod Touch," the iPad has turned out to be so much more. Apple's self-described magical touch-screen tablet device is not just a gadget for geeks. It is a major turning point in the direction of personal, consumer computing--and its sales numbers back it up.

The iPad is the perfect mobile media consumption and (perhaps surprisingly to some) productivity device. Out of the box, the iPad is an amazing way to watch movies, listen to music, and surf the Web. By adding a few choice apps, such as Apple's own Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, you can make the iPad an incredibly effective way to get work done on the go. If you're not ready to buckle down to finish those projects, playing games on iPad is the perfect way to procrastinate and have a ton of fun.

Component three: iMac
The first two components in our setup take care of all your mobile habits, and perhaps give you a few more. But now you need something to tie it all together in a nice, neat Apple-shaped bow.

The new iMac makes a perfect home base for your Apple lifestyle. Apple

Apple's newly updated all-in-one desktop is the perfect machine to be your home base. You can get a 27-inch iMac with a quad-core Intel Core i7 2.93GHz processor and up to 16GB of RAM, which in terms of computing speeds roughly translates to "obscenely fast."

Having an iMac at home lets you sync your iPhone and iPad, store all your extra content, and if you need extra computing power to run Aperture, Adobe CS5, or Final Cut Studio, you're all set. However, perhaps the most impressive thing about iMac is the incredibly clean work space you can have. With the wireless Magic Mouse, Bluetooth keyboard, and the new Magic Trackpad all running on batteries--now available from Apple via the new Apple Battery Charger--the only cable you need to worry about is the power cord.

Optional components
If you're looking to supplement the gear I've already talked about,  I have a few suggestions for you. Don't look now, but Apple's oft-maligned MobileMe service has become increasingly more useful as a sync service and Web portal for your contacts, calendar, and e-mail. The $99 per year subscription fee tends to turn a lot of users off, but the price includes the incredibly useful Find My iPhone feature, which also enables the iPhone/iPad app, letting you track your lost iOS devices via 3G or Wi-Fi connections. For Mac users, MobileMe also gives you the capability to publish a personal Web site and comes with 20GB of online storage space.

Of course, with all the iOS devices in Apple's lineup, it's all about apps. CNET editors have been sharing their Top 100 over the last week. A few of my favorites include TweetDeck and Facebook for social networking; Flight Control and Angry Birds for time-wasting game play; Wikipedia and IMDb for proving people wrong about mundane factoids; and  iMovie for splicing snippets of 720p video together I shot with my iPhone 4 and sharing with friends and family.

My experience working in Apple Retail stores compels me to recommend purchasing AppleCare for your devices. Though many are down on warranties of any kind, AppleCare provides tech support and covers any manufacturing defects that may present themselves down the road. I've had a couple of logic boards replaced, a battery replacement, and got a new iPhone via AppleCare. It's a small investment that can be a great benefit when needed later.

What's your Apple setup? Let us know in the comments!

 

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