Apple’s new AirPort Extreme offers increased speed and range

Apple Store“The most frequently aired complaint about Wi-Fi wireless networks is that they don’t reach far enough. In most larger contemporary homes, Wi-Fi signals can’t maintain enough strength as they pass through walls and floors to blanket the house,” Glenn Fleishman reports for The Seattle Times.

“An updated AirPort Extreme Base Station from Apple should solve the range problem for most homes. The base station comes with a few extras, too, that can improve home networking and that of small offices,” Fleishman reports. “Apple unveiled the updated hub, which routes Wi-Fi signals among computers [Mac and PC] and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices, back at Macworld Expo with little fanfare. The router started shipping early this month for $179.”

“The new Extreme — confusingly having the same name as the previous model — uses what’s called Draft N to improve both range and speed…With Draft N, wirelessly connected computers that also have Draft N adapters can move data at more than 90 megabits per second (Mbps), or nearly five times faster than Apple’s previous release,” Fleishman reports.

Fleishman reports, “Apple’s Apple TV, a media adapter, has Draft N built in as well. It’s estimated that 10 Mbps is needed to stream the highest resolution of high-definition (HD) video… The base station adds more than just speed and range to justify its price tag. While you can get $100 Draft N routers, they lack the ease of configuration that Apple brings with its new AirPort Utility software, and the ability to share USB printers and hard drives.”

“With hard-drive sharing, a family or office could keep files like photos or documents on a centrally accessible drive that can be reached throughout the network,” Fleishman reports. “Perhaps Apple should have named their new model AirPort Extremer, but it’s most modest improvement in reaching further could bring the greatest satisfaction.”

Full article here.

Related articles:
High-quality Apple AirPort Extreme 802.11n unboxing photos – February 04, 2007
Apple ships new Airport Extreme Base Stations two weeks early – February 01, 2007
Apple AirPort Utility 1.0 screenshots, 802.11n AirPort Extreme Base Station manuals – January 26, 2007
Apple releases AirPort Extreme Update 2007-001 – January 26, 2007
Apple’s new AirPort Extreme ‘AirPort Disk’ feature: cheap, simple network storage for home networks – January 15, 2007
Apple’s new AirPort Extreme supports 802.11n, enables wireless streaming of HD media – January 10, 2007
Apple introduces new AirPort Extreme with 802.11n – January 09, 2007
Do you have an Apple packaging fetish, too? – September 15, 2005

25 Comments

  1. I’ve had mine one week and the speed range AND coverage are notably better on my mixed (n & g) network.

    On old airport network had a Mac mini in a weak spot in my house, New router in same location as the old the weak spot is completely eliminated.

  2. Look this hting is a good opportunity for apple to make a great product for the home and small office. The price is very reasonible for once, can someon please tell me why the fucking thing can’t be gigabit? All of their machines are gigabit. Why can’t they just upgrade that too!

    Thoughts?

    Pi

  3. ApplePi & AppleSchmapple:

    I suspect it’s not gigabit due to heat and pricing issues. Gigabit routers tend to be expensive. I doubt they could have offered the unit at a sub-$200 price point if it was gigabit. Gigabit also seems to be pretty hot. The extra heat in that small enclosure might have been an issue.

    In the end, it was probably an engineering tradeoff. For the average consumer, this router is not going to be the slowest point on their network. Their Internet connection is probably the slowest point, followed by the wireless portion of the network. In either case, gigabit is unnecessary and an extra added cost that does nothing for them, especially if they’re not using Ethernet! Apple is offering a product that will be good enough for the average consumer at a price they are willing to pay. If Apple had put Gigabit in this model, I suspect it would cost somewhere in the range of $225 – $275, and more people would be complaining about overpriced products with capabilities that they don’t need.

    If you really want gigabit inside your network, buy yourself a gigabit switch and put it behind the router.

  4. I’m not so sure about the heat and cost argument for gigabit ethernet. I have a Netgear GS605 gigabit switch behind my iMac. It only cost $30 for the whole thing and it isn’t even warm to the touch.

  5. I assume everyone realizes that every piece of the network has to be 802.11n to get the highest speeds- right? If your network has any -g, -b or -a nodes, the total speed will of course be less. That has always been the case. The speeds have to step down to accommodate the slower nodes.

    This has never been a secret- it was the same for the previous Extreme.

  6. LARRY, GWS, & AppleSchmapple,

    I hear you on the gigabit Larry. I have a dumb switch and it’s noisy as hell. It’s a Netgear 8 port switch with a fan. So that makes sens for me now. So even the form factor would probably have to change as well to incorporate some kind of heat dicipation technology.

    On a similar idea, I was gonna get a smart switch i think as well as a couple of LaCie’s new gigabit 1Tbyt drives. Someone had mentioned that the drive they connected was really slow. Have they looked at the transfer rates of USB 2.0? It blows real bad! Even firewire 400 blows it away. I’m hoping that my transfer rates will be around firewire 800 speeds or better for file transfers with the gigabit drives. Any idea on which smart router/switch to get? Must be wireless N as well, oh and have USB printer sharing like my current airport extreme ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    Any ideas?

    Pi

  7. GWS:

    Gigabit switches are relatively cheap. Gigabit *routers* are not. I can’t find one on Amazon for less than $120, whereas most of the gigabit switches are significantly less than $100. What Apple is selling is a router.

    I have an SMC gigabit switch. It has no fan, so it’s quiet, but it’s definitely warmer than the 100 megabit router in front of it. One of the most frequent complaints I saw about gigabit switches and routers when I was looking to buy one was about how much noise the cooling fans made, so I’m fairly certain that there are heat issues with gigabit routers.

  8. Love the range this router provides and the USB port for Disk/Printer sharing is brilliant but I have three MAJOR issues which will cause me to return the device.

    1. The Utility software. Not easier to use than a web interface which is standard with any router. It’s slow. Also, you have to install software on every PC that you want to be able to access the router – what a pain! Just use a web interface.

    2. Settings. You can’t configure a vast majority of settings for this router. Port Forwarding is a biggie – can’t control it.

    3. VPN Software. Router is supposed to support VPN pass through, and all previous version of the Extreme have supported. BUT, it doesn’t work with many of the top VPN clients like Nortel, Avaya, CheckPoint. Of course, if you could access port forwarding settings, you could probably make it work – but nope, can’t do it. Apple’s answer is to put the PC/MAC that you want to access VPN into the DMZ which is a wildly BAD idea given the security issues you’ll have. And this bad solution only works if you have only one PC needing VPN.

    All of these issues are HOT topics on Apple’s support forums if you’d like to read more.

    Anyway, if you have a basic internet setup, this router is incredible. But, if you need control of settings and if you have VPN, then you had better wait until Apple comes up with AEBS(n) version 2.

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