NY Times’ Pogue: Apple’s Airport Extreme ‘smallest, best-looking, fastest, strongest signal’

Apple Store“I sampled ‘n’ routers from Apple, Belkin, Linksys and Netgear, plus an old ‘g’ model for comparison. For each test, I installed the router in the basement, and then measured signal strength and range in six locations: two spots each in the basement and on the first floor, second floor and attic… Apple’s Airport Extreme earns five superlatives: smallest, best-looking, fastest, strongest signal — and most expensive ($180),” David Pogue reports for The New York Times.

“Then again, Apple fans save money at the other end. Since the fall of 2006, Apple has secretly built “n” receivers into most Mac laptops and desktops. In other words, you don’t need to buy cards for Macs — you need only a software “enabler” that unlocks the “n” features. It comes with Apple’s router, or you can buy it for $2,” Pogue reports.

“The setup program, identical for Mac and Windows, is light-years more polished and accessible than its rivals. You can attach a printer or hard drive to the router’s U.S.B. jack, and presto: it’s accessible by all the computers on the network. Very cool,” Pogue reports.

Pogue reports, “Most ‘n’ routers operate in the same frequency range (around 2.4 gigahertz) as cordless phones, microwaves, Bluetooth gadgets and older Wi-Fi networks. Apple’s router, however, is among the first to offer an alternative, much-less-crowded frequency band — 5 gigahertz — that doesn’t ruin your cordless-phone calls and trample neighbors’ networks. Linksys, Belkin and Netgear plan similar ‘dual band’ cards and routers later this year.”

“The biggest disappointment: All four routers have Ethernet jacks on the back to accommodate nonwireless computers, but bizarrely, Apple’s are old, slow 100-Mbps jacks. That is weird considering that Apple’s own computers come with gigabit jacks (1,000 Mbps),” Pogue reports.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Island Girl” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple releases AirPort Extreme Base Station with 802.11n Firmware 7.1 – April 10, 2007
Computerworld: Apple Airport Extreme’s wireless storage feature works flawlessly – March 23, 2007
Apple’s Airport Extreme sets Wi-Fi on fire for Macs and PCs – March 03, 2007
Apple’s AirPort Extreme vs. Microsoft’s Windows Home Server – February 23, 2007
Hands-on with Apple’s superspeedy 802.11n AirPort Extreme Base Station – February 19, 2007
Apple’s new AirPort Extreme offers increased speed and range – February 18, 2007
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

22 Comments

  1. I have been sorely disappointed with my NetGear router that I bought 2 years ago. I did my research beforehand, but I must have either been misled or got a bad router. I don’t know if others have had the same experience. I’m thinking about getting a “n” router and was debating between Apple’s and Linksys’.

  2. how are the usb hard drives accessed by computers on the network?
    On Macs do you click on the Network icon and then log into the share?

    I wish it would just appear as a local drive on the desktop.
    (I know, add it as a login item and every time you log in it is there)
    but still

    (im nitpicking, i cant begin to imagine the process to use it from a windows machine)

  3. So let’s see…. if 802.11n has speeds well in excess of 100mbps, and the plug on the back of the router is 100mbps ethernet, just pray tell HOW are you going to be able to get anything faster than 100mbps over the air????

    You can’t. I’ve tried. So “n” isn’t all that great if your router isn’t gigabit ethernet on the back. It’s faster than “g” for sure, but it’s still throttled back from what it could be.

  4. the lack of the gigabit ethernet caused me to buy the D-Link DIR-655…the set up software isn’t the greatest but the signal is strong and I DEFINITELY needed the wired bandwidth to communicate with my server

  5. Cubert – I’ve tried about a half dozen wireless routers over the past several months. On the other end of that I have a C2D MacBook and a Quad G5. By far, the best router I found was the NetGear WPN824. No, I haven’t tried Airport, and no, the WPN824 isn’t “n”. But for “g” it’s Good. Best range by a long shot and much faster at distance. It covers my 3/4 acre yard without any dead spots and all throughout my house I have a maxed out signal strength.

  6. Fatal writes:

    “How are the usb hard drives accessed by computers on the network? On Macs do you click on the Network icon and then log into the share?

    I wish it would just appear as a local drive on the desktop.
    (I know, add it as a login item and every time you log in it is there)
    but still

    (im nitpicking, i cant begin to imagine the process to use it from a windows machine)”

    I have an Airport Extreme and have both a hard drive and printer hooked to it. You get to the drive through network like you stated, but once mounted it comes back after reboot. It acts just like a local drive, except for the icon of course. Pretty damn easy if I do say so myself. Getting to the printer is as easy as Bonjour’. This Wi-Fi device is the cheapest, easiest file and print server you’ll ever own, with out the hassle of a server!

  7. 100Mbps is probably well enough for most scenarios where the router is connected to a wired network.

    Existing wired networks rarely go 1000Mbps all the way to the periferial devices (which is where you typically would install a wireless router to extend the wired network).

    Device to device communications (where both are using wireless) may be able to use the extra speed (100-300Mbps) but that would only occur in the best possible conditions. (i.e. a minority of cases) and only 50% of that will actually be achieved given that relaying the signal from the source to the destination will make the packets go over the air twice.

    I have no doubt that, at some point Apple will introduce a model with Gigabit ethernet but that will only happend when the arget market has enough of the stuff (or they aim at a different market).

  8. I’ve had mine a couple of weeks and have been very happy.

    @Wingsy – having 1000 Mbit over the air isn’t the question. Having 1000 Mbit to my computers that are physically plugged into the router (like my iMac is) is….

    I have had two issues with mine:

    1) Why the new utility? It confused the heck of out of me for awhile why my old utility didn’t work. It was only after I looked and saw the new application that I realized that I couldn’t use the old one. Also, the new one is a bit “too” simple to use if you are trying to tweak things. I’d like it to default of “Manual settings” mode.

    2) Not sure if this is an Airport Extreme issue, but I have been able to update all my Airport Expresses but one…it refuses to accept the WAP password and will not sign onto the network from my Extreme. Very odd.

  9. > So let’s see…. if 802.11n has speeds well in excess of 100mbps, and the plug on the back of the router is 100mbps ethernet… You can’t.

    Pogue was referring to the Ethernet ports that go to other computers, NOT the one Ethernet “uplink” port that goes to your Internet connection device. I doubt that most people’s Internet access speeds even approach 100 mbps, let alone gigabit speed. Also, the main point of the wireless router is to link devices wirelessly. If the computers are linked wirelessly, the speed of the wired Ethernet ports is irrelevant. Pogue was pointing out that any wired computers would be limited to 100 mbps (which is an odd limitation for Apple to put into the device).

  10. I’m not talking about wireless access to the net – I know where the bottleneck is there. I mean using my wireless MacBook to transfer files to/from my wired Quad. I can’t get n speeds to any computer or device on the local wired network if they all have to go through the 100mbps ethernet connector on the airport to get to the laptop.

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