AirPort 802.11n Pics You Want to See (updated x3) | iLounge Backstage

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AirPort 802.11n Pics You Want to See (updated x3)

How did we know you wanted to see how the new AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11n) measured up to the size of a Mac mini? Because we wanted to see that for ourselves. Answer: they have the exact same footprint and curves, while Apple TV (not shown) has the same shape but a slightly larger footprint. Here are the shots - click on read more for the rest - with more details…

The prior shot’s a picture of the notorious 802.11n software updater disk that unlocks the 802.11n capabilities of your Core 2 Duo MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro or (non-17”) iMac. It comes with this several-page statement from Apple’s accountants explaining why the updater’s not available for free, and why you’ll need to pay for another update once the 802.11n draft specification is finalized. Just kidding!

Some people have groused about the Base Station’s external power supply - namely, that there is one, given how low-tech this device is relative to the external supply-less Apple TV. Since it doesn’t have a wall-mounted power cube or brick, we couldn’t care less about the supply, really. It’s smaller than the Mac mini’s but similarly shaped, with a footprint that’s small iPod-sized (bigger than a nano or mini), and there’s plenty of cable between the supply, Station, and wall, so it sits comfortably on the floor and doesn’t hog more than one outlet.

 

Setup? Virtually instantaneous. Our steps: disconnect cable modem from old router, connect cable modem to Extreme, reset cable modem, connect Extreme to wall power, and run the setup CD. The AirPort setup process was painless, except that it required restarts on both Core 2 Duo and non-Core 2 Duo machines. When the Core 2 Duo MacBook was restarted, we saw the above in Network Utility: there’s the now fully unlocked 802.11a/b/g and draft n card, connected to the network. Unfortunately the majority of devices on this network - TiVo, PlayStation 3, Wii, old Mac mini, etcetera - are 802.11g rather than n, but the ease of configuration alone is a nice selling point for the new Extreme.

 

Then there’s AirPort Disk. Heard about it? It’s the new Base Station’s ability to turn any connected USB 2.0 external hard disk into the rough equivalent of a network-attached storage (NAS) device. We connected one of our 500GB G-Tech backup drives to the Base Station with a USB cable, turned the drive on, and waited to see what happened. Would the new AirPort mount the disk instantly, like an attached drive? Nope. So we loaded Apple’s new program - the AirPort Disk Utility - and turned on the little AirPort Disk icon in our menu bar. Once our AirPort Extreme’s name (“Office”) was selected, a new dialog box came up.

 

We connected with our AirPort’s password. And then this came up.

 

Our disk, not named “Office,” but rather its original name G-Drive. Along with all of its contents, including one of the two massive iTunes libraries we’re going to splice together into an uber-library full of music, movies, and TV shows. For a hard-core iTunes fan, this particular feature could be the best little addition to the old AirPort Extreme formula, virtually eliminating the need to store tens or hundreds of gigs worth of media on a capacity-limited laptop or several separate computers. But we still would like some way to remotely turn off our drives when not in use, and are holding out for a true Apple NAS/media storage device.

 

So far, AirPort Disk’s responsiveness with our G-Tech has been decent - not quite equivalent of having a wired connection to the same drive, but close depending on certain factors. For example, playback of a test 1625kbps MPEG-4 video - similar to an iTunes Store download - on a remote 802.11g machine was totally smooth, but jumping around in the video was sluggish, and frequently caused a beach ball to appear. By comparison, jumping around in the same video on a remote 802.11n machine was trouble-free, without any beach ball issues. While we’re not totally sure that it’s just an 802.11g bandwidth or software-related constraint, that’s a possible answer, and raises questions as to how well Apple TV will handle similar skipping around in videos streamed from an 802.11g-based machine. We’ll be keeping an eye out for sure.

Update: We’ve spent some more time playing around with AirPort Disk, and the results are interesting, if not surprising. With two 802.11g Macs on the network and one 802.11n model, transfer times seem appreciably better on the 802.11n machine, though we’re not conducting scientific tests here: it took exactly 12 minutes to transfer a 1.01GB file from our 802.11g Mac mini to the AirPort Disk G-Tech drive, and only 5 minutes to transfer the same file from the G-Tech drive to the 802.11n MacBook. Oddly, it took over 20 minutes to transfer the file from the G-Tech to an 802.11g MacBook Pro, a result we can’t explain relative to the Mac mini, though it should be noted that the mini is a first-generation (read: slow) G4 with a 4200 or 5400RPM drive, while the MB and MP Pro definitely have 5400RPM drives, and the G-Tech has a 7200RPM disk. The fact that the file originally transferred to a fast writing disk can account for some of the speed difference there, but not the big gulf between the MB and MB Pro performance.

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Comments

1

What about Windows compatibility?
I’m contemplating upgrading my 1st Gen AirPort Extreme with a new one, and sharing a disk on a Multi-cultural network.
Do disks have to be reformatted with HFS+, can it handle NTFS?
Does Airport Disk use AFP, SMB, NFS? Will it support Vista’s new SMB protocol?
I’d love to see an AFP driver for Windows.

Posted by Dan Woods on February 3, 2007 at 11:23 PM (CST)

2

Why didnt they make it the same colour as the mac mini??

If they’re meant to stack, apple could have at least made them match :P

oh well, looks to be a kick as 802.11 router!

Posted by AJ on February 4, 2007 at 11:52 AM (CST)

3

OK, can someone try this. Make a RAID0 set on Mac of 2 USB disk. Then plug them both into a USB hub and plug the hub into the new AP. I wonder if they used the code from OS X and if this will work. Just a thought..

Also, if that does not work do you see 2 disk? Can you share them both?

Posted by Bawbb on February 4, 2007 at 12:22 PM (CST)

4

I imagine that if you were to stack the mini and the router in this manner that you should probably turn off the Airport card in the mini (providing you have one) since I assume having two wifi devices so close might cause problems. I could be wrong though.

Of course, that might be why there’s 3 ethernet ports too. A nice small cable between the mini and the AE would be perfect.

  Just my 2 cents.

Posted by debug on February 4, 2007 at 2:25 PM (CST)

5

I’m wondering if plugging a hard drive and printer into a USB hub, and the hub into the Airport Extreme, will allow you to share both the drive and the printer.  Would be cool.

Posted by Brady on February 4, 2007 at 3:26 PM (CST)

6

yes, if you plug in a USB hub into the Base Station, you can share several devices (HDDs, printers…whatever).

http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/wa/RSLID?mco=E9239ACC&nplm=MA073LL/A

Posted by Falcon413 on February 4, 2007 at 4:01 PM (CST)

7

External USB drives can spin down when not in use, however this is dependent upon the enclosure and chipset.  I have found only 1 that actually does this.

It seems a simple feature but one that is neglected by external drive case makers.

Posted by LD on February 5, 2007 at 7:50 AM (CST)

8

is this a feature that is going to function with time machine when leopard is finally released? meaning that a whole house of macs could use one huge external hard disk to backup all their data from all the machines wirelessly? is 802.11n fast enough to handle that sort of application?

Posted by jb on February 5, 2007 at 8:00 AM (CST)

9

“is 802.11n fast enough to handle that sort of application?”

While the reality may be a bit different, .11n is theoretically faster than the 100Mbit wired connection. It’s baffling to me that Apple didn’t but in gigabit.

Posted by grovberg on February 5, 2007 at 10:21 AM (CST)

10

Why not set up the Mini as a software base station and save the $$ spent on the airport?

Posted by paulsaints on February 5, 2007 at 3:00 PM (CST)

11

at paulsaints and how would you do that?

Posted by matt on February 5, 2007 at 6:35 PM (CST)

12

anyone know if you can spoof the mac address in the airport utility app?

Posted by jonathan on February 6, 2007 at 1:29 AM (CST)

13

If you are using the Airport Disk to hold all your iTunes media, how will the AppleTV sync?  Will it go from the Airport Disk to iTunes on your computer to AppleTV; or will AppleTV be smart enough to pull straight from the Airport Disk.

Posted by UnseenLlama on February 6, 2007 at 6:58 AM (CST)

14

Why get the Mac iTV at all? If you have the iTunes library on your Mac already, you can connect it via DVI to HDMI cable, just like I am doing. The cable costs $7 on Amazon. iTV is not such a hot idea considering that it can not stream from the Internet.

Posted by Don Trammell on February 7, 2007 at 2:58 PM (CST)

15

Why get Apple TV at all? Because it frees up your Mac to be a Mac instead of a media center. I’ve never liked the idea of tethering a Mac to a tv screen. Even 1080p HD sets are low res compared to computer screens.

Apple TV will eventually stream content from the Internet. Cable/satelite stations are going to lose some significant market share as Internet tv becomes the norm.

I can’t wait!!

Posted by Dave Perry on February 8, 2007 at 10:08 PM (CST)

16

I have a Seagate 500 GB external drive connected to my Airport Extreme, and it automatically powers down once everyone on the network has disconnected.  (Thankfully - it’s awful loud otherwise)

Posted by Bill Westerman on March 14, 2007 at 2:20 PM (CDT)

17

I spent ages trying to find a way of wall mounting the new airport extreme. Finally found a website http://www.applemountingbracket.com who make a bracket for the unit.

Looks good and is working great.

Posted by Frank on September 24, 2007 at 7:37 PM (CDT)

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