updated 04:00 pm EST, Tue January 9, 2007
Apple AirPort Extreme
Apple today introduced the new AirPort Extreme, a simple wireless networking solution that delivers up to five times the performance and twice the range of the previous AirPort Extreme. Based on 802.11n, AirPort Extreme extends a wireless network to more areas and makes streaming digital content as well as transferring large files faster. The new AirPort Extreme Base Station features a sleek new design with connections for networked computers, printers, and a USB hard drive to share files or back up data. Using MIMO (Multiple In Multiple Out) smart antennas and 802.11n technology, AirPort Extreme operates in either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz wireless frequencies, reducing the possibility of interference from appliances and cordless phones that operate in the 2.4GHz frequency. Apple's new AirPort Extreme is backward compatible with Macs and PCs using previous generation 802.11b/g wireless technologies. The new AirPort Extreme Base Station will ship in February for $180. Apple notes that nearly all currently shipping Macs support 802.11n when updated with 802.11n Enabler software, which ships with the AirPort Extreme Base Station.
The AirPort Extreme Base Station features a simple new design that measures 6.5-inches square and 1.3-inches tall, offering a built-in USB port that allows users to print wirelessly to a USB printer or turn any external USB hard drive into a shared drive on the network. New AirPort Utility software is included with every AirPort Extreme Base Station, easing the process of setting up a secure wireless network for up to 50 simultaneous users within minutes, according to Apple. The Base Station includes three 10/100 Ethernet LAN ports, one 10/100 Ethernet WAN port, one USB port, and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA/WPA-2) for 128-bit WEP encryption, as well as a built-in NAT firewall.