updated 04:50 pm EDT, Wed April 11, 2007
PCMag on AirPort 802.11n
PC Magazine has reviewed Apple's new AirPort Extreme 802.11n Base Station, the company's latest wireless router that works with most of its newly-introduced Intel-based Macs at the fastest wireless speed available. The new router's ability to work in the 2.4GHz spectrum as well as the 5GHz band, coupled with several other unique features help to justify the router's $179 price tag and to set the device apart from competitors, according to the publication. Interference is considerably decreased when operating within the 5GHz band, but that limits connectivity to 802.11n clients only. "This latest version of the Airport shows a lot of thought and ingenuity. Like other Apple products, it has a modern look, a smaller profile, and exudes quality. Where it truly shines, though, is in its innovative software and USB port."
Apple did a "superb job" with the AirPort Extreme Base Station's software, according to the reviewer, providing an "excellent" configuration wizard with well-designed menus and a summary page that provides concise information on the router's status.
"Administrators can view all essentials, including information that immediately shows misconfigurations and errors. If, for example, you don't have wireless security turned on, you'll get a warning. Intuitive and helpful instructions make your choices clear when configuring security (those concerned about backward compatibility should probably use WPA/WPA2)."
Apple's admin utility features a timed-access option that enables users to limit children's internet use, but the device lacks a database of inappropriate sites that can help block undesired content from known problem pages.
The USB port accepts a printer or storage device for sharing, and when tested offered access to a hard drive almost immediately after the drive was plugged in. Users can use the admin utility to manage the USB port, sharing the printer over the WAN (Wide Area Network) or to password protect a hard drive.
"The router also does well at handling access to your LAN from the Internet. It supports port mapping, and through its Bonjour technology and dynamic DNS, can make services on your network available to you and others working remotely."
Despite the fact that Apple's router was the most expensive unit in PC Magazine's tests, the Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station "seems the obvious choice" for Mac shops looking to connect in the 5GHz band.
"I'm disappointed with the lack of Gigabit ports, which limits performance, but the wireless throughput still looks impressive compared with that of 802.11g," the reviewer wrote. "I can't wait to test the product with the new Apple TV—one of the first consumer 802.11n devices."