The WWDC has more things up its sleeve—Apple has just announced an update to the Airport Extreme and Airport Time Capsule.
Given Apple’s penchant for reducing the sizes of their new devices, looking at them at first glance was like someone was playing a joke on us. The devices are small—if you’re looking at them from the top—but are tall drinks of water: over half a foot tall.
The vertical design of the Airport Extreme has it at around 3.85 inches wide, but is 6.6 inches tall. It’s like you stacked five or six Airport Expresses on top of each other (which, by the way, remains unchanged as of now—it’s still a nice 802.11n device). The cylindrical design of the new Airport is reminiscent of the new Mac Pro unveiled at the keynote.
Apple has dropped the “base station” name and just simply calls it the Airport Extreme now, maybe to be more in line with the naming convention of the Airport Express. There is an array of ports on one side of the device that allows for connecting it to the net and various devices: a Gigabit Ethernet WAN port, three Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, a USB 2 connection and a power connector.
It’s meant to be a faster gadget, around three times faster than current wifi technology, with its simultaneous dual-band 802.11ac specification which allows for a theoretical 1.3Gbps data rate. Makes it a great partner for the new Macbook Airs and Mac Pros. The Extreme can support 50 users concurrently.
It also has what Apple calls a “beamforming” antenna configuration to enhance performance. The closer your device is to the Airport Extreme the faster your connection is. There are also six antennas placed on the top of the tall device: three for the 2.4GHz band, and three for the 5GHz band.
There is also a setup assistant built into Mac OS X and iOS, an Airport Utility App, which makes it a snap to setup your device and configure it for use with any fuss. There is also wireless printer and hard drive sharing enabled where you can make the Extreme a hub for all data and printer activity for your devices.
The Airport Time Capsule has the same look and innards as the Airport Extreme, only with the addition of a 2TB or 3TB hard drive. Teardown experts have been at the Express, and found that it has 3.5″ of empty space on the top, perfect for adding a standard 3.5″ SATA drive, but it lacks any of the connectors to actually plug it in. It looks like upgrading an Express to a Time Capsule is just a pipe dream for now.
The Airport Extreme sells for US$199, and the Airport Time Capsule goes for US$299 for the 2TB model, and US$399 for the 3TB one.
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