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Wednesday
Sep042013

Review: Apple Airport Extreme (2013)

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Apple pioneered consumer WiFi when it launched the AirPort Base Station over a decade ago. The latest version of their latest Airport Extreme Base station looks odd as it resembles a tower of stacked AppleTVs that are bleached white, there's a good reason for that.

There are various companies now offering WiFi base stations but for predominantly Apple-focused homes and offices, the Airport Extreme base station remains the easiest option to set-up and manage. The $199 Airport Extreme improves on earlier models with 3X the speed and 802.11ac technology and plus a powerful beamforming antenna array. Note that your devices need to be set up to receive 802.11ac signals and you also need to have fast throughput to enjoy the faster speeds.


AirPort Extreme gives you up to 3x faster Wi-Fi and a stronger, clearer signal.1 And because it transmits at both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies at the same time, your wireless devices will automatically connect to the best available band for the fastest performance possible.


What is new and notable is that the Airport Extreme has six antennas three for the 2.4GHz band and three for the 5GHz band. Together with 802.11ac technology which uses a Beamforming parameter to shift the signal so that it can reach devices that are farther away, users are guaranteed the fastest possible speeds. It is a smarter way to spread signal, rather than just pushing it towards a central area, Airport Extreme can now find and target devices.

So that explains the peculiar shape of the router, it needs to be taller to be able to send out signal farther. Using the Airport Extreme with one of the new MacBook Air models, which also support 802.11ac, I found transferring files from my NAS to my MacBook Air substantially faster than using my previous non 802.11ac router.

There was a notable increase in web surfing and download speeds as well but nothing earth shaking as my home office Internet connection is of average speed and bandwidth. Still, I was impressed by the quality and speed when streaming HD video from my NAS to my other devices.

The Airport Extreme can support up to 50 users and has the following I/O - Gigabit Ethernet WAN port, three Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports a USB 2 port ideal for printers and a built-in power supply.

Great for current users, the new Airport Extreme will be even better once 802.11ac becomes the WiFi standard and when faster bandwidth speeds are available.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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