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Apple announces 802.11ac AirPort Base Stations

Apple 802.11ac AirPort Base Stations

The new Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station and Time Capsule resemble each other.The new Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station and Time Capsule resemble each other.

Apple announced today at WWDC 2013 its next-generation AirPort Base Stations, including a new AirPort Extreme Base Station router and a new Time Capsule.

As expected, the biggest improvement of the new Base Stations, compared with previous generations, is support for the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard that offers top speeds of up to 1.3Gbps, or three times the speed of 802.11n. This new feature is a must, since a new MacBook Air with built-in support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi was also announced today. The 802.11ac routers and clients have been available from other vendors for more than a year.

The 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard is available in three tiers depending on the amount of spatial streams being used: single-stream, dual-stream, or three-stream setups, which offer top speeds of 450Mbps, 870Mbps, and 1.3Gbps, respectively. The new Base Stations support the top tier of the new Wi-Fi standard. It also supports Beamforming technology to offer better Wi-Fi coverage and signal stability.

The new AirPort Extreme Base Station and the new Time Capsule share exactly the same shape, which is a completely new “top-down approach to design,” compared with previous generations. Instead of the traditional squarish shape that’s been used for years, they now look like a rectangle standing 6.6 inches tall and 3.85 inches wide. This design helps shrink the devices’ footprint by 75 percent, while retaining the same element of style.

Other than that, they are very similar to the previous models in terms of port offerings. Both support Gigabit Ethernet with three LAN ports and one WAN port, and come with one USB 2.0 port to host a printer or an external hard drive. Neither has a standard AirPlay audio port, which was first introduced with the latest AirPort Express that came out a year ago.

The only difference that the new Time Capsule has over the new AirPort Extreme Base Station is the internal hard drive of either 2TB or 3TB. These capacities are also the current options available in the existing Time Capsule. The Time Capsule’s internal storage can be used to share data between connected devices as well as the Time Machine backup destination.

 

The new MacBook Air and a new Base Station, the first 802.11ac-enabled devices from Apple.

The new MacBook Air and a new Base Station, the first 802.11ac-enabled devices from Apple.

Apple’s new networking devices both support true dual-band Wi-Fi and work with all existing Wi-Fi clients, regardless of their Wi-Fi standard. You do need to use a 802.11ac-enabled clients to take advance of the new and much faster 802.11ac data speeds. Apart from two Wi-Fi networks (one for each band), the two devices also support two guest networks to offers Internet connection without access to local resources. Both are designed to be managed and set up via AirPort Utility, available both in desktop and mobile app versions. Neither offers a Web interface, which generally provides more customization options.

Apple’s new 802.11ac-enabled Base Stations are available now. The AiPort Extreme Base Station is $199, and the Time Capsule is $299 or $399 for 2TB or 3TB capacities, respectively. Check back soon for full reviews.

[source:cnet]