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The Airport Extreme is a 'Dual Band' wireless gateway (or wireless access point) from Apple, which supposedly offers longer wireless range and faster speeds due to the 5GHz frequency as opposed to the usual 2.4GHz with single band wireless access points. I bought mine online for around £150 (yeah, not cheap!). I bought it because I was given an Airport Express (the little Apple wireless device that can extend Apple networks) so I thought, "why not?". The device design is very simple and compact, very square with the Apple logo on top. There's a LED light at the front, which goes green when it detects a network and turns amber when not connected. It's all white, which is very "Apple".
Simply plug in the power and plug the device into your network (either your router or a network hub) and you've got yourself a wireless network (albeit, still need to set up wireless security). The settings are done using Apple's Airport Utility software. Sticking the IP address of the device into a web browser doesn't cut it, as it just doesn't let me access a web based configuration page, which is a bit annoying as it means I always need to use their software to configure the device. Still easily done though. Most other access points / routers I've come across let you configure them without the need to use the manufacturer's software (which they often provide). The software is available on Windows as well but the one I installed off the CD didn't work and I was forced to download a more up-to-date version before I could do anything.
The Airport Extreme features a USB port, which allows you to either connect a USB hard/flash drive or a printer to it, enabling you to access the resource over the wireless network, which are nice to have.
With this access point, if you bought the Airport Express as well (around £81), you'd be able to 'extend' the wireless network further using the Airport Express(es) as extenders.
There are also some options to add your MobileMe account (but this costs £4.99 per month), which enables you to access things like your hard drive over the Internet while you're out. I don't use MobileMe so don't know how well this would work.
Unlike my Belkin modem router, the Extreme doesn't have a built-in modem so it is purely an access point. This means that the modem still needs to be connected so instead of having one device, you'd need two plugged in whereby a modem router would allow you to do away with an existing router.
Once all set up, I find the Airport Extreme to be extremely stable and very rarely requires a restart. As for wireless signal, it is generally good but not perfect, which is a bit of a let down considering the price paid. I get a full signal around the house on my Macbook Pro but two PCs with wireless N USB installed around the house only seems to get three to four signal bars out of five. One is a Netgear whereby the transfer speed seems to go up and down from 2Mb/sec to 117Mb/s. Internet speeds were quite normal though. The other one, a Linksys wireless N adapter, only gets three bars whereby I get the full five bars when connected to my Belkin wireless router. Download speeds are still good despite the lower signal.
One time, I tried to connect my neighbour's old Macbook to the Airport Extreme wireless but I was unable to. I could 'see' the network and signal was okay with three to four bars but for some reason, I just couldn't get it to connect. I had to resort to connecting him to my Belkin wireless network, which worked great, so I'm a bit disappointed with the Extreme especially as it was a Mac. Older network cards may not be compatible, which is a bit annoying as you'd expect some backwards compatibility.
- Good speeds
- Stylish design
- Easy to set up
- Multiple functions (USB port for Network Print Server / Network Storage)
- Allows network extending with Airport Express base stations
- Wireless signal varies
- Compatibility issues with some older devices
- No built-in modem
- Set up requires Apple's Airport Utility software
The Airport Extreme is a nice looking access point from Apple but with a rather high price tag. The device does offer a good signal for wireless N devices but it's not perfect since I seem to get better signal with my Belkin router from certain machines with USB wireless adapters.
I would recommend this access point if you're a big Apple fan and have the cash. That and if you plan on setting up Airport Expresses base stations to stream music or to extend the network that way. Otherwise, just go for a high end consumer wireless N router / access point. A decent wireless router would only set you back about half of what the Extreme costs.
Thanks for reading!
Design over function springs to mind with some products. When Apple launched their iMac (the original colourful bubbles) they reshaped (excuse the pun), the future of technology. Their Airport Extreme Base Station followed this design mould, with curvy lines, basically resembling what one would expect a ship from outer space to look like.
What the base station offers is a wireless access point, so that you can connect your Apple Macintosh to other devices and/or the internet. You connect the base station to the internet (via the internal modem) and in turn, any Mac devices that you have with Aiport (wireless) cards installed can then access the World Wide Web.
You could also put together a wired network, as the base station supports 10BaseT and 100BaseT ethernet connections. These certainly supply a more reliable connection.
In use the Airport Extreme Base Station is a dream to use. Ultimately configurable with Apple's own software and very well made. However, it has now been replaced by a more up-to-date model, offer gigabit ethernet and wireless-n capability. Gone is the internal modem on the new unit, instead connecting to your Broadband connection for mega-fast surfing.
What Is It?
The Apple Airport Extreme Base Station (802.11b) is one of the newest wireless internet devices by Apple. This is the upgrade of the original Apple Airport, and is much more powerful.
Why Buy It?
I bought it mainly for the computer, I had never used a wireless router before but had heard they were very good and efficient. But another big reason we bought it was because we have an iPhone, so it would allow us access to the internet on it. Other reasons to buy it would be if you have a laptop/s then they can be connected to the internet wirelessly (as long as they meet system requirements, see below.) Also if you need internet to connect up to many computers or devices, then this will connect with unlimited clients for up to 24 hours a time. This would also benefit small buisnesses, so only one connection for say 10 computers.
The great thing about this device is that it is suitable for Mac computers AND PC's! I admit I am not a windows user and changed to Macs some time ago, but it is good this device also supports Windows. This device cannot be used on older computers, which is a little annoying, as it will not support my older Windows laptop. For Mac users the specifications are:
*Apple Mac OS X 10.2.7 or later
And for Windows users it is:
*Microsoft Windows XP SP2 or later, Microsoft Windows Vista
Where To Buy It?
I bought my Airport Extreme from the actual Apple shop in Glasgow. There are Apple shops scattered around the UK but they are very limited and only in the biggest cities like London, Birmingham and Glasgow. If you are seriously thinking of purchasing the Airport Extreme then the best way in my opinion is online at
There you can find more of the technical information and find out if it is really for you or not. Other sites also offer the Airport Extreme like Amazon, PC World, MacWorld etc but your better getting it off the official website in my opinion.
The box is a lot smaller than I expected it to be and is only half a centimeter bigger than the actual base station! On the front is a picture of the Airport Extreme with advertising about the product. Half of it is in English the other half French.
You have a unique code number at the side so if there are any problems with the product then you can call or email the Apple help and they can tell you exactly when, where and how it was made.
When you open the box up you find leaflets, an installation CD and the actual base station. The leaflets are in different languages so you do have to find an English one. You then have a 1 year warranty card and a setup guide which is very useful.
The base station is 16.5 cm by 16.5 cm and looks a lot like the Apple TV device! It is a very futuristic, bright white color. As with all apple products, it has the stamp of the apple logo, visible for everyone to see.
On the front is a little light which tells you 'How the Airport Extreme is doing' for example, if it is green, all is well. However if it is amber or blinking, then it is telling you that something is wrong.
On the back hidden away are the different ports. There are 6 on the back:
One for power (DC)
One USB (For wireless printing or hard drives)
4 for Ethernet connections
You also have the reset button, which is only to be used in extreme cases. I have never had to use it and hope never to. It is small overall so can be hidden away out of site, which is handy, so it doesn't clutter the desk.
I started reading the setup guide, which was very easy and had an illustrated guide to help. First you need your Ethernet lead (which all internet connections will have) and plug it into the back of the station. Plug in the DC power supply and you're away.
You then must install the software using the CD. Once installed on computer (which only took about 3 minutes) then you must detect the new WiFi signals. After adding the base station you can get on with the internet. If you are using the iPhone you do not need to install any software and just add it to you list of WiFi connections. This took me in total 10 minutes to set up and was away.
Quality Of Internet Access
With my older internet connection (A Voice Router) it was a fast connection. However as soon as I started up the internet it was extremely fast. I typed in google and there were search results in less than half a second.
I am still extremely impressed by the speed of the Base Station and if downloading files off the internet, like songs off iTunes, I have found it is so much quicker.
When using the WiFi on the iPhone I also find it very quick and accessing emails and sending only takes a second. Youtube is exceptionally fast on the iPhone.
There are a couple of extra features included in this Base station. The first and my favorite feature is the USB port. This has been a lifesaver for me. We installed our printer onto the base station so now we have wireless printing. This means the printer can be hidden beside the base station so does not have to sit out right beside the computer anymore. It used to have to sit on our floor to reach the computer causing it to be tripped over all the time so it now hidden and out of the way, bliss...
Another similar feature to this is you don't have to just use a printer, you can have a wireless external hardrive plugged in. We can't do that as our hardrive is fire wire but it is handy for if you want to back-up data from different computers.
I have never had to go near the base station for 3 months. I had to look at it once as the Ethernet cable was accidentally pulled out the back but that was about it. I bought this 5 months ago and have never had any problems with it.
It is a very reliable bit of kit to have. It is always on (as long as it is plugged in) so you can access internet whenever you want. I'm on a contract with the BT, so I get unlimited use of internet for around £15 a month (excluding phone) so I can go on when ever, anywhere in my house. It has not failed me yet anyway.
This is a little bit of an issue, the price. Well I bought mine for £119, which is a lot of money. However I really think it is worth the money. It creates WiFi all through the house so I am able to access it anywhere. It is more an investment really and I do not regret spending that much on it.
What's Right With It?
The best thing about it is how fast it makes my internet. It works in milliseconds so I am able to do as much surfing as I want very quickly. This is great if I want to upload blogs, photos or videos on the internet. I have uploaded videos on Youtube that took no time at all and was very efficient. Watching videos on the internet as well, especially on the iPhone is unbelievably quick compared to my last connection.
It is very easy to install and only takes around 10 minutes to fully install and get going. It can be used on lots of computers including Mac and Windows so even if you had each type of computer in your house, you would be able to share the connection.
It is stylish and funky and reminds me of futuristic designs. It can be put almost anywhere so can reach computers. It has the brilliant option of plugging your printer or hard drive into it to allow wireless printing and back up which is something quite new and not many models of WiFi stations allow this.
What's Wrong With It?
The price is high, but Apple tends to be very high quality. I use a Mac G5, which was the best investment I ever made. However at £119 for just the wireless connection is a lot. Another thing is that if you use the WiFi next to a TV or microwave then it does not work at all because of the interference so I can't really use the internet on the iPhone in the kitchen very well.
I am using this very device right now to connect to the internet. When on DooYoo for example I am able to click on a review and it comes up straight away. Then if I want to rate it I just click a rating and it tells me it is done in a second. It has made the internet a much more bearable experience for my other family members, not having to wait for the internet to load. To get the best from this you will need broadband but even not it will still give you quicker results. Overall I think this a brilliant device and worth buying for everyone.