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Internet, Networking, and Wireless Discussion of networking, internet, and wireless including Apple's Airport products.

My review of the Airport Extreme router (with Verizon Fios)


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NJRonbo

 
Member Since: Jan 11, 2007
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Yesterday I bought the new Apple Airport Extreme routers that
are ungodly expensive (like everything else Apple sells).

Did I need a new router? No, not really. To date I was using a Belkin
Pre-N wireless router that was quite powerful and actually did a really
good job of covering my entire home -- even providing adequate signal
strength to my back deck for those times I wanted to sit in the sun and
surf the Internet.

So why did I buy this Apple router? Well, a few co-workers bought one
and were gushing over the fact that they found it to be a lot faster than
the routers they had previously owned. They also bragged about the fact
that a printer or external drive could be plugged into the router's USB
port and be made available to every single computer on the network.

I think it was the capability of having an external drive hooked to
the router that could be accessed from my wired desktop and wireless
laptop that pushed me over the edge.

Setting up the router was fairly easy, which surprised me because
routers generally are the most tedious of computer peripherals to
try and set up. Instead of using a webpage to set up the router (as
is the case with most), Apple uses a setup assistant that is software
installed and embedded in the Utilities folder.

I had some initial problems setting up the router due to my own
ignorance. I placed a call to Verizon Fios who told me that
the Apple router would not work with their service because the IP
address is meant to communicate with their routers, and when it does
not, the address is not renewed. Had I listened to that "bull" the
router would be on its way back to Apple. However, I was determined
to get this router working and simply set it up the way I did my
Belkin and it WORKED!

I was also able to easily add my Airport Express module that operates
my wireless printer to the network.

So, I am certain you guys are wondering if $179 buys you a
better router or not. Well, my initial findings is that the Apple
router gave me the same coverage as my Belkin Pre-N modem.
Signal strength was just as strong across my home. What I did
notice, however, was increased speed. Web page loads were
noticeably faster with the Apple router. It was if my system
suddenly got a nice kick in the pants.

I should stop here and say that I am using the "N" standard
across the board. I downloaded the software update for my
Mac Pro weeks ago to make it fully "N" compliant.

I then hooked up an external hard drive to the router using the
USB connection. You need to tell the Apple router whether you
wish to share this drive across the network. I told it to do so.
Like a charm, the hard drive appeared as an icon on my wireless
laptop and wired desktop.

The only problem I have with accessing that hard drive wirelessly
is that the connection is not very fast. I tried to access the drive
from my laptop and play some stored videos. My laptop had a
hard time playing those videos as the connection was obviously not
fast enough. So, it seems that while you can probably access and
transfer small files easily over the network, the connection absolutely
is too slow to even stream video content off of the hard drive.

All in all, I'm happy with the Apple Airport Extreme router for its
improved web browsing speed and ample signal strength within a
very large home. It's extremely easy to set up. The only minor
disappointment I have is over the rather sluggish remote access to
the external hard drive. I suppose this is to be expected, though I
would think the simple art of "streaming" videos off of it would have
worked much better.

Overall, a great router but extremely overpriced. Most people with
small homes/apartments/townhouses would fare just as well with a
$90-$100 Belkin or Linksys.
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dtravis7

 
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Very good review.

On the Hard Drive speed, I have had issues like that with all external hard drives using USB 2.0. Not really fast enough to stream videos over my network and mine are plugged directly into computers on the network. USB 2.0 is not the best with fast transfers of large files. My Externals hooked up Via Firewire though have no issues here.
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NJRonbo

 
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WoW!

Interesting. I had thought at least wired, a USB2 connection
would allow video to stream flawlessly. I mean, I can put a
video file on a USB key, plug it in, and get perfect playback.

The thing that scares me about the router is VERIZON FIOS.
According to them, the service checks the IP address on occasion
and if it is not communicating with their router, it shuts you off.

Now, I have been using a Belkin router (not Verizon's) for a year
now and that has never happened. So, hopefully, there will be no
issues using the Apple.
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Do keep us updated if you run into any issues with Verizon FIOS and the AE.

The Videos I have had issues with by the way are full HD Trailers.
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schweb

 
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Great review.

But are you really sure it's running at "N" speed? If you connected an Airport Express which runs at "G" speed which in theory brings your network down to G level.

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ndwgolf

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJRonbo View Post
I should stop here and say that I am using the "N" standard
across the board. I downloaded the software update for my
Mac Pro weeks ago to make it fully "N" compliant.

I.
Sorry for my ignorance but what is "N compliant?????
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riguy

 
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This brings up an interesting question. I assume what Schweb is saying is true, having the Express active on the network slows the whole network down because Express is still only G compliant. Based on that, has anyone heard if the Express will get updated to N anytime soon?
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nvr mnd

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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJRonbo View Post
The thing that scares me about the router is VERIZON FIOS.
According to them, the service checks the IP address on occasion
and if it is not communicating with their router, it shuts you off.
I believe this has about as much validity as their comment about the router being incompatible with their service. This sounds like an uneducated tier one help desk jockey who misinterpreted his or her script.

Most likely, the FIOS "modem" is a router itself and the person you spoke to doesn't understand how to interface two routers together. Many times what happens is that the modem, acting as a NAT router, is handing out private IP addresses in the same range as the wireless router you want to use. This creates a conflict, which is easily rectified just by changing the IP address and DHCP scope of the third-party router.

Anyway, very nice review.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndwgolf View Post
Sorry for my ignorance but what is "N compliant?????
"n compliant" refers to the 802.11n IEEE standard which some newer routers support. It's essentially a variety of the 802.11 standard that runs at a higher speed. 802.11b runs at a max speed of 11Mbps, 802.11g runs at 54Mbps and 802.11n runs at a theoretical max of 248Mbps.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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illusionist

 
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technically, N connections are still draft.

Nice review though! I've been wanting to see a review like this.
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Good review! I loved reading it. :]
Now I have made the final decision to make my dad get me one.
Mwuahahaha! Thanks.
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I have also had thoughts about the speed when transferring files with the Airport Extreme. See this thread.

Speed

If anyone have achieved any other (better) speeds or understands what the limitation is, please let me know.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riguy View Post
Based on that, has anyone heard if the Express will get updated to N anytime soon?
i think the express is bein fazed out with AppleTV

Quote:
Originally Posted by schweb View Post
Great review.

But are you really sure it's running at "N" speed? If you connected an Airport Express which runs at "G" speed which in theory brings your network down to G level.
is this true? that would suck if having tunes in my bathroom was bringing down my whole network.
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GREAT REVIEW...!!! Thanks...I'm switching to my first Mac next week (iMac 2.4 + 2GB ram)...My router is also an old pre-N...

My question has been is the Airport worth the extra $80 (give or take a few) over a decent D-link or something?

I'm not an IT guy and I hate dealing with IT issues. Sounds like the power and the ease of set up alone make it worth the $$$...at least to me....
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