Apple adds dual-band capabilities to AirPort, Time Capsule

Aayush Arya
4 March, 2009
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Apple’s slew of hardware updates overnight didn’t stop with just desktops. The company also threw in updates for the AirPort Extreme base station and the Time Capsule backup device.

Both peripherals now feature simultaneous dual-band capability, allowing users to operate on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands at the same time. Previous versions featured only a single antenna, which limited them to operating one band or the other. But since the iPhone, iPod touch, and various other devices use 802.11g, owners of an AirPort Extreme couldn’t take full advantage of the faster speeds and wider range of their 802.11n equipped base station.

With the new dual-antenna architecture of the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule, 802.11n-capable devices—any of the Intel Core 2 Duo Macs, for example—and ones that operate on 802.11g can now take advantage of the band that would best serve them. In effect, this means that you no longer have to make do with spotty connectivity on your 802.11n equipped Mac just because you also have an iPhone or two on the same network.

The updated peripherals also add Guest Networking, a feature that allows you to create a separate network for visitors (which you can choose to protect with a separate password) that would only allow them access to the Internet. That lets you keep all your shared printers, drives, and other devices, as well as shared libraries out of the reach of guests.

Time Capsule boasts an enhancement of its own—the ability for MobileMe subscribers with OS X Leopard to access the contents of the device’s hard drive over the Internet. Once you configure Time Capsule to work with your MobileMe account, it will show up in the Finder sidebar on any other Mac you may be using (provided you are logged into MobileMe on both Macs, of course). You can read from and write to that drive just as you would any local Network Attached Storage device.

Prices remain unchanged on the two products—the AirPort Extreme base station sells for $279, while Time Capsule costs $479 and $779 for its 500GB and 1TB configurations.

Apple’s launch today included new iMacs, Mac minis, Mac Pros, Time Capsules and AirPort Express base stations, new graphics cards, and more. MacBook Pros got a speed boost, and not even the iMac’s keyboard was left untouched.

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