Apple AirPort Extreme
Easy USB sharing; integration with Apple services
Only three Ethernet ports
While Apple has moved ahead in leaps and bounds with iOS devices and steady improvements to its desktop and portable computers, it’s disappointing that it’s chosen to all but ignore other products. The AirPort Extreme is a good example.
The AirPort Extreme of today is not changed significantly, though there have been minor releases with tweaks to antenna configuration. There’s an inbound internet port and three Gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting other devices. A single USB port can be used for either sharing a USB printer or hard drive. You can use a USB hub to add multiple devices for sharing using the AirPort Extreme.
Installing an AirPort Extreme is straightforward. You can use either the AirPort Utility that comes with OS X or down- load the free iOS app for your iPhone or iPad. The process only takes a few minutes and prompts you to create a password for the wireless network. If you’re adding the AirPort Extreme to an existing network it automatically configures itself into Bridge Mode to extend your LAN rather than creating a second network.
Performance was very good with excellent wireless range and swift performance through the Gigabit. The printer and storage sharing through the USB port was easy to use – it was just plug and play. We shared a USB hard drive and a thumb drive. Both appeared almost instantly in the Finder sidebar on connected computers and were easily accessible.
Where Apple’s routers offer value is their integration with services. For example, with most routers, support for Back to my Mac involves creating firewall and routing rules. With the AirPort Extreme all that’s needed is your Apple ID.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice.
The Airport Extreme is a good product but there are other options with more ports and functionality. It was a leader but is now back in the pack.