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Apple readying second-generation of AirPort Express 802.11n

post #1 of 35
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Apple will soon begin shipping a new version of its AirPort Express portable 802.11n base station, capping a recent series of refreshes to the company's line of WiFi routers ahead of this fall's iCloud launch.

Although Apple's online store still reflects availability of "AirPort Express Base Station with 802.11n and AirTunes," authorized resellers like DataVision report that the same model (MB321LL/A) is discontinued, while Amazon estimates it will have new stock sometime in the next "2 to 5 weeks."

Additionally, a person familiar with the matter says Apple is wrapping up the release of AirPort Utility 5.6, makes reference to a second-generation 802.11n AirPort Express in its developer notes:
"Adds support for the AirPort Express 802.11n (2nd Generation) base station"
The current version of Airport Utility, 5.5.3, was released in June, resolving an issue that caused the tool to unexpectedly quit during setup.

The update would round out tune-ups across Apple's AirPort device family. In June, the company quietly updated both its Time Capsule and Airport Extreme base stations. Though no specific changes were detailed in product specifications, FCC filings revealed that the new devices had received a power boost of as much as 2.8 times the original signal.

Subsequent tests revealed dramatic performance and reliability improvements to the base stations, especially when accessed from more remote locations. A teardown of the AirPort Extreme also showed that Apple has switched from Marvell WLAN cards to the Broadcom BCM4331.

But, given that FCC filings for a new Airport Express have yet to turn up, it remains unknown whether the diminutive base station will also see a signal boost when it is updated.



Apple released the first generation of 802.11n-capable AirPort Express routers in March 2008, billing the device as the world's smallest 802.11n-based mobile base station.

As Apple has been hard at work prepping its iCloud service, rumors have swirled that the company may transition its AirPort base stations to use iOS, with some reports speculating that software updates could be delivered wireless via an AirPort router.
post #2 of 35
Never plug that thing into the top socket. Before I upgraded to extreme I loved airtunes feature and never had problem with range.

Oh and PS, they should make it easier to use this in reverse. IE use it as a wifi hookup for your xbox so that it catches the wifi and sends it back over the ethernet. I know it can be done, but I have always had problems with it and it never seemed to work quite right for some reason.
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post #3 of 35
They really need to up the main performance of these routers. With many homes having 30Gbps or even much higher broadband plus several devices with 450Mbps WiFi plus many other devices with slower N and G data, along with attached drives for multiple device streaming simultaneously they need to make these consumer routers a lot more robust than they currently are.
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post #4 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

They really need to up the main performance of these routers. With many homes having 30Gbps or even much higher broadband plus several devices with 450Mbps WiFi plus many other devices with slower N and G data, along with attached drives for multiple device streaming simultaneously they need to make these consumer routers a lot more robust than they currently are.

Where in God's green earth do you live?? 30Gbps?!?! You mean to tell me your downloads peak at 3.75 Gigabytes/second?! You could download an entire blu ray's worth of an entire tv series in about 45 seconds!!

I'm pretty sure you meant 30Mbps, which is very likely, but still not anywhere near as common as you think.
post #5 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

They really need to up the main performance of these routers. With many homes having 30Gbps or even much higher broadband plus several devices with 450Mbps WiFi plus many other devices with slower N and G data, along with attached drives for multiple device streaming simultaneously they need to make these consumer routers a lot more robust than they currently are.

Those speeds make me jealous
post #6 of 35
I had three of them and each one worked fine until it didn't. I would get a blinking light and no matter how many times I reset it, and did everything else under the sun, I could never revive one. After the third one I gave up on the product. - corporate Mac IT guy.
post #7 of 35
Maybe I'm just being cheap, but a price drop would be welcome. Maybe I'm just used to $99 Apple TVs and $29 OS upgrades. But $99 is a BIT steep for a router. I love their designs, simplicity of set up, Airport Utility, etc. - just saying it could use a $20 drop or something!
post #8 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

Where in God's green earth do you live?? 30Gbps?!?! You mean to tell me your downloads peak at 3.75 Gigabytes/second?! You could download an entire blu ray's worth of an entire tv series in about 45 seconds!!

I'm pretty sure you meant 30Mbps, which is very likely, but still not anywhere near as common as you think.

Yeah, I meant Mbps, but the facts still hold. The current AEBS is still getting choked on the logic board from having too route too many devices using too much data over the WAN and LAN. They need a nice nice bump in the processing of the data to push these routers into the next 5 years.
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post #9 of 35
I haven't seen any significant change in performance with the 5th gen AEBS compared to the 3rd gen.
post #10 of 35
Why? I use the top socket and it seems to work fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

Never plug that thing into the top socket. Before I upgraded to extreme I loved airtunes feature and never had problem with range.
post #11 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by rtm135 View Post

Why? I use the top socket and it seems to work fine.

lol you block the bottom socket. The pic in the story shows the bottom socket being blocked. I was just making a quickie joke.
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post #12 of 35
Stupid socket - who has one above the other or is that a US thing?
post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by macadam212 View Post

Stupid socket - who has one above the other or is that a US thing?

You don't travel much I gather. Yep, every socket in every building in the US has a ton of sockets exactly like that. Only carrying 110 Volts too. I remember well the massive plugs used in the UK and the really good punch 240 Volts gave when it through you across a room
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post #14 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

lol you block the bottom socket. The pic in the story shows the bottom socket being blocked. I was just making a quickie joke.

Yeah but if you are not needing the bottom socket the device sits more squarely like that as its butt is supported if you see what I mean and it's less likely to pivot and risk an intermittent connection.
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post #15 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

The current AEBS is still getting choked on the logic board from having too route too many devices using too much data over the WAN and LAN.

Is it only the logic board? I thought a speed increase is only possible with multiple antenna's and it would seem the device is simply too small for that. Nothing to back this up, though.
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post #16 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Yeah, I meant Mbps, but the facts still hold. The current AEBS is still getting choked on the logic board from having too route too many devices using too much data over the WAN and LAN. They need a nice nice bump in the processing of the data to push these routers into the next 5 years.

I get about 100Mbps over 5GHz N green mode. A far cry from anything near the theoretical limits but I'm also using a Gen 3 AEBS. According to smallnetbuilder.com the Gen 5 AEBS hasn't improved on speed at all unless like the OP says you were on the fringe and in those cases it's minimal. No reason to upgrade this time around.

" If you've been hoping that Apple has sprinkled the same fairy dust into AirPort Extreme Gen 5 that it uses on its tablets and phones to make it the über-router to solve all your wireless performance problems, it hasn't. It's just yet-another simultaneous dual-band N router that some people will rave about and others will rave at. And certainly not worth paying the top-dollar that Apple is customarily charging $30 or so extra. "

http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wirel...gen-5-reviewed

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post #17 of 35
Damn, i just bought the old one Sunday just to have in case i needed it. I could have waited.
post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Is it only the logic board? I thought a speed increase is only possible with multiple antenna's and it would seem the device is simply too small for that. Nothing to back this up, though.

I think it is the board. You have WiFi with multiple channels giving you amazing speeds but you also have multiple devices on the wireless and wired LAN all needing to be routed through the one system for LAN and WAN access. Video streaming is common, then add other types of traffic like all Macs backing up to a central Time Machine drive every hour. These consumer routers are doing more and more each day without a major jump in the technology except in the WiFI, but that's hasn't been the bottleneck for awhile. You try a competitor's equivalently spec'd router and watch it choke on just a few machines and reboot it self almost every hour, at least that was the experience I had with the top of the line Linsys 802.1n router.
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post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by kozchris View Post

Damn, i just bought the old one Sunday just to have in case i needed it. I could have waited.

Take it back!

I bought one about a month ago. I could probably still return in (barely), but I've nothing to use in the meantime. Oh well.
post #20 of 35
I just paid for one at Best Buy - they were out. Said it would come in around the 19th. Hope I'm getting one of the new ones. I might stop by to ask if I can delay my order a week or so.
post #21 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I think it is the board. You have WiFi with multiple channels giving you amazing speeds but you also have multiple devices on the wireless and wired LAN all needing to be routed through the one system for LAN and WAN access. Video streaming is common, then add other types of traffic like all Macs backing up to a central Time Machine drive every hour. These consumer routers are doing more and more each day without a major jump in the technology except in the WiFI, but that's hasn't been the bottleneck for awhile. You try a competitor's equivalently spec'd router and watch it choke on just a few machines and reboot it self almost every hour, at least that was the experience I had with the top of the line Linsys 802.1n router.

It is posts like these that make me read this site. Informative and backed up by links or experience. Thanks!
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post #22 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Yeah, I meant Mbps, but the facts still hold. The current AEBS is still getting choked on the logic board from having too route too many devices using too much data over the WAN and LAN. They need a nice nice bump in the processing of the data to push these routers into the next 5 years.

All depends how you're using it, I suppose. A Time Capsule is my main router and handles lots of heavy traffic. Our two Airport Express devices are used as range extenders in a den and one bedroom. We just use the stereo jack to connect them to the auxiliary inputs of a couple Bose radios to route iTunes audio content through them from any of three Macs. I get a solid WiFi signal if using an iPad in bed for Internet browsing or pulling in any iTunes or EyeTV audio and video. Being in the Midwest, EyeTV through the iPad is great for catching late-night TV of Chicago baseball games on the West Coast. All of the Airport devices are 18 months old or older.

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post #23 of 35
I wonder if the updates to the Airport Express and Extreme also have something to do with iOS 5/iCloud, or if they were planned as better wifi technology came along?
post #24 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Is it only the logic board? I thought a speed increase is only possible with multiple antenna's and it would seem the device is simply too small for that. Nothing to back this up, though.

The gen 5 can open around 30000 connections (old one around 128)...this was in the smallnetbuilder review link.

The routing speed of these latest batch of devices is not bad compared to the past..having GigE ports, running 450MHz 3stream Wifi and do Print sharing or Upnp/ DLNA is pretty good.

It's not like we need 7600 series routers (or in some cases CRS Series) in our basements. if you need that build your own with DDWRT on x86?
post #25 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

Where in God's green earth do you live?? 30Gbps?!?! You mean to tell me your downloads peak at 3.75 Gigabytes/second?! You could download an entire blu ray's worth of an entire tv series in about 45 seconds!!

I'm pretty sure you meant 30Mbps, which is very likely, but still not anywhere near as common as you think.

My boss has 100Mbps for his Internet access in his condo. Carrier Ethernet with an RJ-45 right in his place, no Dsl or cable modem. And supposedly he can get up to 300Mbps. That's fricken nuts.

The cable guys are offering up to 200Mbps access around here. And with FTTH It's becoming more and more common.
post #26 of 35
Any news about the new device? When will it be available?
post #27 of 35
I would love some news on this front, as well.

I have need of an Airport Express as a travel router and I don't want to buy one four weeks before Apple overhauls the innards.

It's interesting that Apple is maintaining this product at the same price as the Apple TV; in many ways the Apple TV is the new Airport Express. (Seriously, integrated power supply, 802.11n and wired Ethernet interfaces--the difference is essentially software.)

In the meantime I have my $99 ready for an Express with extended range and dual simultaneous 2.4GHz/5GHz radios.
post #28 of 35
At this point, I'd prefer Apple start building in 802.11ac into the AirPort family.

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post #29 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

At this point, I'd prefer Apple start building in 802.11ac into the AirPort family.

Either that, or dual-band Airport on all Macs. I want to copy media over - fast - from my MP to a Mini without having to go through my .11n router. Knowing myself, I'll probably end up with CAT7.

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post #30 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isomorphic View Post

in many ways the Apple TV is the new Airport Express. (Seriously, integrated power supply, 802.11n and wired Ethernet interfaces--the difference is essentially software.)

That, and:
MicroUSB
256 MB RAM
8GB storage
Remote
Broadcom BCM4329 integrates a complete IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n system (MAC/baseband/radio) with Bluetooth® 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), and FM radio receiver and transmitter
HDMI
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post #31 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by macadam212 View Post

Stupid socket - who has one above the other or is that a US thing?

It's not a socket issue, that design hasn't changed in a few decades. The issue is bad engineering of device power supplies. Most DC bricks for devices use a standard large block form that doesn't work either in a vertical or horizontal configuration, thus forcing manufacturers of surge protectors to include 1 extra spaced port at the end of the power strip for those types of devices. Apple at least makes their brick thin enough to fit horizontal placement & in a vertical outlet situation you can flip it upside down thus no longer covering the bottom outlet. Some manufacturers get making it thin enough but put the prongs in the center so in a vertical situation it still covers both outlets no matter which you plug it into. There really isn't any excuse for those types of designs.

If you have outlets not strong enough to hold an upside down brick please or that are generally loose feeling have them replaced. Loose fitting outlets mean they are no longer tight enough to make full connection on both sides of the prongs on a chord. A connection that is loose can cause electrical arching & could possibly cause a fire.
post #32 of 35
Ok, we have a new AirPort Utility. Where is the new AirPort Express?
post #33 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isomorphic View Post

Ok, we have a new AirPort Utility. Where is the new AirPort Express?

Since we JUST got a new one, I don't see the 802.11ac model showing up until Fall 2012.

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post #34 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Since we JUST got a new one, I don't see the 802.11ac model showing up until Fall 2012.

Did I miss something? The AirPort Express hasn't been refreshed in some time. The Extreme was refreshed in the middle of last year.

I agree with you that I think it will be a while before we see 802.11ac. Apple may wait to update the Express, Extreme, and wireless adapters in shipping Macs all at once...
post #35 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isomorphic View Post

Did I miss something? The AirPort Express hasn't been refreshed in some time. The Extreme was refreshed in the middle of last year.

Gosh dang it.

I've always hated the similarity in those names.

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