During the Macworld Expo on Tuesday, Apple introduced its new AirPort Extreme, a simple and elegant wireless networking solution delivering up to five times the performance and twice the range of the previous AirPort Extreme.
Based on 802.11n technology, AirPort Extreme extends a wireless network to even more areas in a home or office and makes streaming digital content and transferring large files faster and easier, the company said.
The new AirPort Extreme Base Station ships in a sleek, new design with connections for networked computers, printers and a USB hard drive to quickly and easily share files or back up valuable data and content.
"The new Airport Extreme is the most powerful and easy to use Wi-Fi base station that we have ever made," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "With five times the performance and twice the range, now you can transfer bigger files faster and get access to the Internet and your favorite digital media from many areas in your house you couldn't reach before."
Using MIMO (Multiple In Multiple Out) smart antennas and 802.11n technology, AirPort Extreme now delivers greater data throughput and extends the reach of wireless connectivity to more areas of the home, business or school. With the ability to operate in either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz wireless frequencies, AirPort Extreme also reduces the possibility of interference from appliances and cordless phones that operate in the 2.4 GHz frequency. AirPort Extreme is backward compatible with Macs and PCs using previous generation 802.11b/g wireless technologies.
Apple said the AirPort Extreme Base Station features a simple, new design that is just 6.5 inches square and 1.3 inches tall, and a built-in USB port allows users to print wirelessly to a USB printer or turn any external USB hard drive into a shared drive so they can share files or backup valuable data from multiple computers on a network. New AirPort Utility software included with every AirPort Extreme "makes it very easy to set up a secure, wireless network for up to 50 simultaneous users within minutes," the company said. Users can also set security restrictions, including Internet access limits on their childrens' computers.
The AirPort Extreme Base Station also includes:
802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking;
MIMO (Multiple In Multiple Out) smart antennas;
dual-band antennas for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies;
three 10/100 Ethernet LAN ports;
one 10/100 Ethernet WAN port;
one USB port;
Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA/WPA-2), 128-bit WEP encryption; and
a built-in NAT firewall.
Pricing & Availability
The new AirPort Extreme Base Station will be available in February through the Apple Store, at Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $179. Nearly all currently shipping Macs support 802.11n when updated with 802.11n Enabler software, which ships with the AirPort Extreme Base Station.
The AirPort Extreme Base Station is based on an IEEE 802.11n draft specification and is compatible with IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b and IEEE 802.11g. Achieving the fastest data rates requires that all users have an 802.11n-enabled computer. Actual performance will vary based on range, connection rate, site conditions, size of network and other factors.
Appple said all Intel Core 2 Duo and Intel Xeon Macs except the entry 17-inch iMac with 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor support the 802.11n technology.