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First Look: Time Capsule, AirPort, and Time Machine

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
Time Capsule pairs the existing AirPort Extreme with a half or full terabyte hard drive to serve as a backup appliance for Leopard machines running Time Machine, in addition to acting as a simple file and print server. It is offered for both Mac and Windows users, although Windows PCs (or Macs not running Leopard) won't have Time Machine and therefore will access it only as a regular file and print server.

At last year's Macworld Expo, Apple released its first version of the new AirPort Extreme in a slim square box rather than the UFO shape of previous AirPort base stations. In addition to the new form factor, the new version also added support for 802.11n, a considerably faster new version of WiFi that also achieves much greater wireless reach.

Even for those who primarily use an AirPort only to distribute their relatively slow ~1.5 MB Internet connection, the MIMO antenna technology used by the wireless n standard means that the 2007 AirPort Extreme can deliver a more reliable signal over a much larger area. Apple also added a wireless USB hard disk sharing feature to make effective use of the new speed jump.

When AppleInsider reviewed the AirPort Extreme last year in An in-depth review of Apple's 802.11n AirPort Extreme Base Station, the biggest complaint was the lack of Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. The use of 10/100 Fast Ethernet throttled the unit's capacity to act as a single box router, switch, file and print server, and wireless access point for small business and home users. Apple quietly rectified that limitation later the year with an AirPort Extreme update providing Gigabit Ethernet.

Back to the Future: Time Capsule

After the release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard in the fall, another disappointing omission appeared: the planned support for backing up from Time Machine to an AirPort shared drive was pulled for technical reasons, described in Why Leopard’s Time Machine Doesn’t Support AirPort Disks.

With the release of Time Capsule, users hoping for an update enabling Time Machine backups to AirPort shared drives were left to wonder whether Apple will support its early adopters with a simple software update (as it did with Apple TV) or set the expectation that everyone who bought an AirPort Extreme will purchase a Time Capsule. It seems highly unlikely that Apple will not also enable Time Machine backups that work with existing AirPort Extreme disks, although Apple representatives on the show floor were unable to verify that fact.

Time Capsule advertises the use of a server grade hard drive, which makes the unit significantly heavier than the original AirPort Express. Apart from the extra weight, a slightly larger box, and a mirroed Apple logo on top, the device appears identical to the existing AirPort Express, which will remain on sale at $179 alongside the Time Capsule in its $299 500 GB and $499 1 TB versions, as well as the portable 802.11g AirPort Express at $99.

Time Capsule (below top) is 7.7" square, identical in footprint to the Apple TV, slightly taller (1.4" vs 1.1" Apple TV), and about a 50% heavier (3.5 pounds versus the 2.4 pound Apple TV). Like Apple TV, the new Time Capsule includes an internal power transformer, so it uses a simple AC power cable rather than requiring an external power brick like the earlier AirPorts. The AirPort Extreme (below bottom) is 6.5" square, 1.3" thick, and 1.6 pounds.


Time Capsule:



Airport Extreme:



Whither AirPort Extreme and Time Machine?

In its Which Wi-Fi Base Station are you? comparison page, Apple only presents Time Machine compatibility under the phrase "Built-in wireless storage with automated Mac OS X Time Machine backup," which leaves the matter somewhat ambiguous. Only Time Capsule has "built in" storage, so Time Machine support for external drives on the original AirPort Extreme seems to be left in the air.

While Apple reps wouldn't comment on the future of AirPort Express, one did confirm that Time Capsule could offer its externally connected USB drives for use as Time Machine targets. That certainly suggests that there is no special voodoo supporting Time Machine on the new base station, or any limitations posed by USB or by non "server grade" drives.

A definitive answer on AirPort Express support from Time Machine might not arrive until Time Capsule ships in February, but there's little reason to panic in the meantime. Apple certainly planned for Time Machine to support AirPort disks, and the AirPort Utility software and AirPort Disk Utility sharing software are the same for both the Extreme and the new Time Capsule. Apple delivers the software for both Mac OS X and Windows, so developing special Time Capsule versions to create an arbitrary and artificial barrier to disenfranchise existing Extreme users would seem out of character for the company.

AirPort Extreme appears to share its USB drives using WebDAV, just like a .Mac iDisk or Leopard Server's wiki services. That results in AirPort Extreme shared disks showing up in Leopard's shared disks listing as a generic Windows PC, complete with the tongue in cheek blue screen of death logo. WebDAV also makes it, in theory, more resilient to being unplugged or interrupted than an AFP AppleShare volume. WebDAV acts as a two way webserver rather than the session based AFP volume, which is typically thrown for a loop whenever the client and server fall out of contact.

Leopard's Time Machine still needs network support for remote volumes, and AirPort Extreme needs a firmware update to polish its Leopard sharing support. That means the problems solved by Time Capsule will likely also act as the missing links for existing AirPort Extreme users.

Why the Ambiguity?

Apple is likely avoiding the presentation of too much information because it doesn't want to confuse users. Time Capsule is being billed as a backup appliance and a way to "expand or create a high-speed network for any home, office, or classroom." It appears the company has observed customers being somewhat baffled by the complexity of plugging in a USB drive and setting up sharing, and hopes to streamline things by offering an all in one solution.

Hopefully, that solution won't be exclusive to the point of alienating Extreme users, who will be mighty upset if artificial limitations are set in place to push them toward buying an additional base station. Given the pricing of the Extreme and Time Capsule, it appears Apple wants to push new users toward buying Time Capsule. With a 500 GB drive only costing a $120 premium, the Time Capsule is a far better deal than paring an Extreme with a third party external drive. By publicizing Time Machine support for Extreme now, Apple would be driving consumers toward a solution that costs them a lot more and gives them a consumer rated, lighter duty external hard drive.

For the record, not all hard drives are built the same. Consumer drives are cheaper and engineered to work well enough to meet basic expectations, while server rated drives are built with tolerances designed to support constant activity. Apple already uses server rated drives in its Xserve and Xserve RAID products, and its use of high quality drives in Time Capsule is a respectful nod towards the value of users' content.

While the expansion of Apple's AirPort family doesn't make for exciting headlines, it is often overlooked that Apple is leading the consumer deployment of wireless n WiFi, and also has a significant wireless presence in schools and higher education. In 2007, NPD rated AirPort Extreme as the number one selling wireless n router.

Once Apple releases the new Time Capsule, scheduled for February, AppleInsider will present a closer look at its new features.
post #2 of 41
Glad I held off buying the Lacie drive.
I've been running a Linksys with a firmware hack to talk to my AE. Works fine, but it's a bitch to setup. And connecting wirelessly to the AE (which is just working as a network extender and airtunes for my stereo) is very slow. The Linksys and AE are in the same room.

Think I'll grab this lil guy, streamline the network with Apple. Make things easier, and faster.
Not to mention I will be able to finally set up a WEP key. Never was able to get the AE working with the Linksys with a wep.
post #3 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by rain View Post

Glad I held off buying the Lacie drive.
I've been running a Linksys with a firmware hack to talk to my AE. Works fine, but it's a bitch to setup. And connecting wirelessly to the AE (which is just working as a network extender and airtunes for my stereo) is very slow. The Linksys and AE are in the same room.

Think I'll grab this lil guy, streamline the network with Apple. Make things easier, and faster.
Not to mention I will be able to finally set up a WEP key. Never was able to get the AE working with the Linksys with a wep.

Go with WPA instead of WEP. Better security, shorter key.
post #4 of 41
Daniel,

In the parts of your article where you mention Airport Express, did you really mean that? Or was it a typo and you meant to say Airport Extreme instead. AFAIK, you cannot connect a USB drive to the Express.
post #5 of 41
Well I don't have a "server grade" external hard drive, but I'll definitely be disappointed if I can't use it as an air drive with time machine come the end of the month.

I really don't want to have to sell my Airport Extreme and buy a Time Capsule, too much of a pain.
post #6 of 41
I am betting that 10.5.2 update and the Airport Extreme update come out at the same time.
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post #7 of 41
Just wondering. Knowing that it would be sitting there 80% of the time just running idle
post #8 of 41
OK, I currently own the current generation Airport Extreme that has a USB port, which I have an external 1TB HD connected to. My question is, will I only be able to use Time Capsule to save my Time Machine back ups? Or, will it also show up in the finder as an air disc that I can keep large files on, like my ripped DVD collection, which is to large to fit on my laptops internal hard drive? Anyone thought about this and know the answer?
post #9 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by birdwellcc View Post

OK, I currently own the current generation Airport Extreme that has a USB port, which I have an external 1TB HD connected to. My question is, will I only be able to use Time Capsule to save my Time Machine back ups? Or, will it also show up in the finder as an air disc that I can keep large files on, like my ripped DVD collection, which is to large to fit on my laptops internal hard drive? Anyone thought about this and know the answer?

Did you even read the article?
Leopard's Time Machine still needs network support for remote volumes, and AirPort Extreme needs a firmware update to polish its Leopard sharing support. That means the problems solved by Time Capsule will likely also act as the missing links for existing AirPort Extreme users.
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post #10 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by birdwellcc View Post

OK, I currently own the current generation Airport Extreme that has a USB port, which I have an external 1TB HD connected to. My question is, will I only be able to use Time Capsule to save my Time Machine back ups? Or, will it also show up in the finder as an air disc that I can keep large files on, like my ripped DVD collection, which is to large to fit on my laptops internal hard drive? Anyone thought about this and know the answer?

Otherwise it doesn't make sense for OS X 10.4 users...
post #11 of 41
Is there any word what the voltage requirements of the internal power supply will be? both 110V & 240?
post #12 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by drmh View Post

Is there any word what the voltage requirements of the internal power supply will be? both 110V & 240?

Same as all the Macs.

All the info you need is on site.
post #13 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by rain View Post

Glad I held off buying the Lacie drive.
I've been running a Linksys with a firmware hack to talk to my AE. Works fine, but it's a bitch to setup. And connecting wirelessly to the AE (which is just working as a network extender and airtunes for my stereo) is very slow. The Linksys and AE are in the same room.

Think I'll grab this lil guy, streamline the network with Apple. Make things easier, and faster.
Not to mention I will be able to finally set up a WEP key. Never was able to get the AE working with the Linksys with a wep.

Same issue here. Except I have Extreme in another room and a wireless Linksys in another with a GCC laserwriter plugged in (ethernet).

Unfortunately, I just bought the new Lacie and was about to get an Express because I have never been able to convert the Linksys to act as a bridge. Wish I had waited, but hey, sh't happens.
post #14 of 41
I have three words for you:

Multi-function Printer Support.

One of the biggest pet peeves and one of the only things that kept me from purchasing an Airport Base Station was the lack of support for multi-function printers, ie being able to wirelessly scan and fax. Some MFP were simply not even supported for basic printing. It seems as if Apple has overlooked this MAJOR detail yet again.
post #15 of 41
It'd be nice if this gizmo could hook up to a stereo and play iTunes from a computer on the network. From the Apple website it looks like only AirPort Express will do that, but I can't tell for sure.
post #16 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

With a 500 GB drive only costing a $120 premium, the Time Capsule is a far better deal than paring an Extreme with a third party external drive.

I don't think the $120 premium is such a great deal considering the fact that you cannot swap out the backup drive offsite without purchasing another Time Capsule unit.
post #17 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by weybridger View Post

It'd be nice if this gizmo could hook up to a stereo and play iTunes from a computer on the network. From the Apple website it looks like only AirPort Express will do that, but I can't tell for sure.

I dont think so. APexpress hooks up to stereo via the 3.5mm mini-audio jack for analog or optical digital sound (copied from apple.com) - you insert a cable into there, and terminate it at your Stereo. The AP Extreme and Time Capsule do not have that jack.
post #18 of 41
is this a good deal?
are the prices in range with similar sized hard drives?
or are they jacked up in price as apple likes to do?
post #19 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dontlookleft View Post

is this a good deal?
are the prices in range with similar sized hard drives?
or are they jacked up in price as apple likes to do?

Price it out. Look for an 802.11n router with 1000MB ports and built in print server and an external HDD.
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post #20 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dontlookleft View Post

is this a good deal?
are the prices in range with similar sized hard drives?
or are they jacked up in price as apple likes to do?

Love to see your evidence to support your clamor.
post #21 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by weybridger View Post

It'd be nice if this gizmo could hook up to a stereo and play iTunes from a computer on the network. From the Apple website it looks like only AirPort Express will do that, but I can't tell for sure.

It seems like you could get it to work if you had Time Capsule set up as a drive (rather than a device exclusively for Time Machine), put your iTunes on the Time Capsule, address Time Capsule from your computer, go into iTunes and connect to your "Stereo" (or whatever you've called your Airport Express) and start playing music through your stereo that way. Sorta like this:


COMPUTER ---> TIME CAPSULE/ITUNES ---> AIRPORT EXPRESS ---> STEREO ----> SPEAKERS
post #22 of 41
..................
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post #23 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I am betting that 10.5.2 update and the Airport Extreme update come out at the same time.

Curious: What is the 'consensus' on what 10.5.2 is expected to do?
post #24 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Curious: What is the 'consensus' on what 10.5.2 is expected to do?

Besides what AppleInsider stated, Time Machine will have to updated to allow for remote access to remote drives.
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post #25 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by ulmelqlo View Post

I have three words for you:

Multi-function Printer Support.

One of the biggest pet peeves and one of the only things that kept me from purchasing an Airport Base Station was the lack of support for multi-function printers, ie being able to wirelessly scan and fax. Some MFP were simply not even supported for basic printing. It seems as if Apple has overlooked this MAJOR detail yet again.

I'm not sure that it's all Apple's fault. For example, my HP 7780 does all those things wirelessly with my Mac. Granted, HP is slow with the drivers and I'm currently using beta drivers, but it works. Maybe you should be complaining to the printer manufacturers.
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post #26 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaweston View Post

I don't think the $120 premium is such a great deal considering the fact that you cannot swap out the backup drive offsite without purchasing another Time Capsule unit.

If you're doing that then, you're right: it's not a "great deal" for you personally. But the fact that Apple is adding a hard drive to the Airport Extreme and raising the price by less than you could by the same drive (basically a negative markup), is, for most people, a great deal.

Besides, why would you swap out the Time Machine drive? Just clone it occasionally and send that off site or clone your main drive.
post #27 of 41
Is it just me or did anyone else notice in the images comparing the Time Capsule and the AirPort Extreme, that not only was the Extreme taller, the ports (USB, Ethernet, security lock, etc.) were bigger too?

I guess they had to use mockups for the comparison images instead of actual photos, but it just seemed odd to me...
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post #28 of 41
Someone has written a cute line of code, and made a little "widgety" kind of installer for it that
corrects the time machine/airport extreme problem. I'm running leopard, and it works fine.
Once you run the flux capacitor, the disk attached to the airport extreme shows up as an option
in the time machine disks. Here's the link:
http://www.9to5mac.com/time-machine-...citor-43262455
post #29 of 41
I think some of you don't realize the beauty of this system.

Say I buy a new MacBook Air(tm). I take it everywhere with me. When I come home, I plug it in and leave it be. Time Machine(tm) wakes up and finds my new Time Capsule(tm). My work for the day is all backed up and secure without me doing a thing other than plugging in the machine and opening the case.

Let's say that I'm visiting Havana, Cuba, and the airport's ancient X-ray machine scrambles the contents of my 80gb hard drive. When I get back home, I flip on the MacBook Air, it recognizes its hard drive is scrambled and automatically restores itself from TIme Capsule.

All my data is saved!

Well, except for that secret contract with Fidel.

Maybe he was a bit smarter than I had thought.

Of course if I had been really smart, I would have stuck with MacBook Pros and backed up my contract to a CD. I then could have taken it to one of their Internet cafes with the 20 year out of date computers(*), and uploaded it to an email. That love of aesthetics can be a real killer.

To get serious again, as you can see, in this scenerio much of the point was that my data was, in fact, at home and backed up seamlessly via my wireless router. A very cool idea, and the price for the 1tb version is just $100 more than a bare drive. Not bad at all.

D

(*) Without WiFi. I don't think they even have USB.
post #30 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post

Is it just me or did anyone else notice in the images comparing the Time Capsule and the AirPort Extreme, that not only was the Extreme taller, the ports (USB, Ethernet, security lock, etc.) were bigger too?

I guess they had to use mockups for the comparison images instead of actual photos, but it just seemed odd to me...

Not if you took high school math and sciences.

And while you are thinking about that, look at the actual product dimensions vs the images presented.
post #31 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post

Is it just me or did anyone else notice in the images comparing the Time Capsule and the AirPort Extreme, that not only was the Extreme taller, the ports (USB, Ethernet, security lock, etc.) were bigger too?

I guess they had to use mockups for the comparison images instead of actual photos, but it just seemed odd to me...

HAHA The new Airport Extreme is taller and has a bigger footprint. The old old measured 6.5"x6,5", while the new one measures 7.7"x7.7". It's all in the article.
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post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Dennis View Post

I think some of you don't realize the beauty of this system.

Say I buy a new MacBook Air(tm). I take it everywhere with me. When I come home, I plug it in and leave it be. Time Machine(tm) wakes up and finds my new Time Capsule(tm). My work for the day is all backed up and secure without me doing a thing other than plugging in the machine and opening the case.

That's not a bad example. The fact that Time Machine gets the backup done seamlessly and without interrupting the user to manually run, is a very good thing. Like you say, all they need to do is turn it on and let the backup run automatically.
Your scenario about the missing Contract got me thinking:
What if Time Capsule could also act as a disk reachable via Internet? ie. some sort of web-accessible drive? It's most likely going to be your main broadband router anyway, so it would already know its own IP, and thus can configure itself to port-forward requests to access the hard disk. Time Machine also does exact one-for-one copy of all files, in the same directory trees, so effectively, you should be able to pull out the Contract with no problem!
I know that if your MBA was running on a basic restored image, you could still use Back To My Mac feature... but if we're working on the assumption you are stuck at the old internet cafe, then you'd need a web-accessible location.

Any thoughts?
post #33 of 41
One thing I'd like to find out is what are the possibilities for expanding the storage capacity. 1TB is good for now, but 1,2 maybe 3 years from now, chances are that my backups will require more than that. Is this as simple as connecting an external drive in one of the ports in the back?

Also, I assume Time Capsule doesn't support RAID 1 (redundancy) given the single drive inside. Which another reason why I hope Apple allows the Airport Extreme/external drive combination, preferably NAS drives...
post #34 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdotcheung View Post

That's not a bad example. The fact that Time Machine gets the backup done seamlessly and without interrupting the user to manually run, is a very good thing. Like you say, all they need to do is turn it on and let the backup run automatically.
Your scenario about the missing Contract got me thinking:
What if Time Capsule could also act as a disk reachable via Internet? ie. some sort of web-accessible drive? It's most likely going to be your main broadband router anyway, so it would already know its own IP, and thus can configure itself to port-forward requests to access the hard disk. Time Machine also does exact one-for-one copy of all files, in the same directory trees, so effectively, you should be able to pull out the Contract with no problem!
I know that if your MBA was running on a basic restored image, you could still use Back To My Mac feature... but if we're working on the assumption you are stuck at the old internet cafe, then you'd need a web-accessible location.

Any thoughts?

I use my AEBS as a basic internet file server by simply sticking 2GB of flash into the USB socket! I set it up to share the AirPort Disk over the WAN and that was that. Of course, since I don't subscribe to .Mac, keeping a tab of my IP address is my own problem. Fortunately my cable modem's pretty reliable and I've had the same IP since I set this up many months ago: kept at the top of Finder's Command+K connect to server window.

While useful for small files, I'd certainly not advise it for anything heavy. Home broadband upload speeds (what you need when you're remote and "downloading" a file) are pretty lame compared to the down channel. But that said it can be a real convenience when you need it and I'm pleased with the little setup for now.

Roll on AEBS Time Machine over 802.11n instead of ~30k/s broadband speed!
post #35 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugo View Post

One thing I'd like to find out is what are the possibilities for expanding the storage capacity. 1TB is good for now, but 1,2 maybe 3 years from now, chances are that my backups will require more than that. Is this as simple as connecting an external drive in one of the ports in the back?

Also, I assume Time Capsule doesn't support RAID 1 (redundancy) given the single drive inside. Which another reason why I hope Apple allows the Airport Extreme/external drive combination, preferably NAS drives...

Question one: should be just as simple as plugging in another drive. So long as they are all treated the same, which we expect and will be irritable if it's not

Question two: I really doubt Time Capsule would RAID its own internal drive. As far as I know, AEBS won't with several USB drives either. You get each drive show up by itself unless you have a caddy cunning enough to handle your RAID desires which serves up the virtual volume all by itself I guess.
post #36 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugo View Post

One thing I'd like to find out is what are the possibilities for expanding the storage capacity. 1TB is good for now, but 1,2 maybe 3 years from now, chances are that my backups will require more than that.

At that time you will probably be able to buy a more commodious unit from Apple.
You have to view these devices as non-expandable and short lived.
You sell the old one eBay and buy a new one.
post #37 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dontlookleft View Post

is this a good deal?
are the prices in range with similar sized hard drives?
or are they jacked up in price as apple likes to do?

Very competitively priced.

For example: OWC sells a quad-interface 1TB external drive for $420 USD. See http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firew...teAL/400+USB2/
So Apple is only charging $80 for the additional Airport stuff.
post #38 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by davebarnes View Post

Very competitively priced.

For example: OWC sells a quad-interface 1TB external drive for $420 USD. See http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firew...teAL/400+USB2/
So Apple is only charging $80 for the additional Airport stuff.

If you go with a consumer grade external 1TB HDD you can get them cheaper and the price for the Time Capsule is still very competitive.
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post #39 of 41
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_hAqdnLJ7o

Hack to use time machine with airport
post #40 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post

Love to see your evidence to support your clamor.

He means like what Apple charges for RAM upgrades. You know, price gouging.
Price out MacPro RAM vs the same kind available from Third Parties like OWC. The price differential is BREATHTAKING.
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