The best alternatives to Apple's discontinued AirPort routers

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  • Reply 61 of 99
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    What’s wrong with the built in routers from your ISP?  I have 75mb FiOS from Verizon, with a quantum gateway modem/router and get fantastic coverage in my while house. Gateway is on top floor, and still get 65mb/sec in my basement two floors down.  I used to bridge an AirPort Extreme to this but it actually gumed up the works so I got rid of it. I get special needs but I am guessing Apple is getting out of this business because most ISP provide the needed solution.
    Things ISPs do in their router-modems: Not enough CPU or RAM in them, BS routing tables that fill up and slow traffic or cause the router to be unable to handle more devices without a reboot, ISPs that capture DNS traffic and use to inject their own advertisements, leave backdoors open for the ISP...
  • Reply 62 of 99
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    I'm using a $150-ish Netgear router that works flawlessly with my slowest grade Comcast (directly, no additional gear needed) and around 5 Macs, Xbox, Roku, Wii (the original one), 2 Wintendos and a total of around 8 iPod Touches, iPads, iPhones, Android phones and my Android car stereo when I'm parked in the driveway (to download updates and apps when I don't want to use my cell modem). It covers my 2200 sq foot house, InLaw unit (my music studio) and back to the hot tub in the back yard. I'm unclear on what the AirPort routers brought to the table that a generic WiFi router doesn't.... maybe other than Time Machine-over-WiFi support. I just have a few backup drives for various machines I care about, and manually plug them in once a week or so. "Get what you paid for" is mostly BS, as far as I can tell... at least if you don't buy the cheapest of the cheap, and buy a well established brand.
    Bonjour printer sharing. AirPlay with analog and optical out. Time Machine. Easy config from both Mac and iOS. The first simple wifi extending that didn't require WPS and entering MAC addresses into two routers to get it to work.
    fastasleepredgeminiparare comment
  • Reply 63 of 99
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    blah64 said:
    There's a router line that I'm not hearing people talk about that should be getting more press, especially in light of all the security issues and phone-home-ing that many routers seem to be doing these days; Peplink.

    Anyone that cares about security issues should be reading:

    http://routersecurity.org/ - written and maintained by Michael Horowitz.  Dude really knows his shit, up, down, left and right.

    His top recommendation is the Pepwave Surf SOHO router, from Peplink.  I have one of these as well, and they're great pieces of gear.

    They provide a lot of options (including ethernet VLANs and up to 3 simultaneous VPNs), they've been awesome about making updates available (Krack patch was very fast), and as a great "feature", they're not managed by google. ;-)

    They may not be the best option for people who don't know anything about networks, given the tons of configuration options, but if you know someone who does, that's another option.


    He didn't do very well with Ubuiti Amplifi mesh nodes because it appears he was trying to repurpose a mesh node that shipped in a kit (2 mesh nodes and a router, for example) as a mesh node to extend another non-amplifi router. You can do that with a mesh node, but you cannot repurpose a node from a kit - you need one bought separately. The ones in kits are said by Amplifi's support as being paired permanently to the kit they're sold with, which might explain why he had the trouble he did.
  • Reply 64 of 99
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    Eric_WVGG said:
    stuke said:
    What about Plume?
    Haven't used it yet. Everything on the list one staffer or another has very recent experience with, and we're at least reasonably happy with integration and features.

    For everybody else: https://www.plumewifi.com
    Plume is fucking fantastic, +++

    Ars Technica did a very detailed comparison, including heatmaps(!) to show coverage in a suburban home. Plume wiped the floor with Google and AmpliFi. https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/12/review-comparing-google-wifi-to-other-mesh-networking-heavyweights/
    I do those heatmaps when testing for AppleInsider reviews. 
    They're done using Netspot or Wifiner (same company, Wifiner is the consumer level product.) I take one first using the ISP provided router modem, and then do one with one main router, and then all the nodes. It really helps seeing where the edges of the coverage drop off, and then placing mesh nodes within range of the primary unit so that they get enough signal for decent backhaul. 

    Here's an example of a before picture, so you can see the blue 'black holes' where signal is completely lost. And this isn't that big an apartment, one floor, but it is plaster and concrete, with the back right room as a bomb shelter. Yes, I was zig-zagging through the rooms. It gives a close-enough idea of where the problems are. I also test in a typical North American home with wood frame and drywall construction, which blocks the signal a lot less than this environment did, but still exhibits problems solved by mesh routers. In the apartment shown below, Amplifi solved things very nicely with one router and one mesh node. 



  • Reply 65 of 99
    jdwjdw Posts: 961member
    I appreciate the hardware suggestions of this article, but for an Airport-only guy like me who loves the one-click-setup simplicity of Apple routers, I want to know specifically what non-Apple routers there are that have a similarly simple setup.  For truly, last year I read a Macworld article (I'm a Macworld subscriber and have been since the 1980's) that recommended the Archer C7 for Mac users.  Based on that advice I bought one from Amazon.  Setup was hellish relative to an Airport router, but I got it to work, only to find Netflix was blocked and after contacting support and reading pretty much nothing online, I gave up, shipped it back to Amazon for a refund, and bought the latest version white tower Airport.  The white tower Airport is faster than the Airport router I was using before (white box shaped somewhat like a Mac mini) and I bought the newer version Apple router for its faster "AC" WIFI to enable faster access for my newer Macs and iOS devices.  It serves me well for now and again I loved the setup ease.  But should I need to upgrade in the future, I'd want the same simplicity of setup.  And that's what I'd appreciate from AppleInsider.  I'd like to know what router will give me an easy setup as a Mac user, even if performance needs to be sacrifices or if it cost a little more.  For truly, that's why I bought Apple Airport routers in the first place.  They just worked and were drop-dead simple to use.
  • Reply 66 of 99
    NaiyasNaiyas Posts: 66member
    I've never had good experiences with a WiFi only network of any type. Once the device count climbs above 10 the network always comes to a crawl and becomes unreliable, especially where I live in a high density residential area where package collision rates run to 30-50% depending on how many residences are occupied. For this reason I remain unconvinced by the value of wireless mesh networks where I live as it'll only be a short period of time before everyone around me has the same thing and interference rates will impact me again. So I go for a "wired first" approach where the following are typically connected to the wired network:
    • Access Points (no extenders or repeaters for me)
    • Servers (including NAS, UPS, etc)
    • Smart TVs
    • Apple TVs and other set-top TV boxes
    • Desktop computers and printers
    • Laptops (when in normal working locations)
    • Smart home devices (especially those that can use POE) e.g. cameras, security devices, etc
    By having only truly mobile devices using the WiFi network the wireless device count is kept low and the wired devices can utilise the full internet speed available to them without suffering from interference. Overkill maybe, but when I'm paying for 1Gbps internet I expect to be able to use all of it; not be capped by the interference caused by the 70+ WiFi networks that are visible around me.
  • Reply 67 of 99
    xmbxmb Posts: 18member
    For those who need a replacement for the AirPort audio output using AirPlay you should look at the Yamaha WXAD-10 or the Audio Pro Link 1. These provide high quality audio outputs from AirPlay sources. OK, no router or Wi-Fi extender functions, but at least they provide a good audio solution when all-in-one speakers, like the HomePod, don't it.
  • Reply 68 of 99
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 9,889member
    I’ve been using the Google WiFi for a month. Setup was dead simple and it’s been working great so fat. No complaints.
    Google Thanks You!
    They used to have to drive around neighborhoods to collect your WiFi data...
    redgeminipadws-2Rayz2016matrix077
  • Reply 69 of 99
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    Naiyas said:
    I've never had good experiences with a WiFi only network of any type. Once the device count climbs above 10 the network always comes to a crawl and becomes unreliable, especially where I live in a high density residential area where package collision rates run to 30-50% depending on how many residences are occupied. For this reason I remain unconvinced by the value of wireless mesh networks where I live as it'll only be a short period of time before everyone around me has the same thing and interference rates will impact me again. So I go for a "wired first" approach where the following are typically connected to the wired network:
    • Access Points (no extenders or repeaters for me)
    • Servers (including NAS, UPS, etc)
    • Smart TVs
    • Apple TVs and other set-top TV boxes
    • Desktop computers and printers
    • Laptops (when in normal working locations)
    • Smart home devices (especially those that can use POE) e.g. cameras, security devices, etc
    By having only truly mobile devices using the WiFi network the wireless device count is kept low and the wired devices can utilise the full internet speed available to them without suffering from interference. Overkill maybe, but when I'm paying for 1Gbps internet I expect to be able to use all of it; not be capped by the interference caused by the 70+ WiFi networks that are visible around me.
    May I recommend to you the Lightning to USB adapter, connected to a USB Ethernet adapter. You have to use a lightning charger with those to provide power for the adapters, but you can eliminate Wi-Fi for your mobile devices as well. 

    I'd also say, get Wifiner and see where the neighboring wifi are, channels and signal propagation. It's possible that a Wi-Fi mesh system would help you, but I agree, in a crowded spectrum, wiring the things that can be wired isn't wrong.
  • Reply 70 of 99
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,028member
    vmarks said:
    Naiyas said:
    I've never had good experiences with a WiFi only network of any type. Once the device count climbs above 10 the network always comes to a crawl and becomes unreliable, especially where I live in a high density residential area where package collision rates run to 30-50% depending on how many residences are occupied. For this reason I remain unconvinced by the value of wireless mesh networks where I live as it'll only be a short period of time before everyone around me has the same thing and interference rates will impact me again. So I go for a "wired first" approach where the following are typically connected to the wired network:
    • Access Points (no extenders or repeaters for me)
    • Servers (including NAS, UPS, etc)
    • Smart TVs
    • Apple TVs and other set-top TV boxes
    • Desktop computers and printers
    • Laptops (when in normal working locations)
    • Smart home devices (especially those that can use POE) e.g. cameras, security devices, etc
    By having only truly mobile devices using the WiFi network the wireless device count is kept low and the wired devices can utilise the full internet speed available to them without suffering from interference. Overkill maybe, but when I'm paying for 1Gbps internet I expect to be able to use all of it; not be capped by the interference caused by the 70+ WiFi networks that are visible around me.
    May I recommend to you the Lightning to USB adapter, connected to a USB Ethernet adapter. You have to use a lightning charger with those to provide power for the adapters, but you can eliminate Wi-Fi for your mobile devices as well. 

    I'd also say, get Wifiner and see where the neighboring wifi are, channels and signal propagation. It's possible that a Wi-Fi mesh system would help you, but I agree, in a crowded spectrum, wiring the things that can be wired isn't wrong.
    I recommend wiring whenever it’s convenient. My router is next to my headless Mac, Apple TV, and NAS so they’re wired.

    My TV is on the other side of wall, but I have that on the WiFi’s guest network along with another half dozen devices that aren’t from Apple and don’t need to be on LAN that connects to my Macs/Home Sharing or NAS. Partly to free up my primary WiFi network, and partly for security.
  • Reply 71 of 99
    wozwozwozwoz Posts: 252member
    This is what happens when accountants run computer companies.
  • Reply 72 of 99
    dws-2dws-2 Posts: 262member
    dws-2 said:

    I love Plume! It's truly set it and forget it, and all my devices instantly connect everywhere in the house and outside, unlike with my previous Airport Extreme. Their app is also beautiful and very easy to use. It's by far my best experience with wireless.

    So how do you handle DHCP and routing with this device, or do you not have any wired devices? If you've got a single ethernet connection coming out of your ISP's bridge (and it isn't a router) and any wired devices, then you'd need a wired router sitting in-between it and your Plume since it has but a single ethernet jack.

    Other than that limitation, it looks like a pretty nice setup.
    I actually do have a network switch, so a lot of my house is wired. Two of the Plume Pods are connected via ethernet upstairs and downstairs in the house. The nice thing is that the setup basically consisted of plugging in the Pods and sticking the Ethernet cord into them. The other Pods automatically connect to the ones connected via Ethernet.

    The Pods constantly test different radio frequencies and find the ones that are consistently the clearest. For example, on the first day, the garage door opener was interfering on a channel for one of the Pods, but it fixed itself within a couple opens and closes of the garage door. They also are smart and connect via 2.4 or 5 Ghz based on bandwidth needs and interference. In the app, you can see that the Pods are constantly adjusting themselves based on neighbor WIFI, general interference, and various things.

    Fortunately, you never need to think about it if you don't want because it always works.

    Finally, their app is quite nice. You can have WIFI passwords for specific guests, and you can set an "unconnected" WIFI login that can access the internet, but none of your devices. I'm a developer, so I use that for my Android test devices (I don't trust them).
  • Reply 73 of 99
    19831983 Posts: 1,224member
    None of these I believe are as good or elegant as Airport was. I’ve used routers from some of these brands and was overall, not pleased. But there’s no choice but to use these third party devices now. Which is a shame...RIP Airport.
  • Reply 74 of 99
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,028member
    1983 said:
    None of these I believe are as good or elegant as Airport was. I’ve used routers from some of these brands and was overall, not pleased. But there’s no choice but to use these third party devices now. Which is a shame...RIP Airport.
    Two things bother me about your statement:

          1) As the article states, you can still buy the AirPort products while supplies last.
          2) Apple no longer selling AirPort products doesn't mean your current ones no longer work.

    I've been using Apple's 6th gen AirPort Extreme since it came out in June 2013—5 years ago!—and I plan on using it so long as 802.11ac is fastest wireless option supported; but even then, there's a good chance I won't upgrade my router to support, say, 802.11ad simply because a future MBP supports 802.11ad because that's not where my network bottleneck is. I'm more likely to wait until 802.11ad is pervasive enough that nearly everything I had supports it before upgrading my router, which could be another 5 years for all I know. A lot can happen in two years.

    For reference, remember in 2016 when people freaked out about Apple not making their own external display, just to have Schiller say this year that they are making a Pro display likely set for release in 2019? That may even get demoed alongside a new Mac Pro at WWDC this year for all we know. On that notion, maybe Apple isn't out of the router game, but just out for now until 802.11ad or other technologies are viable. I think there's a lot Apple can still offer in this area.
    edited April 2018
  • Reply 75 of 99
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,843member
    Soli said:
    1983 said:
    None of these I believe are as good or elegant as Airport was. I’ve used routers from some of these brands and was overall, not pleased. But there’s no choice but to use these third party devices now. Which is a shame...RIP Airport.
    Two things bother me about your statement:

          1) As the article states, you can still buy the AirPort products while supplies last.
          2) Apple no longer selling AirPort products doesn't mean your current ones no longer work.

    I've been using Apple's 6th gen AirPort Extreme since it came out in June 2013—5 years ago!—and I plan on using it so long as 802.11ac is fastest wireless option supported; but even then, there's a good chance I won't upgrade my router to support, say, 802.11ad simply because a future MBP supports 802.11ad because that's not where my network bottleneck is. I'm more likely to wait until 802.11ad is pervasive enough that nearly everything I had supports it before upgrading my router, which could be another 5 years for all I know. A lot can happen in two years.

    For reference, remember in 2016 when people freaked out about Apple not making their own external display, just to have Schiller say this year that they are making a Pro display likely set for release in 2019? That may even get demoed alongside a new Mac Pro at WWDC this year for all we know. On that notion, maybe Apple isn't out of the router game, but just out for now until 802.11ad or other technologies are viable. I think there's a lot Apple can still offer in this area.

    Exactly this.

    When Apple does stuff like this, the immediate reaction from folk is that this is some kind of bean counting exercise. I think this comes from a natural inability to see anything beyond their own narrow view of the world. 

    So Apple has decided to end the Airport product line. Well, that's not surprising. I doubt they sell that many, given most ISPs hand out modems and routers anyway. Folk point to the ease with which they can set up an Airport network; very true, but the new Mesh routers also come with iOS apps that allow for easy configuration, and with a lot more options for parental control and guest access. Apple decided that they couldn't do much to improve on that, so there was really no point in entering the market. And if they had entered the market, then you can guarantee that the likes of Rogifan would be complaining how they were taking revenue from their partners.

    What about Time Machine? That has always struck me as a phenomenally bad idea. What is the point of backing up your computer to a device that's in the same building? 

    But if we ignore the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth that comes straight after an Apple discontinuation (in which the same people who said the discontinued product was crap the day before, now claim they cannot live without it), then we can probably look more closely at what Apple said. And what they said what they were discontinuing a product line; they didn't say they were not working on something else. The question is, what is the 'something else'.

    In the same month that Apple announced the discontinuation of Airport, there has been an explosion in articles covering 5G technology: the UK government has just fleeced the mobile operators for access to the 5G spectrum (though I'm not sure who told the government they own it); we've had 5G consortiums start up, along with meet ups, conferences and demonstrations of IoT and vehicle control which will rely on high speed and low latency. Apple, meanwhile, has created a load of job postings for engineers to help them build out their 5G technology stack. 

    https://jobs.apple.com/us/search?#&ss=mmwave&t=0&so=&lo=0*USA&pN=0

    So the reason that Apple has not decided to upgrade the Airport line is because it's had its day. The reason they've decided not to go the Mesh route is because that is where the puck is; they're already heading for where the puck is going to be. The internet will not be beamed into your home through a cable; it'll come through the air. The next gen Airport will take the 5G signal directly and beam it to receivers built into every Apple device. When you're out of the house, the same receivers will pick up 5G from the air. 

    If 5G is successful (and there are still a lot of hurdles) then Apple will be in a much better position to build out its own comms network which can be partly its own dedicated infrastructure (we know they have 460 locations where they can build the kit without too much trouble), and partly virtual networks to cover areas it doesn't.

    But as you rightly said, Apple didn't announce that existing kit would now stop working. I have a couple of Airports here that have worked reliably for years; I don't see the need to move off them because there's nothing out there that will make a significant improvement to what I have now.
    Macsterguy
  • Reply 76 of 99
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,843member

    wozwoz said:
    This is what happens when accountants run computer companies.
    Apple isn't a computer company. Try to keep up.
  • Reply 77 of 99
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,028member
    Rayz2016 said:
    What about Time Machine? That has always struck me as a phenomenally bad idea. What is the point of backing up your computer to a device that's in the same building?
    Theft or building damage are why you'd want to have off-site backups, but I think that drives/machines dying and user error are the most common reasons for data loss, so a local backup isn't a bad idea.

    Every company I've worked for has had redundancy of drives (usually as RAID5), as well as local backups (usually on tape), and then certain tapes were taken to an offsite location to be stored securely. A couple places even had a fireproof container for local tape backups.

    There's also the issue of how fast you can write a drive. When an HDD dies in RAID5 you can swap out the drive (hot-swapable for servers) and replace it with ease and it's brought back in sync with the others quickly. Then it's tape backups (assuming the interconnect is fast enough), then attached USB drives, followed by a NAS, and then cloud backups.

    For most people, just having that external USB HDD on the back of the iMac or connected to their AirPort Extreme for when they accidentally deleted their Photos library (that happened to someone I know) is good idea for a small amount of money.
  • Reply 78 of 99
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 1,012member
    Rayz2016 said:
    What about Time Machine? That has always struck me as a phenomenally bad idea. What is the point of backing up your computer to a device that's in the same building? 
    Local disk backups are valuable. They often have the shortest RTO implementation. For a lot of home users, TM is their only backup and it has saved many from disaster. Yes, anyone that values their data should also have an offsite backup. For most, that's a cloud backup. But have you ever done a large data restore using a cloud provider such as Crashplan or Backblaze? A restore of 500 GB will take days or possibly longer than a week (even if you pay for a drive to be mailed to you with your data).
  • Reply 79 of 99
    RednailRednail Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    You should point out that Eero is US/Canada only.
  • Reply 80 of 99
    Expensive option at $1600 but I just ordered two Synology routers and 2-bay NAS' with 12BG each of storage (for work and home) to do what Time Capsule does and so, so, much more... I've been meaning to do this anyway... Having said that, Apple is beginning to make me a little sick at times.
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