Apple Time Capsule unboxing and preview

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Time Capsule, Apple's brand name for an Airport Extreme Base Station with an integrated hard drive and power adapter, is now shipping. Here's a look at what's in the box, and how the new Apple TV-sized wireless backup unit stacks up against the existing AirPort Extreme.



Inside the Box



While AirPort wireless devices have long been shipping in white boxes, Time Capsule ships in a black box with a purple galaxy graphic (below) reminiscent of Leopard's space themed desktop background. The association is a clear nod toward the new wireless base station's support for Leopard's Time Machine feature.







The packaging borrows from the iPod's, with a paper cover that slides off to reveal a plain black box (below) with the words "Designed by Apple in California."







The paper and styrofoam box opens like a book to reveal the shrink wrapped base station unit (below).







Underneath the device is a white envelope with regulatory information, a setup guide booklet, install software, and an AC power cable (below).







The Bigger Box (As Seen On Apple TV)



There's no power brick because Time Capsule includes the AC transformer in the unit itself, just like the Apple TV. The existing AirPort Extreme uses an external power adapter (below), which helps makes it slightly smaller at the expense of having a longer tail and another box to hide. Time Capsule also manages to find room inside itself for a full sized 3.5" hard disk drive with either a full or half terabyte capacity.







Time Capsule has the same 7.7" square outline as Apple TV, making it noticeably larger than the existing 6.5" AirPort Extreme when stacked (below), as well as being a bit heavier.







It has all the same ports as the existing Extreme, although Time Capsule has a regular AC power plug instead of a round DC adapter for the AirPort Extreme's power brick. USB is used for connecting additional hard drives or shared printers; there are three Gigabit Ethernet LAN network jacks (just like the second revision of the Extreme; the original unit only supplied 10/100 Fast Ethernet ports) a WAN network jack, a reset button, and a security hole for a locking cable.







All three units share the same rubberized bottom, which is glued to the base in a way that makes opening up the unit awkward but not entirely difficult. There aren't any intended user serviceable parts inside. Users who outgrow the supplied 500GB or 1TB drive are expected to add an external disk via USB rather than peeling the drive open to swap in a larger model.



The only other cosmetic difference is that Time Capsule has a shiny, mirror finished Apple logo on top rather than the Extreme's plain embossed logo outline or Apple TV's printed logo on a glossy inlaid plastic panel (below).







Time Capsule is just slightly taller than the Extreme and shares the same slotted top design (below top), while it's a full lip taller than Apple TV (below bottom).











Time Capsule Software



The installer CD includes a PDF version of the printed user guide, a brief read me, a "need to know" PDF guide about backups (also included in print as a short leaflet), and an HTML page linking to various resources on finding more information, including the extended references such as Designing AirPort Networks, at Apple - Support - Manuals.



The read me document lists system requirements:



Time Machine backup requires Mac OS X Leopard v10.5.2 or later

AirPort Utility requires Mac OS X v10.4.x or later for configuration of Time Capsule

Wireless network access requires a Macintosh computer with AirPort or AirPort Extreme card

WPA2 support requires a Macintosh computer with an AirPort Extreme card



The short Need to Know PDF points out some basic tips:



The first backup will take a long time, perhaps even lasting overnight

You can set Time Machine to exclude items in Options to save space on the Time Capsule drive

Users should set up the device as the primary base station because its 802.11N is faster than than the Express or earlier AirPort units

Portables being backed up will complete fastest if they have a good signal in the same room as the Time Capsule and are plugged into power

If a Mac is shut down or interrupted during Time Machine backup, it will just start up from where it left off next time







Like the earlier AirPort Extreme, the Time Capsule software includes "AirPort Extreme" 802.11N enabler software for any Macs that shipped with 802.11N hardware but did not include software drivers for it, as well as the AirPort Utility software.



Setting up the unit is as easy as plugging it in, starting AirPort Utility, selecting the unit, and running through the setup assistant (below).











If you select the option to replace an existing base station (below top), the next option presented is to pick from one of the existing configuration settings saved by AirPort Utility, making for a painless upgrade (below bottom). Also available in the base station upgrade candidate list are third party devices saved by the local AirPort client software as previously used WiFi networks.











Another option is to join and extend the range of an existing wireless network. Pick a wireless network, and the software supplies your login if it has previously been joined and the password saved to the Keychain (below).











These slickly automated upgrade and expand options highlight the advantages of using standalone client software to configure the AirPort units rather than a simple embedded web page as most wireless base stations do. Alternatively, none of the AirPort base stations, including Time Capsule, can be set up from a basic web browser; they require installing the AirPort Utility software, which works on both the Mac and Windows PCs.



The Time Capsule Disk



The included drive is formatted and ready for use. The volume name can be changed from the Disks section by selecting the Time Capsule volume (below top). To erase and reformat the drive, select the Time Capsule Disk and click Erase... (below bottom). Either page can be used to boot off all connected users.











The file sharing tab (below) allows you to limit guess access to read only or block guests entirely; setting a Workgroup name is used to serve the drive to Windows clients; and "secure shared disks" offers three options for shared disk security:



with a Time Capsule password uses the same password to access the shared disk as to join the wireless network

with a disk password uses a separate password for the network and disk access

with user accounts sets up the ability to add multiple users on a third tab, each with their own password and an option to limit them to read only access or to block their access without affecting the other users.







No Love for Extreme Users?



Other options for sharing USB printers, logging, SNMP, IPv6, and Bonjour services are identical to the existing AirPort Extreme. Apple continues to sell the Extreme alongside the new Time Capsule models, but hasn't yet issued an update allowing Time Machine to backup to USB disks attached to the Extreme. This is disappointing because a lot of users expect Time Machine backups to work with their existing Extreme shared disks, and Apple hasn't released any clear indication on whether this will be released or not.



It would really seem petty if Apple expected its Extreme customers to all upgrade to Time Capsule, particularly since the company prominently advertised Time Machine as a feature that was planned to work with shared disks on the Extreme in pre-release Leopard information. While those features were listed as "subject to change," there appears to be no technical reason for not supporting the Extreme with Time Machine. Time Capsule also supports externally connected USB disks for use with Time Machine.



We will be testing the drive included with Time Capsule against USB drives attached to an AirPort Extreme in a more in depth look at Time Capsule, but the limitations of wireless networking will likely show no difference in performance throughput between the two. Readers who would like to make special request of the reviewer ahead of the formal review can email Prince with those requests.



Time Capsule is offered in two versions alongside the existing AirPort Express and Extreme:



AirPort Express $99 802.11b/g No disk sharing; USB printer and AirTunes audio sharing only. AirPort Extreme $179 802.11a/b/g/n USB disk and printer sharing; disk for network storage only. Time Capsule $299 802.11a/b/g/n 500 GB disk, USB disk, and printer sharing; Time Machine backups. Time Capsule $499 802.11a/b/g/n 1TB (1024 GB) disk, USB disk, and printer sharing; Time Machine backups.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 79
    divinidivini Posts: 4member
    WOW!!!!!!! Impressive, cant wait for mine !!!!
  • Reply 2 of 79
    deapeajaydeapeajay Posts: 909member
    All I want to do is hook a drobo up to my Airport Extreme. Time Capsule just doesn't work for me.
  • Reply 3 of 79
    orfyorfy Posts: 4member
    I don't have much call for a back-up drive, but do like the idea of a large, wireless hard-drive for my iTunes library and then at a later stage when I get round to buying Apple TV integrating it with that.



    However reading a review on engadget has put me off: "sure, you can put your iTunes library on it but it's not a media server".



    Are they right, am I looking at the wrong tool for the job with Time Capsule?



    Thanks,

    JH
  • Reply 4 of 79
    there's also a bit of a question over the hdd inside the time capsule...apple cutting corners (again)?

    http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/03...mecapsule_hdd/
  • Reply 5 of 79
    The only reason I bought an AirPort Extreme was because of the (what was suppose to be) up and coming wireless Time Machine feature. But looks like the jokes on me because instead of releasing it as an update later apple decided to screw us and try to get us all to pay $300-$400 to get a new device. Well forget that Apple. I'm not letting you rob hundreds of dollars from me when you are the ones who f***ed up to start with. If you want me to pay for a software upgrade for my Extreme then I'll do that but make me shell out for another router just so you can get your kicks.
  • Reply 6 of 79
    le studiosle studios Posts: 199member
    Well I have a Airport Extreme Base Station. I was sold when I seen that it can do 802.11a/b/g and N. Then you can have 802.11a a & n on a 5GHz frequency. That means I can put it on that frequency not worry about interference from microwave and stay online with XBOX 360. I buy 1 this month but later with get a 2nd 1TB Time Capsule for Mac Pro and MacBook Pro. It really boils down how you chose to use the product. I think it's good to me. Somethings are not for everybody. Since I'm about to publish music and do photography shoots. I need backup, ASAP!
  • Reply 7 of 79
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shiato storm View Post


    there's also a bit of a question over the hdd inside the time capsule...apple cutting corners (again)?

    http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/03...mecapsule_hdd/



    This is not a big deal.
    • Apple marketing states that it's "server grade", not enterprise grade". Server grade has no set meaning.

    • Apple uses it in their Xserve Servers and as well as others.

    • The MTBF for the 1TB HDD is rated at 1M hours and the 500GB is rated at 1.2M hours.

    • The various testing on this drive show that it's very good.

    • All the belly aching is from assuming a marketing term that is technically was referring to an industry standard term.
    With the AEBS being the most popular 802.11n router and the price for the model with the integrated HDD I don't see how this will not be a success. My only wish is that Apple was able to allow the integrated HDD and an attached HDD via USB work as RAID 1+0 as I much prefer to keep my excessive files on networked storage.
  • Reply 8 of 79
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by orfy View Post


    I don't have much call for a back-up drive, but do like the idea of a large, wireless hard-drive for my iTunes library and then at a later stage when I get round to buying Apple TV integrating it with that.



    However reading a review on engadget has put me off: "sure, you can put your iTunes library on it but it's not a media server".



    Are they right, am I looking at the wrong tool for the job with Time Capsule?



    Thanks,

    JH



    If you are talking about iTunes then it is your media portal. Just put teh library anywhere you want on your network and then hold down the Option key whne opening it to access the prompt for "Choose Your Library". The only problem is yo'll have to do manual backups if you want the iTunes Library saved on a 2nd drive.



    MS Home Server is actually very nice for a MS Product.... once you get past the unintuitive setup.
  • Reply 9 of 79
    j120387j120387 Posts: 56member
    is it possible to use time capsule as like a server of some sort so you can access it anywhere on any internet connection?
  • Reply 10 of 79
    steviet02steviet02 Posts: 594member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    If you are talking about iTunes then it is your media portal. Just put teh library anywhere you want on your network and then hold down the Option key whne opening it to access the prompt for "Choose Your Library". The only problem is yo'll have to do manual backups if you want the iTunes Library saved on a 2nd drive.



    You will still have problems with this method if you are trying to use multiple machines on one library.
  • Reply 11 of 79
    kerrybkerryb Posts: 270member
    Has anyone tried installing the Time Machine software on a Mac connected to an Airport Extreme? It seems unlikely but worth a try no?
  • Reply 12 of 79
    whmwhm Posts: 50member
    Receive mine yesterday 1 GB, I plan to back up 4 macs with this and that's why I purchased the bigger one. I did have a little trouble setting Time Machine Up. With my past 2 Airport Extremes I was able to simply use Airport Utility from my laptop and after the base station setup I then programed my 2 Airport Express to extend my network. The Time Machine would take me all the way thru setup and tell me "congratulations your Time Machine has been reconfigured " or whatever, you can stop Airport utility or wait until Time Capsule restarts. ( something like that ) Problem was would never restart afterward. This was solved by using an ethernet cable from Mac to Time Machine, worked first time and also the 2 Expresses.



    Question: To use as back up on the other 3 Macs do I have to run the disk received with Time Capsule on those machines?
  • Reply 13 of 79
    any word on if this will drop it's piece of crap connection without warning, requiring a full reset of the device to resume functionality?
  • Reply 14 of 79
    sequitursequitur Posts: 1,901member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    The read me document lists system requirements:



    Time Machine backup requires Mac OS X Leopard v10.5.2 or later

    AirPort Utility requires Mac OS X v10.4.x or later for configuration of Time Capsule



    I'm confused. Can Time Capsule be used with a back up system other than Time Machine?
  • Reply 15 of 79
    tony1tony1 Posts: 258member
    What's the advantage of doing a TM backup to a TC opposed to a backup connected directly to your machine? Wouldn't a direct connection (via FW or internal) be faster anyway compared to wireless? And why in the world would someone want to do multiple backups from multiple machines to a single drive (TC)? When that one drive craps out, all machines have lost there backup rather than just one. Enlighten me please.



    Personally, I'm not sold on this product. As for backups, as cheap as HDD's are today there's no reason why anyone couldn't afford a dependable drive and enclosure for each machine they own. As far as wirelessly sharing an iTunes library, hell I've been doing that since my old APE (flying saucer style) was released (along with a $75 G4 tower) and even those files are backed up elsewhere. I also have the ability of quickly throwing my iTunes drive into a machine if I choose. I feel that depending too much on a single device, in this case, is not a good idea.



    If this device can allow a backup of itself then it may be a plausible if someone's using it for TM.



    Just my opinion, not meaning to start any arguments. I'm sure someone can shoot it down, it's just that some people get caught up in so much hype about some products.



    Tony
  • Reply 16 of 79
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Great review/introduction to Time Machine. I will be receiving one of these myself very soon, but in the meantime have been reading all the reviews but there is one thing that no reviewer seems to have clarified (sadly this one included).



    Apple clearly states that you can back up multiple machines to the single drive in the Time Capsule, yet the only reviews I have read that touch on the matter state that the internal drive can't be partitioned. This makes no sense at all.



    - On the one hand, if a regular external USB HD is used for Time Machine by two different machines, the second machines data will completely wipe out the first.



    - On the other hand, if Time Capsule uses some kind of new technology to allow for multiple Time Machine connections, it doesn't say what it is or why it's not allowed on regular portable HD's.



    - Since Time Capsule can be used as a regular network storage drive, it makes no sense whatsoever that one could not partition it yet that's what the reviewers say when the question is asked.



    Very confusing.



    I am sure there is a simple explanation, but this is (typically perhaps) a very confusing message from Apple. I am beginning to think that Apple's "keep it simple" strategy in marketing is tripping them up more than it helps lately. If I can buy a time Capsule to "back up all the Macs in my house" (as they say in the advertising), not showing how that is actually done in the marketing materials is just setting folks up for a confusing and potentially disappointing experience.



    Also, call me old fashioned, but I would prefer to be able to partition the drive into two or three volumes and allocate each volume for backup to my two or three machines. I don't like the idea of all the files being "magically" mixed on the Time Machine drive by some process that I don't understand and have no access to.
  • Reply 17 of 79
    tony1tony1 Posts: 258member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by steviet02 View Post


    You will still have problems with this method if you are trying to use multiple machines on one library.



    What problems? I have three machines that share one drive (via APE), there are many times that two are playing music simultaneously without a hitch. My library stays organized also, so that's not a "problem" either, just let one machine control that. Am I missing your point?
  • Reply 18 of 79
    wcg66wcg66 Posts: 9member
    I recommend people with the AEBS look at iTimeMachine: http://www.xiotios.com/itimemachine.html



    This lets you use Time Machine with Air Disks. I've tried it out to the extent I can set my TimeMachine backup to my shared HD on the AEBS but not actually done the backup. My backup HD is directly connected with FW.
  • Reply 19 of 79
    You can use with the gig-e ports and that is faster then wifi and firewire
  • Reply 20 of 79
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tony1 View Post


    What problems? I have three machines that share one drive (via APE), there are many times that two are playing music simultaneously without a hitch. My library stays organized also, so that's not a "problem" either, just let one machine control that. Am I missing your point?



    The problem with this, for me, is that either you have the itunes database on the shared drive, in which case only one mac can access it at one time as the database locks, or, as I have it, each mac holds its own database for the music. In this case, any number of macs can access the music, sync ipods etc, but any changes do not show up on other macs. Rip a cd, record a tv show or manually reorganise an album, for example, and the other macs wont know until you have them rescan the folder.



    Same problem with iPhoto, I really wish they'd add client / server support to these two apps.



    Of course, if you've solved this, I'd be very grateful to hear how
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