Apple’s new AirPort Extreme Base Station: What’s missing? - Macenstein

Apple’s new AirPort Extreme Base Station: What’s missing?

Posted by Lab Rat

Last week Apple announced (well, not so much announced as “added to their store”) an updated AirPort Extreme Base Station with a new form factor, and support for the new (so new it’s not even approved yet) 802.11n wireless networking protocol. Because of the adoption of 802.11n, Apple says the new AirPort Extreme can increase the speed of your network up to 5 times, and double the range of the previous AirPort Extreme. Additionally, there are now two extra ethernet ports, as well as support for a USB hard drive hookup (AirPort Disk) which can be shared by up to 50 computers on your network.

This is great news all around, and would be a near perfect update if it were not for the omission of 2 things. Namely; Power-over-ethernet (PoE) and a port for an external antennae.

No Antennae port

The newly increased range of the AirPort Extreme Base Station would seem to make the need for an external antennae not quite as critical as it was with past iterations of the device. However, office buildings are like snowflakes (no, not they are not all cold, and wet). They are all different. Here at the lab, for example, our building is designed with a large, open cubicle-based area up front (“The Maze”), and a bunch of smaller edit and graphics suites to the rear of the building. Combine this with a machine room filled with VTRs, our fiber channel server, DVD Duplicating robots, death rays, etc, and there is room for a lot of interference with a wireless network. We currently use an Apple AirPort with an external Wi-Fi boosting antennae in our setup, and clients can almost always get a signal, even in the furthest editing suites. While it is entirely possible that the new AEBS’s claim of doubled range will make the point moot, I would love to have the security net of an optional booster if necessary.

No PoE?

Perhaps even more important than the omission of an external antennae port (in our specific case, at least) is the seemingly missing option of a model which supports Power-Over-Ethernet (POE). In previous AirPort models, this allowed us to power our base station by simply running an ethernet cable through various ducts and ceiling joists. The idea of trying to run power cables to our current AirPort location (about 20 feet up in our “Maze” area) is going to be a bit of a problem. Odds are, due to fire codes and such, we may need to bring in an electrician to add an outlet up there somehow.

Final thoughts

I am a fan of Apple’s addition of the AirPort Disk feature, as well as the faster speeds and larger wireless range the new AirPort can (allegedly) deliver. I feel the odds of Apple adding an antennae port are slim as once Apple decides something is no longer necessary, it rarely returns. However, I DO hold out hope that Apple will release an updated “pro” version of the AirPort with at least support for PoE in the coming months. Perhaps there was not a huge demand for this feature in the previous model, but if Apple hopes to see AirPort adoption in more professional settings, they should not remove it’s professional features.

13 Responses to “Apple’s new AirPort Extreme Base Station: What’s missing?”
  1. Mike McGregor says:

    It’s also lacking gigabit ethernet.. considering Macs started shipping with gigabit in what.. 2000, and now every single Mac comes with it as standard… isn’t it a bit daft to have only 100mb ports? Especially considering the cost of Gigabit switches these days?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Agreed. I can’t believe Apple’s new “high speed” wireless router uses slow, 10-year-old technology for it’s wired networking.

  3. Tim says:

    It took them a while to come out with the first POE base station, so hopefully this is the first in the lineup. A new airport express would be good too.

    Another crucial feature missing is the modem – so many people throughout the world, especially here in NZ don’t get broadband, and the airport was an excellent solution to be wireless on a dialup connection.

  4. MattyG says:

    I am also annoyed at the old wired networking too, just whats the point? force us into buying new macs so we HAVE to use wireless for the streaming

  5. Zac says:

    I agree with all of the commentors here, the ommission of Gigabit ethernet is really dissapointing, especially considering that the addition of two more ethernet ports should have made it a much more viable product. PoE is an unfortunate omission, but not as bad I don’t think. As for the antenna, why don’t you just pick up some Airport Expresses to relay the signal? Unless you are really looking for those draft n speeds, and can’t wait for a new express.

  6. ferdi says:

    About the external Antenna:

    this is a draft n device and has a MIMO Antenna Array. There is just NO point in putting an external Antenna as it would destroy the MIMO advantage! and it is not covered by the draft N specifications 😉

  7. Jodeo says:

    Appel is teh suck.

  8. bunky says:

    will make the point mute,

    The work is ‘moot’, not ‘mute’! Bad grammar, or blindly accepting the decisions of a spell checker, calls your credibility into question.

  9. Thanks for the grammar tip, bunky.
    We’ve changed the offensive word that, yes, did slip by our Spell Check.

    However, in YOUR comment you say “The work is ‘moot'” . The irony of pointing out our blindly accepting the advice of our spellchecker only to have YOU use the word “work” instead of “word” because presumably YOUR spellcheck told YOU it was OK is just awesome.

    Also, the idea of a misused word, intentionally or accidentally, discrediting our entire argument for Power Over Ethernet seems a bit out there. Are you saying stupid people can’t appreciate the ease in placement options PoE provides?
    If anything, I would think you would WANT stupid people like us using PoE instead of messing with running electrical lines.

    We do not claim to be journalists here at Macenstein. Our day jobs are in the video/graphics field, and we happen to love Macs, and like to write about them.

  10. Andy Ringsmuth says:

    I’m surprised no one else mentioned what I consider to be the most glaring omission, even bigger than gigabit and no POE. There’s no audio out! Why can’t the AP Extreme also function like an AP Express and work with iTunes? At home now I have one AP Extreme that does the DHCP/NAT for my network (wired and wireless), but in order to stream audio I need a separate AP Express. I’d really like to eliminate one of the devices and was hoping that the next version of the AP Extreme would allow me to do that.


    Oh well.

  11. Matt says:

    The phrase “mute point” is actually what is known by some some as an “Eggcorn” and is explained in this article, . The idea is that there are some homonyms that make sense as well, so they get adopted into the language. Other examples include “bowl in a china shop,” “fullproof,” and “a posable thumb.”

  12. Gonzo says:

    Really? I always thought that when people misued expressions like that, that they all sounded illiterate morons.

    Or maybe that’s just the pot calling the cattle back.

  13. Aaron says:

    I think Joey on Friends explained the moo point best “A cow’s opinion just doesn’t matter”

    Anyway, the think I missed on this is the Ceiling / Wall mounting hardware. Come on, how much could it cost to add a little piece of plastic? Certainly not the $40 third party vendors are charging for it.

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