Apple has announced a new AirPort Extreme Base Station, though no new features have been announced. Basically a wireless router, the AirPort Extreme offers the same functionality as the newly refreshed line of Time Capsule wireless backup drives, but without an internal hard drive.
A new model number is proof that Apple has updated the AirPort Extreme, but the feature set remains unchanged. Perhaps the new model offers better performance. Regardless, the AirPort Extreme is a versatile Wi-Fi unit with a built-in firewall and support for WPA/WPA2 and 128-bit WEP encryption.
Like any wireless router, you simply connect the AirPort Extreme to your DSL or cable modem and then as many as 50 users can share a single Internet connection and share content in a wireless network. You can also set up a guest network, with or without a password, so that guests can use your Internet connection. In addition, the AirPort Extreme features three gigabit Ethernet ports that let you connect systems that don’t have Wi-Fi.
While some Wi-Fi devices operate in the 2.4 GHz band and others can use either the 2.4 GHz or the 5 GHz band, the AirPort Extreme simultaneously uses both bands for maximum performance. And you don’t have to have a Mac computer to use the AirPort Extreme, as it is compatible with all 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi gear, regardless of brand.
A USB port on the AirPort Extreme lets you share a printer on your wireless network. You can also connect an external hard drive to the USB port and share the contents of the drive with all users on the network. In fact, connecting a USB hard drive to the AirPort Extreme provides you with the same functionality as Apple’s Time Capsule. You can even connect multiple USB devices to the AirPort Extreme by connecting a USB hub to it.