Replacing a router with Time Capsule and Airport Express

Posted: March 28, 2009 in Apple, hardware, Mac OSX
Tags: , , ,

This post took me a while to get finished, mostly due to the fact i started writing it at the same time i decided to merge all my blogs into one, which ended up being a bit more difficult than originally thought.  Word to the wise, before you decide to delete a blog make sure you copy it off the server to somewhere local.  That was an oops on my part that ended up extending the process a bit.  Now back to the topic of this post.  My home network.

As you may or may not know from previous posts, where i live has limited internet access, due to the lack of fibre optic cables in this part of town, or more correctly towns, since we are right near the city limits, in a sort of dead zone when it comes to services.  Because of this, we have our internet provided wirelessly, and since we are on the edge of the coverage area for that as well, the actual modem is in the barn, fed to a router also in the barn and then wireless picked up in the house approx 100 feet away.   This setup has been working for a couple of years, but never very well, so i decided to try something a little different and with the introduction of a dual band Time Capsule from Apple, now seemed like the perfect time.  Apple describes the Time Capsule as “Simultaneous dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi base station” basically a router with a hard drive built in.

the beauty shot

unpacking

As always, the packaging of Apple products is functional and stylish.  It may not be important to most people, but its nice to see that some companies still take pride in their products enough to make them appealing and eye-catching.

The packaging is not all wasted space either and fillers either – as part of Apple’s greening they have reduced packaging in most of their products over the past couple of years.

The setup is relatively simple, which is not surprising since after all this is an Apple product.

Choose a network name, pick your type of security you want and set a password.  The airport utility makes the whole process so easy and simple.  Once i had that setup and functioning i wandered the property to check the range and signal strength.  I was getting very good coverage in most of the house.  Strangely the main network seemed to have a stronger signal than the GUEST network, which really make no sense being as they are both coming from the same source.  The Guest network is a great way to allow visitors (or neighbours if you have some close enough) some limited access to the internet without allowing them access into your network.  I had purchased an Airport Express as well because i was planning on using it to boost the signal strength within the house and ensure there are no blacked-out areas, and also will be connecting it to a wired switch so i can hook up the xboxes to the network and hopefully get better speed when online gaming.  As it turned out, it was a good buy.  Sometimes large appliances or masses within the house can cause some interference.  For us, it was the area between the kitchen and my daughters bedroom.  The appliances and the chimney seem to be causing the signal to drop off to nothing.

The setup for the Airport Express is just as easy.  If you are going to use it to boost your signal there is a spot on the dialogue box for the Time Capsule (and probably the same on the Airport Extreme Base station) where you tell it you want to be able to boost the signal.  After doing that and giving the Airport Express the same network name as the Time Capsule, my signal strength nearly doubled and i had good coverage throughout the entire house without deadzones.  I did speed tests with and without the Airport Express and there was negligible differences between the two, and i’m getting 3meg download speeds through a 3 meg modem, so i really can’t complain.

So far I have to say i’m impressed with both the Time Capsule and the Airport Express, from a setup standpoint and from a functionality standpoint.  After all, they are Apple products and in my opinion, they have done it again in creating a great product that is easy to use and just works out of the box with minimal setup. Definitely a user friendly experience and great for anyone needing a router capable of handling A,B G and N signals seamlessly and giving you yet another place to store your digital files.  Next up is setting up Time Machine on my wife’s laptop and backing up to the 500 gig drive in the Time Capsule, then i can see what else that cute little white box can do besides just being a really good router.

(To Be Continued)

TCG

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