(Posted this earlier, but it double posted. I removed what I thought was one of them, and then found both gone. Here’s the post again, hopefully in singular.)
If you’re sporting a Core 2 Duo Macintosh, you’re probably in luck if you want to use the 802.11n wireless speeds. Apparently Apple’s been shipping systems with the capability turned-off and buried. Purchasing the updated AirPort Extreme base station gets you 802.11n capabilities, but only if you have the appropriate card in your machine to receive the benefits of that signal. Along with purchasing that base station (for $179) you’ll get the enabler patch if your Intel Core 2 Duo Mac supports it.
But if you don’t opt for the Apple AirPort Extreme, and would rather go for a Linksys, or other brand router for 802.11n speeds, you’ll have to pay an Apple tax of $4.99 for the enabler patch for your Intel Mac. The reasons are essential legal and accounting based. So it’s not really a case of Apple sticking it to their customers, but rather them covering their cores to avoid accounting issues and unwelcome government attention down the road.
So if you want to save yourself a bunch of money and get a non Apple base station with 802.11n, make sure you set about $5 of that savings aside to enable your Mac to play nicely with whichever unit you buy.