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New AirPort Extreme Features Leopard Ready?

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As most people have noticed, Apple, Inc. quietly dropped a new AirPort Extreme Tuesday. And most of those people noticed that besides the “N” upgrade, the other new feature Apple added to the AirPort Extreme is Instant Drive Sharing. Basically, the new AirPort Extreme has USB 2.0 port and when you attach any USB 2.0 disk drive to it, it automatically shares the drive to anyone on the network. This has been possible for a long time with “NAS” (Network Attached Storage) drive enclosures, but the new AirPort turns any external drive into a “NAS” drive.

Time Machine Loves Drive Sharing

Now, what does this have to do with Leopard? While I cannot say this with 100% confidence, I’m willing to bet that this new feature is not just there for convenience, but to directly supplement the new Time Machine feature coming this summer in OS X 10.5. Time Machine, if you have been under a rock, is Apple’s new file back up software. Now, backing up is a great idea, but it’s a bit pointless to back something up to the same drive or the same computer. Are you catching on here? Hook up a drive to the AirPort, and instant back up source. Pretty slick if you ask me.

The other interesting thing that has nothing to do with Leopard, but that one can totally read into the AirPort extreme is that FireWire is officially dead, since a USB port are included and not a single FireWire, but that’s for another totally unsubstantiated post.

18 Responses to “New AirPort Extreme Features Leopard Ready?”

  1. nick Regan

    i just wanted to know if i was to put the base station in my kitchen and my wireless router is in my room can i use the express to be used as a repeater i know the speed will be slower because my router is g but can i use it as a repeater basically?

  2. Bottleneck

    Basically this is a silly conversation as if you are a tech person you realize that this makes no sense at all. For all those people that said the Extreme does not make sense they are right. If you have a N-router that is capable of the advertised 300Mbps throughput but you only have 100Mbps coming in then you have natural bottleneck. How can you get 300 out if you only get 100 in. Therefore you are really transmitting 100 out as that is your bottleneck. A N-router with gigabit is insane. I own the Airport Extreme because I wanted to check it out. Once I got it home I realized that it did not have gigabit (my fault as I should have read more about it). I am taking it back today unless Apple has done the classic switch on me and the router is actually gigabit and needs a firmware upgrade like the notebooks that shipped with N wireless cards (I discovered before they annouced by installing windows on my macbook). I would wait or at the very least get a router that has the ability to receive more than 100Mbps. Later.

  3. confused

    How about this scenario? I have 5 firewire / usb drives. Can I chain the 5 drives together via firewire and then attach it to the router via USB and have all of them be available on the network? Or will only one drive show up?

  4. Linksys offers a 4 port 10/100/1000 ethernet edition of it’s 802.11n router. Since apple makes computers equipped with 10/100/1000 network cards it does seem silly to not have an apple router capable of 1000

  5. Well, I am miffed that there isn’t a firewire port because I have 2 firewire hard drives that I wanted to use. These cost £100 each so I can’t go and buy usb ones now. Real shame, I so wanted to have my hard drives tucked into the cuboard and back up wirelessly.

  6. Scottie Biddle

    Excellent Point Niel- all those Mac mini-shaped HDDs now have a new home. It’s a shame the Apple TV doesn’t share the form factor or have expansion, or you’d be able to store every movie ever on it.

  7. Good Point Niel, hadn’t thought of that one yet, but it does make sense.

    @kaiser: All that sounds good and all, but really the only reason I back up is for drive failure, and all the file system tricks in the world won’t fix that.

  8. ShavenYak

    Not to mention, there still are basically no DV camcorders that can stream video over USB. FireWire is here to stay, but it would be silly on the AirPort. A USB hard drive is more than capable of keeping 100mbps Ethernet or 802.11g (and probably n) saturated with data.

  9. Gareth Potter

    I don’t think one needs to start lamenting the death of FireWire yet. There are, as always, three reasons why FireWire is not included: (i) component cost, (ii) controller and port size and (iii) the fact that if this is intended as a backup device as your post suggests, the speed of FireWire is not quite so essential.

    And if you’re one of the types that still believes dropping FireWire from the iPod was part of an Apple conspiracy to kill it, go and find out just how slow the transfer rate is on those iPod hard disks (and, indeed, the flash memory most now use). Consider also the above points and then ask yourself what the point would be of continuing to equip a consumer electronics device with pro-level ports when all Macs have had USB 2.0 for some 3 years now.

    In short, like BSD, FireWire is not dying.

  10. re: no gigabit – doesn’t really make sense on a consumer device as it will push up the price and you can’t get gigabit speeds via airport anyway. Yes, it would be good if there are two machines connected via wire, they could talk gigabit…
    As for no FireWire – there are no FireWire printers (ok, very few) so why put two ports on the device (which is trying to keep small) when one port will do the trick. I’m sure that Mac*Pro stuff will continue to use FireWire.
    As for Time Machine – I doubt that this is the reason why the hard drive can be added to the base station. Time Machine will, on a pure Leopard install, be able to use some advanced features in ZFS (a new filesystem to hopefully replace HFS+) that Time Machine won’t need an external drive to work it’s magic (filesystem snapshots and copy-on-write is how it will work)

  11. What I find odd though, is that the new Airport Extreme only has 10/100BASE-T Ethernet. Even the Mac Mini and Macbook have Gigabit Ethernet. For time machine, wouldn’t Gig Ethernet be preferable?