It’s updates all around for Apple’s full-sized routers, as the AirPort Extreme joins the Time Capsule with a new model number today. Neither the AirPort Extreme nor the Time Capsule have been updated since early 2009, so refreshed hardware isn’t really a surprise.
The new AirPort Extreme still carries the same product description and specs as the old version, so it isn’t exactly apparent what has changed about the Wi-Fi router. It still provides 802.11a/b/g/n wireless networking, and simultaneous dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency support for improved network performance and decreased interference. It also has the same three Ethernet ports for wired connections, and a USB port for hooking up a printer or external hard drive.
It’s likely that Macworld is right when it suggests that any changes made to the AirPort Extreme happened under the hood, and are likely meant to boost performance. Wireless technology hasn’t stood still for two years, after all, although it also hasn’t exactly seen dramatic changes in the consumer electronics sector. The successor to 802.11n is in the works, but it’s still probably quite a ways off in terms of general use and wide adoption.
The bottom line is that if you’ve been waiting for an AirPort hardware update in order to get a new router, now’s probably a good time to buy. The new Extreme might not boast revolutionary changes, but if Apple’s track record proves correct, it’ll most likely be better than its predecessor.