Express Base Station vs. Extreme Base Station?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by WabeWalker, Jun 10, 2006.

  1. WabeWalker macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2006
    #1
    First of all, I just bought a Macbook two days ago (and yes I absolutely love it).

    The thing is, I'm on a 56K dial-up connection, and I didn't realize that I would have to purchase an extra little dongly thing in order to connect to the net.

    Within five minutes of turning on my computer for the first time, however, I launched something called Dashboard, and since this program provided me with the current outdoor temperature, and a five day forecast for my area, I realized that my Macbook, completely of its own accord, must've connected itself to the net (I love the way that my computer somehow knew that I live in Vancouver, Canada, and so provided me with a weather forecast for that area!)

    It must be the case that I'm picking up the signal either from my next door neighbor (I don't know this person - so, no, I'm not going to ask him if he owns Mac) or from the private elementary school across the street.

    I'm assuming that this isn't going to last, right? I mean, somebody is probably going to figure out that I'm using their signal, and then cut me off?

    Anyhow, having spent the past six years on a dial-up connection, I am stunned - I mean, stunned - at how fast this connection is (I had no idea that I was living in the dark ages). Simply put, there's no going back. And of course the freedom to surf the net from virtually any location within my home is incredibly satisfying.

    I visited the Apple website to find out what kind of hardware I need in order to connect my Macbook to a wireless connection and discovered that there are two base stations available, the EXPRESS base sation, which costs US $129, and the EXTREME base station, which costs $199.

    What's the difference between these?

    Also, is there anyway I can find out (short of asking folks in my neighborhood) where, exactly, I'm picking up this signal from? I have to admit, this is pretty damned cool - I feel like a player in a spy novel!
     
  2. medea macrumors 68030

    medea

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    Aug 4, 2002
    Location:
    Madison, Wi
    #2
    You never know, the network you are connecting to might continue to allow you on it. Or you might get shut out tomorrow. As for where it's coming from, who knows? What is the network called?

    For the base stations the biggest difference is the Extreme allows 50 people to connect to it and the Express only allows 10, for a home network 10 connections should be fine ;) The express also does not contain a built in modem. But the express allows for easy Airtunes setup and USB printer sharing. I'd go with the express, the extreme is not worth the extra money IMO.

    Will you be going to a cable connection or DSL?
     
  3. WabeWalker thread starter macrumors member

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    May 20, 2006
    #3
    When you say, 'What is the network called?" - what exactly do you mean?
     
  4. reh macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    What network is checked here? My network is called "herskal".
     

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  5. reh macrumors 6502a

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    Arkansas
    #5
    Also note that you do not have to buy one of Apple's wireless base stations. You could also get one made by Linksys, Netgear, etc...
     
  6. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #6
    As mentioned above, the frst thing you need to get taken care of is the broadband connection, because otherwise the AirPorts won't help you (except, to an extent, the Extreme).

    I tend to think of the AP Extreme as a fair bit overpriced, but there are two good things going for it:

    (1) Built-in modem (mentioned above) which means you can use your dial-up connection but still surf wirelessly (albeit much more slowly than with broadband)

    (2) Ethernet WAN and LAN port, meaning that, assuming you go broadband, you can connect it to the router and then plug another (non wireless) computer directly into it, meaning you wouldn't need another router until you get yet another (non wireless) computer.

    The AP Express doesn't have either of those, but it supports a USB printer (print wirelessly from your laptop to a printer connected to the AP Express) and iTunes (plug your stereo into the AP Express and play music from your Mac) - neither of which are supported by the Extreme.

    However, given what you can do with a US$50-US$60 Linksys router, if you don't need those features (above), save yourself some money.
     
  7. WabeWalker thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2006
    #7
    There's a checkmark beside something called 'linksys', whatever that means. Also, the signal that I'm picking up seems to be pretty strong. The bar graph indicating the signal stength never dips below the halfway mark.

    Also, thanks for informing me that I don't actually have to purchase a base station manufactured by Apple - I didn't realize that.

    I've just discovered, by the way, that my internet service provider (Telus) offers a cable package, and that if I sign up before the end of the month (on a 3 year plan) they'll toss in a 19 inch LCD monitor manufactured by Dell. So yeah, I might do that. That said, I've been surfing for two days now on this signal thing that I've been picking up, and if this continues, well, I wonder if I should even bother spending the extra money.
     
  8. PixelBoy macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 17, 2002
    Location:
    Cyberspace
    #8
    AE does support USB printer.

    The Airport Extreme does in fact support a USB printer, I have my printer hooked up to my A-Extreme and print to it all the time from both Macs and PCs.
     
  9. reh macrumors 6502a

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    Arkansas
    #9
    That just means that you're accessing the internet via a Linksys brand wireless router that someone never bothered to customize or secure.
     
  10. MacFan25863 macrumors 6502a

    MacFan25863

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    Jun 20, 2004
    #10

    I would recommend purchasing your own connection, for both security and for privacy. Whoever owns the connection you are using now may be able to view every website you access, as well as find out your passwords and other personal details. Not to mention that, if you have sharing enabled, they can access files on your computer.


    If you want to set up a broadband connection at home, I would go with cable. When they install your connection, they will provide you with a small modem. On the back of the modem, there will be a port that looks like a phone port, only slightly wider. Plug this into a wireless router (such as the Airport Express or Airport Extreme), which will broadcast the signal. I, however, recommend the Linksys WRT54G. It has all the same features as the Airport base stations, but can be found $75-$100 cheeper.
     
  11. WabeWalker thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2006
    #11
    So as long as they don't change their settings I can keep on surfing for free? Does this in anyway jepoardize my own security? Also, won't they know that I'm accessing their signal.

    I find all of this to be a bit baffling?
     
  12. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #12
    As mentioned above, if you're using their signal - which might or might not be legal, not sure of the laws there - then they can, in theory, see everything you send over the connection. Everything. Every password, every site you visit... everything.

    Now, most people with an unsecured connection wouldn't have the faintest idea how to do so, but they could. Secure (https) web connections are OK, but most anything else you'd be doing could be tracked.

    Basically, whoever it is has a broadband modem and has a Linksys router (assuming they aren't faking the 'linksys' name just to fool people) plugged into it. It's sort of like you're using a cordless phone that's connected to their base station, in a sense. They might not listen in - probably won't - but they could.

    _____________________
    Also, by the way, I appreciate that PixelBoy pointed out that the Extreme will do wireless printing too. Still too pricey for most, though.
     
  13. Timepass macrumors 65816

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    Jan 4, 2005
    #13

    oh they can tell if you are using there signal. All they have to do is go into the router and look at the clinet table and it tell them every computer that has been connect to it with in the last 24 hours. The infomation in there will be your computer name and it MAC address and what ip address it was using.

    As for your own protection those people can access your computer if you have anything shared, They can also track where you are going on the net and in theory harvest all your passwords.

    The network I am running at the house log 3 computers that did not belong to me or my roommate before I had a chance to finish locking down the wireless. I think they where just random connectoin since it was only an open network for oh about 10-15min. I would personlly think the wireless needs to be secure.

    Legelly you need to get your own. Broad band providers dont like other people leaching off the connects if the computers are not in said house. Also when you get your own you need to make sure you secure your own network for your own safety. Pretty easy to do. I did that hear and then I stored the key in a text file on a flash drive so when friends come over with there computer it take me about 30 sec to get them on the network.

    Sorry if this is confusing. Basics are they can tell you are on it and have a large number of options to kick you off and keep you off. You need to get your own broadband and when you do secure it. I would recomend looking at other companies routers other than apple which is over priced.
     
  14. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #14
    That's so funny, the exact same thing happened to me. When I got my first Mac home, I was playing with the widgets in dashboard, and I was amazed that it knew my weather. I thought it was magic before I discovered that the internet also worked and I must have been connected to someone's WLAN. I was also blown away with how fast High Speed was. Now it's a year later and I have my own broadband. :)
     
  15. swingerofbirch macrumors 68030

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    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
    #15
    In some ways the people whose connection you are using are at a greater risk than you.

    I discovered that our neighbors were using our wireless connection and so I set up a password.

    I didn't mind them using it, but I figured if they were to conduct some sort of illegal activity and the police traced where the illegal activity came from, it would show up from my base station (I assume?). So, a bit paranoid as that might be, I set up a password for my wireless network.
     
  16. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #16
    One thing to note, though, is that the AirPorts are ridiculously easy to set up for a secure connection, whereas it's sometimes more difficult with other vendor's equipment.

    Minor point.
     
  17. WabeWalker thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2006
    #17
    Cripes. I had no idea. You mean that even as I'm typing this in now, somebody could be reading!
     
  18. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #18
    That is definitely true. I've set up many different WLANs from several different companies (mostly Linksys and Cisco) and Apple is still the easiest.

    That would be extremely unlikely.
     
  19. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #19
    Agreed.

    We aren't saying they are listening to you, WabeWalker - just that they could be. Every bit you're sending and receiving is going through their system. Most people never, ever notice or care. Some do.
     
  20. eyedoc_00 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2005
    #20
    Where do you find this information. I have an airport extreme base station.

    Thanks.
     
  21. X5-452 macrumors 6502

    X5-452

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    Feb 16, 2006
    Location:
    Calgary, Canada
    #21
    I have a wireless d-link router and a wired desktop. I don't really care if people borrow our internet, since no matter what I'm getting the full force of it because of the wired aspect. I don't even bother checking to see if anyone is partaking in it. However, when I get my MacBook I want it all for me, so no more mister friendly neighbour.

    At any rate, I know that here in Canada the goverment and other businesses set up free hot spots, so you may be part of one. Which means you can freely use it without the fear of it's legality. Perhaps do a bit of searching to find out if you are part of a free hot spot, if you are, then I don't think they can gather information about you; and you'll never have to buy internet again.
     
  22. MacFan25863 macrumors 6502a

    MacFan25863

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    Jun 20, 2004
    #22
    Most of the time, though, free WiFi hotspots have a splash page. I don't think I've ever logged into one down here in California that doesn't.
     
  23. Timepass macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2005
    #23
    never used the apple routers since as I stated earily they are overpriced. But if it anything like the Dlink, and linksy router (and some other brand dont know what it was) I have used and mess around with it be in the DHCP Client Table.
    I know the Airport does not use a web based interface but I never really used it. You will just have to look for the DHCP client table some where and it be in there.

    On a linksy router I type in 192.168.1.1 in my web broswer and then go to statues>local network> DHCP Client Table. Best help I can give you. Linksy are the ones I know the best and have the most experince with setting them up and playing around with them.

    I will say getting a mac on to a secure wireless network is 10 times easier than a PC. Intead of having to enter in the long Hex key I can just enter the Passphase I used to make the key. (there is a reason I have a text file with the key stored in it)
     
  24. dextertangocci macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    #24
    Wow.. I never knew people who connected with a 56K line still existed..:p

    The airport extreme base station is better if you don't want to stream music from your mac to speakers, or hifi wirelessly.

    With an airport extreme base station, you can have up to 50 users, whereas with an airport express base station, you can only have ten.

    The airport extreme has transfer speeds of up to 54MBPS, and the airport express only has tranfer speeds of up to 11MBPS. (Airport extreme is 802.11G, airport express is 802.11b)

    The airport extreme has a WAY better wireless range, and it has a built-in modem, with two ethernet ports, (one for dsl, and one for a network printer), and you can connect an antenna to it for extended wireless range. It also has a USB port, like the airport express, for a USB printer.
     
  25. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #25
    Wrong. Both operate at 54 Mbps following 802.11g standards.

    According to Apple, both have a 150 foot range with 54 Mbps up to 50 feet.
     

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