Airport Base Station Refresh Soon? [Updated]

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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According to the Online Apple Store, the Airport Extreme Base Station's ship date has slipped to "mid-November". Such a delay would seem to indicate Apple is readying a revision is nearing. However, the extent of the revision is not currently known, as the update may simply be to pass relatively new European environmental regulations (RoHS) that has stopped the sale of the base station and the iSight in Europe since June 30th. The iSight is also facing a similar shipping delay, with a stated ship date of October for U.S. online apple store customers.

Note: Users hoping for an update that supports the upcoming IEEE 802.11n spec may not want to hold their breath, as the spec has faced repeated delays and currently is not expected to get final approval until 2008. While Apple's original Airport base station was "pre-802.11b" compliant and a firmware upgrade made the station compatible with the finalized spec, the current situation is different and the changing nature will likely render any "pre-802.11n" devices not compatible with the final specification (making an adoption by Apple unlikely at this time).

Update: Forum member treblah has pointed out that while IEEE certification of the spec is a ways off, the WiFi alliance will most likely certify to some degree the draft specification for pre-N products.

Also of note, in June the primary makers of 802.11n chip-sets claimed interoperability which was a large barrier towards certification.

Article Link: Airport Base Station Refresh Soon? [Updated]
 

treblah

macrumors 65816
Oct 28, 2003
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Macrumors said:
While Apple's original Airport base station was "pre-802.11b" compliant and a firmware upgrade made the station compatible with the finalized spec, the current situation is different and the changing nature will likely render any "pre-802.11n" devices not compatible with the final specification (making an adoption by Apple unlikely at this time).
Source? :confused:

From what I've read the Wi-Fi Alliance, which Apple is a member of, is basically going to sidestep the IEEE and 'certify' the draft as the "standard" until '08. Even then they expect interoperability between draft and final spec.

Link.
 

dicklacara

macrumors 6502a
Jul 29, 2004
973
1
SF Bay Area
What does the 811.n availability date do to iTV?

Mmmm...

When Steve announced the iTV, I was surprised by the "Spring 2007" availability date, as it looks as if faster WiFi (811.n) won't be available until later 2007 or 2008.

Another interesting "feature" of iTV is the built-in power supply (no power brick) for such a small device.

I wonder if Steve has an alternate means of streaming between a computer in the den and an iTV in the living room.

One possibility is Power Line Networking (PLN) and Broadband over Power Line (BPL). It is currently possible to transmit data over the power lines within the house at 200 Mbps (the same max speed as the coming 811.n Wi-Fi).

Some manufacturers are building PLN into the latest TVs, speakers, etc. There are also external PLN interfaces for our current TVs and speakers.

Including the power supply within the iTV could mean that the iTV includes PLN (in addition to a provision for 811.n WiFi whenever a standard becomes available).
 

aswitcher

macrumors 603
Oct 8, 2003
5,338
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Canberra OZ
twoodcc said:
well i hope that they update the airport base stations.....they haven't been updated in awhile

Since what, Jan 2003?

Yeah, and the prices haven't changed. Few new features either.

Apple still need a decent G base station for commercial wireless for the next 3-5 years, until N takes over. Maybe a 2-3 models with different features.

So I expect to see an update, maybe a A/B/G model (like the pros are getting) with MIMO for better reception/bandwidth. Theres a lot of wireless clutter out there now so I hope the form factir change (if any) doesn'tlimit the power/range.

I expect to see a signficant price drop unless they really bundle in some good new stuff (see below). Good wireless router/base stations can be had for 25%-50% less.

I would also like to see the modem usable as a fax and voice line, not just for internet. That would really push up sales now no one has inbuilt modems; and people are getting second virtual phone lines with their fast broadband which would be nice for a fax line.

I would be very keen to see dual cards in one model, so it can run two networks on different channels, allowing for increased bandwidth, voip/video dedicated channels etc Maybe the whole A/B/G thing is about doing just that, with twin comms across A and B/G. 108MBs all up. Maybe quicker with their own compression etc like D-Link have been doing for a few years now...so 216MBs under ideal conditions ;0

Maybe a 4 port router rather than the 2 existing ports. Maybe gigabit? (Or perhaps that should wait for N)

I would also be really happy if Apple diversified a bit and added more options to their USB port on the AEXP and AEXT units. Really great if they allowed you to connect a HDD directly to that and make it accessable to the whole network. -> Think Leopard, Time Machine and a dedicated 802.11A channel for remote wireless relatime backups ;)

An iPod updating remotely with the USB might be pretty cool as well for some of us with airport expresses spread around.

And what about the audio/optical out. Why not allow more than Airtunes? What about allowing a tick list of other sounds/apps for when your away from your machines listening to Airtunes etc; like iChat alerts, Email pings, computer audio comments, etc etc
 

jlewis2k1

macrumors 6502a
Jan 14, 2005
718
0
in your closet
eh i wouldnt believe this till i see it. its like apple neglected this product. this disappoints me cause when i first got the AEBS it was good and all but now it just plain sucks. I would chose to get the Airport Express but I now have this feeling it will just be as bad as the Extreme.
 

generik

macrumors 601
Aug 5, 2005
4,116
1
Minitrue
A price drop to $99 would be appreciated, although even then I will still have a hard time choosing it over the WRT54GL ;)
 

BlueRevolution

macrumors 603
Jul 26, 2004
6,054
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Montreal, QC
I'm shopping for an express on eBay... so expensive, but then most routers don't let you stream music. The Extremes are just plain overpriced. Then again, I paid $100 for the card in my G5...

(By the way, at least the price of the cards has gone down, even if the routers are still as overpriced as ever.)
 

generik

macrumors 601
Aug 5, 2005
4,116
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The cards are still as expensive as ever if anything, especially the brand name ones from Linksys et el, the funny thing is the USB dongles have crashed through the floor :D
 

jlewis2k1

macrumors 6502a
Jan 14, 2005
718
0
in your closet
generik said:
A price drop to $99 would be appreciated, although even then I will still have a hard time choosing it over the WRT54GL ;)
if they were to drop the prices i would say it needs to be at least $69 to be competitive with the other products out there.
 

4np

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2005
963
0
The Netherlands
dicklacara said:
When Steve announced the iTV, I was surprised by the "Spring 2007" availability date, as it looks as if faster WiFi (811.n) won't be available until later 2007 or 2008.
If I am right, Santa Rosa is due for release in Spring 2007 as well and Santa Rosa also contains Intel's pre-n chipset. Intel was said to release their pre-n chip because the 802.11n standard would be 'stable' enough and all changes could probably be solved by FirmWare updates.

Also, a iTV device would not make much sense if 802.11n was not supported because it would require such bandwith for optimal functionality.

I would say 802.11-pre-n would at least be introduced in Spring 2007 with the introduction of Santa Rosa, or perhaps even sooner in the coming months?

If apple wants to stay top-of-the-line with the Pro series I believe some pre-n support woudl be required.

Also, an airport express card can quite easily be swapped. Why not deliver pre-n cards and if indeed a hardware change is required in 2007 / 2008 why not start up some replacement program? :)
 

RichP

macrumors 68000
Jun 30, 2003
1,573
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Motor City
Hmm..makes you wonder about iTV. Its going to be a hard sell this spring, if all the current, and near future mac computers are unable to support the wireless bandwidth that is required for such a device. There was talk that the new intel machines had some unactivated pre-n, but that is likely not the case.

Only time, and Steve, will tell.
 

javanate

macrumors newbie
May 13, 2005
8
0
Price Drop

jlewis2k1 said:
if they were to drop the prices i would say it needs to be at least $69 to be competitive with the other products out there.
The Airport Extreme is also a print server, so when comaring add print server + router.
 

Platform

macrumors 68030
Dec 30, 2004
2,879
0
If Apple did go with the Pre-N specs...it wouldn't hurt anyone...just better range etc. If it does not become the final people will still have a better product than what the current one is ;)
 

sartinsauce

macrumors regular
Feb 1, 2006
191
0
Los Angeles
RichP said:
There was talk that the new intel machines had some unactivated pre-n, but that is likely not the case.
I don't recall that. I remember some mysterious Macbooks (Macbook Pros?) that had an 802.11a setting that was grayed out (i.e. not available).
 

Darwin

macrumors 65816
Jun 2, 2003
1,082
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round the corner
w_parietti22 said:
Are the cards shipping in Macs today compatible with 802.11n?
Not sure about 802.11n but I do believe that the wireless chips in the new machines are capable of doing 802.11a but the firmware isn't allowing this feature yet
 

roland.g

macrumors 604
Apr 11, 2005
6,567
1,559
I am having a real hard time pulling the trigger on a new 24" iMac because there is no information as to the wifi on the iTV and I don't want to be stuck with something that has a wireless card in it that I can't change and won't work optimally with iTV. I think it was almost worse that Steve gave us an Apple first preview of a new product without more specifics. If he couldn't tell us which 802.11 he could have at least made a statement that it would work with all Intel or all Core 2 Macs or something to assure us. I have a hard time thinking that all the new Core 2 iMacs won't work with iTV, that would be very unApple to plan that way, but at the same time I can't just open up my iMac and swap Airport cards.
 

syklee26

macrumors 6502
Jul 26, 2005
399
308
u guys fail to realize that almost all of those el cheapo wireless routers don't give you USB port for wireless printing. at least you get that with AExtreme.

with that said, AExtreme is too expensive. it looks better than anything out there but $179 is way too much. I would like to see drop of price to $100-120.

by the way, is iTV going to function as a wireless router too?
 

syklee26

macrumors 6502
Jul 26, 2005
399
308
w_parietti22 said:
Are the cards shipping in Macs today compatible with 802.11n?
it is not gonna give you N speed but yes, N is backward compatible with A/B/G so it should have no problem connecting to old macs.
 

roland.g

macrumors 604
Apr 11, 2005
6,567
1,559
syklee26 said:
it is not gonna give you N speed but yes, N is backward compatible with A/B/G so it should have no problem connecting to old macs.
not worried about connecting with old macs so much as the old macs possibly being the bottleneck in transmitting video to the iTV and therefore still having hickups. it doesn't matter what you have on the receiving end if the sending end is slower.
 

Anonymous Freak

macrumors 603
Dec 12, 2002
5,182
512
Cascadia
AirPort, WiFi, and 802.11

First, Apple's first AirPort base station and card were the final 802.11b. They were among the first, and cheapest, 802.11b products. (802.11 with no letters, is the same basic standard, only at a slower 2 Mbps.) I worked at Intel when 802.11b first came out, and our group (servers) decided to start playing with it (before Intel officially got into wireless networking.) So we had the choice between the $1000 Lucent WaveLAN access point (access point only, no router functions,) and the $299 Apple AirPort access point/router. It was a no-brainer. (Yes, it was ironic that the Lucent WaveLAN Silver card was about $199, when the AirPort Base Station was $299, and had a WaveLAN Silver card inside it, plus router functionality and a modem!)

It was AirPort Extreme that was 'draft g' compliant, upgraded to final g when it was finalized. (It helped that the draft went unchanged before finalization.)

802.11n, on the other hand, has different implementations by different vendors. (Much like the 56k modem wars between K56flex and X2, before V.90 was introduced.) So we may see that some hardware is compatible with the final spec, and other hardware that isn't. We won't know until the spec is made final, though, who wins. As such, Intel will likely not jump into the fray until a final spec is announced. (That is what delayed their .11g entry. While the last draft went unchanged to become the final spec, it was still only a 'draft' for about a year, during which time all other manufacturers had .11g gear, and Intel waited for it to be finalized.) But, as Apple isn't using Intel hardware for their wireless as it is, they won't have to wait.

The big advantage of .11n is, of course, transmission speeds. All 802.11 protocols are piss-poor. .11b's stated 11 Mbps rarely actually exceeded 4 Mbps. .11g's 54 Mbps rarely exceeds 20 Mbps. .11n not only increases the theoretical maximum to 500 Mbps, but it improves efficiency as well, allowing current 300 Mbps hardware to achieve 200 Mbps. It also significantly increases range. Both improvement are due to the 'MIMO' (Multiple In Multiple Out) antenna technology, which some manufacturers used on late .11g hardware to improve its efficiency. (While they claimed 108 or even 120 Mbps, they still would rarely even achieve the 54 Mbps that the standard .11g claimed.)

Then we come to the difference between the IEEE standard and the WiFi Alliance certification. The IEEE is an international governmental body that defines what is considered 'standard'. Nobody HAS to adhere to this (as long as they stay within government power/frequency requirements,) it's just meant to make it easy to produce inter-compatible equipment. That's why all .11g hardware works with each other, because they use the IEEE spec. But the '108 Mbps' .11g hardware isn't based on an IEEE spec. They meet the spec for 54 Mbps operation, anything faster is something that is manufacturer-specific. (When I say manufacturer, I mean the chip maker, not the actual router maker. Many router companies use chips from one or two chip makers, so routers and cards from different manufacturers can be 108 Mbps compatible, as long as they use chips made by the same company.)

The WiFi Alliance (WFA,) on the other hand, is an industry group that 'certifies' things as compatible, just for marketing purposes. ANYONE can make IEEE-compliant hardware, and call it '802.11g compliant'. Only when they pay money to the WFA to have it tested can they call it 'WiFi certified'. It's all marketing. And the hardware companies that control the WFA don't want to wait for the IEEE to finalize 802.11n, so they are getting the WFA to 'define' .11n so they can start calling their equipment 'WiFi n certified'. Even if it isn't IEEE compliant, they will be compatible as long as they bear that 'WiFi n' mark. (Just look out for 'pre-n' gear that says 'WiFi certified', that is only referring to the b/g certification. That means if you use equipment from a different company, you might only connect at .11g speeds.)