Apple TV vs Time Capsule vs AirPort Extreme

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by zim, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. zim macrumors 65816

    zim

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    #1
    I am in the market for one of the following...

    Apple TV
    Time Capsule
    AirPort Extreme

    My current wireless set up consist of two AirPort Expresses. Would the Extreme or Time Capsule give me a significant faster wireless network? If not then maybe the Apple TV is the way to go.

    Second, regarding Time Capsule. As of now I have a 2TB drive connected to my iMac. The 2TB drive is my backup drive and used for Time Machine for all 3 computers on our network... would Time Capsule be an improvement? The only obvious improvement is not having to wake the iMac up for Time Machine.

    Maybe I should approach this from the perspective of enjoyment vs.. would Apple TV give me more enjoyment then a possible faster network?

    Mostly thinking out loud here but would love to hear some feedback.
     
  2. Manzana macrumors 6502a

    Manzana

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    Jul 19, 2004
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    #2
    Are your airport express N? and would getting an airport extreme effectively replace your 2 other routers?
     
  3. zim thread starter macrumors 65816

    zim

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    Jan 5, 2002
    #3
    AirPort Utility says 802.11b/g... no n option. Is n much faster? will I be wowed?
     
  4. jbg95 macrumors member

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    Feb 6, 2010
    #4
    The three products serve different purposes and can't really be evaluated with the same criteria. Unless that criteria is that you're in the market to spend $200-$400 on an Apple product. Then it depends.

    AppleTV: I have a love/hate relationship with mine. It's annoyingly slow and sluggish, but the UI is basically good and does what it needs to do and the iTunes integration is key as that's our house media standard for all the iPhone's/iPod's, Mac's and Airport Expresses tethered to speakers. But I've never understood why they'd release such a sluggish product. Not the typical Apple user experience. But when they release a faster refresh, I'll buy one and relegate the old one to the bedroom. What do you do for media serving now? A Mac Mini could be a better extension to your environment depending on how you currently store, serve and enjoy your media.

    Time Capsule: I've heard that Time Capsule is unreliable and often burns itself up eventually. Until reviews improve, I'd suggest going with a different backup strategy. As for improvements over your current solution, Time Capsule won't give you more disk and will be running all the time, so you'll probably save power by waking the iMac. It doesn't really matter where the disk is if it's vulnerable to the same local hazards as flood, fire, dog attacks, etc.

    Airport Extreme: Depends what you need the bandwidth for. G is plenty fine for most surfing, etc.

    Summary: Depending on your media format and enjoyment serving needs, either an AppleTV or Mac Mini might be the first buy. Then deal with network performance if your network can't keep up serving media. My AppleTV is on a wired network to my Mac Pro and is still dog slow.

    For backups, go for a cheaper solution, get an off-site solution like an online backup or USB drive that you take with you, etc. Doesn't sound like Time Capsule will get you much.
     
  5. zim thread starter macrumors 65816

    zim

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    #5
    True, they are very different. I am in the market for spending about $200 to lets say $300. I have ruled out the Time Capsule due to it's $500 price tag (I would want at least the 2TB since that is what I currently have.

    This part of your post, regarding the AppleTV, makes me sad because I have read this time and time again... Currently I just connect my laptop to the TV (I have cables running out from the back of the TV making it easy enough to connect the laptop, quality/effect is same as the Apple TV, Mac Mini is a bit out of my price range and it's overall capabilities would go to waste. My iMac hosts all of our music and the Express in the living room is connected to the speakers.

    I keep reading the same thing about the Time Capsule... I love the idea but am hesitant since my network options currently works fine, I just wish I didn't have to wake up my iMac to allow for wifi backups of the laptops. Maybe just getting an Extreme and connecting my external 2TB drive to that is a better option.

    Our network drops when both the two laptops are suddenly on the same backup schedule or copying files etc... So if being practical with my money then upgrading to n would be the best option... wish I could actually test it the difference.

    I guess my best option, if I really must spend some cash, which I don't really need to do.. I guess I could just send in some extra to Sallie Mae, ugh, would be to just get a new Airport Express with the n specification... they go for $99... the question then would be would I need to upgrade both?

    Thank you so much for the lengthy reply.
     
  6. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    #6
    For internet browsing, it will likely make zero difference.

    For intranet transfers (FTPing files between your computers, streaming movies, and so forth), yes you will be wowed.

    In other words, depends how you use it.
     
  7. jbg95 macrumors member

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    Feb 6, 2010
    #7
    hahaha, I think you're a lot like me. I enjoy new toys! But not much to buy right now. Even AAPL stock is too expensive for my blood (the alternative to buying Apple products). Yeah, Sallie Mae's probably a good choice. :) How about adding an iPad to the network when they come out?

    You need some more equipment/media on that network before speeding it up.

    And don't get me wrong, we really love the AppleTV. Just the UI is so laggy. And it streams fine over the network, that's never a problem.
     
  8. zim thread starter macrumors 65816

    zim

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    Jan 5, 2002
    #8
    HA! My wife was peering over my shoulder (lazy Saturday.. 2 year old daughter is sick (poor little girl)) and she says.. hey if you are looking at sending money then get me an iPad when they come out... that might actually be it. So the extra cash I have this month will go to Sallie Mae and I'll save up for the iPad for her and my daughter.. reclaiming my iPod Touch.
     
  9. jbg95 macrumors member

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    Feb 6, 2010
    #9
    hahaha, too funny! My wife (we have a 6 month old daughter...a little too young for an iPad yet, but she'll inherit mine some day) saw Steve's keynote and is lusting for one, too. There ya go, I think we both answered the question. :)
     
  10. mikejtl macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    #10
    Extreme for time machine dissapointing

    My two cents on your situation. I've had a bad experience with my airport extreme as a time machine solution. I bought it on the advice of apple store employees as being able to do everything a time capsule can once you hook up an ext drive. Not true. Apple does not officially support wiress backups with this set up. After a week of fidling with it I got it to backup wirelessly but had to start a new backup set. So I either lose six months of backups or a hundrend gigs of drive space. Then two weeks ago I updated to snow leopard and now I can't get time machine to back up wirelessly or wired. I'm still working on it.

    After reading you post I'm thinking about setting up my ext drive on my mac pro if that's been working for you as a wireless back up solution.

    Re: the speed factor. I haven't noticed a difference in Internet use but we have slow dsl from at&t (no uverse for us yet) so I think the modem is our bottleneck.

    The only other thing I might suggest if media serving is something you desire. Is finding an early intel mini. You can find em for 300 and I've heard do almost as good a job as the new ones.

    Any pitfalls other than the sleep issue with your iMac wireless sulution?
     
  11. zim thread starter macrumors 65816

    zim

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    #11
    Yup, question resolved. iPad is the future new toy.

    When your daughter is ready... KneeBouncers is an excellent site and AlphaBaby is a fun application. I am still shocked that my daughter (only 2) can turn on and unlock my iPod Touch.
     
  12. zim thread starter macrumors 65816

    zim

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    Jan 5, 2002
    #12
    Sorry to hear that you had bad experiences... I had read about similar situations which is why I posted the question. I would love the idea of not having to have a computer running most of the day just backing up the laptops.

    The 2TB drive connected to the iMac is shared wirelessly and has yet to have any issues backing up between the 3 computers (iMac is connected directly to the drive, two laptops are on wifi). It took me a while to figure out that I needed to do an ethernet connection from the laptop to the iMac to do the first backup but after that everything has been smooth running. I recovered files too, no issues. Actually... I did have one issue... I upgraded the iMac and thought I could just transfer everything over but ended up having to recreate the backup file.

    Did you notice a difference in non internet use? such as sending files back and forth.

    If the iMac goes to sleep then the laptops just stop backing up... no different if I were to just pack up the laptop and take off. I have the iMac go to sleep every night at midnight.. I then manually wake it at some point during the day, it isn't important to me that I have a backup every single hour. Sometimes I will initiate a backup if I have just completed a project or purchased a bunch of stuff off iTunes.
     
  13. jbg95 macrumors member

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    Feb 6, 2010
    #13
    I'm actually kinda surprised the iMac wireless backups work better than an Extreme with USB drive. I figured it was a generic OS/X automounter issue where the mount would break if/when the laptop went to sleep and then Time Capsule got confused the next time it tried to do a backup, lost the mount, and couldn't find the USB drive hanging off the Extreme through the same path. I seem to recall similar issues with NEXTSTEP back when. Though they're probably using SAMBA now, not NFS. Or is it?

    As for bandwidth again...put some more N gear on the network (your wife's iPad), then upgrade to a new dual-mode Extreme. And I agree with mikejtl, go for a used Mac Mini for the TV. I've tried installing ATV Flash on our Apple TV, and it's great to have Pandora on the Apple TV. But
    ATV Flash is not ready for prime time for browsing and I only need one media center solution (ATV Flash includes Boxee and XBMC) in my life and iTunes is it for now.

    Then again, we couch surf with our laptops or my wife checks email/weather with her iPhone while watching stuff on TV/AppleTV. iPad's might provide an in between solution well (that's what Apple's hoping, eh) and provide a better overall experience for that than laptops.
     
  14. jbg95 macrumors member

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    #14
    If you start copying/streaming non-Youtube regular quality video wirelessly or copying/moving files over 100-200MB regularly, you'll want N.
     
  15. jbg95 macrumors member

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    #15
    Totally, KneeBouncers looks great! Thanks for the tip!
     
  16. zim thread starter macrumors 65816

    zim

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    Jan 5, 2002
    #16
    The backups do really work.. slow but they work. The slowness, most likely is due to the wifi. As of right now I am backing up 6.4GB, network is a bit sluggish but useable. If I close my laptop or sleep the iMac then it just stops, giving me a ! in the menu bar, stating that the backup failed. If I wake the iMac or wake the laptop then it starts the backup over.
     
  17. zim thread starter macrumors 65816

    zim

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    Jan 5, 2002
    #17
    Ya, thats us... internally we do a lot of file shuffling so maybe it would be worth getting at least one new AirPort Express, the Extreme might be more then what I need since my backups are running through the iMac.

    Is n backwards compatible or would I need to update both Expresses?.. I should go look that up. If I can mix then I might pick one up this week because the wife and I have been fighting over bandwidth. I like the Express because it has AirTunes, which I use.. the cable comes in right next to my amp so it would be silly to have an Extreme and an Express sitting there. The second Express is set to extend the network and also allow for wireless printing.
     
  18. jbg95 macrumors member

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    Feb 6, 2010
    #18
    Expresses and older-model Extreme's will slow down to the slowest speed device on the network. So, since you have B/G-speed Express's, anything running N will slow down to B/G when those are broadcasting. The new Extreme broadcasts B/G and N on two different channels simultaneously so will do what you want.

    I do the same thing and have several Express's serving AirTunes around the house. Then a dual-mode Extreme in the middle wired to a gigabit switch in the basement that the Mac Pro, iMac and laser printer share.

    What other N devices do you have? MB/MB Pro's? Then the new iPad will be N I think.
     
  19. zim thread starter macrumors 65816

    zim

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    Jan 5, 2002
    #19
    My MacBook Pro is n, Wife's MacBook is n, iMac is n
    iPod Touch is g
    Two AirPort Expresses, both g

    I also have a DS and a DS Lite that sometimes use the network but not often and a Wii that is online (I am sure that those are not n).

    So, if I extend with one of my other AirPort Expresses then it will downgrade the speed? This makes sense.. what if I didn't extend and just used it for print sharing? I believe, based on what I read, that the new Express could handle my house (it is a single story ranch). I don't really need to extend the network as is, just always did because I didn't think it would hurt.
     
  20. jbg95 macrumors member

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    Feb 6, 2010
    #20
    Whenever a G device is active on the network the N-Express will slow down to G. So yeah, extending with one of your G Expresses will slow down the network. That's my understanding of it. You could always leave them off/unplugged unless you need them for streaming music, then let the new N device run the house wireless network for all of the N devices.
     
  21. zim thread starter macrumors 65816

    zim

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    #21
    Good to know.
    I think you are right, express only does b/g or n but not both
    Also, thanks for all your input!

    I am going to read up more on the Express vs. Extreme. It might be worth putting in a little extra cash and getting the Extreme dual band so that I don't sacrifice the increased speed.
     

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