Potentially dumb question. (Airport)

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by xfusejc, Feb 17, 2007.

  1. xfusejc macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2006
    I'm going to be purchasing a MacBook sometime soon (actually, most things seem to indicate it'll happen today) and I have a question about the AirPort Extreme.

    Now, I'm not entirely computer savvy, and hence the reason why this might be a stupid question, but I just want to make sure that I get it right before I decide to purchase it. I've never owned a notebook before (it's always been desktops for me, so pardon my ignorance.)

    The AirPort Extreme is basically a router, correct? It'll have a slot for my Ethernet connection coming from my DSL modem and I'll connect to it and then it'll transmit the connection to my MacBook, allowing me to surf the net without wires all around my house. Have I gotten that right so far?

    My MacBook comes with the AirPort Extreme Card, which means what exactly?

    Lastly, the AirPort Express with AirTunes basically serves the same function as the AirPort Extreme, except that it allows me to connect more things to it than just the Internet connection, right? Do I need the AirPort Extreme base in order to use the AirPort Express or what?

    Sorry for the load of questions but I just want to have all the right information for when I purchase the MacBook.

  2. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Both the Extreme and the Express are routers. Plug your DSL modem into either one of them and your new MacBook (and other wireless devices) can get on the Internet.

    The Airport in your MacBook just means that your MacBook has wireless built-in.

    The new Extreme has three more network ports on the back that you could use to give Internet access to wired computers.

    The Express doesn't have those ports, so if you have other wired devices on the network that need Internet, the Express probably isn't what you're looking for.

    The new Extreme has a USB port that you can use to share printers and USB drives wirelessly. It only has one USB port, so if you plan on sharing both a printer AND a USB drive, you'll need to use an inexpensive USB hub.

    The Express also has a USB port, but it can only be used to share a printer -- not a USB disk. The Express also has an "audio out" port that can be connected to your stereo (or computer speakers), letting you stream your music wirelessly. The Express can either work by itself (i.e. plug your DSL modem in and go), or it can work on a network with other Apple devices (in case you want an Extreme to act as the router, but want the Express so that you can stream your music to your stereo).

    The new Extreme (the one that looks like the Apple TV) uses a new wireless standard called 802.11n, which transmits data up to 5x faster than the old standard (called 802.11g). I keep saying "the new Extreme" because a new version just came out a few weeks ago. There is an older version that's funky looking -- sort of like a UFO.

    The Express hasn't been updated to use 802.11n yet.

    Probably more information than you wanted, and probably not the best explained. If you have any more questions, ask away. :)
  3. xfusejc thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2006
    Actually, your explanation is great.

    I had one follow up: which one would you recommend buying? There's a price difference, obviously, but in terms of being the best router, which one would you recommend? I only own one printer and don't really have stereo systems, so the 'wireless music transfer' isn't really a deal breaker.

    Also, do you have one of these or would you recommend a router from another company?
  4. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    With the Extreme and it's 'n' capabilities (which your MacBook would have once you installed the AirPort software), you'd not only have better bandwidth (not such a big deal if all you do is surf) but much better range as well as the option to use 5 GHz instead of 2.4GHz, so no more microwave interference. And extra ethernet ports.

    However, if speed and range aren't that big of a deal, the Express (or the older Extreme, which is cheaper now) is a great option.

    For that matter, virtually any wireless router you buy will work. The Apple ones are just somewhat easier to set up with your Mac if you're not familiar with such things.
  5. xfusejc thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2006
    Actually, both speed and range are important. I'm setting up the router in my room and I have a pretty big house, so I want to have a signal all throughout.

    Thanks for your help.
  6. pianoman macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2006
    for both speed and range, the Extreme is your the better choice.
  7. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    I don't have the worlds hugest house/yard, but with the old Extreme in the very front/right of the house, I'd barely get a signal outside in one or two spots of the back yard.

    With the new 802.11n Extreme, I get a great signal everywhere in the backyard.

    Everyone's mileage varies. Your walls may block more than mine to. In that case, it's a piece of cake to add another Airport to the network to extend your signal. That's not nearly as easy to do with a Linksys or other brand router.

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