Dated AirPort base station differences

Looking through a few pages on my tech website when I realised that my Airport differences page is now well out of date.

The page is missing both the Time Capsule and the new Airport Express.

I have started to edit the page but with three extra new devices it’s looking like the table may be a little on the wide side.

Thinking I will probably break the table into two, one for 802.11b/g and one for 802.11n base stations.

Watch this space.

New 802.11n Airport Express

New 802.11n Airport Express

As predicted, Apple announced their new 802.11n Airport Express.

Now featuring support for the faster 802.11n Wi-Fi specification, the new AirPort Express Base Station delivers up to five times the performance and twice the range of the previous model. The world’s smallest 802.11n-based mobile base station, the new AirPort Express offers a great option for anyone who wants to set up a high-speed wireless network, share a printer wirelessly, or stream iTunes music wirelessly from a Mac or PC with AirTunes. And because its so compact, you can take AirPort Express with you and set up an ad hoc wireless network in your hotel room.

So the main difference is the 802.11n speeds which is welcome.

Interestingly at the time of writing the 802.11n Airport Express was not available in the UK online Apple store, but that might be just because today is the day of release.

New 802.11n Airport Express “on Tuesday”

If the rumour sites are to be believed there will be a new 802.11n capable Airport Express from Apple released on Tuesday.

We had heard reliable reports that Apple will be launching a new version of their Airport Express next week, likely on Tuesday. Apple Retail stores should have stock of the new Airport Express by mid week. The new model will be priced at the same price as the current model ($99). Though details have not been confirmed, it appears the upgrade will most likely include support for 802.11n wireless networking.

One of the downsides of the 802.11n Airport Extreme was that if you wanted to stream iTunes through AirTunes you had to downgrade your network to 802.11g compatability as the current Airport Express is 802.11g only.

A new 802.11n Airport Extreme would allow you to have a pure 802.11n wireless network and stream AirTunes as well.

I suspect it won’t support video, well that’s what the Apple TV is for.

According to the rumour images the form factor hasn’t changed, so it still looks like a MacBook power brick.

Not long till Tuesday now.

Airport Expressions

So there was me thinking my Airport woes were over having installed an Airport Express which had been working fine.

Today having spent the day out, found despite a strong green light the Airport network was nowhere to be seen.

I could see the Airport Express in the Airport Utility, that’s because it’s connected to my network via cable and I was using my 802.11n network, so I through the Utility rebooted the Airport Express, however though this did not seem to solve the problem.

In the end I power cycled the Airport Express.

I am hoping that this is not going to go the way of my Airport Extreme, reliability of my wireless network is essential I don’t want to be constantly rebooting it.

MacBook Pro Airport Issues Continue…

Since I upgraded my Airport Extreme network to a pure WPA2 802.11n 5GHz wireless network, my MacBook Pro has consistently failed to re-connect to the network after waking from sleep.

It does this in both 10.4.10 and 11.5.1 and when connected to an Airport Express running 802.11g WPA/WPA2 no problems, will re-connect every time.

My iMac which is connected to the 802.11n network does not have this issue.

If I move back to 802.11n/b/g on the 2.4GHz radio mode the problem disppears.

I have followed the advice given by Apple here and another piece of advice which  said ensure the Airport is at the top of the network configurations, but alas no luck.

Once or twice the MacBook Pro has reconnected, but 99% of the time no re-connection and the only solution is to either join the 802.11g network or re-boot.


Can I Scan?

If you connect an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copier type device to the USB port of an Airport base station, you will only be able to use the printing functionality of the all-in-one from a computer. This is the same regardless whether it is the older 802.11g Airport Extreme, the newer 802.11n Airport Extreme variants, the Airport Express and even the new Time Capsule.

Airport Express

It is not possible to use the scanning function of any all-in-one printer connected to the USB port of an Airport base station – and this limitation applies to all makes and models of all-in-one printers.

You will not be able to use the scanning functionality unless the all-in-one is connected directly to the computer.

Some all-in-ones are not compatible with the Airport base station and therefore no functions will be available.

Also you can not connect an USB scanner to the USB port of an Airport base station either.

From KB-article

The USB port is for connecting a printer, not for other devices.

From KB-article
remember that base station printer sharing is for printing only

The key question that some are asking is, can you connect a scanner or an all-in-one to the 802.11n Airport Extreme Base Station?

On this page on the new base station it is quite clear that you can plug in a USB printer or a USB hard drive, it never mentions a scanner, which to me is pretty obvious that you can’t plug in a scanner.

It also says

AirPort Extreme and the Mac- and PC-compatible Bonjour networking technology let everyone in the house, office, or classroom take advantage of one centrally available printer.

In the same way as the old base station it relies on Bonjour for printing and Bonjour doesn’t support network scanning.

So can you use a USB scanner or the scanning capability of an all-in-one with an Airport base station, the answer is a resounding no.

Airport Express Working

Since my 802.11g Airport Extreme stalled I have had in place running instead my spare Airport Express.

It’s been working fine and internal file transfers have been very fast (for 802.11g) and I have had no problems.

Hopefully it will stay that way.

802.11g Airport Extreme stalled and possibly dead

Well my (old) UFO shaped 802.11g Airport Extreme seems to be not working despite the three lights on the front flickering and flashing away.

Despite power cycling the base station, it would not broadcast a wireless signal and even when connected by ethernet it only appeared sometimes in the Airport Utility.

I may do a full reset, but in the meantime I have replaced it with my spare Airport Express which I usually take away with me when staying in hotels or need to use at conferences.

Changing my Network Topology

Over the last week or so, I have been messing about experimenting with my network topology.

Previously I had a relatively simple network, a sole Airport Express with a lot of wireless clients. After having quite a few connectivity issues with the Airport Express, I knew I had to replace it with my newer Airport Extreme.

Once I did this, I left it in place for a few days to iron out any wrinkles or problems. I am running it in 802.11n b/g mode so that all my wireless clients can connect to it.

Yesterday I started to rearrange things, so that I could have wired clients, a pure 802.11n network and a separate 802.11g network.

My Airport Extreme now sits under my television, connected to it is my EyeHome, this should mean it can communicate to my iMac (which I use to record television via an Elgato EyeTV device) and stream video, audio and pictures without stuttering. I also intend to hardware a Mac mini as well and this will be my media centre for the moment – longer term I will replace this either with an Apple TV or another Intel based Mac mini. This Mac mini will have an Elgato USB EyeTV device attached.

I will also connect to the Airport Extreme (the third device to the third LAN port) an older 802.11g Airport Extreme which will be running a pure 802.11g wireless network for the older wireless clients. I will very likely stop using 802.11b devices, but as these are only PDAs I am not too worried and if I do need to test them I can always use the airport Express and plug that into the AirportExtreme as and when necessary.

Both wireless networks will use WPA as this is secure compared to WEP, however I will not be closing my networks, nor will I be using MAC address access control.

I am hoping that this will improve the network and make it much faster for internal file transfers and as I replace older Macs with newer ones which support 802.11n it should also be future proof as well.

The only downside I guess is the location of the 802.11n Airport Extreme does make it difficult to test USB hard drives and printers.