APRIL 29, 2003
Apple AirPort Extreme
802.11g wireless networking base station and network card
by David Nagel
Page 3 of 3

But, to give Apple the benefit of the doubt, I went ahead and ripped apart my existing network, switched out cables and tried connecting my desktop G4 directly to the Base Station. Same result. It wasn't my router. It wasn't the cables. It wasn't the DHCP server I was running. It was just plain bad performance.

I reset the Base Station. I turned off backward compatibility for 802.11b networks. I fiddled with the software. I downloaded third-party networking utilities. Nothing would improve the performance of this thing to any substantial degree.[an error occurred while processing this directive]Defective unit? Maybe. But then, it seems a lot of people must be getting defective units because after I got my unbelievably poor results, I went around looking for other users' experiences with AirPort Extreme. Guess what. Their results were similar to mine.

My one hope in this whole matter is that this is a software issue. If it is, Apple had better get to fixing it pronto because massive returns by disappointed buyers will cost them a fortune. And, if it isn't a software issue, Apple has some serious 'splaining to do.

The bottom line
For now, AirPort Extreme seems to be a total loss. The setup is highly unintuitive. The range is somewhat limited and varies widely based on the position of the Base Station and the position of the receiving unit. And the performance is just awful. If I could get up to half the advertised data rate upstream and downstream, I might be a bit more accepting of AirPort Extreme's limitations. As it is, it's a dog, and I can't help but give it a "Don't Buy" recommendation. If you want to try it out for yourself, make sure you buy it from somewhere that has a liberal return policy.

The Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station is available in various configurations ranging from $199 to $249. AirPort Extreme cards are available for $99. For more information, visit http://www.apple.com.

Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Mac OS, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at [email protected].

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