The Apple Airport Extreme N is bad hardware. It doesn't implement basic protocols correctly, it's overpriced, and its wireless is incompatible with a lot of hardware. Avoid.

I've been looking for a decent home wireless router: the Linksys, Belkin, Netgear, and Buffalo routers all seem to last about six months before flaking out. But at least they mostly work when they do. The Apple router is broken by design. Some flaws:

  • The wireless doesn't connect to the Nintendo DS, my Squeezebox, or the Xbox 360.
  • The WEP implementation doesn't do standard WEP keys. Yes, WEP is not good, but there's a lot of hardware that still doesn't support WPA. (Like the Nintendo DS and my Squeezebox).
  • It has no Web interface for configuration, only some funky special utility that has a horrible Windows UI.
  • Every time you make any tiny configuration change it reboots the router and drops all your connections.
  • It doesn't support UPnP, requiring manual port forwarding for many applications.
  • There are only three ethernet ports on the back.
There are some nice things about it. The wireless radio seems to work well for the one device I can manage to connect to it. The hard drive and printer support is nifty. It's shiny white lickable. Too bad the basic stuff doesn't work.

I'm told the router works great if you have an all Apple network. But the funny thing about network hardware is it talks to lots of different devices. Apparently Apple didn't care to test or support compatibility for them. So I'm back to the crappy Buffalo router; this one's flaw is that the wireless fails about twice a day. But at least it does basic protocols correctly. WTB: decent router.

  2007-03-13 18:45 Z