Wi-Fi is how the world works these days. Sure, you can wait for things to download on your phone using a 3G network. Or you could stop by your local Starbucks and log onto their Wi-Fi network to check mail while you sip your latte. For many photographers you don't have to go to Starbucks, you log onto your home or office Wi-Fi network. Since this network is critical in sharing files, sending emails, getting app updates and backing up computers, doesn't it make sense to use the best Wi-Fi base station available? That was my rationale when I went out and bought the new Airport Extreme, and I haven't been dissappointed.
First, let me just say yet again Apple has designed a beautiful desktop accessory. The new Airport Extreme is 3.85″ wide and 6.6″ tall; it just looks sleek sitting beside my iMac. But the shape isn't all about looks, it also improves performance. The taller design houses six antennas in the top, providing a stronger and longer reaching signal. We noticed significant boosts in signal strength and distance, and also faster Wi-Fi all around. But what may really interest photographers is the Airport Extreme uses 802.11ac technology, which can dramatically increase your Wi-Fi performance for much faster downloads. You need a 802.11ac device such as the new Macbook Air to gain these benefits, and expect to see more computers using this standard. The Airport Extreme has a USB port which allows network sharing of printers and data stored on a USB hard drive.
Setup was a breeze using the Airport Utility. Basically you plug in your cable modem and power up the base station. The utility will prompt you through a few simple steps and you should be good to go. Also of interest to Mac users is the new Airport Time Capsule (2TB and 3TB versions) that come housed in the same sized unit and use the same new 802.11ac technology. Used with Time Machine, Time Capsule automatically backup your files on a regular basis.