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AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule Gain New Features

Apple today released significantly revised models of the AirPort Extreme Base Station and Time Capsule. The new hardware features two radios, allowing a base station to operate networks simultaneously in both the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency bands. This allows older hardware (and an iPhone or iPod touch) that doesn’t have 802.11n built in to access a slower network in 2.4 GHz, and newer hardware to zoom along in the faster, less-used 5 GHz range. Users of existing base stations can’t upgrade their units, as the change is in hardware, not software.

Also in this update is the addition of guest networking, which lets you set up a separate network with a separate password that visitors can use without giving them your main network password, or full access to the resources on your main network. The new base stations generate two distinct network names: One for your main network, and another for the guest network. Guests can’t access the devices on your main network or even sniff the data passing over it.

Apple also added remote file sharing for drives inside of or attached to either base station model. Using a method identical to file sharing in Back to My Mac, Apple uses MobileMe as a way to register a base station centrally. Any Leopard system also registered to the same MobileMe account and with Back to My Mac activated in the MobileMe system preference pane will see base stations as yet another server choice in the Finder’s sidebar, under the Shared label. This new feature will be added to the original Time Machine model and to older 802.11n AirPort Extremes via a firmware update.

You can read more details at TidBITS, AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule: Like Two Base Stations in One and Answers to Questions about Updated Apple Base Stations, and at Macworld, Analysis: Inside Apple’s AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule Updates.

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