The new AirPort Extreme Base Station marks a sea change in design from previous versions. While the old ones had an oval-shaped design, the new model offers a square shape similar to the new Apple TV with 16 cm square and 3.3 cm in height.
Based on the draft specification of the IEEE 802.11n standard, the new AirPort Extreme Base Station is backward compatible with the 802.11g standard, and also works with 802.11b and 802.11a-based devices. The 802.11n protocol uses a technique known as Multipl-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) in order to achieve higher performance and increase the range. On the other hand, although it maintains compatibility with devices based on previous standards, the performance of 802.11n will be reduced when slower devices are connected.
The new base station also allows you to share printers and USB hard drives with the rest of the users on the network, as well as supporting a hub, so that multiple devices can be connected. The software included with the device allows you to create password-protected accounts or limit access to certain files and folders. The device can support the simultaneous connection of up to 50 users and incorporates three 10 / 100Base-T Ethernet connectors.
Additionally, practically all current computers in the Apple range with Intel Core 2 Duo and Xeon, with the exception of the base model iMac Core 2 Duo of 17 inches at 1.83 GHz, support the 802.11n technology and will be able to activate the support of this standard when update them using the 802.11n Enabler software supplied with the base station.
The new AirPort Extreme Base Station will be available in February for a suggested retail price of € 169 (VAT included).