Apple Time Capsule Edition Review
Everybody wishes to back up their data, but in the past, backing up your data meant fiddling with heaps of CDs, non-intuitive software, tape cassettes, and multiple DVDs; in short, back up is usually either tedious or complicated. External hard drives came in as a great relief and Apple seems to be providing a simpler solution known as the Time Machine which comes with Mac OS 10.5 “Leopard”, which provides a hard drive for backups as well as AirPort Extreme functionality. The Time Capsule is a wireless base station with a built-in hard drive. You will be able to expand its storage by plugging in a USB2.0 hard drive and use it to share a printer and integrate it into the existing wireless networks. It is basically an Airport Extreme base station with a 500GB or 1TB internal hard drive which is designed to be a wireless Time Machine target for one or more Macs as well as a NAS (network-attached storage) device.
The eighteen-month curse:
Unfortunately, the first Time Capsule released by Apple started to die just about eighteen months of backup. The users of Apple Time Capsule had taken to the web with their complaints about their dead storage and wireless devices and tallied the hardware failures in an effort to convince Apple that there is a problem. A Mac user created an Apple Time Capsule Memorial register that lives in October 2009 and in one week it had logged more than 300 dead devices. Many users added to the two most popular threads, which together boasted more than 60,000 views and over 600 messages claiming that their Time Capsules failed just without any warning.
Is this the solution?
Apple then released its new version of Time Capsule in November 2009 as an upgrade to the failed model of 2008 and the one released in early 2009, which also had some speed and performance concerns.
A bigger version of AirPort Extreme:
The minute you look at the Apple Time Capsule, you would realize that it just looks like an oversized AirPort Extreme 802.11n base station, with a chrome Apple logo on top. It is only slightly taller than the base station, but then, has a much larger footprint which might be because of the accommodation of the built-in-hard drive, cooling fan and circuitry. For a wireless router, we feel that the Time Capsule is bulky, but is relatively compact when compared with the other competing NAS servers. It possesses a clean square design and is classically Apple in white.
On the facia of the device, there is just one status light that changes color according to the working condition of the device. Solid green means that everything is in good working condition, if blue, then it is ready for the wireless client and if the light flashes amber, it simply says that you are in trouble, oops! Your device is in trouble. You will be surprised to find no external antenna, buttons or switches apart from the tiny reset hole on the rear.
The latest Apple Time Capsule is available in 1TB and 2TB capacities.
No Web Interface:
As in the case of the base device, the Apple Time Capsule does not offer a web interface and this means you have to install the AirPort Utility software that is included to set it up. The software is available and compatible with both Mac and Windows versions. The Windows OS version installs a number of other services too, like Apple’s networking service Bonjour and the AirPort Base Station Agent that runs whenever your system boots up. Installing any new software will have adverse effects on your system’s performance, but without Bonjour, Windows will not be able to connect to the device.
The AirPort Utility:
The AirPort Utility makes setting up the Time Capsule easy for the novice users to its credit. The wizard mode of the utility walks you through the process of configuring step by step. The Time Capsule demands a restart for any of the changes in the setting to take effect, and this is extremely annoying because having to do so interrupts the connections of all users and makes the process of setting up very time consuming than we are usually accustomed to. Note that, most of the other high-end routers will be able to apply most of the minor setting changes without a restart. However, there were no gaffes while setting up the Time Capsule and it was all up and running in just ten minutes. Just like its sibling AirPort Base Station Agent, the Apple Time Capsule supports a maximum of fifty clients at a time as per Apple’s specification, which is a lot fewer than the 200 clients that the routers of other vendors claim to support.
In performance testing, the new Time Capsule showed an enhanced performance than the old one. In the 5GHz throughput test, the new Time Capsule scored 60.4MBps and the old one scored 57.8MBps and the difference is similar in the 2.4GHz band with the new Time Capsule scoring 29.4MBps and the old one scored 24.9MBps. Coming to range test, the new Time Capsule scored 33.8MBps at 2.4GHz faster than the 20.3MBps of the older Time Capsule. At 5GHz, the new Time Capsule scored 51.5MBps and the older device could not hold a 5GHz connection at that range long enough to complete the test. In other tests too, like the mixed-mode test and NAS tests, the Nov2009 Time Capsule showed an enhanced performance than the early2009 version.
The Time Capsule was very hot throughout our testing and it made us concerned about the lifespan of the device. We recommend that you leave it in an open and well-ventilated space when in use. As we had mentioned in the introduction, there were numerous claims from consumers that the Time Capsule dies after 18 months of use. So, we hope Apple takes the necessary steps.
Apple Time Capsule is one of those devices that some geeks were just waiting for. Once again Apple has delivered another impressive product. Its elegant integration of two things most people need in their lives network storage and a high-speed wireless router makes it a highly useful product for both Mac and PC users. Obviously, Mac users will get more mileage out of it due to its ability to work with Time Machine so it is less of a must-have for PC users. It is a shame we ran into a few setup issues because once we ironed the problems out the unit performed flawlessly.
The bad news is that it is really expensive. Even the latest versions remain costly and though the device has a much-improved performance than its previous version, it still seems to be suffering from some of the key shortcomings such as lack of many of the NAS and networking features, no iTunes, a nonuser serviceable hard drive and no web interface management or media server support. For that cost, you will be able to get the Linksys WRT610N plus a 2TB version of Western Digital MyBook Mirror Edition external hard drive, which will give you all the basic functions of a Time Capsule as well as the missing features that we have mentioned above. However, we also have to admit that Apple’s Time Capsule is the only wireless router and network storage combo that comes in a very good looking package.
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