Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2018/04/27/rip-apple-airport-1999-2018/
Long a mainstay of wireless networking for Mac users, Apple has officially discontinued its line of Wi-Fi routers: the AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, and AirPort Time Capsule.
Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2018/04/27/rip-apple-airport-1999-2018/
AirPort base stations officially discontinued
2 posts were split to a new topic: After the Time Capsule, what do people do for local networked backups?
I was in a big quarterly meeting at work, those in front had ethernet drops on their tables, and for us in the back we ran cables to our laptops. A guy named Bier tripped over the cable and broke my laptop. For the next quarterly meeting, I brought my new Airport Express and hooked it up to one of the table LAN drops.
“What’s that?” “A wireless access point.” “What’s the Network named?” “Bierproof”
For the next year, there would be calls “Is Bierproof up yet?” and the poor guy who caused this would shrink into his chair. “How long are you going to do this to me?” “Until I think you have suffered enough!” Eventually corporate security caught up with the times and prohibited wireless access in meetings, until they figured out how to secure it.
I still have “Bierproof”, but I note that music streaming to the older Express models isn’t very reliable these days.
Apple has finally done it. They have officially stopped developing and selling base stations. They have a nice little Knowledge Base article on what to look for when buying a base station for use with Apple products. Of course what they don’t tell us is which base station to buy that doesn’t need to be routinely rebooted to “fix” weird network issues (my old n-type Extreme has been running without a reboot since <2014) or what kind of device to buy that doesn’t rely on config in a browser through a terrible UI.
I don’t have much experience with other than Apple Base Stations, but I’ve never run across one that didn’t require a browser to configure and yes, most UI’s are bare bones and manuals hard to track down and interpret.
If the router costs less than $200, you will need to reboot it once a month or two. If it costs less than $100, much more frequently.
At my office I have prosumer switches and routers, and they never need rebooting. I have a AMPLIFI mesh at home and I’ve never needed to reboot it (but I have to reboot my Comcast Business cable modem every month or things go pear-shaped).
The best hardware that I’ve found is rack-mounted Netgear, the prosumer Netgear Prosafe line, anything from Ubiquiti (including Amplify), and for PoE a surprisingly cheap brand I stumbled on, BV-Tech.
I purchased (2) TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 Routers to replace my my misbehaving Airport Extreme in March of 2016. I have found the browser interface to be well done, probably somewhat intimidating for the uninitiated but it is well documented.
I have one in my basement and one on the 1st floor. They both run without needing to reboot, although on occasions where my cable provider has issues I usually exonerate my equipment by restarting the Cable Modem and the Routers. Then I feel confident the problem is not on my end.
I also have several TP-Link Gigabit Switches.
I most certainly will purchase additional TP-Link products as the need arises since they have proven to be most reliable.
BTW, I paid $89 each for the 2 routers in 2016. I see today those same routers are only $59. They have been superseded by newer and far more expensive models and I expect that at some point they will cease manufacture of these if they haven’t already.
The Archer C7 also has an iOS app to configure the router without using the web interface. I won’t say I like it, but it does avoid using a browser.
I’ve been running two C7’s for about six and nine months with no reboots.
Of course, I just purchased an Airport Extreme on Sunday, delivered Wednesday. Doh!! Well, it will work until it doesn’t I suppose.
Lucky you. I suppose there will be others trying to get one of the remaining base stations only to learn they’ve already sold out at their favorite store.
In addition to my Time Capsule, I have three Airport Expresses that route audio to different parts of the house. Plus 2nd and 3rd gen Apple TVs in the living room and den. With nice weather starting, I just bought the third Express a couple weeks ago to replace the one that died that sent audio to the back deck. I guess I should get a couple backups so I don’t have to switch to a different audio system for a while.
Nobody has mentioned them yet, but I have been using Eero for a while now. I’ve had them at the summer house for a couple of summers now, and here at home I just replaced three Airport routers with Eero version 2 when they went on sale several weeks ago. There is definitely no configuration with a browser with a terrible UI - it’s through an iOS or Android app instead. But, the better news is that you just don’t have to use the interface once the devices are set - they are rock-solid in my experience, you can still configure DNS and create IP reservations if you want to. They also download and install firmware updates on their own. And one of the reasons that I replaced the AirPorts here is that my MBA would frequently take minutes to reconnect when they were re-awakened from sleep - it was faster to toggle WiFi off and on than wait. That has not happened with the Eeros.
They do have only two Ethernet ports, and of course cannot do AirPlay for music, but I have Ethernet switches where I need them. If you just need set and forget routers/access points, and especially if you could benefit from a mesh network and don’t want to worry about spending hours tweaking it, they are excellent.
We did an article about Eero a while back:
The article mentions that the Aero bases have to have a “line of sight” with each other. Is that right? If it is, it would limit use for me in a multistory house. Why does it have to have this?
Line of sight I think was an incorrect phrase in that article. Eero recommends within about 50 feet of each other, though they also recommend keeping in open spaces if possible (though that’s really best practice for an WiFi access point). Also, the version 2 now includes devices called “beacons”, which have no Ethernet ports, or even a cord; they resemble a plug in nightlight. Well, they actually do include a nightlight (optional). See https://support.eero.com/hc/en-us/articles/207897393-Where-should-I-place-my-eeros-
The Eero set up at my summer house are not line of sight for all but one - they are three different Gen 1 Eeros on three different floors, with a fourth Gen 2 beacon that I bought last year which is line of sight of the Gateway Eero. Here at my primary home, they are all Ethernet connected.
What concerns me is the inability now to get router hardware that offers audio-out for Airplay. Although many people have had problems with Airplay speakers, using the Airport Express’s has worked wonderfully for me for years, and my living room music consists of powered studio monitors that stream lossless music (and podcasts, and radio) via Airplay. When my Airport Express eventually dies I’ll have to look for a used, deprecated replacement (that uses older wireless protocols).
Also, Apple has been quiet about Airplay support with Airplay 2 software, so I worry about my continued ability to stream to my monitors.
You RENT A ROUTER?!
I don’t think my two AirPort Extreme units are going to die overnight because Apple is dropping them from its line but I’m thinking seriously about picking up another to have as a spare. I’ve found them very easy to configure and feel very comfortable with the units. The newer, tall model serves my family room with TV, Apple TV, laptop and several iPads and iPhones with virtually no problems. I also back up my laptop via Time Macine to a hard drive connected to the Extreme. The older horizontal model serves as an access point for an HP printer that lost its built in wi-fi capability, a fairly common occurrence in that model. Yup, I may pick up a spare.
I’m thinking along the exact same lines. I’m tempted to buy the just discontinued Extreme (tall) just to have around in case my old n-type (flat) Extreme does die in the not so distant future. I understand the AP Extreme very well, configuration is a breeze, and it’s rock solid. Probably that’s $179 very well spent in terms of peace of mind.
I did the same thing when it was announced that development had stopped and engineers reassigned.
Ordered one right after I made the post, above.