Out is the cone shape and the modem support. In is a new design, new features including greater range and a wireless connectivity protocol that promises to be 2.5 times faster than the previous Base Station.

Apple Air

Being Apple, everything is kept to a minimum – there is just one light on the front, so no Star Trek extravagent light displays. On the back, however, is the inclusion of three LAN ports and more importantly the inclusion of a USB socket.

The USB socket means two things –­ one, that you can connect a printer to it so you can then print from any computer on the network, and two –­ so you can plug in a hard drive, be it a USB memory key or a hard disk drive and then access it from anywhere on the network.

Where the Apple Airport Extreme 802.11n Wi-Fi Wireless Base Station succeeds is its simplicity, not only in design, but set up. Coming with a new Airport Utilities tool, the software takes on the iTunes interface with your Base Stations listed graphically down one side and the information down the other.

Furthermore, for those not so knowledgeable about networks, there are a series of wizards that allow you to set up the Base Station even if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Of course if you do want to get into the nitty gritty you can and there is everything here for the networking fan, although the device still doesn’t support UPnP for connecting your Slingbox or wireless cameras with ease.

But the new USB socket and design aren’t the only reason you’ll want to invest. Apple has used this latest update to introduce 802.11n, a new wireless protocol which has complicatedly yet to be approved by the body that looks after all things wireless.

If you’re a big networking fan then this isn’t for you. However, if you’re a Mac owner looking for a simple, but highly effective wireless offering for your office or home then this is ideal. And that USB drive element makes all the difference if you need to share files around your house.

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