Another Router Bytes the Dust: Enter the Airport Extreme

Tampa Bay is the lightning capital of the United States, a fact not lost on me in the six years that we have made this area our home.

This evening, as I entered our lanai, I was nearly struck down by lightning thanks to a very severe thunderstorm. The hairs on my skin bristled, but unfortunately no super powers were obtained. Thankfully, I was unscathed.

My 18 month old D-Link router, however, wasn’t as fortunate.

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Faced with a blinking power light and no Internet connectivity, I tried unplugging the D-Link from the network and removed any AC power going to it. Next, I tried reseting the router and cable modem. Finally, on a suggestion from a few Twitter friends, I plugged the router to a different outlet in the house.

No dice.

The router was bricked. Just like the Linksys, Cisco, and Netgear routers I’ve owned. In the past, I’ve resisted Apple’s Airport Extreme routers, because I felt that they were too expensive.

Today I had a change of heart. Or maybe it was just a feeling of frustration. Whatever it was, I wound up going to Best Buy to pick up an Airport Extreme router. (The last one they had in stock, as a matter of fact.)

unboxing the new Airport Extreme

At $173 + tax, this wasn’t cheap. And for all I know at this point, this purchase could be another expensive lesson. But I’m giving it a chance, to see if the Airport Extreme can pass the rigors of Tampa lightning storms where other routers have failed.

The unboxing experience, as with any Apple product, was a delight. Inside the small box was the router itself, a quick start guide and a power cord. (Kudos to Apple for including a fairly long power cable.)

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The Airport Extreme is, by far, the easiest router I have ever set up. It’s literally plug-n-play. In the photo below you can see the connections. From left-to-right, we have AC power, a USB connector (which goes to my Brother 2070N laser printer), an input from the cable modem and 3 outgoing Ethernet ports.

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The front of the unit is clean and elegant. Initially, before the router was configured, its indicator light blinked yellow.

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After connecting the Airport Extreme up, my Mac immediately recognized it and had me supply a password for our LAN. Setting up the printer involved a brief visit to the Printer control panel. I wish there was more to say about this, but that’s pretty much all I had to do to be connected to the ‘net.

The Airport Utility (bundled in Lion) lets you see your connection in a clear visual hierarchy.

Airport Utility

Clicking on each icon will give you details, such as router address, downstream connections, WAN IP addresses and LAN IP addresses. Very well thought out and intuitive – typical of my Apple experiences from the past.

I never imagined I’d be nerding out over something as mundane as a router, but there you go. As far as looks and setup both go, Apple’s Airport Extreme is a seriously nice piece of kit. It’s pricey, but I felt I had no other option to go with. I’m very happy with it so far, but time will tell if it will survive‚Ķ

Here’s hoping it does.

-Krishna

These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

    • Krishna
      July 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks, Matt. I have my router plugged into an APC unit.

  • Snaggy
    July 11, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    I love our Airport Extreme, it’s been working great for a few years now. Just bought an Airport Express to extend the network, set up was a snap, but it keeps falling off the network. suks.

    • Krishna
      July 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm

      Would an Airport Express work as a router by itself, or does it need an Airport Extreme?

      • Bob Barker
        July 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm

        Yes, the Airport Express is a router.

        • Krishna
          July 12, 2012 at 7:15 am

          Thanks for the clarification, Bob!

  • Giridhar
    July 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Airport Extreme is a great (and expensive) router. It’s only shortfall imo is that you can’t assign static IP’s (or I couldn’t find the way to do it).

  • Steve
    July 12, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Giridhar – I think what you want is a DHCP reservation on the Airport Extreme (uses the MAC address or DHCP client ID of a device to set what IP address will be assigned to it).

    • Giridhar
      July 12, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Yes Steve! =D That’s exactly what I want to do. Do you know if Airport Extreme can do it?

      • Steve
        July 13, 2012 at 11:25 am

        Yes, the AirPort Extreme (at least the last 2 generations of the dual-band 802.11N model) can be configured for DHCP reservations wiith AirPort Utility 6.1 or 5.6.1.