There is life after AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and Time Capsule
With the announcement from Apple that they were discontinuing their wireless router products — AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and the Time Capsule — many people began wondering what they were going to turn to for their Wireless support. Even though Apple has ceased to continue development on their AirPort line of products, they will support them for some time. Apple is currently trying to sell off their current stock, but will no longer be making new units.
Even though this may be disappointing for devoted Apple users it’s really not a huge shock considering that it was reported in November 2016 by Bloomberg that Apple disbanded the development team at Apple for the wireless routers. And for several months now, you have been able to order third-party mesh Wi-Fi routers from the Apple Store online. But as of April 26, the AirPort products should officially be considered ‘dead’.
So, what now?
As an avid fan of Apple products (in case you couldn’t tell from the name of my website), I have not only tried, but also owned all three of the AirPort products. In some cases, I’ve actually owned multiple units of each model. The AirPort Express was ideal for strengthening our WiFi signal throughout the house and turning a non-wireless audio source into one that is AirPlay capable. The AirPort Extreme was always a solid router. My signal never faltered and I stuck with this product until I upgraded to the AirPort Time Capsule. That beast was a great wireless router option and it allowed me to backup all my important data using Time Machine.
Apple extended their ecosystem into a strong set of wireless networking products. That said, when I started adding smart home products to my WiFi network, the Time Capsule was suddenly not enough. It became bogged down with devices and the management of two networks (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) was unbearably annoying. So, I started branching out into alternative router options. Even though I tried several different devices, I finally settled on the Orbi by Netgear. This flexible mesh network system is easy to set-up and robust enough to handle the heaviest amount of devices traffic.
The Orbi system consists of a base unit that plugs directly into your modem and one or more satellite units. Orbi was the first tri-band home WiFi system to hit the market and it provides an uninterrupted signal to the Internet. Orbi will reach up to 5,000 square feet of space and will send a signal through barriers like walls and doors. While our home is only 1,500 square feet, we are well covered throughout our home and even into our yard.
- Combined WiFi speed: 3,000 Mbps (1733 + 866 + 400Mbps)
- Dedicated Backhaul: 4×4 (1.7Gbps)
- Memory: 4GB flash and 512MB RAM
- Six (6) high-performance antennas
- Gigabit Ethernet ports (Router): 1 WAN and 3 LAN
- Gigabit Ethernet ports (per Satellite): 4 LAN
- Guest WiFi network
- WPA/PSK2 support
- Works with Amazon Alexa
- AC3000 tri-band WiFi
What about the office?
Apple products — especially the AirPort Extreme have been widely used in business offices as hotspots. So, what about the workplace? While Orbi can handle many sources of internet traffic — computers, tablets, mobile phones, smart devices, etc. — it does work best in the home or small office setting. Fortunately, Netgear saw a gap in services and developed a beefed up version of the Orbi — the Orbi Pro, which is a business WiFi System. It is built on the same premise as the Orbi and is dedicated to providing the best WiFi signal possible no matter where you are in your building. The biggest differences between the two systems are the price and the software. The Orbi Pro starts at $499 while the Orbi starts at $399 and the Orbi Pro offers users the ability to set-up three separate WiFi networks within the Orbi Pro system — Admin, Employee, and Guest. Even though these individual networks could benefit someone working in the home, they really are meant for the more advanced network administrator and it’s a great benefit for business offices that have a lot of foot-traffic.
When I learned that Apple was going to discontinue the AirPort products, my heart was immediately saddened. I hate to hear of any products being discontinued by Apple, but I do understand where their motivations lie and think that it time for their planning and development to move on to the next level of consumer technology products. Orbi has been a very solid, reliable network for my uses. I have more than 50 smart devices on our network as well as multiple computer systems, mobile phones, and tablets. It’s never faltered. You have both iOS and web-based interfaces to use with this system and while the iOS app is a bit generic, it works and the product itself is incredibly elegant. I can comfortably recommend this system to any level of user because beginners can get it set up safely and securely since Orbi makes it so easy and advanced users still have all the management tools right at their fingertips with the Orbi system.