AirPort Extreme disappointment

I bought an Apple Airport Extreme for the new apartment and so far I’m not particularly impressed.
I bought it for three main reasons –
1. It looks good. Mrs Saul must like the way things look, or they must be hidden in hard to access parts of the living room.
2. You can attach usb disks and use it as a file server.
3. I already have an Apple Airport Express and wanted things to match and work well together when streaming music from iTunes to the stereo over the network, so having two products from the same company would make sense.
Setup was relatively easy. I always use Windows these days, so it wasn’t a problem that the client is Windows and Mac only. I’d have been irritated to have had to use Windows a couple of years ago when Linux or Solaris were still my main desktop*.
Disk access seems painfully slow. Following Thin Guy’s experiences, I changed the channel I was on after using NetStumbler to see what the networks around me were using. As someone named ‘Wolverine’ was on the same channel as me, I changed to an unused channel – disk access seems to have improved, but only a little. Frankly it’s unusable for anything but iTunes streaming or copying the odd file here and there. The idea was to use it to stream video around, but I can’t see that working acceptably.
Using Bittorrent kept causing the router’s wireless to stop working. Hunting around via Google I found that people had had the same experience and that switching off ‘DHT’ (whatever that is) would solve the issue. It seems to have.
Accessing the Sun VPN through my laptop is almost unusable. I have a second ethernet port enabled in the spare room – when using that, access works fine. This could be because I’m downloading a couple of large files on the other connection via the AirPort Extreme, but in theory both of my ports are sharing the same 2Mb link and the wireless network shouldn’t be overloaded.
I need to do some testing to see where the bottlenecks lie, particularly with disk access, where slower, older wirleess cards may be the culprit.
That said, things ‘just worked’ with my old Dlink router, without any fiddling, installing client software, checking on forums and having things stop working randomly. Having one machine use the Sun VPN whilst another downloaded something wasn’t an issue. Maybe I’m placing blame unfairly, but I’d have expected Apple to have done a much better job.
Next week I’ll have some time to do some testing and may invest in some ‘n’ wireless cards for my work and home laptop to see if that improves things. If not, I’ll have a look at some other NAS devices I can use to do file sharing better – Linksys seem to have a popular one out that might be ‘coming in Dubai’.
I think I must be getting old – I used to enjoy putting all this stuff together, but these days I just want it all to work properly, out of the box and get everything from one vendor. I’m tired of fiddling around.
* I do still use Solaris for work stuff, but as my customers use a Windows desktop and as we have to use a Windows desktop at home, I just end up using Windows for ‘consumer’ stuff.


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