NOTE: since this blog post has been written Apple has updated Time Machine and its Airport Extreme Firmware. Please see this post for details of how to create the ultimate home network.
Computer in one room, sound system in the other, and more than 15 metres of wall and a door in between. How do you get the music to the sound system? The answer is with a â‚¬100 Airport Express with Airtunes. Yet the real joy of it is the ease of setup – it took less than 2 minutes for me to add the Express to the network from my Airport Extreme in the office (using AirPort Utility), then a new option pops up in iTunes, and you can start to play the music wirelessly straight away. Even as a seasoned Apple user I was surprised by how easily it worked – if you want a wireless musical household then get one. Simple as that.
On the other hand, Apple’s new and supposedly revolutionary technology Time Machine has been giving me a number of troubles. I started out with my 500Gb iomega MiniMax external hard disk but I could not make the backups work – backups would just ‘hang’ for no comprehensible reason. I’ve subsequently substituted this for a LaCie 500Gb external drive (USB 2.0) and backups are now fine when the disk is connected directly to my Powerbook. So it seems the iomega disk was faulty (indeed I can’t even re-format it now, so I think it’s dead – I’ve sent it back to iomega as it’s still under guarantee) and I’m then just waiting for Apple to deliver Airdisk Time Machine support…
At MWSF Apple released Time Capsule – essentially an Airport Extreme router with either a 500Gb or 1Tb hard disk inside it. While this looks like a decent device, I’m a bit frustrated – I have Airport Extreme at home, and a couple of external hard disks, and only the web page for Time Capsule mentions Time Machine backups – there’s no mention of these on the Airport Extreme page currently. However there are some glimmers of hope – AppleInsider reckons Apple is still working on proper wireless Time Machine backups, and Time Capsule is only ready for release in February. There’s no revolutionary hardware in Time Capsule, so I’m sure they could release the hardware straight away (MacBook Air is available in a fortnight, and that needs serious engineering) but maybe the February release date is to give Apple time to sort out the many bugs with AirDisk utility and release Leopard 10.5.2 at the same time as the Time Capsules?