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Apple Time Capsule

One network, multiple standards, simultaneously

After randomly rooting through the online Help files on our Mac, we eventually found a reference to ‘user accounts’ that seemed to suggest this was possible. We then went back and explored the Manual section of the Airport software until we discovered a File Sharing option that, when activated, made a new Accounts tab magically appear within the program window.

Apple Time Capsule

Before...

We suspect that Apple hid this feature away in order to keep things simple – it’s the old ‘Apple knows best’ syndrome that Mac users are familiar with – but it’s a mistake not to at least mention such an important option in the manual so that people know it’s there if they need it.

There’s no support for UPnP/DLNA media-player features either, but if you’re enough of an Apple fan to buy a Time Capsule you’ll probably be using iTunes for your music and video library, which already has its own network streaming features built into it.

But, as we’ve mentioned, the key feature in this update is its dual-band support. This works well, as the Time Capsule automatically detects the speed of each device on the network and connects at the fastest speed supported by that device – you don’t even have to adjust any settings in the Airport software to make this happen. And, although it is using two separate frequency bands, the Time Capsule links all your devices on a single network, so that we were able to transfer files between the 802.11g and 802.11n devices with no problems at all.

Data transfer speeds across the wireless network will obviously vary, depending on whether each computer used 802.11g or 802.11n. Our old PowerBook’s 802.11g connection took a leisurely 10.5 minutes to transfer 1GB of data onto the Time Capsule, and that speed (13.00Mb/s) remained the same regardless of whether we transferred a single large video file or a folder containing about a hundred AAC audio files.

Apple Time Capsule

...and after, with disk Accounts enabled

Those speeds were also constant in both directions, copying files from the Mac to the Time Capsule and back onto the Mac once more. And we were pleased to see that the Time Capsule’s performance wasn’t affected even when we copied files from different machines that used both bands simultaneously.

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