Talking tech since 2003

In my previous post about the new 2TB Apple Time Capsule where I unboxed it, I briefly explained what the Time Capsule actually is and promised a more in depth review as soon as I got a chance to actually use it.  So as promised here is a more in depth review of Apple’s new Time Capsule.

The Time Capsule is a wireless router (802.11n) which contains a hard drive for easy backup in conjunction with the OS X application Time Machine.  The new Time Capsule’s come in a 1TB model for $299 and a 2TB model for $499.  It comes with 1 Gbit WAN port and 3 Gbit LAN ports (I wish it had 4) directly on the device itself as well as a single USB port for a network printer and/or an external hard drive which would essentially turn into a NAS.  The design of the Time Capsule is very sleek.  I like the fact it has no external antenna’s.

It has WEP/WPA/WPA2 encryption abilities, NAT firewall, as well as MAC Address filtering – essentially all of the basic router features and functionality are built-in to the Time Capsule.  It’s a dual band router, too.  That means it can operate on both the 2.4Ghz band and 5Ghz band simultaneously.  This is something I really like and use on my network (with my Linksys WRT600N).  All of my close-range devices are on the 5Ghz band and devices that are farther away (e.g. different parts of the house) operate on the 2.4Ghz band.

In order to configure the Time Capsule you need to use Apple’s Airport Utility which works on both OSX and Windows.  This is slightly different than most routers from companies like Linksys, D-Link, and Netgear which typically use web interfaces, but, nonetheless, still pretty easy to configure for most any user provided they read the directions.

Whether you have one or several Mac’s this device is a definite no-brainer when it comes to something that can hold all of your Time Machine backups.  That is the primary reason I bought it.  I have all of the Mac’s in my house backup over the network to the Time Capsule – it’s seamless and very simple to configure and setup.  As I mentioned, I already have a network setup using my Linksys WRT600N.  A question I received from someone after the unboxing video asked if it is possible to disable the wireless on the Time Capsule and just have it connect to your already existing network and the answer is, yes.  And that is exactly what I did as well.  I have the Time Capsule connected to my router via Ethernet and have disabled the Time Capsule’s wireless.  Basically, what I’ve done is turned it into a NAS – it’s main purpose on my network is to hold all of the Time Machine backups and nothing else.

And finally, with regard to data transfer speeds, it really varies.  Most home networking routers and devices aren’t built to transfer data at the rates they claim because the chances a home user will actually be moving Gig’s and Gig’s of data over their network is rather slim.  Nonetheless, in my experience of transfering 300GB+ from my Mac Pro to the Time Capsule I hit a peak through rate of 96Mbit (which is pretty good for a home network all things considered).  On average though, it was a lot less than that.  Probably anywhere from 10-20Mbit at most times with normal network usage occurring at the same time as the transfer.  Overall, to transfer all the data (from all the computers) it probably took anywhere from 5-8 hours.

Would I recommend the Time Capsule?  Yes, I would.  However, I recommend it more strongly towards Mac users as it pairs so nicely with Time Machine.  For Windows users, sure it would be nice as a NAS device (and for the 2TB size it’s priced pretty competitively at $499), but, the overall benefits aren’t as big in my opinion.  If you’re looking for a solid NAS device then I’d recommend checking out a Buffalo Linkstation.

Have you tried the Time Capsule?  What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment!

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