I am a long time user of Apple’s Airport Extreme base stations. I loved pretty much everything about them – compact design, lack of protruding external antennae, stable connectivity, ease of configuration through a well-designed Airport Configuration Utility, and on-going firmware updates, even for the 9-year old one (!). For a variety of reasons, over time I ended up owning three of them – 2nd, 4th, and 5th gen, extending WiFi around the house (it’s a rental, so no CAT cabling).
In recent years, however, things have slowly but surely drifted toward sour. Airport Configuration Utility has been dumbed down a lot, and firmware stability seems to have taken a hit, too – I don’t remember ever needing to reboot a base station until a few years ago. The number of connected devices in the house has grown steadily – I consistently see around 10–15 connected at any given time. More and more neighbours’ access points popped up around. Usage patterns have also changed – kids have grown up, and now study and entertain themselves on various devices around the house.
So the connectivity grew spottier and less stable, and I couldn’t make things happy again no matter what I tried. Real-time online games kept stuttering, and chatting over the net kept breaking up. Not all the time, but often enough to be a nuisance. And in the backyard.. Well, there was no usable reception there, let’s leave it at that.
So enough was enough, and search for a replacement has begun.