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Apple products are known for their ease of use and clean, simple designs. The Apple AirPort Extreme is no different. Its appearance is beautiful and unique. The wireless router stands tall, with a small footprint and has no legs, antennas or anything else protruding from its glossy white chassis. All of its ports are hidden away in the rear of the device and it has only one small indicator light on the front.

According to Apple, the AirPort Extreme is capable of handling up to 50 simultaneous connections. As the number of devices in modern homes continues to grow, this ability could prove useful to you.

Mac, iPhone and iPad users are likely to get the most out of purchasing this Apple router. Although this wireless router is compatible with any Wi-Fi enabled device, it is easiest to operate from within the Apple ecosystem. This is because the required set-up application, the AirPort utility, is built into all Macs and is available from the App Store for iDevices. This allows you to have complete control over your network at any time from any device.

The AirPort Extreme supports simultaneous dual-band broadcasting. It has a theoretical throughput of 450 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1300 Mbps on the 5GHz band. The AirPort Extreme only has three Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports in a competitive field where four ports are standard. Of course, more ports on tap are available simply by connecting a hub.

The AirPort Extreme does not have parental controls, Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) or Quality of Service (QoS), which means that it is not able to prioritize different types of network traffic or guarantee predictable network behavior. It instead relies on the device to select the optimal band. It does have a USB 2.0 port for networked printers and network attached storage for Mac and PC users.

The AirPort Extreme does not support Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI), a technology that can screen for network packets that manifest clues of malicious intent. Instead, the firewall supports Network Address Translation (NAT), which presents a single IP address to the internet that the networked devices can hide behind.

VPN pass-through allows corporate telecommuters to access corporate servers. WPA2 on the AirPort Extreme supports two security modes. WPA enterprise mode uses Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) to authenticate users. WPA personal mode authenticates users with network passwords.

The AirPort Extreme is one of the premium wireless routers that includes a one-year warranty. The Apple support site has many useful resources such as FAQs, support topics, video tutorials and discussion forums. The discussion forums are extremely active with constructive exchanges taking place. Manuals and software and firmware updates are also available to download. The support site can arrange for a phone call with an Apple expert. If you have an Apple store in your area, you can opt to schedule a one-on-one meeting at the "Genius Bar" with a technical support representative.

The Apple AirPort Extreme is a serious contender as one of the best wireless routers on the market. It has one fewer Gigabit Ethernet WAN port than its direct competitors, and it would be convenient if Apple added parental controls. Nevertheless, these are only minor exclusions and they do not affect the performance of the device. As one would expect from an Apple product, this router is easy to configure and has an attractive design.

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