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Wireless router, Apple or not?


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#1 of 14 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 13 2013 - 01:52 AM

I've got a thread around here, from a year ago, about erratic wifi performance between my iPhones and AirPort Extreme. But I can't find it. So long story short: want a new wifi router to hopefully improve speeds to iPhones and iPads. I'd planned to buy the current Apple Extreme. But I made the mistake of reading online ;) and am leaning towards the Asus RT-N66u http://thewirecutter...r-asus-rt-n66u/ Same price, better performance. The downside is losing the nice Apple Airport utility software that I can on my iPhone. I've also read some scattered comments that Apple routers are very stable and all these other routers are flakey and require monthly rebooting. I take these as online negatism, but I want to make sure. I won't regret buying some crazy looking black thing over my typical sleek Apple? :)

#2 of 14 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 13 2013 - 02:20 AM

Dave,


I have one of the original Airport Extremes (prior to the ability to add a drive).


It has always been stable for me.  Never had a problem.


That being said, my main router is the one Verizon provided to us and the

Apple is used as a repeater at the other end of the house.  I was forced to use

the Verizon router simply because it controls many of the Fios functions.  I also

felt it provided slightly better range coverage.


I personally feel that when looking at a router, range is the one main issue

you should be looking for.  I don't feel that the Apple routers excel in that

department.  That Asus looks pretty damn good.  If I were in the market for

a router I would buy it.  I love the fact that it can be upgraded down the line.


On the other hand, I just don't have enough information about how improved

the Airport Extreme routers are since I bought mine 5 years ago.  The one big

plus, as you brought out, is that as a Mac owner, you get better desktop and

mobile communication between the router and your device.  I would imagine

that pairing your devices with the Airport Extreme might be somewhat easier

than the Asus.   In fact, looking over the specs from the Asus home page,

it appears there is no OS X compatibility whatsoever.  The page suggests
that it would still be easy to set up with a WiFi connection.   There is also
mention of control software for tablets and smartphones, and I would check

to see if that means specifically iPad and/or iPhone.


Let us know what you decide to do.


Ronald J Epstein
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#3 of 14 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 13 2013 - 02:30 AM

Dave,


I really wanted to research this for you.  Went to trusty 'ol Amazon

and did a search for user reviews that mentioned a Mac.  Here is

what I found:




Quote:
If you're on a Mac, stay away from this. The browser issue has been a problem since May 21st of 2012 (from another review her on Amazon) and ASUS has not fixed it or even made an application to access the router like it has for every freakin' Windows OS version under the sun. Heck, it even has one for Android?! WTH?!


Quote:
The setup was a breeze and was able to download the latest firmware right from the get-go. My Mac products automatically recognized both the 2.4GHZ and the 5GHZ signal as it has improve speed somewhat.


Quote:
Even after numerous firmware upgrades I continue to have problems. First when going to administer the box, the http code fails to load the admin interface. Thanks for setting the source to IE7 and not properly work with chrome on macs (admit some of this issue is likely the apple specific java) but overall Mac support and tools are non existent. The recovery tool that exist for every windows flavor are not available for the Mac...

Back to the other flaky issues: very often my ipad device (one of a few ) cannot connect successfully to the wireless network. A reboot of the box often (not always, sadly) fixes this issue (likewise the admin landing page issue above is also *usually* fixed by a reboot). The box runs very hot (my guess on some of the issues I experience seem to get flakier over time are caused by the heating issue) even though it is sitting on top of a desk in open seating area with only an iMac nearby and not sitting on top of any other heat source.

My wife's older MacBook has the same joining issues as the iPads in the house, again comes and goes. For some reason the laptop is always asking for a password even after being told to save the network setup. I suspect an issue with the 5ghz and 2.4ghz ssid networks while also serving a different ssid network in the same frequency.

I have dozens of devices attempting to use this wireless ap and some have had no issues so far but these few are enough to cause me to look for another wireless ap after only two months.

Avoid and look elsewhere especially if you are a Mac or apple heavy house.


I kind of sent you the worst ones I found.  To be fair, there were a few scattered posts saying that people were able to get their Macbooks working with this router.


Ronald J Epstein
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#4 of 14 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 13 2013 - 02:34 AM

Ron, My Verizon Fios router is WEP only; it doesn't do WPA2! So i turned its wifi off as that's too much security risk for me. I'm using my Apple Extreme. Regardless of that, the fios box is in the basement, in the metal wiring cabinet, worst possible location for household wifi. So I need a separate wifi router. The AirPort Extreme has been stable...but I've had performance issues. I don't know if its the iOS devices or the apple router. The problems followed me to the new place, so it's not from too many wifi networks and cordless phones in neighboring homes or apartments, like I'd thought. I could go cheaper, and get Apple Extreme performance for $40 less http://www.amazon.co...d=IKI3GJR8L1IF9

#5 of 14 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 13 2013 - 02:43 AM

Ron, I'll check that out further. Wirecutter said there was a serious firmware problem with the asus router last year, but is now fixed giving it great performance. But I hadn't seen the comments about the configuration page inaccessible from OS X. That would be unacceptable. The review for the AirPort Extreme indicates it performs equivalent to the $110 asus router, but costs $170 (and only has 3 Ethernet ports). So better software (for the novice) but a price premium for comparable performance.

#6 of 14 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 13 2013 - 02:52 AM

I also found a comment about AirPlay not being compatible initially with the Asus or some other router, which got fixed. My concern is actually WAF. She's been complaining that "Internet" isn't fast enough on the iPhone. My best guess is its the wifi, so I'm inclined to by the fastest, best range router I can :)

#7 of 14 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 13 2013 - 03:46 AM

Posted at SNB to see if they know. No good info to be found googling on if there are compatibility problems with ASUS's software and Macs.

http://forums.smalln...57504#post57504


And piggybacked onto a Mac Rumors post

http://forums.macrum...777&postcount=6


And at ASUS's forum

http://vip.asus.com/...RT-N66U (VER.B1)&SLanguage=en-us


It bothers me I don't immediately have confidence the leader in wireless routers makes a product compatible with the leader in home computers. Tilts the scales a bit...

Hopefully get some solid info. If the ASUS is a bust, I'll probably get the AEBS.



#8 of 14 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 13 2013 - 10:25 AM

A response at SNB says it works ok with iPad 3. I'll order it as soon as BestBuy reward zone is back online, as I've got credits.

#9 of 14 OFFLINE   Michael_K_Sr

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Posted January 13 2013 - 10:29 AM

Just bought one of the new dual band AirPort Express models two weeks ago. My U-verse router doesn't do 802.11n and I wanted n for improved performance on AirPlay video mirroring. In short, the speed and range have been fantastic.

#10 of 14 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 13 2013 - 02:09 PM

That's good to hear. I considered the Express and could proaly do ok with just that. ut in for a penny, in for a pound.



(also need a new keyboard, as it has spontaeously lost two keys, hence some spelling errors :)



#11 of 14 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 13 2013 - 02:46 PM

Ordered an 8-port switch and the ASUS router. Introducing non-Apple hardware into my ecosystem; here's hoping!



#12 of 14 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 13 2013 - 03:44 PM

Gack! Best buy glitch and user glitch, so I canceled the order. Have to wait a few days to reorder. Hope to have house network update in a couple of weeks.

#13 of 14 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 19 2013 - 05:05 AM

Having goofed my order, I took some time to rethink my problems. WIth a clearer mind -- I'd gotten consumed with researching and buying a gadget and didn't think properly through the actual symptoms -- I ran some tests and may understand the issues.


1) I was getting false reports from bad SpeedTest.net servers. Changing to a better server, the results got better. A bad server made me think I was getting bad wifi or Fios performance when it was really a bad tester. WIth the right SpeedTest setup, I could get the expected speeds on all devices (15/5 on iOS and OS X).


2) I'm pretty sure we had a few evenings of bad Fios service. I have to keep a watch for that.


3) Multiple devices cut the bandwidth accordingly (of course). Running SpeedTest on two iPhones and two iPads at once drops speeds on everything by 400% or worse (as one would expect, given a moments thought)


4) Wifi performance is fine in the rooms I use. But it falls off in the farthest room with the door closed. This will only matter when family visits. But they expect good wifi :)


5) Wifi use is bottlenecked to Fios bandwidth, a fraction of what my 2007 Airport Extreme can provide, let alone a new dual-band, three-stream jobber. Buying a new wifi router can't improve that.

With that, I'm not sure that I need a new wireless router for the house. I might be best benefit by moving the AEBS upstairs. I can wait on a new router when wireless congestion starts happening the neighborhood. And by then, iPhone 6 might support the new AC standard :)



The important upgrade was the gigabit switch I bought and installed to connect the house LAN. And jperf.app to test throughput internally. I'm looking forward to seeing Tivo to Tivo transfers got any faster :)



#14 of 14 OFFLINE   Ted Todorov

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Posted January 26 2013 - 05:21 PM

YYMV of course, but my mom's FIOS router has absurdly slow, unreliable wireless -- absolutely that's her bottleneck  -- the FIOS itself is very fas. My Airport Extreme at home set to 5Ghz 802.11N only makes all the difference vs. her FIOS router.  I'll be getting her an AE or Time Capsule shortly.


Speaking of FIOS -- if it hasn't reached you already -- you can stop holding your breath: it will never come to you: http://www.dslreport...-is-Over-118949  I am so POed that they are not even bothering with most of Manhattan, which allows TWC to charge monopolistic, $104 per month prices for DOCSIS 3.0 -- the only high speed Internet in town. (Was $100, the they decided to add insult to injury by charging a modem rental fee on top of that.)  I guarantee they would't be doing this if FIOS was coming, but it ain't.  Ever.


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