Sunday, August 26, 2007

Apple Router a bust Airport Extreme N AEBS

I really wanted this work.  I love the user interface of OSX, and am falling in love with my iPhone, so changing out my old router for shiny new Apple Airport Extreme Base Station seemed like a logical next step.  The main reason was the parental controls which allowed me to set schedules of when the kiddies could surf the web.  No more sneaking out of bed at night to play online games (or anything else.)

This is the first product I am returning to Apple.  

I guess over the 15 years I've been setting up networks, and working with routers, this is the first device I've come across that is NOT accessible from a browser.  You have to run an Apple application to login or even view it.  This set off alarm bells for me, but hey if the user interface and functionality are up to Apples standards then I will live with it.  They were not.

My first disappointment came when I figured out that I could not assign a mac address to my WAN port.  I won't go into all the reasons I do this, but its a pretty standard feature on most routers today, but missing on the AEBS.

Next was the lack of a ARP table.  There is no way to display the ARP table, to see the mac addresses of the network devices communicating over the network.  This seems like a basic function again.

Now for the real meat and potatoes.  I fell for the Apple marketing and the ease of parental control for setting schedules for the kids iMacs.  I failed to read the small print in the screens title: The Access Control feature it turns out is ONLY FOR WIRELESS users.  I spent hours working to figure out why I could not control access to my kids Macs, which are wired connections, since they are not mobile machines and enjoy the higher bandwidth of Gigabit.

The other real problem I had was you could just click on the machine you wanted to add.  You have to go to the machine, determine the mac address and then manually type it into the routers setup.  Very clumsy and unnecessary.

Ok the last complaint:  Support, the fact that I got to a live body puts Apple way ahead of the competition in my book.  The benefit ended there however.  The first guy as will most, was a script reader, and didn't know the first thing about routers.  The second guy thought he was Radia Perlman herself, and was to busy being condescending to actually point out that the router did not support Access Control for wired connections.
I am boxing it up now.

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