User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Installation:
Ease of Use:
Pros:Easy to set up and operate
Cons:Pricey, USB port cannot be used to expand storage, does not work with iCloud, Windows
The Bottom Line: For Mac owners, Time Capsule is the ultimate wireless router and backup solution
Apple Time Capsule combines two products: Apple's Airport Extreme Base Station wireless router and its Time Machine backup software. The result is a device that's the exact same shape as the company's current Mac Mini.
Recommend this product?
On the router side of things, the Time Capsule offers everything Apple's current crop of Airport Extremes offer: a gigabit ethernet port for a broadband modem, three gigiabit ethernet ports to hook up three other devices and a USB to connect a printer or external drive.
The 802.11n Time Capsule can do the 2.4 and 5GHz bands simultaneously, allowing connected devices to use the best band available. The device also allows for the creation of a separate guest network so guests can access the Internet, but not printers or files shared on the main network.
From a storage perspective, the Time Capsule now comes in 2 and 3 TB flavors. Most users should be able to get along with the less expensive 2 TB version.
Unlike other routers and other backup devices, the Time Capsule is devoid of any buttons. It has a single light on the front that shows green when things are OK. The light will change to signal problems, but quite frankly, it's only flashed at me once in the months we've owned it to let us know there was a firmware update available.
Instead, controls are handled by a computer (wired or wireless) or an iOS device with a free Aiport Utility app. Apple's software interface for the Time Capsule is pretty straightforward, though power users might take issue with the difficulty in tweaking settings.
Setting up the Time Capsule for multiple Macs in the house is a snap. The device does automatic periodic updates in the background as users go about their daily business. And that's really the point -- to have a backup available if something were to happen to your computer.
Of course, the Time Capsule is only local storage so users who want complete peace of mind should consider augmenting the Time Capsule with an online backup service or at the very least keep a copy of data away from where their computer and Time Capsule reside.
Disappointingly, the Time Capsule's USB port cannot be used to expand the existing backup. At some point, 2 TB may not be enough. (It should be noted that there are a number of Web videos that show how to swap in a larger drive.) Instead, users can add an external drive to the USB port for networked storage or a printer.
The current generation also does not include a Thunderbolt port, which is not really too big of a deal as of this writing, given the rarity of Thunderbolt-equipped drives, but it would be faster for data transfer than the rapidly aging USB 2.0 standard.
Finally, the Time Capsule currently doesn't integrate at all with Apple's iCloud and iTunes Match services. It would seem natural to have the option of syncing your data with Time Capsule and iCloud as extra insurance. Although Time Capsule isn't designed as a media server, it would also be nice if the backed up media files could be served to devices like Apple TV or the iPad.
Despite those shortcomings, there aren't many devices on the market that combine ease of use and utility into a single device that allows users to set up a backup and forget it.
Amount Paid (US$): 259
Driver Availability: Macintosh only