I have a few questions regarding both the Airport Extreme AC and the Airport Express.
I am a PC user who is currently looking at replacing my Cisco Linksys EA4500(primary router) and my Linksys E2500(bridge router) due to the lack of regular firmware updates that Linksys fails to provide for their routers and the fact that I simply find Linksys products to be buggy.. Based on my research, Apple's Airport Extreme N and the AC versions have received excellent reviews on Amazon and I am considering purchasing both the Airport Extreme AC(to replace my Linksys EA4500) and the Airport Express(to replace my Linksys E2500).
Before I get to my questions, let me be frank in saying that I do not have a Mac(but intend to after my desktop dies) at this time but in my house we have two iPhone 4s's and one iPad 2 as far as Apple products are concerned. My computer network consists of my HP Windows 7 based desktop and HP Windows 7 laptop and I have a home ethernet in every room in the house . In addition, my den's ethernet connection is connected as Ethernet wall jack in which the connections include---->Ethernet switch------>Tivo---->Playstation 3/Xbox 360/Nintendo Wii/----->Samsung Smart TV---->Linksys E2500.
My questions are as follows:
1. Initial/Out of the box set up: Based on what I have read here, it is possible for a PC user to setup the Airport Extreme by downloading the Airport Extreme utility software from Apple. However I have been confused based on what I have read on Amazon in that some users report that the initial setup can only be done using a Mac. Would someone from this forum kindly clairify this for me? Can I set up the Airport Extreme with my network assuming that I have previously downloaded an installed Apple's Airport Extreme Utility for the PC?
2. Using the Airport Express as a wireless bridge: Currently my Linksys E2500 serves as my secondary router in my den in bridge mode. Can I set up an Airport Express as a wireless bridge assuming I was sucessfully in setting up my Airport Extreme? On Linksys products this is done by setting the router in bridge mode and assigning it a specific IP address within the bridge router's settings. So for example, my Linksys E2500 has a 192.168.1.1X IP address, can I do this with the Airport Extreme? Note the the intention here for the extra router in my den to provide additional wireless coverage due to the size of my home. I do not need it to provide me with the same wireless network name as my primary router, I only want to provide the back of my house with additional wireless coverage that a primary router will not provide.
3. Router Security and reliability: I would like the router that I purchase to include regular firmware updates beyond that of one year. Especially now that most modern routers have some sort of cloud set up, I wouldn't want to purchase a router today, only to find out that I wouldn't be able to update its firmware one year from now. With respect to Apple's routers, how often does Apple release firmware and typically speaking; how long will Apple support additional firmware releases for its products?
Thanks to anyone who reads and responds to my long post!
- You can use your iPhone or iPad to configure a new AirPort Extreme. At present, there is no version of AirPort Utility for Windows that can be used to configure an 802.11ac AirPort Base Station.
- You can use any AirPort Base Station including the Express as either a wired or wireless bridge. You can choose 10.0.x.x or 172.16.x.x or 192.168.x.x IPv4 DHCP addressing schemes. If your primary router is not an Apple AirPort, then it will need to be connected to your primary router with an Ethernet cable, and will bridge its wired LAN to a wireless network it creates.
- Apple's products have always conformed to the latest industry-accepted wireless encryption and security standards, and generally, draft releases of them as well. Apple will release firmware updates to comply with future revisions to the extent limited by hardware. In some cases Apple will not implement certain protocols deemed to be flawed, or will include only partial implementations of them (WPS for example). Eventually it becomes necessary to upgrade hardware as we have seen with AirPort products that are approaching obsolescence, such as the original 802.11b/g - only AirPort Extreme and Express models. Product obsolescence is a function of evolving industry standards, but historically it has been on the order of five or more years for Apple products.
Though you did not ask, I have found Apple AirPort Base Stations more tolerant of mixed (Apple / Windows PC) networks than Linksys products. Linksys's consumer product support also suffered greatly following Cisco's acquisition of them.
All AirPort Base Stations are simultaneous dual band (2.4 / 5 GHz) units and each network can be uniquely named. They can also create a "Guest network", separate from your main network, with its own security settings. The Guest network can also be "wirelessly extended".