Apple Reportedly Readying New AirPort Express

Apple will soon begin shipping a new version of its AirPort Express portable 802.11n base station, capping a recent series of refreshes to the company’s line of WiFi routers ahead of this fall’s iCloud launch.

Although Apple’s online store still reflects availability of “AirPort Express Base Station with 802.11n and AirTunes,” authorized resellers like DataVision report that the same model (MB321LL/A) is discontinued, while Amazon estimates it will have new stock sometime in the next “2 to 5 weeks.”

Airport Extreme (5th generation) updates launched just prior to this latest round of Apple launches, which included the Mac Mini, Macbook Air, and Thunderbolt Display, but unlike those three, the Time Capsule and Airport Extreme updates saw almost no mention,” Klug reports. “Starting with the exterior packaging, you’d be hard pressed to tell that a particular Time Capsule or Airport Extreme is the newer refresh.

The current version of Airport Utility, 5.5.3, was released in June, resolving an issue that caused the tool to unexpectedly quit during setup.

The update would round out tune-ups across Apple’s AirPort device family. In June, the company quietly updated both itsTime Capsule and Airport Extreme base stations. Though no specific changes were detailed in product specifications, FCC filings revealed that the new devices had received a power boost of as much as 2.8 times the original signal.

Subsequent tests revealed dramatic performance and reliability improvements to the base stations, especially when accessed from more remote locations. A teardown of the AirPort Extreme also showed that Apple has switched from Marvell WLAN cards to the Broadcom BCM4331.

But, given that FCC filings for a new Airport Express have yet to turn up, it remains unknown whether the diminutive base station will also see a signal boost when it is updated.

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