Apple’s Time Capsule begins to ship

apple-time-capsule.jpgLooks like Apple has started to ship its Time Capsule – the newest external hard drive from Cupertino which is just about the only solution available for those who want to perform wireless Time Machine backups from your notebook. The Time Capsule debuted at Macworld, being an 802.11n Wifi base station that was equipped with a choice of 500GB or 1TB hard drive, enabling you to back up files to the drive or share files across a network without having to hook up to a cable. The 500GB and 1TB model will retail for $299 and $499, respectively. Sounds pretty interesting? There’s more after the jump.

While the Time Capsule is a pretty okay product on its own, it is in reality a workaround for a feature in Mac OS X Leopard which actually disappeared into thin air right before Apple was getting ready to ship its new operating system. Just before Leopard made a splash in retail stores, Apple actually touted the fact that wireless backup features was part of the Time Machine, and the intuitive backup and recovery program was included with Mac OS X 10.5. Unfortunately, such claims were removed from the ad copy a few days before the Leopard made an appearance, and the sudden yanking of words was never explained on an official basis from what I can see. This means there is absolutely no way to take advantage of the Time Machine feature on a MacBook or MacBook Pro with an external hard drive without hooking it up to the notebook via a physical connection, which pretty much defeats the purpose of providing wireless backup capability while on-the-go (being at home with a Leopard server or a Xsan storage-area network is another different story altogether).

Guess the external hard drive requires some form of additional intelligence to process the Time Machine handoffs over a wireless connection, which meant Apple needed to design the Time Capsule by throwing in updated firmware or software. Hopefully Apple can include such a capability into future software updates for Leopard instead of forcing ordinary folks like you and I to purchase the Time Capsule if we want to do a wireless backup.


4 thoughts on “Apple’s Time Capsule begins to ship”

  1. I don’t use Time Machine on my iBook, so I don’t have any specific grudge one way or the other on this issue. But I have repeatedly seen the assertion that Apple had publicly advertised (before the release of Leopard) that Time Machine would have wireless capability.

    I’m willing to believe, but would like a link or some support. Can you show me the advertisement? Or was a wireless Time Machine just something that was mentioned in the beta testing notes?

  2. “was never explained on an official basis from what I can see”

    No, but it was let out on a developer list.

    The issue is that there’s no way for the Mac to know that data has been written safely to a USB-attached disk, it only can know that the AirPort received it successfully. So there’s a window there where if power/connection is lost, your alleged backup could actually be corrupt, and you have no way to realize it.

    In theory this should be something that a firmware upgrade ought to be able to sort out, but apparently there’s actually something about WiFi and/or USB that makes it more difficult than you’d think, so Time Capsule is the solution. For now, anyways.

  3. Since the new Time Capsules support backing up to an external USB HD attached to them (in addition to the internal HD), we can only hope this is a firmware patch that can be retrofitted to the Airport Extremes that shipped, especially since Apple DID advertise that functionality. Only time will tell, of course…

  4. Apple isn’t “forcing” you to buy anything….if you don’t like it, then don’t buy it. Quit the whining….

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