In testing: Time Capsule

Apple's Time Capsule arrives for testing.

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
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Rich Brown
3 min read


After spending some time with Apple's Time Capsule this afternoon, we have some impressions for you. We'll dig deeper before our full review on Monday, but here are some initial thoughts.

We paired the Time Capsule with a MacBook Pro with a home cable modem providing the Internet connection. In order to keep it simple, we relied on hard-wired Ethernet all the way, linking the cable modem to the Time Capsule, and the Time Capsule to our laptop. Setup is easy. All you need to do is plug all of the appropriate cables in for your network and then plug in the Time Capsule's power cord. There's no power switch, so it comes right on.

The first software screen you see when you insert the Time Capsule disc CNET

The screen above pops up when you insert the Time Capsule's CD, and from there you click on the Time Capsule icon to install the update to your Mac's AirPort Utility. The AirPort Utility serves as the primary software interface for the Time Capsule. Most of the software setup is easy, but a few screens might puzzle you if you're not that network savvy.

Not every Time Capsule setup screen will make sense to the average user. CNET

Assuming you make your way through the setup process (the default option on each screen was usually the right one, at least at home), you'll know it's successful when Time Machine, Apple's automated backup software, finds the Time Capsule's drive. "J Boogie" in the screen below would be our music-loving Associate Testing Analyst Julie Rivera, who's testing the MacBook Pro laptop we're using.

We have Time Machine turned off here because when it's on it gives you a 2-minute countdown before it performs a backup. We wanted to investigate the software some more before losing it to the hours-long backup process, but we'll turn it on tonight to see how that goes.

When Time Machine finds your Time Capsule, you know you set it up correctly. CNET

One feature Time Capsule offers is the ability to add more storage via its USB port. We connected a simple USB flash drive (the "NO NAME" volume in the shot below), and it popped up almost instantly on the Time Capsule's devices screen. The only stipulation is that you have to enter the Time Capsule's password, which you establish during setup, before it will allow you to access the new drive.

Adding external storage to the Time Capsule is easy. CNET

Even though initial set up at home was relatively easy, we hit a few snags. We were able to use the Time Capsule successfully as a router for our home network, and we got online on both the MacBook Pro as well as a Windows XP desktop in the other room. We hoped the Time Capsule's hard drive would just pop up in Windows, but it didn't. And after we reconfigured the drive properties and restarted the Time Capsule, per its software instructions, it hung. Every time you make a settings change it seems to want to reboot itself, which takes a while. Worse, whenever it failed a restart, the Time Capsule and our Macbook seemed to lose each other, and we had to go through the whole setup process from scratch.

We're going to spend more time with the Time Capsule tomorrow and we'll have our full review up by Monday. In the meantime, Flickr user nakedmac posted a gallery of the Time Capsule's internals (seems you can swap in a new hard drive). And Schmittroth, to answer your question in the comments about the power cable, nope, no brick. Just a thin white cord as you can see from the shot below.

No clunky power brick here. Rich Brown/CNET Networks

Original post (by Matthew Elliott):

Time Capsule: Time for your close-up. Phil Ryan/CNET Networks

Apple's Time Capsule began shipping yesterday, and after a run to The Westchester mall in White Plains, N.Y., this afternoon, we now have one in hand. Stay tuned for our full review, which we plan to bring you on Monday. In it, we'll discuss throughput of the 802.11n router, transfer speeds of the 500GB drive (call us cheap--we bought the lower-end $299 model), and how it jibes with Leopard's Time Machine feature for wireless backups. Anything else you want, let us know. In the meantime, read Rich Brown's breakdown of Time Capsule here.

From the left: the power cord, a USB port, one Gigabit WAN port, and three Gigabit LAN ports. Phil Ryan/CNET Networks