College roommates can be dicey. They steal your food, soil the bathroom and think nothing of using your beer bong without asking. But what are you going to do? Live on your own? Oh please. Riddle us this: Without roommates, who’s going to road trip it to Vegas with you at 2 a.m. on a random Tuesday?
The good news is that, when it comes to Wi-Fi, Apple’s Time Capsule is perfect for multiuser environments where you don’t trust everyone. That’s because it lets you simultaneously set up both a secure network for yourself and separate open (or secure) network for guests. This is especially helpful given that the Time Capsule comes with a terabyte of network storage for backing up your laptop or warehousing music, movies and research papers (trust fund weenies can opt for an extra TB which costs an extra two Benjamins). After partitioning your network, your storage and attached printer are only available on the dedicated secure channel, while everyone else is relegated to the guest network.
In addition to this, Time Capsule has just about every feature you could want in a Wi-Fi router. It simultaneously runs both 2.4- and 5-GHz networks, so it seamlessly connects with both fast n-spec network devices and b and g gizmos like iPhones and older laptops. And if you’re a Mac user (surprise, Time Capsule is heavily geared toward Macs) you can use Leopard’s automated Time Machine software for no-brainer backups and access files on the hard drive remotely via Apple’s $100-a-year Mobile Me service.
Now there are downsides. Setting up Time Capsule involves a fair amount of networking voodoo: At first our TiVo couldn’t sync up, then the Airport disconnected, then the internet disappeared all together. Being Apple, there are no printed instructions to speak of, and without internet it was hard to look some up.
This leaves little guidance for troubleshooting, unless you want to enter the he-said, she-said hell of phone tech support between Apple and your ISP. Luckily some tinkering and a zillion restarts got everything humming after about an hour. And then there’s the price: You can certainly get Wi-Fi for less. In fact, a simple router from Linksys will run you about $60.
But if you’re on a Mac, want some network storage and have the dough, Time Capsule is pretty freakin’ awesome. Seriously, where else are you going to store RAW files of your roommate getting frisky with the Siegfried and Roy statue on Las Vegas Boulevard?