Time Capsule is one of Apple's featured new product announcements at last week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Time Capsule is basically an Airport Extreme WiFi base station (US$179) with either a 500GB (US$299) or 1TB (US$499) hard drive built-in. Time Capsule will begin shipping in February and is being pitched as the ultimate companion to Leopard's Time Machine backup software:
Automatic backupTime Capsule is a revolutionary backup device that works wirelessly with Time Machine in Mac OS X Leopard. It automatically backs up everything, so you no longer have to worry about losing your digital life.
My problem with Time Capsule is that it's being billed as the ultimate Time Machine backup appliance when that was the original intent of the Airport Extreme's Airport Disk feature:
Hard drive sharingAirPort Extreme lets you turn your external USB hard drive into a drive you can share with all the users on your network. It’s called AirPort Disk, and it’s a simple and convenient way to share files among everyone in your family, office, or class.
Steve Jobs, speaking at the WWDC 2007 keynote address, promised that we'd be able to use an Airport Extreme with Airport Disk to back up wirelessly using Time Machine (it appears at the 1:42 mark in this YouTube video).
Although that feature was enabled in the developer builds Apple unceremoniously removed it when Leopard shipped. According to Apple's knowledge base Article: 306833:
Time Machine in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard can be used to back up to many kinds of Mac OS Extended-formatted drives, but it does not support AirPort Extreme's AirPort Disk feature.
If Time Machine backups to Airport Disk were promised by Jobs and enabled in developer builds of Leopard, why was the feature dropped at the last minute? Did Apple simply want to sell more pricey hard drives in Time Capsules rather than letting Airport Extreme customers purchase their own USB hard drives?
I was hoping that the feature would be enabled in the forthcoming 10.5.2 software update but a source testing it with the latest developer build confirms that Apple has intentionally crippled the feature in an apparent move to sell more expensive Time Capsules.
I would recommend not buying a Time Capsule until Apple comes clean on this issue.