iPod Touch has 802.11n! But it’s not enabled! Zing!

I went to the Apple Store on 5th Ave before doing a little bouldering in Central Park.  Chris sent the Polish Traverse and made it look effortless.  At least someone is in shape.  So, I stopped by Apple and asked what they knew about the 802.11n chipset on the latest model iPod Touch.  Nothing.  They never know anything.  Seriously, I’ve had my best experiences at these stores only in the morning on very un-busy days.

I had to get a new battery once for a black Macbook and my options were: 1) schlep to Staten Island 2) buy one or 3) schlep to the 14th Street store because they are less busy.  I sat around the 14th Street store for about 45 minutes, crossed my fingers and waited for a lull in the ever present traffic.  The Genius there was very nice, she took pity on me and warranteed a new battery. But my other option was to come back to the 59th store at 5AM on a Friday. Their system blows, but I digress…

The employee didn’t have any specific answers about 802.11n on the new Touch.  It was his belief that it works, though I imagine if this were the case I’d have read at least one technical blog mention it.  Right now the word is that it has Broadcom’s mobile n chipset and it has a single antenna and it should be capable up to 30 Mb/s. Most tech writers speculate it’ll be enabled in the next 6 months. Oh well. Also, there is no camera yet on the Touch.

The image below links to the tear down, and if you’re into such things, click here for the Broadcom PDF spec sheet.



iFix it 802.11n iPod Touch Teardown

iFix it 802.11n iPod Touch Teardown

802.11n in iPod Touch

802.11n in iPod Touch

Airport Extreme! Broadcom! Oh my!

So, if you don’t care about wireless data connections and or OS X & XP you should ignore this post. I recently did a little 802.11n upgrade to my aging Core Duo Macbook Pro and I bought an “official” Apple 802.11n Airport Card that has 2 antenna wire inputs. It’s chipset is the Broadcom BCM4328. My Apple System Profiler polls this as Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (5.10.38.9) and in Windows XP it clearly shows up as the BCM4328. Now, shouldn’t this be all good? Well sort of, there have been some problems.

Under OS X 802.11n (ie Airport Extreme) works like gang busters over the Time Capsule but it seems my 802.11g performance has taken a huge hit. And under XP SP3 both my g/n performance has degraded. So what’s the deal? Well it seems I should’ve gone with an older version of this chipset.

Apparently the BCM94321MC aka the Dell 1500 Part Number NJ449 was the original version, which worked well for people under Tiger. There obviously are other options, but the key here was the 4321 chipset as opposed to the newer 4328 chipset. So what’s the issue? I don’t know. I imagine the XP drivers aren’t fully up to date. And I also imagine 802.11n MIMO works better with 3 antennas which is why the newer Core 2 Duo machines come with the 3 antenna input Atheros wireless cards. Can I add a third antenna wire and put in the Atheros? I don’t know. Should I sell the one I installed and try the $30 Dell 1500 NJ449? I would say yes.

Another issue that has developed is that with around 15% battery the wireless card will go dormant and not startup again without a reboot. Nice. Whatever, I suppose I cannot complain too much. It mostly works.

halfway

I’m about halfway there on the upgrade of the larger notebook harddrive and 10.5.4 with XP BootCamp (all of this is to get SolidWorks 2008 Education version running, mind you).  Leopard is noticeably faster than my old run down version of Tiger.  Or at least that’s what they’d have you believe.  No seriously, this system is running snappier with the fresh install. I’ll still need to migrate all my iPhoto stuff, as the version of Leopard I bought didn’t come with iLife.  I’ll need my address book and some bookmarks but that’s about all I need to migrate.  It’s pretty straightforward.  I did create a bootable external drive backup of Tiger in case something goes wrong using, Carbon Copy Cloner.  That worked pretty well too. You just hold down the (alt) option key at startup and choose the firewire disk you want to boot from.

Currently the TimeCapsule is backing up this fresh install.  The TC 500GB drive is a little loud when writing even though its encased in white plastic.  We were able to play a DVD video_TS file over 802.11n the other night to the TV.  As a note, you should turn off Time Machine automatic backup when you’re planning on watching something on your laptop because it’ll keep trying to backup while trying to stream the video and it’ll get choppy.  Lesson learned.  Under XP it said we’d connected to the router at 128 MB/s.  So yeah, this stuff seems to be working alright.  Another nice feature of Leopard is in the Dictionary Application it goes to Wikipedia as the default.  Pretty cool.