Tuesday, July 20, 2004

AirPort Express: toy of the month

MacInTouch Posting by Kevin Klein
[Kevin Klein] First impressions: Wow, Wow, Wow. This new Apple accessory is ridiculously cool and I am really blown away with the new features I am now able to bring to my home network and stereos with the Airport Express.

 It integrates seamlessly with iTunes 4.6 by adding a "speaker output selection pop-up" in the bottom right of the main browser window. It took me a while to find it, but this was by far the hardest part of the installation. Now my output choices are "Computer" and "Home Main Stereo System" (you can choose the name of each Express as it appears in iTunes). When I add more Airport Expresses later, I'll have more choices from this pop-up menu to choose from
One other note, the Mac does not control the volume the Airport Express passes the stereo it's connected to.
In addition to the usual security options (WEP, WPA, etc), I can also password protect each Express for AirTunes access too (using the included Admin Tool). This will can help limit AirTunes availability in more robust, less private environments other than my home (like businesses, coffee shops, hot spots, etc.). I can envision an Airport Express even working as the source for "on hold" music for business phones systems.
Now what about my older, legacy Airport Extreme Base Station?
I chose to setup WDS using the Airport Express as the main WAP and relocate my older Extreme BS to my second floor home office and set it up as the remote WAP for my home network. I used same network name for both and now have a perfect, full-coverage WiFi network for my entire home (including my rooftop deck and backyard).
Another cool thing is with WDS and multiple Expresses/Base Stations, I can have multiple USB printers available via Rendezvous concurrently. Now I can print to my USB Brother Fax machine or my USB Epson 880 without any other computers sharing these USB printer connections and making them available by bridging over wireless or Ethernet.
The Airport Express is small and therefore highly portable and it can save up to five (5) LAN/WAN configurations to help accommodate its portability. If you have one that moves around a lot (it is, after all, the size of an iBook power adapter and can fit in your front pocket), you can save multiple configurations for common destinations like your car, your office, your summer home, your house and your best friends house, etc.).
Because it's very portable and I am sure that the one I have permanently connection to my home Cable Modem/Home Stereo will not be enough for me.
Although I have not yet tested it with XP, If it works as well with Windows (as advertised) this will be the must-have gadget of the upcoming year.
Ok, I'm sold. I may just buy one. One thing I've heard is you can't listed to both local speakers from the iTunes host and distal speakers from the AirPort Express -- a time delay puts the music out of sync.

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