Back to School: Apple Airport Express. Perfect for the dorm.
It doesn’t look like much..a little white box with rounded corners 98 mm (3.9 inches) by 98 mm (3.9 inches) by 23 mm (0.9 inch) and light as a feather at 240 grams (8.5 oz.). However, inside that cute little box the Apple Airport Express is a solid versatile 802.11a/b/g/n Simultaneous dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz router.
It is a pretty simple device..a single status light on the front and on the back a bunch of ports:
- 802.11n wireless
- 10/100BASE-T Ethernet WAN port for connecting a DSL modem, cable modem or Ethernet network
- 10/100BASE-T Ethernet LAN port for connecting a computer, Ethernet hub or networked printer
- USB 2.0 port for connecting a USB printer3
- 3.5-mm audio minijack for analogue or optical digital sound4
- Built-in power supply
Set up is a breeze..plug it in..wait for the amber light to start flashing then fire up the Airport Utility on a Mac or iOS device. A couple of clicks later the Airport Express is set up and ready to go.
You have a number of options when setting up the Airport Express..the first choice is to plug it into a modem or network connection and use it as a standard single port router and wireless access point. This is the typical setup you would use in a dorm, apartment or small single storey house. Or, you could use it as a WiFi extender to fill in dead spots in a larger house..again it is just a matter of selecting this function and the Airport Express will set itself up properly
But the Airport Express is more than just a router..plug a printer into the USB port and you can access it from any device connected to the network..really handy when more than one person needs to use the printer.
Then there is AirPlay..Simply connect your speakers to AirPort Express using an audio cable (not included). Then, using iTunes on your computer or the Music app on your iOS device, choose which speakers you want your music to play on. If you have more than one AirPort Express connected to speakers, you can play the same music from iTunes on your Mac or PC on all your speakers at the same time.
The Apple Airport Express is a great portable router..it is in my “on the road” kit for those hotel rooms that don’t offer WiFi but have an ethernet connection. I can add a WiFi network to the room and not be anchored to the location of the ethernet connection. I can also AirPlay music to a small speaker.
I recommend the Airport Express if you plan to use all of its features. If all you need is a wireless access point or a range extender there are less expensive options..But, if you need simultaneous dual band 802.11n operation, USB printing and AirPlay then it is a bargain..and you won’t find a router as simple to set up as the Airport Express.
The Apple Airport Express is available at Apple stores and wherever Apple products are sold for $99.