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Apple AirPort Express - Apple AirPort Express

By Hugo Jobling



Our Score:


If you’re using a Mac then AirPort Express' setup process is almost insultingly simple. AirPort, Apple's network configuration utility, is built into its OS and as such all that's required is to find a spare socket for the AirPort Express, before connecting your system to it and following the simple step by step instructions to configure the wireless ID, security and encryption settings. On a PC it's no harder, so long as you can cope with installing the Windows version of the AirPort utility.

Connecting a printer isn't difficult, either. Suffice it to say that as long as you can cope with the setup process without AirPort Express getting involved, you'll also have no problems when it is. I'm not entirely convinced this is functionality that a great many people want given the vast number of networked printers around, so it's not likely to be a selling point, but it's there if you want it.

A notable feature available to AirPort Extreme, the big brother to AirPort Express, but missing here is the ability to connect a USB hard drive that can then work as a Time Machine backup location. In fact, if you want that feature but don't want wireless music streaming, then a Time Capsule might be a better solution as it is basically an AirPort Extreme with a built-in hard drive.

Of course, it's a bit redundant to point out that you shouldn't be looking at AirPort Express if it doesn't suit your requirements - you don't need me to tell you that. Rather, what I should be assuring you of is how well (or not as the case may be) it does the things it can. And, as I've already pointed out, it does them with aplomb.

If you have a straight dsl/cable modem or a router without wireless (or one that only offers the older, slower, 802.11g standard) then the AirPort Extreme will 'n-ify' your setup nicely. Similarly, if you like the sound of streaming music from your PC to a different location in your home wirelessly then this is an excellent way of doing so on the cheap.

If the rumours that Apple is planning its own Napster or Spotify-esque music streaming service are to be believed then AirPort Express could get even better, too. Even as it stands, pumping out purchased or ripped tunes, Internet radio and Podcasts into the living room from my PC in my bedroom, controlled with my iPhone in the kitchen is undeniably cool.


As a wireless adaptor, Draft-N or not, AirPort Express has a compact, well thought out design, but that's not really enough to sell it. Luckily, the addition of a USB port and an audio output make this more than a one trick pony. You only have to start streaming music around your house to wonder why you didn't do so sooner. Only the price could be prohibitive.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 7


December 16, 2009, 9:45 pm

I've had one of these for a few years now and it works a treat. Being able to send my iTunes library from my PC to my home theatre system is great for parties - add in the Apple remote on the iPhone to control iTunes and you're good to go.


December 16, 2009, 9:59 pm

They are nice as a travel router but ....

there's a major problem with using it to stream music ...

iTunes - yuck - no thanks

Mick Davies

December 16, 2009, 10:24 pm

download Airfoil and you can stream spotify through it

Hamish Campbell

December 17, 2009, 12:46 am

poos. I had thought putting the itunes library on a NAS (isn't it called itunes server?) would mean one could get the music going directly to my stereo directly. Well obviously one would use the pc or iphone remote to kick it off, but then it would hopefully keep rocking on its own until shut down again. But this is not the case it seems.

Alex Dodis

December 17, 2009, 1:05 am

Being a Windows user, I can recommend a cheap output module for WinAmp or MediaMonkey called Remote Speaker Output Plug-In (http://emilles.dyndns.org/s... by Eric Miles which can stream music in the same manner as iTunes! Note that the digital output of AirPort Express can be connected to an external DAC (I use a Beresford TC-7500 http://www.homehifi.co.uk/m... for high quality streaming of FLAC music to my remotely connected stereo.


December 17, 2009, 1:27 am

To use this, all you kit needs to be from Apple - shudder!!

I don't think I'll be replacing the Sonos anytime soon. Count me out.


December 17, 2009, 1:29 am

It's about time TR reviewed this product given the number of times it gets mentioned in people's comments.

I only bought one for its music streaming capabilities but must admit that it can suffer from muted drop outs if you don't set it up and shield it away from other equipment properly.

The sentence saying "it's possible to have a few dotted around the house all hooked up to different speaker systems and streaming different music" must be clarified by saying that you need a different computer and iTunes setup if you want different music to be played.

@Mick Davies > I also use Airfoil and if you combine it with the Airfoil Speakers application on an iPod Touch or iPhone it can turn it into another Airport style music streaming device.


December 17, 2009, 6:22 pm

A couple of these sprinkled round the house together with an iPhone and an AppleTV to act as the 'always-on' itunes server is a lovely solution which I get much enjoyment from.

Definitely agreed though with the occasional but infuriating audio drop outs - which I put down to the 7.4.x firmware and so went back to 7.3.2. Everything fine since then, but I have to resist the temptation to update everytime it asks me as I know now that it risks leading to problems. When it comes to the families music and AV set up - 'if it aint broken dont try and fix it'. I'll be staying on 7.3.2 till the end of time.

Hamish Campbell

December 17, 2009, 10:34 pm

@Dan - So Apple TV Itunes can act as an always on itunes server but a NAS that says it's itunes server errr compatible cannot do this completely?

Its that I think Apple TV is pretty expensive and I'd rather by a western digtial mybook world edition NAS and have itunes server on that, then use just an iphone to play music through to a stereo. Do you think I can do that?

Mr Google is struggling to find me the anwers.


December 18, 2009, 2:59 am

So this couldn't be used to get internet to a ps3 at the other end of the house with a non wireless router(very old fashioned i know)?

If not what would you suggest?


December 18, 2009, 4:51 am

here's what I think I'd do:

have an (always on) ACER revo kind of device on the back of the TV connected through HDMI (one that can do HD flash for iplayer, ect.), attached to that is a couple of TV tuners (could be DVB-T/T2 or DVB-S) through windows media center for recording works great, along with a slimline bluray drive under the TV, iTunes can simply run in the background in the taskbar a couple of airport express' bedroom, kitchen, you can even add an external HDD one with RAID and it would make an ultimate NAS device (although USB 2.0 would suck USB 3.0 would be fine), all used by a logitech diNovo Mini and an iPod Touch - apologies for boring you all but I think it would be a pretty sweet setup


December 18, 2009, 9:43 pm

BigDown - As long as your house is not too big, such as the PS3 would be in range of the Wi-Fi from the AirPort Express, it would work.

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