Fun without wires

AirPort Express (and AirTunes) in da house

without comments

Apple AirPort Express

Give me an inch and I’ll take a mile.

I got my iBook, so I figured I may as well get some other toys to go with it. Thus the .Mac subscription, and thus the AirPort Express that came in the mail today. I’ve had a chance to play with 2 of it’s 3 features already (3rd later tonight), and so far my official review is: this thing ROCKS!

In case you don’t know, the AirPort Express is an awesome little single-unit adaptor “thing” from Apple that will allow you to do the following;

  1. Create (or extend) a wireless (WiFi) network,
  2. Stream music from iTunes to an external set of speakers (wirelessly)
  3. Print wirelessly to a USB printer

The first thing I tried was setting up a wireless network, since at my office we only have a wired network. I plugged the AirTunes into a power outlet and whacked in a CAT-5 cable. A couple seconds later, it showed up on my iBook as an available network and I was off. The software (AirPort Express Setup Assistant) is easy to use and pretty hard to mess up. Put in a name for the network and the base station (I used the same thing), set your security preferences and you’re off. The only confusion I had was that the process requires 2 passwords – one for WEP (WiFi security) and one for securing the actual base station’s settings. Of course I messed around with a few things and proceeded to lock myself out of the unit, so I also got to try out the reset button which is tucked away at the bottom of it 🙂

With that working, I thought I’d give the audio streaming a shot. It doesn’t get much easier to use kids. You plug some speakers into the bottom of the AirTunes (standard, 3.5mm stereo jack) and then load up iTunes. You will notice a drop-down box at the bottom of the window, right next to the button for loading the graphic equalizer. There should be 2 options in there – ‘Computer’ (play via your speakers) and ‘networkname’ which will be the name of the network you’ve just created, and allows you to play to that network. If you select that option and press play, your wireless speakers should spring into action – simple as that. In case you’re wondering, you don’t need to have the AirPort Express plugged into a wired network for this to work either, as long as the speakers are plugged in and your computer can see the AirTunes, you’re good to go.

Like I said, this thing is pretty awesome. Later on tonight I’ll try out the printing function and see how that goes. I’m already happy, and I can see that this is going to be perfect for my trip which is coming up in a couple weeks where I’ll circumnavigate the globe within a couple weeks, hopefully making good use of wireless all the way!

Written by Beau Lebens

November 23rd, 2004 at 4:00 pm