The Airport Express, much like most Apple devices, is amazingly simple to set up and is up and running in no time. I have this connected to extend the wi-fi network off the Time Capsule that is essentially the main router for the network. Quick set up procedure and review:
FORM FACTOR - the device looks sleek and is probably exactly the same size as Apple TV. Doesn't take up much space. It comes with a power cord that needs to be attached, unlike the previous generation AE which had the power outlet prongs built in. The addition of the power cord somewhat reduces options in terms of where the device can be placed in the house. If you don't mind the cable showing, you can place it anywhere in the house. But if you want to install this say in the living room where cables would look unpleasant, you're better off installing it somewhere else in the house (or behind furniture where it can't be seen). Not a major issue but one worth mentioning.
SET UP - I had this device up and running in probably less than 5 minutes, it is that simple.
1. After plugging in the device to a power outlet, wait for the device's light to turn from amber to solid green, indicating that it is ready for use. There is no need to connect this to the router with an ethernet cable.
2. Open Airport Utility on the Mac (Applications -> Utilities -> Airport Utility). If you are using a PC, the Airport Utility for Windows will need to be downloaded first.
3. Inside Airport Utility, the AE Base Station will appear for configuration. This, I think, is a rather important step depending on what you're looking to use this device for. If you are looking to boost Wi-Fi signal in the house, select the "Extend Existing Wireless Network" when setting up this device. This will essentially connect the AE to your main wireless router to boost signal. If however, you don't care about boosting Wi-Fi signal and care more about setting up a network for guests to access, you can select the "Create New Wireless Network" for this device. Under both options, you can still use the device for Air Play from your Apple devices.
4. You can then proceed to name the Airport Express device and set up a password in the Airport Utility set up. If you are setting up multiple devices in the house it is useful to name each one individually so that you know which device to connect to later when using Air Play (e.g. AE Living Room, or AE Basement, etc). Now the device should be up and running and you will notice a significant improvement in Wi-Fi signal around the house.
5. Once the initial set up is complete, you can also download the Airport Utility App to your iPhone/iPad/iPod to manage the configuration of the AE station straight from the handheld device, if required.
AIR PLAY - The AE device comes with a built-in 3.5mm audio out jack. You can use any 3.5mm to RCA cable to connect the device to the input of your stereo. Once this is done, play a track on your handheld, it will initially stream on the handheld itself. Now, go into the "Now Playing" part of the iPod and next to the track forward button, you will see a small icon. Clicking on that icon will give you the option of changing the sound output device from the handheld to the Airport Express. Select the AE device at this point and music will stream from the stereo (moment of truth!). You can change tracks and control volume right from the iPod!
COMPARISON TO APPLE TV - If you are looking for a device only for Air Play, Apple TV may perhaps be a better option because it has the ability of streaming audio and video from the iPod, connects to iTunes or Netflix for online streaming services, and allows online gaming. It has an HDMI out and also comes with a remote that allows you to manage the device and what is being streamed on it. However, note that the Apple TV does NOT come with a standard 3.5mm audio jack, it comes with an Optical Audio jack, which might not connect to all stereos. Check for cables that would be able to connect your stereo to the HDMI or optical audio jack. If that doesn't work, Airport Express is the better alternative because it has a 3.5mm audio jack and almost all stereos connect easily to this through a 3.5m-Dual RCA cable. In addition, Airport Express serves as a Wi-Fi repeater that Apple TV doesn't.
UPDATE - 12/28 - Recently discovered a neat feature. If you have more than 1 Airport Express, or if you can have AE and an Apple TV, you can stream music from iTunes to all devices at the same time using your PC/Mac. This is a great way to play the same music in different rooms if you have the devices connected to independent speakers. Can't do this from a iPhone/iPod/iPad (they let you stream only to one source at a time), but this feature is supported on PCs and Macs. Thought it was really cool!
on October 31, 2012
This router is absolutely fantastic; It greatly exceeded my expectations. Not only did it drastically expand my range and speed (going from a Motorola Surfboard g/n modem/router combo), but it is incredibly stable and easy to use. I can now use mutliple devices simultaneously without interference or lag (up to 50 according to Apple). Plus, the 2.4ghz frequency can be used at the same time as the 5ghz, which means my girlfriend can use her iPhone 4S on 2.4 while I am enjoying the faster 5ghz frequency my iPhone 5 can utilize -- my previous router made us choose one and stick to it (guess which one I was stuck using...). And it could be just our imaginations, but speaking of iPhones, both of us have noticed that our phones appear to get an additional bar of service in our home when connected to the Apple Airport network (hers is Verizon, I'm AT&T). Maybe it's an Apple device thing, or maybe it's wishful thinking, but we both noticed the boosted cellular signals right away... Regardless, the WIFI signal now reaches every corner of our one story three bedroom house without signficant degredation, which is something my Motorola Surfboard never even came close to acheiving.
Two final positive points about this router: First off, you can run 3 wireless access points simultaneously; 2.4ghz, 5ghz, and a 2.4 guest access point that is not part of your home network. Secondly, you can use this router for airplay via a 3.5mm headphone jack in the back of the device that allows you to plug in computer speakers, or, in my case, a 3.5mm cord running to my home theater, which allows us to stream any source of music (pandora, iTunes, Spotify, etc.) from any device in the network (laptops, ipads, iphones, etc) to our living room sound system. These were not selling points for us, but might be for some, and the airplay feature proved to be a very useful and appreciated "bonus".
This is said often on Amazon, but I sincerely could not recommend this device more. If you are (like I was) sick of laggy connections, poor signal range, dropped and spotty connections, and CONSTANT rebooting of your router to keep your network passably stable, do yourself a favor and buy this router. You will thank yourself.
P.S. - This review was written from a PC. I am not an Apple fanboy.
on August 4, 2012
This router is the router to rule all routers. I have TWELVE wireless devices in my 2,200 square-foot house. That, coupled with the possible interference from neighbors' wireless routers has made it impossible to maintain a signal that does not disconnect or time-out constantly. For instance, if I were on a secure website, such as my bank's site, I would have to rush as quickly as possible because I could not maintain a connection for more than thirty seconds; and if I got disconnected, I would have to START OVER with what I was doing because it is a secure site.
I tried three different routers before this one, and had come to the conclusion that consumer routers just suck. I was loathe to pay a hundred dollars for a router, especially since I am not a big fan of Apple. But I read enough positive stuff about this one to make one big last-ditch effort. Man, am I glad I did. Every single device in my house is now connected and, more importantly, stays connected. I have not had a single drop, stall or time-out.
This router has relieved so much stress. I can now work from home without worrying that I will be without a sustainable connection. I don't even have to think about this router, and that is the way it should be. I thought it was expensive for a router, but it is the best hundred bucks I've spent this year by a long shot.
I am not a big fan of Apple, but they certainly have it together with their hardware. Here is a list of my connected devices, which are all now operating without a hint of a problem on Comcast:
1) Dell desktop computer
2) An HP laptop
3) An ASUS netbook
4) iPad 1
5) iPad 2
6) Droid Bionic
7) HTC Thunderbolt
8) Dish Network VIP622
9) Dish Network VIP722
11) Logitech Squeezebox
12) LG Blu-ray player
If you are tired of your router constantly stalling, then do yourself a big favor and pony up the money for this router.
UPDATE 9/3/12 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
After having this router for awhile, I have still yet to have a drop. However, I was still having some stalling from my internet. I called Comcast out and the tech found that there was some type of filter, a voice filter I think, installed at the street. He removed it and now I am cruising. The router continues to perform flawlessly.
UPDATE 12/12/12 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
We have now added another wifi item:
13) Motorola Xoom
Everything is still working exactly as it should with no drops.
on June 26, 2012
In an effort to prevent many from wasting hours of time trying to setup their 2nd Gen Apple Airport Express, here are some basic instructions to follow:
1. The Airport Express can't connect to your home wireless network without first being authorized to do so. To accomplish this, you must first connect it by wired ethernet patch cable to your home router/modem.
2. Once connected, power it on by plugging it in to an electrical outlet. If you previously attempted to connect to the Airport Express wirelessly (without a patch cable), consider doing a hard reset by holding in the reset button while powering the device on.
3. With it connected to your router, install Airport Utility for Windows on your Windows PC. On a Mac, the Airport Utility should automatically launch when your Mac detects the Airport Express on your network. If Airport Utility doesn't automatically launch from your Mac, search for it from the search bar (top right of OS desktop).
4. From the Airport Utility software, the Airport Express Base Station should appear at left. Choose this device and the configuration menu appears on the right. There are numerous options for setting up your Airport Express. If you plan to place the Airport Express somewhere else in the house (like next to your stereo receiver in the living room), the most important option to choose is "Connect to an existing wireless network". You will then be prompted for your home network's name chosen from a dropdown list along with your home network's password.
5. Choose the other configuration options including changing the name of your Airport Express, providing a password to connect to your device (recommended), and extending your home network through the device. This last option is a good one as it essentially acts as a signal repeater for your home wireless router/modem. If your home router/modem signal is weak in certain areas of the house or outside, placing the Airport Express in a different room or floor of your home will extend your wireless signal -- very cool and useful feature.
6. When properly connected to your wired or wireless network, the LED on the front will be solid green. Complete the Airport Express configuration and, if you plan to place the device someplace else in the house, simply disconnect the ethernet patch cable and the power cord. Relocate the device and plug it in to another outlet anywhere in the house. Within a minute, the LED should turn green again indicating that it has reconnected to your home wireless network.
7. At this point, the device can also be reconfigured wirelessly from an iPod, iPhone, or iPad via the Airport Express utility which can be downloaded for free from the App Store.
Now for a brief review... I purchased the Airport Express specifically to stream music from an iPhone/iPad to a stereo receiver. An Apple TV does the same thing for the same $99 price but the Airport Express has a 3.5mm output jack that the Apple TV does not have. With a 3.5mm to dual-RCA cable (red and white), I have my Airport Express connected to the AUX input on my stereo receiver. Works perfectly. If you have a home theater receiver with a spare HDMI or Toslink (digital optical) input, you can achieve the same result with an Apple TV. In fact, I would recommend the Apple TV over the Airport Express because of the additional features offered by the Apple TV. Know your available inputs on your receiver before deciding whether the Airport Express or the Apple TV will meet your needs. Also keep in mind, the Apple TV will not act as a wireless repeater if that feature is important to you.
This works better and more reliably than the new Airport Extreme. The devices that connect to this have no lag time at all between waking up and being connected. The Airport Extreme (cylinder form factor) from which the network originates drops connections to computers, tablets, and media streamers all day long.
I'm seriously considering buying more of these to put even closer to the Extreme, since it seems happy to stay connected to these and these have no trouble staying connected to everything else.
on April 10, 2013
I generally don't leave reviews but I feel like my experience with the AirPort Express warrants one. Mind you, I have only been using the device for about 3 hours.
My Linksys router that I got over 5 years ago was dying a slow death. I pay for Comcast Xfinity Blast! Internet (50 Mbps) and started to only get 12!!! WHATT!!!!
I decided to order another router and 1st got a Medialink (~$50) that gave me 24 Mbps. That too will not work for me. 50% signal drop is just not acceptable.
I decided to finally fork over an additional $50 for the AirPort Express. Besides being attractive, the little device not only gives me the speeds I'm paying for but I even clocked 52 Mbps right before writing this post. Setup was extremely easy: 1) plug in the power and connect the ethernet cord from your modem 2) open AirPort Utility and select your AirPort Express 3) Follow the few instructions that come after. No cds, no logging into the router, nothing like that. It literally took less than 5 minutes to set up.
I would HIGHLY recommend this product. If anything changes, I will make sure to update my review to reflect it but honestly, I would have been happy to get close to 40 Mbps consistently. I didn't think I'd get full speed. Thank you again Apple. You have successfully made me happy....again.
on July 12, 2012
It started with my iphone, then the ipad, then the apple tv 3, and now my entire network is all apple with two extremes and 3 expresses (for airplay). I'm very proficient when it comes to networking and pc set up and was so tired of all the messing around with my netgear router that I just replaced it with the apple airport extreme - took about 10 seconds to set up, including port forwarding for my iomega ix2-200d NAS. I wish PC related components were so simple to hook up. Honestly, I can't believe I am raving about apple products but, well, I am. Who knew?
on May 17, 2015
Until recently, I had a first gen. Time Capsule paired with a Motorola Suftboard SB6141 for my Comcast cable internet. I started noticing that our download speeds were dropping to below 1 Mbps, where we normally would get up to 25 or more. I tried restarting both devices, establishing a new IP address, bitching to Comcast and semi-accusing them of throttling our bandwidth —all to no avail.
Then I read up about how heavy WiFi traffic from other nearby signals would usually be the main culprit, and that one way of addressing this issue would be to use a router that has dual-band capability (both 2.5Ghz + 5Ghz), so that any devices capable of jumping onto the 5Ghz band (most modern devices can) could use it to get away from this congestion. And any older devices that needed to remain on the 2.5Ghz band would be able to as well simultaneously .
Next, I downloaded some apps to inspect both what devices were logging onto my WiFi (to make sure I also hadn't gotten hacked), and what other WiFi signals nearby were using up that 2.5Ghz band. And what would you know? Except for one smart user whose signal was further away and not interfering as much with mine, everything else was hogging up the 2.5Ghz band.
I found a like-new Airport Express (current model MC414LL/A) off CL for 50 bucks and decided to give it a shot since it offers this simultaneous dual-band capability. And am I glad I did, because our DL speeds are now averaging 50 Mbps (double what we should be getting technically). So again... It's worth every penny.
on January 5, 2013
The setup was a bit more involved than I had planned, but still simple. I replaced an old Netgear router that was connected to a Motorola cable modem, supplying Wifi to 2 MB pros and an iphone 4S & 5 in my apartment. After the initial configuration, the AE did not recognize an internet connection (valid IP address) or DNS server address and gave me the flashing amber light. What the instructions don't tell you is that to get a solid configuration on the first go you should power down all your networking components (modem, computer, etc.) before starting. I did a factory reset on the AE and powered it down as well. Then I followed these steps:
1. Reconnect AE to the cable modem (make sure you're using the WAN port, looks like a circle of dots)
2. Power up the cable modem and wait 5 minutes, allowing it to initialize
3. Power up the AE and wait 5 minutes (light turned solid green!)
4. Power up your computer
5. Check configuration and make any necessary changes using AirPort Utility
Wifi signal is strong throughout my 2BR apartment and all my devices are working perfectly. I recommend this to anyone looking for a new primary router in a small to medium home/apt. The design is clean and modern, not an eyesore if it's within view. AirPlay feature is a cool extra bonus, and the price is fair for what you get.
on July 19, 2012
I live in a 3 story house and my main computer, a Mac Pro Desk top is on the third floor along with my router, the Airport Extreme. But I start losing signal strength on the first floor around the dining room area so I bought this Apple Express to extend the signal to the first floor. I put the Airport Express at the half way point, which is the second floor living room area, I plugged it in, opened the Airport Utilities on my Mac, when my computer found the device I clicked on the Express icon and chose "Extend a wireless network" from the drop down menu, typed in my network name and password and that was all there was to it, easy peasy. I took my IOS devices and my Macbook Pro lap top downstairs to the dining room and my signal strength was all the way up, and I walked around the first floor and it was all the way up. I can go to my backyard and sit by my waterfall and Koi pond and get WiFi reception. If you need to boost your signal strength around your house and you already have an Airport Extreme, do yourself a favor and buy the Express to extend your signal throughout your house. I highly recomend it and would definately buy again. Thank you for reading.