Airport Express

Apple's new Airport ExpressThe Air­port Express I ordered last month arrived yesterday.

After 2+ hours of fid­dling, googling, plug­ging and unplug­ging, I’ve final­ly got Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs stream­ing from my Powerbook’s iTunes, to my Onkyo receiv­er and Cam­bridge Sound­works speakers.

The prob­lem was to get my $60 Net­gear router to rec­og­nize the AX —as the doc­u­men­ta­tion makes no promis­es of con­nect­ing to a third-par­ty wire­less router, (on a side note, I’ve nev­er under­stood the pric­ing of the orig­i­nal Air­port Extreme—at $200, what advan­tages could this mod­el pos­si­bly offer over any oth­er IEEE 802.11g router?). Expect­ing it to plug-in and work, like all my Apple gear, I became increas­ing­ly frus­trat­ed with that blink­ing amber light (which tells you there is a prob­lem, but pro­vides no oth­er details).

After search­ing around in vain, I stum­bled across this thread on the Apple forums: AX: Switch­ing between Client and Net­work ?—and cjb65 points out that all you have to do is place a “$” before the 128-bit WEP key, when you set up the net­work… and pow! it works… Although, I’ve yet to get it to extend the range of my pri­ma­ry net­work. The AX is mere­ly act­ing as a “client” now.

It sounds good, how­ev­er, there are some “cons” to report:

  • AX bypass­es my Vol­ume Log­ic iTunes plu­g­in, (which nor­mal­ly improves the qual­i­ty of play­back quite a bit). I’m not too hap­py about that, though per­haps this will be ironed out in the future.
  • I wish that the AX streamed all audio to my stereo, not mere­ly music from iTunes.

Still, now that is stream­ing well enough, I’m impressed. I can’t wait to take it on the road, and use it as a portable wire­less net­work. Now, if only my cell phone could browse the web…

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