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Apple AirPort Express review

AirPort Express proves to be a great way of building a Wi-Fi network

Our Verdict

For

  • Dual band, excellent reception
  • AirTunes audio support
  • Compact design

Against

  • No gigabit Ethernet

Sneaking out at WWDC, the junior member of Apple's AirPort range saw some significant and much-needed improvements. Indeed, it's now a much tougher choice between the AirPort Express and the bigger, more expensive, AirPort Extreme.

The first thing you'll notice is a new design. Apple has done away with the previous form factor, in favour of something resembling a white Apple TV, making the whole thing much more svelte and easier to place exactly where you need it.

The biggest improvement, though, is in the most fundamental part of any Wi-Fi base station: its radio. Previously, you had to use 802.11n on either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency bands; but with the new AirPort Express, both bands are available simultaneously, so you should see better performance at both short and longer ranges with 802.11n devices.

In our tests, this was the biggest difference in performance between the old and new versions. While throughput was roughly equivalent at short range, as soon as we went into another room, the signal with the old Express would drop; with the new version, performance at distance was much better. This makes the Express a much better choice if you want to use it as your main Wi-Fi router in a smaller house, but as with the previous version it also excels if you want to use it to extend an existing network.

For covering a house without having multiple networks, this is a great option and AirPort Express is extremely easy to set up. AirPort Express now includes two Ethernet ports, letting you connect to both a broadband router and computer at the same time. However, these ports are still 10/100 Ethernet, rather than the significantly faster Gigabit Ethernet that's standard on most Macs.

Also included is an optical audio port, which means you can use the AirPort Express as a way to get audio from any AirTunes-capable device to your hi-fi setup.

The new AirPort Express is a significant upgrade, making it much more capable, and a better choice for more users.

Tech Specs

Product TypeWireless Router
Broadband Transmission TechnologyEthernet
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
ISM BandYes
UNII BandYes
Ethernet TechnologyFast Ethernet
USBYes
Number of Network (RJ-45) Ports1
Product FamilyAirPort Express
Number of Broadband (RJ-45) Ports1
Wireless Transmission Speed54 Mbps
Brand NameApple
Form FactorDesktop
ISM Maximum Frequency2.40 GHz
UNII Maximum Frequency5 GHz
PoE (RJ-45) PortNo
Height22.9 mm
Width99.1 mm
Depth99.1 mm
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product NameAirPort Express Base Station
Product LineAirPort Express
Manufacturer Part NumberMC414B/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

Featuring an all-new design, AirPort Express now supports simultaneous dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi. Set up your wireless network quickly and easily using your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC. Create a network just for guests. Stream music to any room in the house. And print from any room in the house, too. All with the latest wireless technology.

Easy Wi-Fi setup using iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

Connect your DSL or cable modem to AirPort Express and create your new wireless network in just a few taps from your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. If you're using OS X Lion, use the built-in AirPort Utility on your Mac. Setup is just as fast and just as easy.

Package Contents
  • AirPort Express Base Station
  • Printed Documentation
  • Power Cord
Weight (Approximate)241 g