Related link: http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/
About a week ago, I saw that the Airport Express had started shipping. That day I put in the call to my local Apple store and had them hold one in my name. Shipping times on the Apple site were 3-4 weeks, but I got the call on Tuesday that it had arrived.
The rest of the day was spent anxiously waiting for the work day to end so I could drive over and pick up the little gem. Once again, I was impressed with Apple’s packaging. The Airport Express comes in a case that is roughly half the size of an iPod cube. I’m sure this is so they can pack two of them side by side in the exact same space an iPod takes up. Apple’s shipping carrier must love them.
I got the treasure home safely, tore off the cellophane, and greedily opened the extreme blue box to find the Airport Express gleaming in Apple snow white. A quick glance at the fairly beefy manual and I realized I’d need to install an Airport Express Assistant from an enclosed CD. Did that, rebooted (*grumble*) and then hooked up the Airport Express while I was waiting.
I’d decided to use the Express to replace my existing access point. I had been using a Linksys WAP11 with great success. I live in a rather small house, so one access point easily does the job. I swapped the units and worked my way through the Airport Express Assistant. After a couple of minutes, I had the unit up and running with my usual settings.
I wanted to make some changes to the device’s configuration and was quite pleased to find that the Airport Admin Utility had no issue working with the Express. I was also happy to see that all of the standard settings are there, plus a couple of new ones for AirTunes.
AirTunes is my new Most Favorite Thing in the World. It gets this prestigious title by allowing me to stream music from my PowerBook to my home stereo. No noticeable degradation in audio quality and it’s terribly simple to use. When iTunes detects the unit, a little pop-up selector appears, allowing you to choose where you want the output. Your Mac’s speakers are the default, while you can choose your Express unit to stream to it.
I’ve also found that by bringing Salling Clicker into the mix, I can control iTunes on the PowerBook, allowing me to remotely control playback and view track information . Some have lamented the lack of a remote and I think that the Clicker offers a great remote for the Express. Albeit indirectly, it still does the deed.
Overall, I’m quite impressed with the Airport Express. I’d been waiting to get my hands on one since they were first announced. Now that I’ve been putting one to use, I’ll have to be waiting again. I think I’ll order up a second one for the kitchen now…
Do you have AirTunes floating through the air in your home?