What is an Apple airport express? 5 features you might not know

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AppleAirportExpress (1)Apple’s Airport Express is a mystery device to some, and little more than an alluring Apple device to others. “What does it do?”; “Why is it better than my existing router?”; “Is it too much hassle to set up?”; “I think I’ll just stick to what I have”. All common questions or phrases consumers ask or say when finding out about it. In this article, I’ll look at five features about the Airport Express that are useful, and great to make people aware of, especially if someone is considering a network solution.

 

First, what is it?

Let me start by saying what it isn’t, it’s not a modem router. This means that you will need to keep an existing modem or router that your internet service provider sends you, be it Virgin Media or BT etc. The Airport Express is a Wi-Fi base station, it’s designed to complement your current modem router and enhance the whole networking experience. It’s very easy to setup and offers streaming and even printing capabilities which are detailed further on.

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5. Price

Isn’t it funny how many people can remember the exact price of smartphones and tablets even in their various capacities? Well the Airport Express is available for £79, making it very competitive against other routers or media streamers, and a worthy addition to a plethora of Apple devices you might have around the house.

 

4. Form Factor

When you think of a router or a media streamer, you’re probably imagining something fairly chunky, which would definitely make its presence known on a desk or perhaps behind the TV. Not the Airport Express though, it’s small and portable – ideal for taking with you on holiday. You could connect it up to the wired network connection in a hotel room or suite and have Wi-Fi in your room. This would have been useful for me when I was living at university for sure.

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3. Connectivity

Most routers allow maybe 4 or even 8 users to be connected to it at any one time. This is somewhat passable for small families or a group of friends sharing a property, but for businesses or education establishments, this could be a huge limitation. The Airport Express, however, allows up to 50 users to be connected to it at one time. It also supports dual band 802.11n, so if you’re device can handle the faster 5 GHz range, then you’ll see much faster speeds. Otherwise you’ll have the 2.4 GHz frequency to catch on to. There is also a handy USB port and a headphone jack on the back.

 

2. Music Streamer

A router with a headphone jack? You might think it’s madness. Nope, it’s real and it’s on the Airport Express – you can connect any speaker to the device using an auxiliary audio cable, and use Airplay from an Apple device to stream music wirelessly. You can have multiple Airport Express devices around the home, each one connected to a different speaker and then play the same music across all of them – great for parties!

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1. Print Server

Some printers just don’t have any sort of wireless capability, however they will if they’re connected to the Apple Airport Express. When a printer is connected to the router’s rear USB port, it automatically becomes a Wi-Fi enabled printer which allows you to print wirelessly from a PC or Mac anywhere in the home. It’s the token Apple magic, breathing new technology into otherwise obsolete hardware.

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Honourable Mentions

Airport Utility – Often with routers, there’s quite a complicated setup process. You need to remember various codes and admin passwords – never mind remember I.P. addresses. As expected, Apple make this very easy with the Airport Utility, an app built into Macs and available as a free download on iOS devices. From here you can configure simple settings like the name of the network or change the password, but it also gives you quick access to information like IP addresses, DNS servers and router addresses.

Guest Networking – The guest networking mode allows you to create a new Wi-Fi network just for guests. You won’t need to set up a password for this if you don’t want to, and while this might worry some of you – it shouldn’t. The guest network will only allow devices to browse the internet, whilst preventing users from accessing any connected devices like a printer for instance.

Built In Firewall – The firewall doesn’t need to be configured, it just works and is immediately activated once the Airport Express has been setup. This allows users to have peace of mind while browsing and not worry about having their data compromised or viewed by prying eyes as well as of course protecting against any malware.

 

Conclusion

The Apple Airport Express is quite an underrated and mysterious device – most people don’t even realise Apple make their own networking hardware. Hopefully then, this article has helped you realise some of its unique benefits.

What was your favourite feature? Would you consider purchasing one? Be sure to drop a comment down below, and if you know someone that is struggling with setting up a Wi-Fi network or is considering a new wireless network solution option, think about sharing this article with them and they’re sure to have a more seamless, secure and simple experience.

 


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Purav is a 22 year old Maths Graduate with a keen passion for technology.  In his spare time he makes YouTube videos for his own channel: PDTechHD, which is approaching 2,000 subscribers. He’s also co-admin at TeckComesFirst.com, a UK Blog Awards-nominated website which runs a great series of interesting tech interviews.

 

 

 

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This article has 3 comments

  1. Nico 05/21/2014, 8:56 am:

    This article has pretty much sealed it for me. I’ve always been interested in what the Airport Express does and this has explained it completely! Well done! This will be bought soon!

  2. NaijaBird 05/21/2014, 9:27 pm:

    A very detailed article. Purav. This will definitely come in handy if I ever have the need to expand the amount of devices connected to my router.

  3. Gareth Bayard 05/23/2014, 8:03 pm:

    This was a really interesting article to read, I have always been intrigued into how it actually works and what it is capable of. This explains it really well, in a nice format.

    As always, brilliant content Purav! 🙂

    Gareth

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