Apple’s AirPort Express Streams Music to Your Digital Home With AirTunes

Apple have just released AirPort Express – a wireless adapter that lets Mac and PC users set up an instant 802.11g network at home.

The seven ounce box fits into the palm of your hand and is essentially a 802.11g transceiver with an audio out connection on it – plug your stereo into it, and it’ll play music streamed to it from your iTunes-equipped PC or Macintosh. AirTunes even has a feature to select which AirPort Express adaptor receives music.

The unit also contains a mains adapter so it can be plugged directly into the mains without any further cables.

You can do all the usual things with AirPort Express too – share your internet connection and printers, and the unit has a built in USB port and network socket.

AirPort Express costs US$129 (€105), which might seem a little on the pricey side for a 802.11g transceiver with only one network port on it, but then this one is based around being easy to use, acts as a repeater, contains the AirTunes circuitry and has Apple’s usual lovely stylings. Home wireless kit is currently very ugly and is not as straightforward to set up as some manufacturers would have you believe. With AirPort’s design heritage and simplification of the wireless networking concept, if anyone can get 802.11g to go mainstream, it’s Apple. Promoting the unit to PCs users is a great idea, as Apple no doubt learned from making the iPod PC-compatible. Apple’s Airport Express

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?