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Review: AirPort Express (802.11n) Base Station

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 08:00 AM

Post your comments for Review: AirPort Express (802.11n) Base Station here
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#2 User is offline   tony_d 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 08:42 AM

I bought the express way back when it first came out for the sole purpose of streaming music to my garage when I work in there. I've used it on trips where hotels had only ethernet lines (apparently everyone does this because when I turn on my airport a slew of networks pop up). Its probably the best $125 (at that time with a student discount) I've ever spent.
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#3 User is offline   deemery 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 08:53 AM

I have an original Airport Express and a 'White Blob' Airport Extreme (the version with a modem and external antenna jack.) I have been -unable- to get these two to play well together on any kind of secure network (WEP or WPA). All I want to do is connect the Extreme to the local wired network to bridge it wirelessly, and then use the Express to stream AirTunes (to an FM transmitter located to where I can get the radio signal through the house...)
A 5 hour call with Apple tech support got me a replacement Express (older model), but even with that new device, I still can't get it all to work together. What's more frustrating is that I can get the Express to 'play nice' with a cheapo D-Link Wireless Access Point (using WEP). I really expected better from an all-Apple networking setup.
dave
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#4 User is offline   pln 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 09:11 AM

The ProxySTA option seems like something that would be useful to add wireless N to a wireless G computer. I'm using a Mini as a HTPC connected via wireless G to the rest of my network. It works fine, but of course get only about 2.5 MB/s throughput.
How much extra effort would it be for you to test this option?
I would also like to see a review of other non-Apple options for adding wireless N, like those third party USB sticks.
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#5 User is offline   dtarr 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 09:14 AM

Perhaps this question isn't appropriate here, but I thought I'd ask anyway. I currently use the older version of AE to stream iTunes to my A/V receiver. Can I use that same unit to connect my wired internet connection to my DVR with an Ethernet cable?
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#6 User is offline   Dan Frakes 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 10:36 AM

dtarr said:

Perhaps this question isn't appropriate here, but I thought I'd ask anyway. I currently use the older version of AE to stream iTunes to my A/V receiver. Can I use that same unit to connect my wired internet connection to my DVR with an Ethernet cable?


Yes, it can do that, although setup is a bit involved, as you have to reconfigure both the remote and main base stations as a WDS network. I believe this also slightly reduces the performance of the network overall, as WDS increases network overhead.

#7 User is offline   THX1974 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 11:18 AM

Nice to see that this item has been updated. However, I think the practical design of the item is flawed. Why would anyone want to have that thing sticking out of the wall so far? They should have designed it so it lays flat against the outlet or wall. The plug prongs flip up to be flat for travel, why stop there with the design. I found the original stuck out too far, so I wasn't able to hide it behind furniture, and people and pets were always walking into it. Come on Apple, Think Better!
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#8 User is offline   dtarr 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 11:19 AM

Thanks for the reply Dan. Sounds like more than I want to get into, especially since all this network stuff isn't something I have a good understanding of anyway.
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#9 User is offline   Dan Frakes 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 11:27 AM

pln said:

The ProxySTA option seems like something that would be useful to add wireless N to a wireless G computer. I'm using a Mini as a HTPC connected via wireless G to the rest of my network. It works fine, but of course get only about 2.5 MB/s throughput.

How much extra effort would it be for you to test this option?


Sorry if that wasn't clear. I did test this mode; however, I didn't test the actual performance. I suspect it would be somewhere between the wireless-to-wireless and wireless-to-wired numbers I noted in the review. And it should work well for the use you mentioned.

We'll update the review this week with some performance numbers for ProxySTA.

#10 User is offline   Dan Frakes 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 11:30 AM

THX1974 said:

Nice to see that this item has been updated. However, I think the practical design of the item is flawed. Why would anyone want to have that thing sticking out of the wall so far? They should have designed it so it lays flat against the outlet or wall. The plug prongs flip up to be flat for travel, why stop there with the design. I found the original stuck out too far, so I wasn't able to hide it behind furniture, and people and pets were always walking into it. Come on Apple, Think Better!


Simple explanation: flat against the wall would adversely affect performance in most scenarios.

The ideal setup is higher up and away from a wall -- for example, using Griffin's AirBase -- but sticking out is a bit better than flat against the wall ;)

#11 User is offline   THX1974 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 11:46 AM

Hmmm . . . that's interesting, and I'm not trying to argue this issue, but I ended up plugging it into a lamp extension cord (White of course), and found no issues with performance after fixing it to the wall with foam tape. So I don't think the proximity to the wall or laying it flat on the wall is an issue for performance. But, yes having it higher up so you get greater signal spread does help in most cases.

Thx.
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#12 User is offline   scotg 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 12:03 PM

Has anyone tested the new AirPort Express' ability to use VPN? I had the original Express and though I loved it I was frustrated enough with trying to connect to my wife's company VPN (Nortel) that I had to go buy a Netgear router. I'd like to buy the new model but I'm worried that I'd run into the same issue, unless Apple has addressed it with this update. Any thoughts?
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#13 User is online   Sevenfeet 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 03:42 PM

ProxySTA is exactly what I need since I couldn't find any way to do a wireless bridge. I instead did a WDS network with an existing 802.11g Airport Express because it has a wired connection. The problem in the article is that it doesn't explain that there isn't any way to tell the AE to go for a 5 ghz network...that apparently is automatic. The problem is on the other side. In my home, I have a Belkin N1 router which has been trouble from day 1. There doesn't seem to be any way to tell it to just handle the 5 ghz range. So when the I reconfigured my new AE for ProxySTA, it couldn't find the Belkin, and thus disappeared from my network.
Oh well, back to reconfiguring... And the Belkin will probably get replaced by either an Airport Extreme or Time Machine in short order.
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#14 User is offline   jdhayes117 

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 05:10 PM

Dan,

Great review, thanks. Your comments about ProxySTA beg additional questions. If it is undocumented, where do I find out more? The situation you describe appears to be exactly what I want to achieve...use the Airport Express to bridge to an old Dell laptop from my Airport Extreme. I want to be able to use 802.11N, 5 Ghz and Wide Channels. My intent is connect my wife's old laptop via ethernet to the Airport Express, then let the Express talk to the Extreme. This way, I don't bog down my wireless network with a "g" connection. I've got the wireless on the laptop turned off but I can't seem to keep a connection on the laptop despite having a strong signal from the Express to the Extreme. Is this the correct situation for ProxySTA? Is there more to configuring this setup then to "set up the Express to join a 5GHz network and then enable the Allow Ethernet Clients setting"? Thoughts on why I keep dropping the connection? (BTW--when I do have a connection, it is wicked fast!)

Thanks in advance for your assistance or from your other readers.

jd
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