20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Amazing features - better than the previous model,
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This review is from: Apple AirPort Express (Accessory)
First off, although I liked the convenience and compactness of the previous models' integrated plug approach, the additional features of this new model more than make up for that.
I am using this in conjunction with an Apple AirPort Extreme base station (AEBS) to extend my wireless networks via gigabit ethernet. This model is much better suited to this task than the previous model, as it has gigabit LAN and WAN ports for different configurations. The AEBS has supported dual band 2.4 and 5 GHz wifi for a couple of years, and the previous AirPort Express model was single band only, so this new model allows me to extend both networks perfectly.
For anyone new to Apple wifi hardware and its configuration, this is a doddle to setup. If you have a Mac or iOS device, the setup utility is built-in. I have Windows desktops and iOS devices, so I can use either - for Windows, you will need to download the Apple AirPort Utility software for Windows from their website.
For first time configuration, simply plug the device into the power and it creates its own network to use for configuration. Discovery is all handled using Apple's Bonjour protocol which (if you aren't aware) means you don't need to do anything fiddly to find the new device. If you have wireless devices (such as a Mac or iOS device, or Windows PC with a wireless adaptor) the AirPort Utility software will see the new device and provide a wizard for configuration. In iOS, go to the wifi settings and it will appear as a separate network - tap the new network to configure the device.
One tip - before first time configuration, physically connect the device the way it will be when it's in your network. Mine extends my wifi via ethernet, but I initially didn't connect the ethernet, thinking I'd set it up wirelessly first, then connect the ethernet afterwards. The configuration wizard will offer options available based only on the current configuration, so as I wanted to bridge my network with my AEBS via ethernet, that option wasn't available because I haven't plugged the cable in yet. Connect everything up first, and the configuration wizard should get everything right within about 30 seconds.
This makes it hands down the easiest piece of network hardware to configure in my experience, and I've used (mainly) Netgear hardware which is pretty simple, among others like D-Link. By way of a last word on configuration, it's very simple to keep an eye on your network via an iPad (or iPhone etc.) using the AirPort Utility for iOS (free download from the App Store). The app provides a network topography with red/amber/green status lights, and all the configuration options are just a tap away. It's a pleasure to administer - which I realise sounds quite sad.
As for performance - awesome. I've used this to create and extend a hidden 5 GHz wifi network, which works with the iPhone 5 and iPads 3 and 4 (and probably lots of other devices) - it screams! The original 2.4 GHz network is also still available for other devices, and I'm not saying there aren't other devices that won't perform equally well - Asus have some excellent products at the top of their range - but with Apple there's one choice for a router and one choice for a WAP, and they're both amazing. You get what you pay for ultimately.
I'd highly recommend this product to anyone with iOS devices or a Mac. If, like me, you have Windows desktops, it's still the easiest networking hardware to configure if you're not technical. iTunes and the AirPort utility for Windows both support the Bonjour protocol, so you don't have to fiddle with anything. This product works particularly well when paired with Apple's AirPort Extreme base station, so if you are considering upgrading or replacing your entire network, I would urge you to consider starting with one of those - which already provides one of the best signal strength, speed and range aerials on the market - and extend it with one of these if necessary.
I can't comment on how this product works with other (non-Apple) routers and network hardware, but ultimately they're all doing the same thing, so I don't see why it wouldn't work. There are advanced options if you want to get into the nitty gritty of networking. Oh - this product DOES NOT support WPS for one-button network configuration. I think Apple omitted this on security grounds - you can read about WPS on WikiPedia, and if you want ease of configuration, I would recommend this product over a WPS-enabled one if you're bothered about security. Turn off WPS on your non-Apple networking products and get some help configuring your network if necessary. That's just my opinion, but WPS appears to be insecure and unnecessary when you see how easy this product and an AEBS are to configure.
Finally, if you would like to keep this product out of the way and tidy, like the previous model, I believe somewhere on Amazon there's a bracket for an Apple TV (which has the same dimensions as this product) which is inexpensive and can be bolted to a wall etc. to keep it out of the way.