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August 11, 2004

Express checks in for hotel WiFi

I bought an Apple Airport Express today, when I saw they were in stock at the local computer store (probably influenced by one of our developers, who has been pestering the Apple Store for weeks, and hearing that they're not available yet). I am on the road today, and I knew I would be spending two nights at a hotel with high-speed broadband, so I thought I would get a good chance to try it out.

If you haven't seen the Airport Express, it's a tiny Airport Base Station, MINUS the dial-out and antenna, but PLUS a stereo-out jack (one jack that can handle analog or digital out). Here's what I had to do to use it:

  1. Open box
  2. Plug in the power
  3. Plug in the ethernet
  4. Join the network that shows up

Since I'm on a hotel network with the "Accept our terms" page, I popped up a browser, agreed to the terms, and started downloading several hundred bounced spams (some spammer or another has discovered a domain I administer, and is forging spam from it).

Long term, I think it will spend its time in my travel bag for use in a variety of remote sites, including my parents' house, in hotel rooms, and possibly at client sites. It also supports WDS, where one base station extends a network provided by another. When I get home, I'll try WDS with my Buffalo base station; so far I've only seen one report confirming that it worked with (I think) a D-Link base station. Update: It was a Linksys 54g, but some gymnastics were involved.

I hooked up my travel speakers to the audio-out, went to iTunes, and was briefly baffled: The speakers don't show up in the list of devices at the left of the iTunes window, but in a pop-up menu at the bottom. Switch from "Computer" to "Base Station 0xb38ag" (not its real address), hit play, and the music is coming out of the speakers across the room.

Connecting from my Tungsten C was totally uneventful as well. Everything works exactly as you would expect. If you had adjoining rooms in a hotel, you could share a single wired connection very easily with the Express, say if the hotel charged for internet access, or you wanted to use Rendezvous between rooms. I could also see using it in a corporate suite or at a trade show.

I haven't tried the print server capabilities, but they're on-board: The Express has a USB port with directions on hosting printer sharing out to the wireless network.

One small surprise: The Airport Express closely resembles the power adapter that Apple uses for the PowerBook, down to the piece with two wall prongs that slides off, and that I immediately replaced (on my PowerBook, that is) with the longer extension cord provided. With the Express, there's no extension cord in the box, so you have to plug the Express directly into the socket. Apple sells a Stereo Connection Kit that includes that extension cord, plus two sets of Monster-brand stereo cables (TOSLINK and RCA).

Amazon has a great price on the Express right now, and as always, if you get one by following the link below, I'll get a kickback:

August 11, 2004 in Apple - General, Apple - iPod | Permalink


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I tried to connect my airport express to a hotel network and cannot get the browser to come up so that I can accept the terms. Could you outline the steps and configuration of you airport express.


Posted by: Eric at Aug 19, 2004 6:31:26 PM