Review: The 2012 AirPort Express – I love it, I hate it!

“Apple quietly introduced a brand new AirPort Express model on Monday at the WWDC,” Terry White writes for Terry White’s Tech Blog. “Although I was most excited about the new MacBook line up, I was quick to take a look at the New AirPort Express too. While the specs looked great, I cringed when I saw the back of it.”

“Apple has gone away from the all-in-one design to one that is almost identical of the Apple TV,” White writes. “By that I mean that it now requires a power cord. This may not seem like a big deal and maybe it isn’t (I’ll be on the road with it next week), but I certainly will miss just flipping out the prongs and plugging it in!”

“On the plus side Apple added a second Ethernet jack so that you can connect not only the ethernet cable to your internet connection, but also plug in a device via ethernet for speed. Sadly though these still aren’t gigabit ethernet ports. Not sure how much I’ll need that second port on the road, but it’s nice to have. The new AirPort Express is also dual band (like the AirPort Extreme) simultaneously supporting 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz WiFi connected devices,” White writes. “It still has AirPlay and a USB port for printers as well as support now for up to 50 devices [up from 10].”

Read more in the full review here.

Related article:
Apple reveals all-new AirPort Express Base Station – June 11, 2012

33 Comments

      1. Has nothing to do with being “cheap,” it’s defining a product for its intended purposes. If Apple was “cheap” then they would’ve left the extra port out completely.

        Fact is, Apple sees the Express as a mobile or secondary device and not meant to be used as your base network router. The radio on them isn’t as powerful as the Airport Base Station, so the signal isn’t as strong. Besides, 100Mbps is plenty fast for connecting a device to a wireless network.

        1. Unless you’re doing backup via WiFi to a network attached storage device like a Western Digital MyBook Live, then you’ll feel the constraints of 100Mb/s on read/write speed. The 100Mb/s interface looks fast until you account for losses and overheads. The differential in cost between an FE (Fast Ethernet) and GE (Gigabit Ethernet) port is marginal but you’re forced to purchase a higher end device while a lower end device on 802.1n is capable of 300Mb/s throughput on a dual channel wireless router.

          1. Yes, because Apple is legendary for being cheap. That makes sense.

            I think this is a case where they understand that an Airport Express is not an adequate substitute for an Airport Extreme. If people were to buy it as such, they would blame Apple for the poor performance of the Express in a role for which only the extreme is suitable.

          2. If you think about it, it makes sense that it is NOT gigabit. Since there is only ONE port, the only way to interact with that ONE port (locally) is to and from other devices that connect to it wirelessly, which is 802.11n (or slower). 100BASE-T and 802.11n are roughly equivalent in terms of optimal speed. Having a wired connection that is 10 times faster (gigabit) would be overkill, for this device.

            But with a full-sized AirPort Extreme Base Station, there are multiple Ethernet ports on it, so there is an advantage with gigabit-capable wired devices being able to interact with each other at full speed.

          3. Maybe I am missing something here. My thought is regardless whether it has a gazillion GB port or 100 MB port, the WiFi speed from the computer to the device will be less than 100 MB.

            Now, if one connects a RJ45 from the computer to the device that 100MB port will be much too slow. Until our computers can send WiFi signals faster than 100 MB I am okay with that slower port.

            In fact I have the previous model to which is connect our printer. It is plugged in the wall not too far from the Airport Extreme (original flat model). Ah, we also have the original Airport Extreme (white UFO model) on the lower floor extending the network. Even having “…a network attached storage device like a Western Digital MyBook Live…” we cannot go faster than the computer has the ability to send data to the device regardless how fast the port is.

  1. It’s still $99, right? I guess people lose sight of the improvements and focus on what a device doesn’t have when there’s an Apple logo on it, price notwithstanding.

  2. “Hate” is a strong word for this. The cord is a slight advantage in my set up, replacing a typically kinked extension cord to arrange hide the device for my remote speakers. Not a big deal either way. Other improvements welcome.

    1. Just a thought, by going with a cord, you can take up less space in the power extension box.

      Actually, come to think about it, we need a better extension cord thingie… With everything requiring a plug in an outlet, I keep running out of outlets, and many things require a large brick which takes 2-3 outlets, Since nothing draws any real power, we need a 15 outlet extension cord for all these little current devices.

    2. The previous Airport Expresses I had had removable prongs, a la the power adaptor for Apple laptops, for which a longer cord could be substituted.

      I personally like being able to plug in the old express right into the surge protectors behind my speakers, but, like you, don’t think it is a big issue. Just another cable to tie up, but maybe being further from the outlets will improve reception.

  3. My 1st reaction was mild disappointment over the cord requirement. The rest of the spec’s make up for that so I don’t get the “I hate it” bit. I’m hopeful getting it away from all the electrical clutter will reduce the need to restart the Expess as an aside. If Apple added a cord I’m guessing they saw good reason.

    1. We have an Extreme that covers most of our property, but we also have a remote home office that houses an old G5 tower without wireless capability. Instead of running 100′ of Cat 5 cable through the overhead I simply hooked up the G5 tower to a local AP Express and voila! Instant connectivity to the rest of our network. I’ll pay $99 to keep from running 100′ of cable through my attic any day.

  4. Complaining about having a power cord instead of two prongs to plug it in; typical American self-centered view. The world outside your country uses different voltages and plug arrangements, which makes a power cord essential, especially if you’re travelling, although, frankly, why would you bother when so many hotels, etc have wifi.
    The world spins on its axis, it doesn’t revolve around Des Moines, Iowa.

    1. Spare us with the anti-American sentiments. The Airport Express was quite nicely adaptable to any plug with the traveler’s kit. Sure it was extra $$, but for soem of us who travel it was awesome.

    2. Not fair, this time, Name. The form factor of the old unit provides a removable plug. It’s identical to the power supply for my MacBook Pro. You can even replace it with a cord. I rather like it as I use them around the house to extend my WiFi. However, I expect this new form-factor is cheaper
      .

    3. Ya know people are quick to jump on apple about stuff aren’t they…

      The power chord may get the device further away from electrical interference.

      The intended use of the device is not a router, it’s for WiFi, therefore why do you need it to be gigabit? Can transmissions go gigabit speeds wirelessly? Ya I don’t think so, more like a fraction of that.

      I might have made it aluminum or black like the other devices, but it wouldn’t detract from a purchase in any way.

      – A guy not from Iowa 😉

  5. Tons of people didn’t like plugging in the Express into an outlet, because outlets can be in awkward places, also, that it limits positioning for optimal wifi range.

  6. This new design is a piece of shit. The writer is right … the value of the other one is that you could just plug it in the wall and it was small simple and compact. Whoever came up with this new version had his head up his ass.

    1. No wonder you don’t like it. Your post seems to show that you likely are cold to everything and everyone. Next time, try using more articulate mature language when addressing a large audience.

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