2012 Airport Express Review – Better Performance, Less Portability

Apple Airport Express review

The New Airport Express provides significantly improved performance but slightly reduced portability.

+ Extremely easy set-up.
+ The 802.11n simultaneous dual-bands provides better performance and range compared to the prior generation Airport Express.
+ Audio port for Airplay streaming and a USB port for network printing (unchanged from prior generation)

– Not as well suited for travel as the previous generation (slightly larger form factor and it now requires a cord instead of just plugging into an electrical socket).
– No Gigabit Ethernet.

To set-up all you have to do is open the Airport Utility on your Mac (you will need to install this if you are using a Windows PC), it will detect the Airport Express and guide you through the set-up process step by step. Even if you don’t know anything about networking, you shouldn’t have any problems getting started.

It is the same size as an Apple TV, so it is still quite small, but now requires a cord instead of plugging directly into an electrical socket.

Compared to my previous generation AirPort Express this router has improved performance. The wireless speeds are excellent and the addition of the simultaneous dual bands has definitely improved performance over the previous generation. The range is more than adequate for a medium sized home.

There is now an additional Ethernet port allowing for both wired and wireless connections. The Ethernet ports are both capable of 10/100BASE-T speeds (no gigabit Ethernet). Similar to prior generations there is a USB port that can be used to hook up a printer to be used on your network. Note that the USB port does NOT support an external hard drive like the Airport Extreme or Time Capsule do.

The audio port is similar to prior generations – capable of optical output with an optical cable or analog output with a regular 3.5mm cable. I use this optical cable to stream digital music via Airplay to my receiver – it sounds awesome and works perfectly from iTunes and iOS devices.

If you plan to use the New Airport Express as your home router and don’t want to spend the extra money for an Airport Extreme it is a great performing router with easy set-up, small form factor, and excellent features such as network printing and Airplay audio streaming. However, compared to the prior generation, this is no longer as easy to take with you while traveling for secure wifi in hotels.

Review Summary
Product:Apple Airport Express
Description:Excellent performance for the size and cost but offers less portability than previous generation.
Rating:7 out of 10.
Editor:R.G. Medlin