When I was in Aspen in December, I once again found myself sitting in a house with Internet access (via DSL) but without wireless. This time there were only three of us competing for the Internet cable but that was two too many. We all had wireless adapters in our computers so we grumbled to each other that there must be a better way.
I was determined to find an inexpensive, portable, easy to set up Internet wireless base station. My primary computer is a Windows box so I went through all the logical network gear vendors. Everything I saw was big, bulky, or stupid looking. For some reason I wandered over to the Apple site and took a look at the Apple AirPort Express with Air Tunes. It was love at first sight – perfect size, the functionality I was looking for, and a fair price. I jumped over to the Amazon site and with 1–Click I bought it hoping it would work.
I installed it tonight. It took 15 minutes and had only one issue – the CD-ROM installer choked during the install on my Windows computer because I had a “new version of iTunes.” While that’s a stupid error, it was easy to fix by going to the Apple site, downloading the latest version of AirPort 4.2 for Windows, and installing again.
The setup was trivial and completely obvious. The only tricky thing to know is that if you want to have an encrypted network that both Macs and PCs can access, you need to use WEP, which requires exactly a 13 character password (yeah – good luck – it took a little while to come up with a 13 character password I could remember.)
While I’ve only tried this at home, it worked exactly as expected. As a result, the Apple AirPort Express with Air Tunes gets Toy of the Month status.