HowStuffWorks "How Apple AirPort Express Works


8/5/13 12:04 AM

How Apple Airport Express Works
by Nathan Chandler
Browse the article How Apple Airport Express Works

Introduction to How Apple AirPort Express Works
There was a time when connecting to the Internet meant sitting at a desktop computer that was connected to a short (yet expensive) Ethernet cable. And this was a relative luxury compared to yesteryear, when you needed a modem connected to (gasp) a landline-based phone system. Nowadays, wireless Internet is practically ubiquitous, thanks in part to devices such as the Apple AirPort Express. The AirPort Express is meant to let you create a wireless Internet access point anywhere -- at home, in a hotel room or just about any place you need a fast, dependable connection. It also lets you stream all sorts of multimedia goodies to various devices and extend the range of an existing wireless network. You can even use AirPort to add wireless connectivity to any device, such as a gaming console, that's equipped with an Ethernet port but not its own wireless card.
The pint-sized AirPort Express is jammed with all sorts of wireless networking capabilities. You can set up an access point, stream songs and video through iTunes, and much more. Courtesy Apple

That's a lot of features for a device that's only 3.7 inches (9.4 centimeters) high by 2.9 inches (7.5 centimeters) wide and 1.1 inches (2.8 centimeters) thick. The small size, of course, is by design. Its small form factor means the Express slips neatly into the side pocket of even a svelte laptop carrying case. It works with all popular flavors of Wi-Fi, including 802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g and 802.11n. It's also compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems. Security-wise, you can set the Express to use WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) or WPA2, 40-bit or 128-bit Wireless Security (WEP) and MAC address filtering.

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Connect AirPort to your DSL (direct subscriber line) or cable modem, or your Ethernet network, and it provides wireless Internet access for up to 10 users. Plug it into a printer via the USB cable, and presto, any of those 10 users is able to print documents wirelessly. And if you're on a Mac, built-in Bonjour capabilities mean users on the network can easily find one another to share pictures, videos or any other kind of data. Its iTunes capabilities are another key AirPort selling point. Plug its 3.5mm audio mini jack into any speakers around the house and then you can stream music -- in digital or analog -- wirelessly to those speakers from the iTunes library on your desktop or laptop computer. If you happen to have a handheld Apple device, such as an iPhone or iPod Touch, so much the better; you can remotely control iTunes and play music on demand without ever leaving your cushy couch. In a hotel room and chained to the uncomfortable desk thanks to a 2-foot-long Ethernet cable? Hook up the AirPort and now your room has swanky, secure wireless, so you can soak in the tub and surf. Is that last room in your huge house suffering from a weak wireless signal? Plop an AirPort within range of your base station and it amplifies that signal and makes it much speedier.

Apple AirPort Extreme
As with all popular hardware, this Apple product has changed since its introduction. The first version of AirPort Express arrived in 2004. The original shipped with an 802.11g networking chip and

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Courtesy Apple No matter which AirPort capability you want to use. As the unit starts up. There's no power switch. Certainly. this software serves as your central configuration and control hub. so the status light should immediately illuminate. The light changes to an unblinking green when it's ready to use. Apple Airport Express Setup Like so many Apple devices. If you're in a hotel room. Then the AirPort network will be visible on any of your wireless devices. of course.HowStuffWorks "How Apple AirPort Express Works" 8/5/13 12:04 AM Launch Video weighed less than 7 ounces. you have to install the AirPort Setup Assistant software that's included on CD.and sound-laden multimedia files that have become staples of both personal and business correspondence. RELATED LINKS How WiFi Works How WiFi Detectors Work How Auto-detecting Power Converters Work The Extreme has other features that make it valuable to power users. this little box couldn't be much more straightforward.11n chip that doubled its wireless range to around 300 feet. but instead of maxing out at 10 users. including not one but three LAN (local area networking) ports. Apple released an update to the Extreme in 2007.and mediumsized organizations of all types. it supported up to 50. when it comes to the hardware the Extreme is a bit larger than the Express. it used an 802. As such. Then you plug the AirPort into an electrical socket. there's no browser-based setup routine. Official specs listed its range at around 150 feet. Plug it into the wall and then connect it to your Internet connection. But beyond the change-up in networking chips. To set up your AirPort as an Internet access point. start by connecting the Ethernet cable from your DSL or cable modem to the AirPort. It also has multiple antennas. The company unveiled the first Extreme in 2003.5 inches (16. the plain-white AirPort Express is meant to be simple to set up and use. Instead. Yet both the Express and the Extreme are rather tiny by traditional router standards. Apple kicked the Express up a notch. After a brief and mostly automated software installation. The current unit substitutes an 802. RELATED LINKS How WiFi Works How WiFi Detectors Work How Auto-detecting Power Converters Work AirPort Final Landing Of course. which takes the Express's concepts and beefs them up significantly. setting up a typical network is only part of the power of your AirPort. With that increase in capacity. Completing the setup process means simply following the on-screen prompts. you'll read more about what it takes to get data flying at your own Apple AirPort. It measures 6. of course. meaning it's roughly five times faster. your new AirPort is ready to use. meaning it can send and receive data simultaneously for faster transfer. and as with the Express. The Express isn't the only AirPort in town. you'll still simply connect the Ethernet cable in your room to the Airport. the product was pretty much the same.11g. That frequency also meant data transfer speeds that were nearly five times faster than before [source: Apple]. It featured all of the same capabilities of the Express.11n chip for the older 802. its activity light glows a dark yellow. so if you don't have one handy you'll be making a run to an electronics store. Apple also unleashed the Airport The Extreme version of the AirPort supports up to 50 users and it comes loaded with three LAN ports for added connectivity options. And on the next page. On the next page. the Extreme was suited for small. In 2008. Keep in mind that this product doesn't ship with an Ethernet cable. we'll touch on the rest of the setup processes that make your AirPort traffic move.3 centimeters) thick. The real fun comes into play http://electronics. make it a lot easier to send the image. Those increased speeds.3 inches (3. you won't see a modem of any kind. You'll select "create a new network" and then give your fledgling network a password. marking the company's entry into the ultra-portable router market.11g chip.5 centimeters) square and 1.htm/printable Page 2 of 4 . throwing in an 802. Unlike many routers. Courtesy Apple Extreme. Their portability means just about anyone can set up a wireless base station anywhere they need it. For power users.

"Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Purchased Movies. create a new network. The AirPort Express has a built-in power supply. Apple's devices help you sling information wirelessly in all sorts of data-intensive situations." (May 6. "AirPort Express Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Courtesy Apple Finally. but if your copy of iTunes is installed on a stationary desktop computer. RELATED LINKS How WiFi Works How WiFi Detectors Work How Auto-detecting Power Converters Work RELATED LINKS How WiFi Works How WiFi Detectors Work How Auto-detecting Power Converters Work Author's Note It's hard to believe that I started using the Internet using a 300-baud modem tied to a landline." (May 6. of course. you'll connect the Express directly to your printer via a USB (May" (May 6. 20 years ago I would never have dreamed of a pocket- sized router that magically gave me high-speed access to a Web filled with more information and multimedia than I could From music to multimedia video. you'll select your speakers from the speakers pop-up window that appears on the bottom-right side of iTunes. Then you'll use your computer's operating system to locate the printer on the network. my handheld phone has a faster data connection by far -. So it's easy to take products like the AirPort for granted. For wireless printing. you need either an analog mini jack connector or its optical.HowStuffWorks "How Apple AirPort Express Works" 8/5/13 12:04 AM when you dive into its music functions. "AirPort Extreme. Plug one end into the Express and the other into your speakers. To set up the AirPort with your stereo speakers. 2012) http://support.howstuffworks.and it's always Video? The idea was laughable. you can also set up the AirPort to extend the range of an existing wireless network. you'll have to walk back to that machine to switch from Blake Shelton to Miranda Apple. in iTunes. The times have changed.html http://electronics. you must. The squeaks and hisses of the connection handshake are forever embedded in my brain. 2012) can only control playback through Apple Support. though -. These days. Then. With the AirPort Setup Assistant software. You'll plug the AirPort into an electrical socket in the area of your home where the existing wireless signal range begins deteriorating. I was greeted by text-driven data and absolutely no graphics whatsoever. a quick AirPort setup is an easy way to get your data off the runway and into the air. One caveat. That's easy enough if you have an iPhone or a laptop that you can carry around the house. Whether you opt for an AirPort Express or its Extreme version.htm/printable Page 3 of 4 . 2012) http://www. Click to play a song and your tunes will crank through your big stereo speakers. 2008. digital counterpart. have an existing wireless connection. you'll load the AirPort Setup Assistant program and use its configuration utility to manage your new Apple. For starters. whether you’re at home or on the Related Articles How Routers Work How iTunes Works How Apple TV Works How Apple Boot Camp Works Sources Apple Support." March 17. 2012) http://support. Then. "Apple Introduces New Airport Express with 802. But suffice it to say. You'll have to buy the cord separately because the AirPort doesn't include And after all of that waiting. and for the better. That means no cords to lose or tangle.

com/blog/perlow/appleairport-express-okay-okay-i-love-the-damn-thing/10115 Rockwell.zdnet." Dec.html Apple. Perlow. 2012) http://www. Cheng.ars 2012) http://www. "How to Set up the AirPort Extreme." Arstechnica.howstuffworks. 2008.cnet. "Apple AirPort Express Base 2012) http://www. 2011.html Apple.html Apple.htm I Love the Damn 2012) 26." (May 6. 2004. "AirPort Express Setup Guide. "Easy Setup.2. 2012) http://reviews. (May 6. "AirPort Express." July 14. 2012) 2012) http://www.html Iclarified.iclarified. 2012) 2004. (May 6. Jason. "Apple Airport Express: Okay. "Apple Ships New AirPort Express with AirTunes. 5. (May 6." (May" "How Apple AirPort Express Works" 8/5/13 12:04 AM Apple. "Apple AirPort Express.php?enid=934 2011." April 12. May 22. (May 6. 2012) http://www.macinstruct.html Apple." Kenrockwell. (May 6." June 7. "How to Install and Set up Your AirPort Express." Aug. (May 6." (May 6. 2012) http://arstechnica. "Apple's AirPort Express May Soon Get a Speed "Apple Unveils AirPort Express for Mac and PC okay.htm/printable Page 4 of 4 . 2004. 2012) http://www. (May 6. (May 6.

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