final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Ease of use No comments
  • Speed / throughput No comments
  • Configurability / networking features No comments
  • Reliability No comments
  • Range No comments
  • Durability No comments
Detailed review
I live in a large building with many roommates, and we have numerous speaker setups around it that we share. We have a set in the bar, a set in the workshop, a set in the dining room, etc. We also play our music off of our laptops, and do not want to have to plug the laptop into the speakers wherever we are, limiting our mobility.

The Airport Express presents a solution to this issue.

I have installed Airport Expresses on all of the speaker systems in the warehouse, and AirFoil software on all of the computers. All people need to do, is open up a program, start playing their music, hijack that programs audio in airfoil, and select which speakers they want that music to be played on, and we are ready to rock out.

There are some issues with this setup of course.

First, there is noticeable latency between when the bits leave your computer, and when they are played over the speakers. This will not be a problem with music, but if you want to watch video, the sync between audio and video will be off. Do not assume that this is a problem inherent to audio over TCP/IP, as Telos AXIA systems prove that you can get the delay down to the point where it is functionally real time. Of course I do not expect a $100 device to match an AXIA system, but you should be aware of this before expecting this to transmit audio in your home theater system.

Second, without Airfoil, this will really only accept audio from iTunes, which is not all that useful. iTunes software is sketchy at best, and very limited. With AirFoil, I can hijack browser audio, Songbird, or whatever, making the AirPort express useful to me.

Third, you have to configure this with a piece of client software that you install on your computer, not a web browser. Not a huge minus, or a plus, but something to be aware of.

Fourth, this is an expensive solution to getting audio from point a to point b. I would like to find a cheaper way that doesn't have a whole wireless router built into it. Look around for other options if you are ONLY looking to use it for that function.