final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Ease of use Using Airport Utility is a whole lot more complex than it should be poor
  • Speed / throughput The specs are there. Printing is very fast from a Mac and tolerable from a PC. I love the Airplay feature. good
  • Configurability / networking features As far as being a router, it sucks and doesn't work in my townhouse. My 3 year old + Netgear works reliably and the speed is better awful!
  • Reliability It does work simply when you plug it in. I haven't tried to use it in a hotel yet though. so-so
  • Range sucks compared to $40 dedicated routers awful!
  • Durability doesn't look like it will break. Haven't traveled with it and needed it yet. good
Detailed review
Overall I am happy to have this product, but disappointed because it wasn't cheap. I bought it to replace my router, have wireless printing and use Airplay as a bonus. I bought it refurb from Apple online to begin with so my investment was only $75 instead of the $100 for a new one. Printing worked, router performed poorly and Airplay would skip and pause during play. With the Airplay I would be playing a song, rocking out and then 40 seconds later I would get silence. 5 seconds would go by and then it would come on again, but this constantly happened. The router function was slow, my pc would disconnect, it was difficult to have more than 2 devices connected at once (PS3, PC, iPhone) and not have any problems.

I went to the Apple store and told them of the Airplay problems. They switched out my refurb Airport Express for a new one, without any receipts or anything, it was kind of weird. After going home and experimenting, I got the printing set back up, Airplay working flawlessly, but the router function still sucks. Even when I try to use it just as an extension of my 2.4 GHz network it drags down my devices and makes it so I can't connect at times. So I have it set up as a participant in the wifi network, and the main function is wireless printing. I love the Airplay aspect, but I actually got some speakers, transmitters and receivers for Sony's S-Air technology for just over $100 on ebay so I have been using that more when I want to play loud music.

If you want Airplay and wireless printing, this device is awesome. Considering it's the same cost as a wireless printer, maybe it's not the best fiscal choice, but that's up to you to decide. If you want to use it as a router, I would not recommend it unless you know your shit about setting up wireless networks. Airplay is nice, but there are cheaper alternatives and you do have to run a Ethernet cord from your router to the device to do anything at all, so beware of that.

Hopefully Apple will come out with the next one soon and it will be awesome, but so far I am disappointed in paying a premium for a product that does not outperform competition.