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Apple Rolls Out AirPort Express, AirTunes 795

Posted by simoniker
from the applicious dept.
das writes "Apple has introduced AirPort Express (specs), a palm-sized, portable 802.11g base station with 10/100 ethernet, USB printer sharing, and analog and optical audio output, for connection to a stereo system or powered speakers for streaming your music collection via 'AirTunes.' It supports multiple profiles for easy use at multiple locations It can plug directly into the wall as a "power brick", or use a longer power cord, similar to the newer PowerBook AC adapters. AirTunes requires iTunes 4.6, expected to be available soon."
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Apple Rolls Out AirPort Express, AirTunes

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  • by fname (199759) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:32PM (#9358398) Journal
    It's $70 cheaper than the SliMP3. It can replace a base station for many users. Less than the Wireless-G bridge that Linksys sells. Digital outputs for hooking up a stereo! I just ordered mine, hopefully I'll get one of the first ones shipped. I'll probably tell my Mom and brother to get one too-- it's just too damn cool!
  • by morcheeba (260908) * on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:33PM (#9358402) Journal
    How history repeats - the apple personal modem 1200 [tarosworld.com] (other site [mac512.com]) plugged into the wall also, and connected your computer to the outside world. Only this time, it's smaller, it's wireless, has audio out, and is 45,000 times faster.

    my 1000th post!
  • iPod with WiFi next? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:36PM (#9358432)
    This looks like a great product, and kudos to Apple for letting it work with PCs.

    Next step: having an iPod with WiFi that streams music/video to this baby! That would be super cool, and such a fun party trick. No more cables.
  • Cool! (Score:5, Funny)

    by GillBates0 (664202) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:37PM (#9358435) Homepage Journal
    Just hope my neighbors get 'Airtunes' within a reasonable timeframe...they took forEVER to get a wireless router. Some people are so lazy...
  • by babazoid (767123) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:39PM (#9358456)
    this product is going to sell like crazy. 99% of consumers don't care about the fact that you have to use apple software, or that it is closed-source, or that it has no web interface. haven't you read the articles about wireless recently? most people don't even realize that there is a web-interface in their routers!

    notice as well.. the thing has OPTICAL out capabilities. i see 5.1 surround coming from itunes soon.
  • sigh (Score:5, Funny)

    by TedCheshireAcad (311748) <ted@fc.AAArit.edu minus threevowels> on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:39PM (#9358457) Homepage
    I don't need it, I can't afford it...but it's just so cool. Sigh. Apple really got their foot in the door when I got this PowerBook.

    Where is my credit card?
  • Questions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:40PM (#9358466)
    It is not clear from the information provided -- will it be able to stream to multiple locations at once? Will it be able to keep those locations in sync on the same source of music, as well as allow you to stream different playlists to different sources?

    It looks like you can also use this in a wired fashion, where you connect this device to your wired network, and it will do the audio out as well. For me this would be more handy, because I already have ethernet wire to my stereo, but need a good way to get audio out of that... Is this actually how it will work?

    One thing this is missing is a way to control iTunes remotely. I still think slimp3 is on the right track. A server with a web interface that lets you control what music you're playing where. I might want my PC in my office in charge of storing and dishing out the music, but have a webpad or something floating around my house to let people control what is playing where.
    • Re:Questions (Score:5, Informative)

      by SandSpider (60727) on Monday June 07, 2004 @03:02PM (#9358727) Homepage Journal
      will it be able to stream to multiple locations at once?

      Doesn't look like it from the screen shots. It appears to be a drop-down menu, not checkboxes, so I would imagine one at a time.

      It looks like you can also use this in a wired fashion, where you connect this device to your wired network, and it will do the audio out as well.

      Nope. Check the comparison chart on Apple's site, and you'll see that it doesn't connect to the LAN, just to the Internet.

      One thing this is missing is a way to control iTunes remotely.

      Just a guess, but I'd say there will be several products announced in July or thereabouts that will allow you to control all of this through the AirTunes network.

      =Brian
  • Sounds good to me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by miked378 (703173) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:41PM (#9358483)
    I think the way to think of this is that it's a Wireless-G router with no LAN-side ethernet ports, but instead has an audio-out connector. Bottom line -- maybe it's not a Squeezebox, but the fact that it costs less than routers with similar feature sets, AND will work really well for those of us who have already bought into the Mac platform, makes it a potential huge winner.
  • by maxbang (598632) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:43PM (#9358505) Journal

    This'll be badass with my shreddin air guitar!!

  • It's More Than Music (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TexTex (323298) * on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:44PM (#9358526)
    AirTunes is the software driving this thing...but Apple's real device here is AirPort Express. It's a very portable base station, which can create a wireless network for connecting to a WAN through your cable/dsl modem...or extend the range of another base Apple base station.

    So, yeah...compared to the full features of a Squeezebox for music, it's lacking. And compared to the price of a Linksys or other 802.11 router...a little more expensive.

    I'll take wireless access to my stereo from my G5...which I already drive around via Bluetooth from my phone when I'm too lazy to move off the couch. Who needs a remote??
  • by bfg9000 (726447) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:44PM (#9358530) Homepage Journal
    ... there comes a point where all this convenience is deadly to fat guys like me. I'll just stick with putting a CD in my stereo, thanks. North America has so much convenience we're all dropping dead. I even have a remote control to turn on my Exercycle from the couch, so my wife thinks I'm excercising when I'm actually watching Smallville reruns.
  • by shrapnull (780217) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:46PM (#9358547)
    People that use iTunes and iPods have long requested a simple way to stream music to stereos no matter where they are.

    Those tiny white earbuds become tiny white pains in the ass if used for any period of time, and I like to hear the phone ring while I'm working.

    You can bet your tail this device is only the beginning and can probably offer hints to the next iPod revision: wireless and remote-control modes.

    Apple finally has a respectful user-base and they'll do anything they can to keep it for as long as possible.
    • by inertia@yahoo.com (156602) * on Monday June 07, 2004 @03:06PM (#9358767) Homepage Journal
      Those tiny white earbuds become tiny white pains in the ass if used for any period of time, and I like to hear the phone ring while I'm working.

      You're supposed to stick them in your ear.
    • by jared_hanson (514797) on Monday June 07, 2004 @03:26PM (#9358962) Homepage Journal
      You can bet your tail this device is only the beginning and can probably offer hints to the next iPod revision: wireless and remote-control modes.

      What I'm about to say may have been your intention, but if not, you may have hit on a huge selling point for these things.

      A fair amount of complaints about this device have been the fact that it has no local display and can only be controlled from a computer with iTunes. What if the next gen iPod could act like a remote (using IP over WiFi) for this thing? You could turn on your iPod, select the "Stereo" menu and see what's playing, queue up new songs (likely only those stored on you computer, since you'd want to shut off the iPod to avoid draining battery), etc all from the spiffy iPod interface.

      With something like that, Apple would be offering the ultimate music experience and give tons of people a reason to drop money into Apple's bank account. Get a Mac to organize all your tunes (or stick with the PC, if you like that sort of thing), buy a few of the devices for all your stereos/rooms, blanket your house in WiFi all the time, then buy an iPod for you/spouse/kids, etc that they can use to hear their favorite music wherever they are in the house. When you go out, you've got a portable jukebox as well.

      Apple is well on the way to revolutionizing the music experience. They are just a few steps away from the ultimate in convienice.
  • by Electric Eye (5518) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:47PM (#9358554)
    Really. Until now, the offerings on remote stereo hookups were fe and far between. I just set one of my clients up with one. It was cheap. It worked. But it sure can't act as a bridge. This is going to save a lot of people a lot of money. Previously, you had to buy another Airport Extreme for $100+ to create a bridge. Now, only $30 and you get the benefit sharing your printer and iTunes wherever the hell you want. Brillant! (To borrow the word fromthe new Guiness commercials)
  • Repeater (Score:5, Informative)

    by Espen (96293) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:53PM (#9358637)
    Since it hasn't been mentioned here yet, I would say that one of the 'sleeper' functionalities in the Airport Express is that it can act as a wireless repeater: if that is seamless, this could be a very handy little product indeed.
  • by sockit2me9000 (589601) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:55PM (#9358661)
    Seriously, Apple folds innovations on top of other innovations they make. This is the next ipod, people, they are already approaching the home stereo which is now integral to the home theater as well. 802.11g has more than enough bandwidth to stream movies, right? Now, Apple has completely outflanked MS's "media center" methodology by saying "why for the love of god to you need a completely separate computer to run your home entertainment system?" what is a receiver except for a specialized computer, a computer that can be linked with other computers through a router. My prediction: a wireless OLED remote with a bare-bones OS X-style interface controlling (wirelessly) all the media in computers around the house. All this for around 300 bucks. Apple won't produce a PDA because that has no defined role, it's too nebulous and from that comes confusion. BUT Apple has all the experience needed for a kick-ass remote that just HAPPENS to do email, surf the net, etc.Or, what if the ipod BECOMES the remote? Mark my words, this is coming within a year and it will be huge and considerably less-expensive than the microsoft solution. Plus, it will all integrate with the ipod, I'm betting. You know how OS X hooks up with bluetooth phones? Same idea. This is huge and it is huge because it will be cheap, seamless, and not smacking of convergence.
    • Movies over 802.11g (Score:4, Informative)

      by juuri (7678) on Monday June 07, 2004 @04:23PM (#9359522) Homepage
      In theory it has enough bandwidth but in practical, real world usage 11g doesn't work well for movie streaming. First the movies must be encoded down to a lower bit rate than straight DVD and even then unless you have adequate buffering you may run into hiccups. The real problem though is if you have 11b devices on your g network because that lowers bandwidth for your g devices somewhat.

      However the next generation of wireless protocols will have enough raw bandwidth to stream raw DVDs and sound as well (in theory).

      Interestingly people seem to be skipping over the fact that this device is a bridge. Many components in the Entertainment center are, or will be shortly, ethernet enabled. Apple has really covered their bases with this product as it has a lot of appeal to very different market segments. I

  • Note to Apple (Score:5, Interesting)

    by milletre (154241) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:56PM (#9358680)
    Apple: You are SOOOO close on this.

    However, I don't *want* to stream iTunes (AirTunes ... whatever). I want to stream whatever would be coming out of my audio port. I want to sit on my couch, put in a DVD, and watch and hear a movie without wires everywhere.

    Can *any* device do this without a TV? I found this DVD player [com.com], but it's not what I'm looking for, either.
  • Earbuds (Score:5, Funny)

    by alficles (781213) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:58PM (#9358690)
    Those tiny white earbuds become tiny white pains in the ass if used for any period of time,
    Perhaps you are wearing them incorrectly... they go in your ears. :D
  • by Kiryat Malachi (177258) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:58PM (#9358695) Journal
    Does anyone know if this will interoperate properly with non-Apple base stations? I'd jump all over this if it would work as a repeater with my cheap-ass Netgear wireless router - the added connection to my stereo would be nice, but the two together in a package small enough to hide behind my audio rack is very, very nice. But only worthwhile if it'll function as a repeater, functionality the construction of my apartment requires.
  • Modem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geoffeg (15786) <geoffeg&sloth,org> on Monday June 07, 2004 @03:01PM (#9358715) Homepage
    Why can't it have a 56k modem built in? That would be a great little device to take with you on trips.. Land lines are generally available everywhere but wireless or LAN isn't. What might also work is if there was a way to plug a USB modem into the USB port (that's supposed to be for printer sharing) and have the unit use that modem..

    Although it is nice that it can automagically act as a wireless bridge.

    Just my .02.
    Geoffeg
  • by moosesocks (264553) on Monday June 07, 2004 @03:05PM (#9358763) Homepage
    Apple's had lots of problems recently with AirPort.

    An update a month or two ago completely hosed both the base station and client in terms of speed, signal strength, and reliability. The update was pulled, and a new version was posted a week later.

    The new version still had problems. Frequently, users would completely lose signal for 30 seconds to 5 minutes. I specifically had this problem, and looking around the forums, there weren't many who didn't.

    Last week, apple posted an update to the client-side driver which seems to have fixed the last of the problems. Even though it's now fixed, apple was really ierresponsible by not just reverting to the old version (they didn't even provide a method to remove the faulty drivers!). I'd expect way more from Apple.

    Chances are they waited until all the outstanding bugs were worked out with the current airport stuff before releasing this little gizmo.

    I may get one just for the audio features and to act as a bridge in my living room which is logistically impossible to wire.

    At $129, it's a friggin' steal. The old AeBS was pretty pricey at $199, and the only things justifying that high price were the USB printserver (which, BTW, doesn't support all printers, especially those which have cardreaders which act as USB hubs), WDS, and the enterprise-grade administration tools. All home users would care about was the print server.

    Now, at $129, it's directly in competition with the consumer gear from Linksys, Netgear, and Co. Firstly, apple users always expect to pay a bit on the top for apple-branded gear. The quality you get is usually worth the extra 20% or so -- I've had more Netgear/Linksys power supplies die on me..... Secondly, a decent 802.11g AP WILL cost you a good $80-$90. One with a USB print server will easily cost as much as or more than the Airport Express. An independent wireless USB print server also costs around $100. Only using it as a print server is cost-effective. Finally, the audio feature is unheard of on this kind of multifunction device. You can expect to pay at LEAST $130 for a device which streams audio over the network and does nothing else. Granted, it will usually have some sort of screen and remote, but for the price, it's really not an issue. Oh yeah... did I mention it's tiny? (and very similar to the Power/iBook chargers)

    The only feature I would have liked to seen would have been a USB fileserver. Instead of plugging in a printer, plug in a USB Memory Key or Hard drive and serve files off of it. Guess you can't have everything :)
  • by gamgee5273 (410326) * on Monday June 07, 2004 @03:11PM (#9358814) Homepage Journal
    Okay: no remote. I can keep my iPod on the dock connected to the stereo and pop a remote on that... but how do I get the music from there to, let's say, outside? I have to bring the iPod with me... and the dock if I want the real line-out function...

    But there is no remote or display for the AirTunes, so I can't control things without going to the computer. I can use Bluetooth (my Belkin adapter has a 100 ft. range) and my Palm Tungsten T... hmmm. But I still don't get a playlist display. Can't change the playlist that's currently on, either.

    I could buy a Keyspan remote... but a 40 ft. range and RF is not the best way to go, IMHO.

    Why do I see a small" iTablet" in Apple's future? About the size of a Palm, stylus or touch controlled, with the ability to pick up shared iPhoto libraries and to control AirTunes wirelessly? Maybe even include some of the Newton's handwriting recognition since Mac OS X has the Inkwell technology in place...

    I think AirTunes is a Apple putting their toe in the water to see what feedback they get. The PDA/tablet rumors may actually be tied more to the digital hub than to actual portable computing...

  • by Anonymous Meoward (665631) on Monday June 07, 2004 @03:14PM (#9358842)

    And I was getting so psyched last night because I got my Via EPIA board loaded up with Fedora and XMMS, and could finally stream my favorite streaming audio site [kexp.org], albeit with Ethernet cable (Wi-Fi was on my project plan), and pipe it through my office stereo.

    And this little beauty will plug right into the wall socket by my stereo for a lot less money, less hassle, etc.

    Anybody wanna buy an EPIA, slightly used?
    (DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN......)

  • by AGTiny (104967) on Monday June 07, 2004 @03:16PM (#9358864)
    I wonder why they didn't include HomePlug support, (ethernet over the power lines in your house). It's slow (I get about 3mbit between opposite sides of my house) but more than enough for media files.

    Since this thing doubles as a wall wart and powerline ethernet requires a direct plug connection without a power strip, it should have been a no-brainer to include.
  • by $calar (590356) on Monday June 07, 2004 @03:58PM (#9359285) Journal
    OK, why spend money on this when you can build an analog oscillator hooked to your computer and using frequency modulation to broadcast your computer's sound over AM radio waves??? I have done this so that way I can listen to my good music outside with a cheap radio. I don't know what AirTunes costs, but my method is very cheap. In fact, it's so awesome you can set it up to broadcast over any frequency! I bet the FCC wouldn't be happy about this, but my signal isn't very strong.
  • by mveloso (325617) on Monday June 07, 2004 @04:05PM (#9359344)
    Everyone's fixated on music, but the best thing for us road warriors is it's a mobile access point. I can bring it around and use the hotel's wired access wirelessly from my room. And it's tiny and light, so it won't load me down -or- take up a lot of space in the laptop bag.

    If you've never been on the road, you don't know how much of a pain it is to be stuck to the crappy desks most hotels have. Go wireless!

    You can also (with a y-cable) attach it to the in-room TV, so you can ditch those annoyingly-heavy travel speakers. Yahoo!

    Need to enable wireless in a conference room really quick? Plug in one of these puppies, and bang, you're ready to go. You can even configure the drop in the conference room as not connected to the inside net, allowing instant ad-hoc outside access.

    It's also something else: a security nightmare for IT. Imagine the problem IT had with unauthorized modems. Now you can have rogue access points the size of a pack of cards hiding out somewhere in your organization. You'd never find the freaking thing.

    What a neato gadget!
  • by jollygreengiantlikes (701640) on Monday June 07, 2004 @04:47PM (#9359776) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps we'll see the combination of AirTunes software with Garage Band? The new AirGuitar software should really liven the party up.
  • Ooh! Shiny! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by payndz (589033) on Monday June 07, 2004 @05:42PM (#9360278)
    This sounds great!

    Now, all I need is a flat big enough to *need* wireless streaming to every room as opposed to 'turn the volume up on my iTunes-connected stereo and leave the doors open'...

    (Hmm, I guess I've reached the age when practicality and fiscul prudence take precedence over having the latest cool 1337 hardware. How depressing!)

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