Instant Hardware Lust: AirPort Express

Apple’s just announced Airport Express. It’s a tiny portable wireless base station designed specifically for music sharing; it has an audio out port so you can connect your stereo, and it (along with AirTunes and iTunes) lets you play music from your hard drive (or iPod) wirelessly transmitting to the AirPort Express, when then via the audio cable to your stereo, uses your stereo’s high quality speakers. As Apple says:

Whether your stereo or powered speakers are located in your living room, bedroom or basement, just plug it or them into the audio port on the AirPort Express Base Station using an audio cable. iTunes automatically detects the connection. When you open iTunes on your AirPort-equipped Mac or Wi-Fi-compliant PC, you’ll see a popup list at the bottom right of the iTunes window showing your remote speakers. Select it, click play and your stereo becomes the world’s greatest digital jukebox.

And, oh yeah, it’s cross platform with Windows. And it’s pocket-sized—which means all you need is a stereo or powered speakers, a Mac with iTunes and music files, and an AirPort Express to have your music where ever you want it..

I often connect my iPod to the stereo, but this way, we can use our extant AirPort network and connect to a central iTunes collection from anywhere in our apartment, since AirPort Express uses Rendezvous to detect the network. And you can daisy chain them, wirelessly, to an extant base station, extending the network without buying additional base stations. This would work really well for my parents, who are moving to a smaller home, and are going to be short of space for “stuff.” A couple of AirPort Exress units, powered speakers or a stereo, and they’re good to go—and they can share their music, and their printer, a real plus for them. And this is a really simple Apple solution, one that I can help them with over the phone.