The Developer’s Cry

Yet another blog by a hobbyist programmer

Apple Airport Express: It just does not work

As you might know, I too fell for Apple’s sleek looking hardware and its apparent easy-to-use software. The company from California that is being run by the no-nonsense genius Steve Jobs has a good reputation (well, at least for the last couple of years, ever since the ipods and Mac OS X) of delivering high quality products. Sadly, the Airport Express is a major letdown. I would go as far as to say that Apple is selling a broken product and is lying to their customers about it.

The Airport Express is a wireless networking device, which you can hook up to your home stereo to play your favorite music using iTunes. Apple’s website and on the packaging of the Airport Express it is promised that you can use it in your existing wireless network. This is a downright lie, unless your entire network consists of Apple products only. That’s right, the Airport Express will not play nicely with wireless equipment from other manufacturers. Oddly, this thing is getting rave reviews all over the web. Yes, it would be a great product … if it would only just work.

The manual says setup is easy, just run the admin utility and the light on the Airport Express will turn green. Not true. One caveat is that you have to allow the MAC address of the device in your wireless router. It will get its IP address over DHCP and I got the light happy and green, but iTunes would not play “airtunes”.
Eventually I hooked up an ethernet cable (direct link to my macbook!) and got it to play music, but it would not work wireless. After hours and hours of fiddling and resetting the Airport Express one more time, I decided to search the web some more.

What I found were some very disturbing messages on mailing lists, even on the Apple forums:

An article titled “Nothing but Problems: It just does not work!” (now deleted from the interwebs) shows that it did not work in 2004 and it still does not work in 2008.

Some weblog writes that you can write some unsupported firmware into your Linksys router and make a bridged setup with the Airport Express. I sure am glad I did not try doing this …
I returned the Airport Express the next day and got my money back. Sadly, I still can not play music from my macbook on my home stereo without plugging in a long audio cable.

Anyway, do not waste your time, do not buy this product!