Apple has introduced the AirPort Express, the first wireless base station that can be plugged directly into the wall for wireless Internet connections and USB printing, or thrown into a laptop bag to bring wireless freedom to hotel rooms with broadband connections. Airport Express features analog and digital audio outputs that can be connected to a stereo, and AirTunes music networking software which works seamlessly with iTunes®, giving users a simple and inexpensive way to wirelessly stream iTunes music on their Mac® or PC to any room in the house.
AirPort Express features a single piece ultra-compact design weighing just 6.7 ounces, and will be available to Mac and PC users starting in July for just $129.
“AirPort Express isn’t just the world’s first mobile 802.11g base station—with the addition of AirTunes users can now play their iTunes music on any stereo in their home—all without wires,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “This innovative Apple product will appeal to both notebook users who want wireless freedom in their hotel rooms and to music lovers who want to listen to their iTunes music library on a stereo located anywhere in their home.”
Apple was the first company to offer consumers easy, affordable wireless networking and is now the first to offer a truly portable wireless base station compatible with industry standard 802.11g and 802.11b wireless devices. AirPort Express features a compact design with no power brick required, providing maximum portability so it can easily be taken on the road for wireless broadband access in hotel rooms. The AirPort Express mobile base station also includes a built-in combination digital and analog audio connector allowing users to connect AirPort Express to a home stereo, powered analog speakers or the latest digital 5.1 surround sound systems.
AirTunes is Apple’s breakthrough music networking technology which works seamlessly with iTunes running on either Macs or PCs to let users easily create a wireless music network in their home. iTunes 4.6 automatically detects remote speakers and displays them in a simple pop-up list for the user to select. Once the remote speakers are selected, AirTunes wirelessly streams the iTunes music from the computer to the AirPort Express base station. AirTunes music is encoded to protect it from theft while streaming across the wireless music network and uses Apple’s lossless compression technology to insure no loss of sound quality. AirPort Express provides a range of up to 150 feet, and multiple AirPort Express base stations can be bridged together to send music to extended areas.
AirPort Express offers both Mac and PC users the ability to share a single DSL or cable broadband account with up to 10 simultaneous users and a single USB printer with multiple users. With its advanced security features, AirPort Express safeguards data on networked computers with support for WiFi Protected Access (WPA), 128-bit encryption and a built-in firewall.
AirPort Express can be ordered immediately through the Apple Store and is expected to be available in July at Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $129 (US). AirTunes requires the next version of iTunes, iTunes 4.6, which is expected to be available later this week as a free download.