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24 Days of Gadgets – Day 8

December 8, 2009 - Dave Hecei
If you have a MacBook, or any laptop, and a high-speed Internet connection you need a WiFi network. If you don’t have one yet, there are plenty of wireless routers to choose from, maybe too many. Apple makes a couple different WiFi products, the most unique is the Airport Express.

The Airport Express is an 802.11n WiFi router with some unique abilities. The Express is a small self-contained little unit; it’s basically a power supply with a router inside it that you just plug into any AC outlet. It has a single Ethernet port, a USB port for sharing printers, and a 3.5mm minijack for analog or digital audio out.

The Express can be used as a stand-alone wireless router, but since it is so small and self contained it makes for a perfect on-the-road wireless solution. If you travel and stay in hotels you can use the Express to easily setup a personal WiFi network. Most hotels and motels that cater to business travelers will at least have Ethernet ports in the room. Using the Express you now have an instant local WiFi for you and your guests.

The other two ports, USB and minijack, makes the Express even more versatile. The USB port can be used to connect to a Mac OS X compatible printer allowing it to be shared on your network. Even Windows PC can print to this shared printer. The minijack is a combo analog and digital optical connection. This is used in conjunction with iTunes allowing you to hear your library in another room. Just connect powered speakers or even connect it to your home stereo or home theatre. Keyspan (and Tripp Lite) makes a nice pocket remote that can connect to the USB port on the Express to control iTunes remotely.

The Airport Express is available at the Apple Store, or other Apple retail outlets, for $99.


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