Among the many announcements and hardware updates following the WWDC keynote, there’s also the new AirPort Express base station. Overall, it’s a nice update: now the little base station has two Ethernet ports (WAN and LAN) and the very useful simultaneous dual-band 802.11n connection, which would be perfect for my mixed wireless home network setup, with 802.11n, 802.11g and 802.11b devices all connecting to the same network.
Design-wise, I’m simply disappointed. Sure, now the new AirPort Express shares the same style as the AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule and especially the AppleTV — it basically looks like a white AppleTV. Have you noticed something in the image above? Now the AirPort Express must be placed somewhere on a horizontal surface, because they changed the way the base plugs to get power. Perhaps some people won’t be bothered by the change, but I’ve always thought that one of the best features of the old AirPort Express was that you could just plug it in a wall plug: no cables dangling around, no need to look for horizontal surfaces like a shelf, a small table, etc. This was excellent for cramped spaces or corridors, where you could place a second AirPort Express to extend the Wi-Fi network. Just look again at the old design:
The new AirPort Express may look cooler and more in line with the current Wi-Fi accessories Apple is offering, but I think that losing the ability to just plug the base anywhere without worrying about cables and surfaces, partially defeats the purpose of this ‘portable’ base station.
I think I’ll just stick to my old couple of AirPort Express 802.11g base stations for now. They’re almost seven years old, and still doing their job.