Airport Extreme or Airport Express?

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Michelle Steiner, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. As I understand it, the differences between the Airport Extreme base
    station and Airport Express, other than size and weight, are:

    Extreme has two ethernet ports; Express has only one. Extreme has a
    built-in modem. Extreme has an antenna jack. Express has audio out.

    This means that I can't connect a ethernet printer to Airport Express,
    but can to Airport Extreme. However, I can connect a USB printer to
    either of them.

    The Extreme's modem is a non-issue for me unless it can be used as a FAX
    modem. Nor is the antenna jack; the distances are such that I won't
    need it.

    Are there any other differences between the two that I need to know?

    Is there any reason to spend the extra money for the Airport Extreme
    instead of buying the Airport Express?
    Michelle Steiner, Jan 23, 2006
    1. Advertisements

  2. Yep. Although if you already have a wired router, you can plug the
    ethernet printer and the Airport Express into it. I'd suggest
    disabling the DHCP server on the Express, and letting the wired router
    do the addresses.
    My understanding is that it *can't* be used as a fax server. Pity;
    that would have been a really neat feature to include.
    The Express is (according to Apple, anyway) limited to 10 simultaneous
    clients, while the Extreme can handle 50. My household usually tops
    out at 2, so it's not really an issue for me.

    I own an Airport Express and an inexpensive Motorola 802.11g router
    with 4 wired ports. (It cost me $8 after rebates from CompUSA, and has
    give me no issues. [It replaced a D-Link DI-514, which was a piece of
    garbage.]) I use the Motorola as my main router, and have the Express
    plugged into my stereo, set to "Join" my existing wireless network to
    stream music.

    When I want to go on the road, I just switch the Express back to being
    a base station, and bring it with me. That way, it doesn't disturb my
    existing network at all.

    Honestly, if I didn't want a portable base station nor iTunes music
    streaming, I wouldn't have gotten the Apple base station, simply
    because of the price. But if you *do* use the music streaming, as I
    do, it's wonderful being able to send it across the room without wires.
    It makes iTunes that much more useful, as your music and other sounds
    come out of completely separate audio sources. Very neat.
    Garner Miller, Jan 23, 2006
    1. Advertisements

  3. Michelle Steiner

    D P Schreber Guest

    ["Followup-To:" header set to comp.sys.mac.comm.]
    As another poster mentioned, the Extreme also supports more connected
    machines. But that's unlikely to be an issue on a home network.

    You can certainly connect a usb printer to both, and you can't connect
    an ethernet printer directly to an Express. I assume you can connect
    an ethernet printer to an Extreme though I've never done it myself.

    Keep in mind that distance isn't the only issue here. If there are,
    say, intervening walls, a stronger signal can also be very helpful.

    Not really. Otoh if you don't need AirTunes, you probably shouldn't buy
    an Apple wireless router/access-point at all. There are _much_ cheaper
    alternatives that work just as well.
    D P Schreber, Jan 23, 2006
  4. Michelle-

    Except for one detail, your assumptions appear to be correct. There are
    two versions of the Extreme: with and without the antenna jack.

    I have the Extreme with the jack but have never used an external antenna
    with it. I also have the Express. Both work as advertised, but I was
    disappointed to find that the Express could not be used in a client mode.
    Perhaps it can in WDS mode, but I haven't been able to figure out how.

    After playing with the Extreme and needing a second unit as a WDS client,
    I decided to try a much less expensive Buffalo Wireless Router. It was a
    discontinued model WBR-G54 on clearance. After installing the latest
    firmware upgrade, it seems to work perfectly with the Extreme, either as
    the base station or as the WDS client. It isn't as easy to configure as
    the Extreme, but works.

    The only advantage either Apple unit has for me is the USB printer port.
    (I tried two printers using a USB hub, but only one is recognized.)

    There are other brands that may work for you, all less expensive than the
    Apple. I chose the Buffalo because I need AppleTalk, and most other
    brands I tried would not pass it.

    Fred McKenzie, Jan 23, 2006
  5. Michelle Steiner

    Sam Arseneau Guest

    I agree with DP...

    I recently bought a wireless router from Futureshop for 20$ after
    rebates. The router is a Dlink DI524. Works great, has many important
    features that Apple has yet implemented into their networking products.
    I can set up a firewall, schedule internet use, and the list goes on. I
    mean, why isn't Apple implementing all those features as well? Finally,
    their routers cost what... 5x as much ? This makes no sense to me...

    Just my two cents..



    Sam Arseneau
    iChat AV : macaddict192 [AIM]
    E-mail :
    "What's an Intel chip doing in a Mac? A whole lot more than it's ever
    done in a PC".
    Sam Arseneau, Jan 23, 2006
  6. Originally the extreme came in two models; one with the jack and modem,
    and one without either of them. They discontinued the one without jack
    and modem, though.

    There is another model that gets its power from ethernet, but it is
    available only to educational institutions.

    Thanks for the rest of your input. What is client mode? Is that a
    bridge, a range extender, or what? I wouldn't need either of those,
    Michelle Steiner, Jan 23, 2006
  7. Yep. Although if you already have a wired router, you can plug the
    ethernet printer and the Airport Express into it. I'd suggest
    disabling the DHCP server on the Express, and letting the wired
    router do the addresses.[/QUOTE]

    I do have one, but if I do get a wireless router, I'd take the wired
    router off line.

    I'll have to look into the Motorola (and maybe some other brands as
    well) router if I decide to go wireless.

    Both of us just got new iMacs with built-in Airport, so I was thinking
    about reducing the clutter of wires in the house--and being able to let
    house guests use the wireless as well if they have their laptops with

    My printer can be connected via USB or ethernet; right now, it's using
    an ethernet connector so we can both access it without having to use one
    of the computers as a print server.
    Michelle Steiner, Jan 23, 2006
  8. In my experience, the Airport Extreme makes for a DHCP server. So unless
    you have exactly one device to add to an otherwise wireless network,
    you'll probably be plugging the Extreme into some other router anyway.
    This is a pretty good argument for getting a third party router, except
    none of the ones I tried were reliable.
    AirTunes, which is probably useless to you. :)
    I have one of each, and I regret purchasing the Extreme. However, at
    least it was more usable than the various third party routers I tried
    and (mostly) returned. The Express, on the other hand, is cheap, small
    and (so far) flawless.
    Steven Fisher, Jan 23, 2006
  9. Michelle Steiner

    Eric Lindsay Guest

    I have both the Apple units, however unless I had a special need for one
    of them, I would buy a cheaper third party unit with more functions. I
    use a Netgear DG834g. That gives you the ADSL modem Apple lacks. Four
    port Ethernet hub for wired connections, plus the Wireless Access Point.
    Plus I think the Netgear was easier to configure (via its built in web
    server). It does not however have a printer connection. There are a
    heap of DSL/Cable modem, router, Ethernet hub, wireless access point
    boxes around, often at very low prices in the USA. Just check that Mac
    people have used the one you can most easily get, in case it has some
    quirks with Mac.

    If you are only trying to cover a confined area (I am in a small
    apartment) rather than a sprawling house, lack of wireless network
    extension provided by Airport Extreme isn't a factor. Number of
    connections would not normally be a factor either. Although I can see
    in a few years we may want to use lots more IP addresses. For instance,
    IP addressed cameras are getting more common, and other security devices
    are also starting to be IP addressed.

    I got the Apple Extreme back in the days when I only had a dial-up
    connection. So I used wifi to get dial-up. It was the only modem to
    wireless access point device I could find on the market (there were a
    few others, but no-one ever stocked them).

    The Airport Express was mainly for the AirTunes music connection, and
    for when a hotel had Ethernet in the room but not wifi (I was doing a
    lot of travel at the time).
    Eric Lindsay, Jan 24, 2006
  10. Whoops. Insert "lousy" between "makes for a" and "DHCP server." :)
    Steven Fisher, Jan 24, 2006
  11. Michelle Steiner

    hrh1818 Guest

    When the USB port of an Airport Express is used with a mutltfunction
    printer does an Airport Express support the multifunction's scanner and
    Fax capability or is printing the only supported capbility?

    hrh1818, Jan 24, 2006
  12. Michelle Steiner

    AES Guest

    Once you've done it, you will love it -- you'll never understand how you
    lived without it.

    We paid big bucks to run Cat 5 all through our house, just before we got
    IBooks with built-in Airport. Now the wiring sits unused.

    Of course, not everyone wants to take their laptop to the family dinner
    table -- or sit in the living room evenings, mother, father, daughter,
    each on their own laptop (though it's certainly better than all of us
    sitting there watching TV).
    AES, Jan 24, 2006
  13. The Express' client mode only works for audio streaming (AirTunes) and
    USB printing. I cannot be used to connect an Ethernet device to an
    existing wireless network. To do that, you would have to use WDS mode,
    which limits you to wireless networks created by an AirPort or a few
    other compatible brands of base stations.

    Note that Buffalo's current MIMO and Turbo G wireless products are no
    longer based on Broadcom chips like those Apple uses and will probably
    not do WDS with an AirPort base station. I don't now whether the current
    Buffalo gear passes AppleTalk.
    Neill Massello, Jan 24, 2006
  14. Probably because of the disenchantment with Internet Explorer, wireless
    manufacturers have made sure that the web servers in their products are
    compatible with other web browsers. AFAIK, all the current consumer
    wireless routers can be configured and flashed with an up-to-date Mac
    web browser.
    Neill Massello, Jan 24, 2006
  15. Neill Massello, Jan 24, 2006
  16. Michelle Steiner

    TaliesinSoft Guest


    I have a LInksys WRT54GC wireless and it works like a charm throughout my
    house, routinely serving two Macs. It is about the size of a pack of
    cigarettes and cost around $75.

    TaliesinSoft, Jan 24, 2006
  17. Michelle-

    I suppose it isn't the common terminology. I think "bridge" is closest.

    I have three older computers with Ethernet ports but no hope of adding
    internal wireless cards. By client, I mean it can be connected via
    Ethernet and provide network connectivity. This would also apply to a USB
    adapter, except these older machines can't be adapted for that either.

    Fred McKenzie, Jan 24, 2006
  18. Neill-

    Your are probably right, but isn't WDS part of the 802.11g standard? If
    so, it should work with other chip sets as well.

    To get my Buffalo units to work with others in WDS mode, all the other MAC
    addresses had to be entered into the base station, and the base station's
    MAC address into the remote Buffalo units. It was definitely not as easy
    as setting up an Airport system!

    Fred McKenzie, Jan 24, 2006
  19. No, it's not part of the IEEE standard. That's why it rarely works
    between different brands.
    Neill Massello, Jan 24, 2006
  20. An ADSL modem won't do me any good; I have a cable modem connection.
    For some reason our sub division doesn't have DSL service.

    But I think that I'm going to just keep my current wired setup; both
    computers and the printer are in the same room, and the room itself is
    wired for ethernet, so all we have to do is connect those three devices
    with a short ethernet cable to wall jacks. (We have a 4th jack, so if a
    house guest wants to connect her computer, it's available for her.)
    Michelle Steiner, Jan 24, 2006
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.