WSJ's Mossberg: AirPort Express "Falls Far Short"

Historically a big fan of Apple products, the Wall Street Journalis Walt Mossberg reviewed the AirPort Express in his Thursday technology column and claimed it "falls far short" of being an ideal solution for listening to computer-based music in a distant room.

Mr. Mossberg wrote that while AirPort Express has many advantages - wireless repeater, works with Windows as well, small size and easy setup - it has limitations.

"You can send the music to only one location at a time, and you canit play it simultaneously through your computer and the remote speakers," he wrote.

But Mr. Mossberg saved his biggest complaint for last, chastising Apple for offering no remote control to change music from the couch instead of sitting next to the PC.

"Unlike most of its competitors, Appleis product lacks any remote control or remote user interface," he commented. "If you are sitting in the room where the music is playing remotely, AirPort Express gives you no way to see what song, or play list, is currently playing, and no way to change the music. To get any information, or to change songs or play lists, you have to tromp back to the computer. Thatis just unacceptable in a device of this kind."

Mr. Mossberg said he was given strong indications by Apple that the remote problem would be a thing of the past "in a future version or via some kind of add-on product," but for now, Mr. Mossberg was surprised and disappointed "that a company renowned for ease of use shipped a music-streaming product without those crucial capabilities."

Apple Computer introduced the AirPort Express on June 7. The product began shipping July 14, with Apple claiming it had 80,000 pre-orders for the product. AirPort express retails for US$129.00.

Essentially, AirPort Express is a 802.11g mobile base station that features wireless Internet connections and USB printing. It also features both analog and digital audio outputs that can be connected to a home stereo, and together with AirTunes music networking software, allows wireless streaming of music from iTunes on a Mac or PC to any room.

Editoris Note: The link provided in the first paragraph to Mr. Mossbergis column is a free and open link, but is only available until Wednesday evening, July 28, 2004.