Like many of you out there, I have a home network. In the past, mine happened to be called “the not-working home network,” but I digress. Have you ever had a problem getting everything configured just so on your network? You would be my hero if you managed to get every setting correct and every feature fully optimized without any help. It can be confusing and difficult to do. There are ways to minimize the amount of frustration that you have with your home network.
A few years ago, I bit the bullet and decided to try out the Apple Airport. I had been using a different router and some open-source firmware up until that point. I had tweaked it to the max – and still wasn’t happy with the performance. It just got to be more trouble than it was worth. Many of my friends and colleagues had recommended the Apple device, so I gave it a try – and have been very happy with that choice.
At first, I was a bit put off at having to install software on my computer in order to manage the Airport. Why couldn’t I just log into a webpage and do things from there? I quickly learned that managing things like this is much more efficient when done from within the desktop. Also, the installed software can tell me when the firmware is up to date. Until this point, I had never had a router tell me if an update was needed.
Recently, I realized I needed to extend the range of my wireless network. I had a Time Machine hooked up my to main Mac Pro and a base station on the other side of the house. I tried to extend the range using the Time Capsule, but there was too much interference going on. I went out and bought the AirPort Express in order to accomplish my networking goals.
This worked beautifully. The AirPort Express looks pretty familiar, doesn’t it? It looks similar to the power bricks which come with the Macbook line. Setting it up is simple: plug it in! There are a few cool features, as well:
- Take the music from the iTunes library on your computer and sends it wirelessly to any stereo or speakers in your home.
- Print wirelessly through AirPort Express – it’s almost like having a printer in every room of the house.
- Wirelessly share photos, movies, and other files without having to worry about slow data transmissions.
- The AirPort Express Base Station now features 802.11n, the next-generation high-speed wireless technology included with most shipping Mac computers and some newer PCs with compatible cards.
- Industry-standard encryption technologies built into AirPort Express, including WPA/WPA2 and 128-bit WEP, plus a built-in firewall that creates a barrier between your network and the Internet.
After working with this device for about a week, I can say that it works fantastic. I’ve tried it out in several different areas of my home in order to make sure it was going to be exactly what I needed. By doing this, I also found out where it should be placed in order to give me the most optimal performance.
What’s nice with this software is that I can go through their step-by-step wizard and go with their suggested settings, or I can configure everything manually.
In comparison to a lot of junk I’ve seen, Apple gets home networking right. If you need your network to work – you’re going to go find something that actually works for you.