*Need* Airport Express for wireless? (new to Macs and wireless networks)

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by londy, Aug 12, 2005.

  1. londy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2005
    Location:
    louisville, ky
    #1
    **i've been searching for the last hour and can't seem to find a thread that answers my questions. i've found some useful ones but none that get to the heart of what i need to know. if you know of one, please link it.**

    [newbie question]

    Hey folks,

    I'll be buying an ibook in the next couple weeks and I have some questions about Airport. In our apartment, we have a desktop and my new ibook and possibly another laptop in the future. The hp pavilion is wired to the cable modem. When my new ibook arrives I'll have to use it wirelessly. We're currently shopping for wireless routers.

    Do I need to buy an airport express to use it at home or will the 'book pick up the connection automatically? Should I just use the Express as my wireless router instead of picking up one by netgear or linksys? Or would a third party router be more reliable/cost effective?

    I'll be attending grad school in the fall and using the university's wireless network, will the airport express be necessary there?

    if i don't need it at home or at school, how else can i use it (do i even need one then)?

    i'm asking all of these questions because i've been planning to purchase the ibook and the AExpress together. If I get the Express I'm thinking about getting a refurb from the apple site.

    [/newbie question]

    Any help would be greatly appreciated :D

    p.s. I was a bit torn about the best forum for posting my question, hopefully I made the right choice... :eek:

    eta: if it matters, we're getting broadband through insight cable.
     
  2. miked_in_canada macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2005
    #2
    In short, no you don't need Airport Express.

    All iBooks come with an Airport card that is capable of receiving the connection. Airport Express is useful when you want to boost that existing signal by relaying it - which basically means you can get further away from the router.

    In my limited experience, I've never needed to use Airport Express and therefore have never bought one.
     
  3. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #3
    First, welcome. :)

    Second, you will need a wireless router -- the iBook will connect to any 802.11b or 802.11g router. The Airport Express is just a specialized router. It is different from most third-party routers in that:

    - It is smaller
    - It lets you stream audio to your stereo
    - It lets you print wirelessly to a USB printer
    - It tends to support more security features than most routers (e.g. WPA2), although there are many secure routers from other brands, and anything using WPA is fine. (all good things)
    - It does not have wired ports
    - It does not support the proprietary faster-than-802.11g standards (but your iBook does not either... and neither do built-in wireless options on most/all PC notebooks)
    - It is expensive (the bad things)

    I don't think reliability is substantially better/worse. I have an Airport Extreme Base Station at home (bought before the Express came out) and a Netgear router at my parents' house. I bought my AEBS for the print server feature. They're both fine, though. I wouldn't buy a router, personally, that did not support WPA. I'd say, don't buy the Airport Express unless you see yourself using the portability, the print server, or the streaming audio. But if you want any one of the three, it's a very, very nice router. :)

    Hope that helps?
     
  4. virus1 macrumors 65816

    virus1

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2004
    Location:
    LOST
    #4
    Uh.. no. Airport express is not a signal booster. All it does is put the internet in the air (in layman's terms). You just plug it in, and stick an ethernet cable from your modem into it. Not complex.
     
  5. londy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2005
    Location:
    louisville, ky
    #5
    thanks for the welcome and yes, that does help. i would like to print wirelessly while at home (or at school) though i could just save it to a flash drive and print that way. i probably wouldn't use the airtunes very often, but i do like the idea of throwing the express in my bag and toting to my in-laws' house to siphon their internet :p

    so basically, and bear with me please, i can take it or leave it. to get online i can use either an airport express or a third party router (because the airport card will detect either connection) OR both an airport express *and* a third party router (using the express to extend my network or to print/send tunes wirelessly). whatever router i buy should have the WPA security features.

    do i have it right?
     
  6. martin1000 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2005
    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    #6
    I have just a linksys router, i think the model number is wrt54g, and when I got my new ibook, the ibook was able to pick up the connection and I was surfing within 5 minutes.

    Excellent connection to the router from the ibook!

    When you use the laptop at university, the laptop will pick up on another signal for you to get connected online.
     
  7. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #7
    Yes, you do. If you were to use both at the same time, there would actually be only one "network," and you wouldn't tell the iBook to join the Airport or the third-party router -- you'd tell it to join the network, and it would dynamically adjust. That's the way WiFi works, AFAIK.

    A single router should be good for most homes, at least in the sub-mansion category. Although it depends on the layout, building materials, etc....

    In terms of cost, to help you decide, routers like the Linksys WRT-54G and the Netgear WGR614 (I think?) are readily available for $30ish if you shop around on Amazon, etc, and send in for rebates. So you could probably get an Ethernet printer for the money you save. :D But if you want color, you'll want an inkjet, and USB will make more sense.
     
  8. londy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2005
    Location:
    louisville, ky
  9. beatle888 macrumors 68000

    beatle888

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2002
    #9

    you can use an existing computer to share an internet connection if you have one (an extra computer that is).
    hook up a desktop or any other computer to your modem through ethernet and in the preferences you can choose to share that computers connection via wireless. so you dont really need a third part or airport extreme. that secondary computer acts as the wireless modem. isnt apple great.
     
  10. iEdd macrumors 68000

    iEdd

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Location:
    Australia
    #10
    I think express is worth it. It is half the price of Extreme (well in AUS where I am anyway....).
    The ethernet port on express can work more than one way.

    If you are using express to relay an existing wireless connection, you can use the ethernet to plug straight into a pc/mac/ps2/xbox to have internet instantly.

    If you are using it as a straight router, you plug your modem into it's ethernet port (NOT USB).
    The USB port is ONLY for a printer with express I think... Reading the manual, it seemed to be very pushy with that.
    I'd say go for it.. because if all items in your network are the same brand. You will have better product support. :)
     
  11. Stampyhead macrumors 68020

    Stampyhead

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #11
    Uh... yes. It does either one, depending on how you configure it.
     
  12. sahnert macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #12
    the airport express will not extend your current wireless network unless the main network is from an Airport or Airport Extreme base station.
    It can join a third party network to enable wireless printing and airtunes from any computer on the network, but you can't actually boost the signal on to other parts of the house.
     
  13. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #13

    I didn't think that was quite right. If it joins your network, it'll extend the range. But to do this, the other network most obviously be WDS capable. But I could be wrong.
     
  14. londy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2005
    Location:
    louisville, ky
    #14
    okay, got it. i'm still figuring what i'm gon do. i think i'll get a linksys or netgear and break out the express when i have a particular function for it or i'm on the road.
     
  15. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #15
    I think it can always "join" the network... but it can't necessarily extend range in a practical sense, unless WDS is available as a tool to do that. So if you join a network without WDS, then the iBook would talk to the main router for an internet signal, and the Express only for Airtunes / Wireless Printing.
     
  16. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #16
    Okay, thanks mkrishnan. I didn't realise it could join at all if the original network wasn't WDS capable. :)
     
  17. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #17
    I was confused by this earlier... when you join a network, the router is actually sort of a client. :confused: The details are here:

    http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20050305160756568

    The AirEx actually doesn't function as a router at all in this setup, as I understand it. But I could be wrong about that part. It might even be able to extend range in the sense of creating a sub-subnet. I think in WDS, all the routers distribute IP addresses from the same subnet, and that you need WDS to do that.
     
  18. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #18
    Thanks for the link.

    It's confirmed:



    Not that I didn't believe you anyway mkrishnan. :p
     
  19. londy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2005
    Location:
    louisville, ky
  20. londy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2005
    Location:
    louisville, ky
    #20
    i've (tentatively) decided to forego aexpress this time around. i think i'll catch it next semester or so. thanks for all the clarification. think i'm gon pick up a linksys router for my dirty work. :)
     

Share This Page