Express vs. Extreme vs. Non-Apple Wireless Device

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by wtobiasjr, Aug 16, 2004.

  1. wtobiasjr macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2004
    I'm interested in setting up a wireless network in my apartment. This network would be primarily for my girlfriend and me to access the Internet via a cable modem. I use a G4 iBook; she uses a G3 iMac that would need to be upgraded.

    My apartment is small, but it's a "shotgun," meaning the rooms are stacked one after another. The signal from the base station would have to cover about 25 feet and penetrate a couple of walls.

    I'm attracted to the AirPort Express for its price, its size and its AirTunes capability, but my primary need is a device that can serve as a wireless Internet access point for my girlfriend and me.

    The Mac guru in my office has gone on record saying he thinks Apple's wireless base stations are not as reliable as other brands (he recommends a brand called D-Link, I believe), but he has not yet tested Airport Express.

    So, my question is this: Is the AirPort Express capable of serving as the sole wireless base station in my apartment or should I investigate the AirPort Extreme or D-Link?

    Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
  2. SilentPanda Moderator emeritus


    Oct 8, 2002
    The Bamboo Forest
    I think any brand is "iffy" and certain ones work better depending on what's behind the wall among other things. What I would do if you're not sure is purchase a D-Link (or some brand) locally. This way if it doesn't suit your needs you can easily return it. Of course if you have an Apple store close by that makes the Airport whatever a lot more accessible. I have both an Airport Base Station and an Airport Extreme (which sit about 1 foot from each other oddly enough) and I get decent reception with it. Granted, I've never tried reception from anything else so maybe it's not all that great... but it covers my living quarters and that's all that concerns me.
  3. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    Personally, I'm partial to the Linksys WRT54G wireless router. It's worked well for me with my Macs and PC, and it's relatively inexpensive.

    For the iMac, you have a couple of options. It's probably not going to be moving around too much, so you may want to consider just putting it in the same room as the cable modem and router and hooking it up via ethernet.

    Otherwise, you could pick up a USB wireless dongle (I saw a Wireless G dongle for $40 at Circuit City).

    Of course, with the Linksys you can't share iTunes to your stereo, if that's important to you. There are several threads around here on using the Express as an access point, so you may want to do a quick search for more info as well.
  4. virividox macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    apple base stations are the easiest to set up because of the wizard

    but linksys and dlink have great webclients

    if price is an issue go for the non-apple brand
  5. kant macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2004
  6. TheMac19 macrumors regular


    May 13, 2004
    I've been using a belkin wireless router for the past few months, both macs and pcs without any trouble. The reception is strong with my powerbook a few rooms away, even better with my girlfriend's ibook. Setup was a no-brainer, open the powerbook (or ibook) and it found the network, that's all there was to it. (although it took a bit more coaxing on my old pc)
    I think it's worth noting that you don't need a G router unless you plan on transfterring huge files very often. The B routers will be just fine for web surfing, etc, even downloading video, etc. The B router is likely capable of transferring data faster than your internet connection will provide it, unless you have a personal T3 line or some such nonsense. I got my Belkin B router from CompUSA with one of those rebate deals which made it nearly free, since everyone wants the G routers now. Indeed I too thought I was taking a big hit in the speed department by buying a B router, but it just isn't true. Even very large downloads take me no time at all. Sure, shooting big files between computers can take a few seconds longer, but I rarely need to do that.
    All that said, I'm going to be giving up the Belkin in favor of an Airport Express soon. AirTunes seems cool, but it's the portability that gets me. I travel around quite a bit, and I'll be moving abroad in the fall so the Airport express will save me that much suitcaase room!
  7. timsq macrumors regular


    Feb 27, 2004
    New Orleans
    Unless you want the portability, wireless printing, airTunes, etc. particular features of the AExpress, you would do better with the AExtreme or even the Linksys WRT54G. The latter would give the iMac G3 an ethernet switch port to plug into and let the iBook roam. The nice thing about the AExtreme is that it can have an antenna to extend its range a bit (optional feature). I have all three cause I'm all over a two story house and "need" all the range and ports I can get. The AEXpress is nice, but I would use it on the road or secondary to another router to handle the network's internet connection.
  8. kjgnola macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2004
    New Orleans
    I am also in a shotgun style house and my Extreme base is about 30 - 35 feet from where I normally use my PB and it works great. I get 3 bars on the indicator.

    I just recently installed express in the front room to play iTunes on my stereo and all the setups were extremely easy.

    I switched over to the Apple wireless when my linksys 54g died. Speed wise I ahve seen no difference.
  9. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    Both AirPort Extreme base stations have LAN ports in addition to WAN ports, so you could connect the iMac either way.
  10. slughead macrumors 68040


    Apr 28, 2004
    This is what I'd recommend.

    I think it's around $70

    Also you need a booster (in the form of an Airport Express), this is the only non-apple router proven compatible.
  11. LeeTom macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2004
    I've had almost decent results from every Apple basestation I've used.. they all worked good most of the time, but my D-Link and Linksys wireless routers have been solid. I haven't tried the WRT54G, but I've heard good things about it. Plus, it has a web interface, which I prefer to the program Apple supplies.

    Lee Tom
  12. garybUK Guest


    Jun 3, 2002
    I highly recommend the Buffalo 54g Wireless router/access point/switch, its got extremely good range, even in our old sandstone house with REALLY thick walls!

    Place it as high as possible and you will be sorted. They also come with external antenna connections so its possible to add omni/directional antenna's to boost the range.

    I don't know about the price in the US but here they can be bought for about £90 = $129.60 (1.44 exchange rate).

    In my experience its always better to pay a little bit more for this sort of stuff, ive had experience of about 5 different linksys products dying, I avoid them like the plague!
  13. titaniumducky macrumors 6502a


    Nov 22, 2003
    802.11 (WIFI) is a standard, so almost ANY brand should be OK. I think you should just pickup whatever is cheapest. However, if you want to stream to a stereo, go with the Airport Express.

    As for specific brands, I like D-Link and Netgear. I can't say I think too much of Linksys, as both routers I've had from them were more expensive than other comparable brands and broke. However, if you can find them cheap, that should be OK too.

    Make sure to get 802.11B instead of 802.11G, unless you plan to do a lot of file transfer because G will be more expensive. Both have PLENTY of bandwidth for surfing. They are backwards compatible, though, meaning a G/B Router will work with a G/B card. B is also known as Airport and G is also known as Airport Extreme.
  14. Krizoitz macrumors 65816


    Apr 26, 2003
    Tokyo, Japan
    I have a Netgear Router (model WGR614) that I'd sell you cheap, its 802.11g so other than not being able to do Airtunes it would work fine. PM me.
  15. AdamZ macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2004

    How about making your life easy. Just simply buy the Airport Express. It's cheap when you look at all it does, basestation, wireless printing, streaming music, compact size and design. It's beyond easy to use, plug and play, easy setup with the included Airport software. Why deal with the issues of using some other router. Apple made this for us. I bought an Express 3 weeks ago and found its range to be less than I had hoped to cover my 3 level house. So all I simply had to do was buy a second Express and pluged it into an outlet in my bedroom upstairs, and without a hitch it was recognized and my signal strength was great all over the house. So now I can stream music to my living room and bedroom speakers straight from itunes as well as surf the web and print.

    People seem so caught up in the price of something that they fail to realize that the extra costs are sooooo worth the ease of use, setup and features. On the rare occasion I want to work in the basement where signal strenght might be low, I just pull the Express out of the outlet and plug it into another wall wherever I'm working. It just works!! I just don't understand why anyone would want to use anything else. Sure other routers are cheaper, but they're not when you recognize the features of Airport. Serious guys why would you use anything else. (unless you need a hard wired basestation to connect to a computer with no wireless card, then I would just get an Extreme basestation from Apple)
  16. Santiago macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2002
    Mountain View, California
    My advice is to stay well clear of D-Link. Their products are cheaper and it really shows. I've had nothing but bad experiences with them. First, I was administering a network of access points, and the hand-off feature from one another when physically roaming refused to work (and the only way to configure them was with a crappy Windows-only program). Later, I bought a wireless router from D-Link, and it never worked properly. At first, it worked fine with the Intel card in a PC laptop, but the connections to all the PowerBooks would get dropped every five to ten seconds. This turned to be an incompatibility in their firmware, and required downgrading to two-year-old firmware to work around, depriving me of features like a closed network name. They eventually fixed this after a year and a half, but the new version wasn't much better. The router would periodically go berserk and start broadcasting DHCP on the WAN side, taking down our whole house network. Overwriting the firmware with one from a competitor that sells re-branded D-Link equipment improved the situation. Eventually, we bought a LinkSys Wireless-G router which works just fine. I've several positive experiences with LinkSys and would recommend them over D-Link any day.
  17. krimson macrumors 65816


    Oct 29, 2003
    Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia
    that's what I have, and it works wonder, the setup is easier than the PC world article suggests.

    and i have 2 bars outside in the park @ 150' from my basestation through 2 interior (1940's construction) walls, and 1 exterior wall.
  18. bshiro macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2004
    St Louis, MO
    D-Link works great in my apartment.

    I thoroughly researched which wireless router to get before deciding to get the D-Link DI-614+ (plus, it had a great rebate at Office Max). That was over a year ago so it's only 802.11b, but I'm sure their newer 802.11g ones are just as good. From day one this has worked perfectly, and it's a snap to set up with any OS (Mac, PC, Linux, etc) because it uses a web browser to configure the router. It worked with my PowerBook G4 perfectly out of the box and has great coverage all over my apartment, which is rather large (~1500 sq ft). Like another person stated, almost any kind should work, but the cost can vary greatly. If I were you, I'd consider D-Link, Asante, Apple, and Netgear - in that order. Although the AirPort Express is really cool because of the built-in wireless printing, I think it's not worth the expense since you can get a great non-Apple 802.11g router for about $20-30 if you look around.

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