In Bristol yesterday I took the plunge and replaced my Airport Express. I have had ongoing issues with the Airport Express for a while now.
The main problem I was having with the Airport Express was that it just stopped working and then “vanishing” from the network. As a result it would need to be power cycled to get it working again. I have an Airport Express, even though I also have an Airport Extreme, as the Extreme is the router on my network, which broadcasts at 5GHz 802.11n. I use the Airport Express in 802.11b/g mode for legacy and mobile devices.
The reason for two wireless networks is that the 802.11n network can work at the full 300Mbps speed, whilst legacy and mobile devices will work just fine on a slower network. If I had a single wireless network it would be “slow” for all devices. This usually isn’t too much of a problem, however I do stream video across my network, and when I use to do this in the past (with standard definition video) on an 802.11g network, I found that due to network congestion I would get buffering which was annoying. iPlayer wouldn’t work either very well over the wireless. With 802.11n I can stream high definition video easily across the network to my Apple TV or my iPad. It also works well in moving large files across the network. 802.11n also makes much more sense when using FTTC (fibre) for internet with its higher speeds.
Looking back I did write something similar about the older Airport Express it replaced. Part of me thinks that there may be an underlying technological reason or flaw for the constant failures of the Express on my network. I am wondering if the setup I have is the problem and there is a flaw in the Airport Express in bridge mode which means that it “vanishes” now and again. I can’t see why and I’ve not always had this problem. Looking at dates I am now wondering if the move to FTTC was the issue, at that point I configured the Airport Extreme for PPPoE whereas before it was a bridge with an ageing Netgear ADSL Modem acting as the DHCP router using PPPoA. However as I can’t turn off PPPoE not sure if that is a road worth going down. Also the Airport Express is about six years old.
I did consider replacing it with the new 802.11n Airport Express, but having had two Expresses go on me, I decided to stump the extra cash and get an Airport Extreme. I had a few reasons, the main was that if my existing Airport Extreme failed I had a replacement on hand. It comes with three ethernet ports and I can then have a few more wired gigabit ethernet devices on the network which is of course much faster than wireless and means more stable Skype and video streaming on more devices, as well as faster file transfers. I can also add a USB hard drive as network storage too.
I didn’t get a Time Capsule as they seemed to add very little to the equation, cost more money and have in my mind more things to go wrong.
Have not yet replaced the Express at this time, so the Extreme is still shrink-wrapped.