Apple AirPort Express – a simple answer to wireless printing

It’s not often that I’m surprised by how simple a new piece of hardware is to set up. Usually I’m left thinking that for the average user it will be a source of angst! Judging by the requests for help I receive from friends and family, PC related ‘stuff’ is not as simple as it should be.

A while back I bought a Linksys wireless print server to allow all our laptops to wirelessly print to a single HP OfficeJet. The setup was a nightmare and even with the help of Linksys technical support I never got a wireless connection between the router and print server and had to settle for USB. The wireless connectivity between laptops and printer proved very unreliable and in the end I ditched it. The replacement setup was a direct USB connection between an ancient desktop PC and the printer, with the laptops connecting wirelessly to the printer via the desktop. Not a satisfactory solution as it meant leaving the desktop running the whole time. Whilst I was using the desktop PC regularly it wasn’t a huge issue but when I switched to my MacBook Pro it became a waste of power and source of unnecessary noise to leave a redundant PC running.

Having heard good things about the AirPort Express, I eventually got round to ordering one last week. I took it out of the box, connected it via USB to the OfficeJet, plugged it into the wall and fired up AirPort Utility on my MacBook. I ran a simple configuration utility and my MacBook was connected to the printer. On each Windows laptop I downloaded Apple’s Bonjour Print Services and ran the program which instantly found the printer. Within a matter of minutes I had wireless connectivity for all our laptops and could power off the old desktop. Yet again an Apple device had delivered a great user experience.

Yes Apple devices are often expensive and of course I wish they were cheaper. However they deliver a top user experience and that certainly justifies some sort of price premium!

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