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I am replacing a PC in my house with a Macbook Air, and there are two primary functions that the Air won't replace:

  • Streaming music to a whole-house audio system.
  • A home-base for my main photo/video/document hard drive.

I'm interested in the AirPort Extreme for the network drive feature. But, sadly, it doesn't have AirPlay and audio out like the AirPort Express does. I can buy both... but I'd like to be able to take care of the two functions in one device. Are there any other solutions that might work for this?

I thought of buying an Apple TV instead of the Express — if I had to have two devices, am I missing anything by getting the TV instead of the Express? It seems like an obvious choice, so I feel like I must be missing something.

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2 Answers

I believe that most of the features offered by the Express would be redundant with the AirPort Extreme, so perhaps the Apple TV would be a more appealing option. Since the Apple TV is exclusively a media device, you gain a remote control and video streaming. The Apple TV will only output audio over HDMI or Optical, so you would need to ensure that your current sound system is compatible. The AirPort Express outputs audio over standard 3.5 mm as well as 1/8" TOSLINK optical.

An alternative would be to replace your current sound system's receiver with one that features AirPlay streaming: http://usa.denon.com/us/Airplayus/index.html This would be significantly more expensive than an Apple TV or an Airport Express, but would cut down on the number of devices involved in your set up.

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For your usage, ATV is the way to go. But, to answer your question, there are 2 other things you'd be "missing" with ATV:

  1. Wi-fi extension point (extend your Wi-fi further in your house)
  2. Wi-fi-to-Ethernet converter (if you configure your Express as an Extension point (I forget the official term), the Ethernet jack allows you to plug in an Ethernet-only device into your network, like maybe a non-Wifi-enabled TV or BD player)

I have both, and I recommend the ATV for your use.

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Ah, great, that's good info. Fortunately I don't need either of those things, but good to know! –  NickC Jun 24 '12 at 21:34
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