AirPort Express comes as PC makers like Gateway Inc.GTW.N and Hewlett-Packard Co. HPQ.N and consumer electronics companies such as Sony Corp. 6758.T are seeking to gain a foothold in the digital living room with entertainment PCs.It's available this month for the price of $129.
Apple said AirPort Express is simple in that it allows digital music to be beamed to a home stereo, and it is a portable wireless base station that uses the 802.11g standard. It can be used in hotel rooms with broadband connections or for setting up instant wireless networks.
AirPort Express plugs into a power outlet and has connectors for a DSL or cable modem, a USB port for printing and an analog and digital audio output that can be connected to a stereo. It uses AirTunes music networking software to wirelessly stream music over remote speakers or a stereo.
Joswiak said being able to wirelessly transmit songs from an iTunes music library on a Mac or PC was a top request from customers. iTunes 4.6 detects a stereo or speakers, Joswiak said, and displays them in a pop-up list for users to select. Transmissions are encoded to prevent theft.
There has been speculation for months that Apple may soon unveil an iPod that plays movies, but Joswiak said the company has no plans yet for such a device.