Are there any devices apart from the Apple Airport that allow audio stream reception over a regular WiFi connection that is then controlled, as in, the stream is then controlled, by a software application residing on the PC/laptop?
What I'm saying is... I don't need a €300,- media streamer device for my hifi system. All I need is a simple device that will talk WiFi, that has digital outputs to my receiver/DAC, and that understands an application protocol over TCP or UDP that would be the exact equivalent of Apple AirTunes/AirPlay.
Apple jumped into the gap in the market left by the Digital Living Networking Alliance when they created the DLNA spec by creating and patenting its own protocol that it is now licensing (at least partly) to other manufactorers, but you can be sure as heaven that they won't license it to any device that would be a direct competitor of the AirPort..... which is why there are no other devices that do the same stuff that the AirPort does.
Apple did it again guys. Only because the world was too stupid to realise. I believe Apple asks a hefty sum for this license. An Onkyo support person talked about an amount of 50-70 euro that it would cost to integrate AirPlay into their receivers, per item, to the customer.
I guess I answered my own question. There is no alternative to the AirPort.
But surprise me.
((I know there are solutions that don't use regular WiFi and that require both a discrete sender and receiver device, which means your laptop will be paired with an usb sender device when it already has WiFi onboard. I don't want that. <a href="http://audioengineusa.com/Store/Audioengine-D2">Some of these</a> sender devices are pretty bulky, others have only analog outputs of low quality, and <a href="http://nadelectronics.com/products/digital-music/DAC-1-Wireless-USB-Digital-to-Analogue-Converter">most</a> of <a href="http://www.audiostream.com/content/playgo-usb">them</a> contain a high quality DAC that you might not need and that pushes the price up significantly. I don't want that. If I'm going to have something stick out of my laptop, it might as well be a simple usb to toslink cable using <a href="http://www.audiotrak.de/dr_dac_nano.html">this device</a>.))