A wireless, or Wi-Fi, router is a device which allows you to connect multiple devices to the internet all at the same time. Wi-Fi routers also give you a way to move data, or even stream media between devices across your home or small office. There are a lot of wireless routers, and it can seem a bit daunting and overwhelming to try and choose your first wireless router or even to move on to bigger and better things when you outgrow your old router. Wireless routers offer a lot of easy to use security and personalization features. They are quick and easy to set up, and give you the control over who has access to your computers, your files, and even your internet connection.
There are a number of things to consider when purchasing a wireless router. What is it that you use your internet for? Do you just have one or two computers, or are you in a small office which could have a large number of computers connected during the day? What type of warranty is best for you? How much do you want to spend? What do all these wireless router-related acronyms mean?
What do you currently use your Internet for?
If you use the internet to surf the web and check email, then the latest and greatest gaming router is not going to be necessary for you. On the other hand, if you play a lot of graphics-intensive, web-based/run games, stream media over the internet and file share between a several computers, you definitely need to look into a high-end model.
All I do is browse the web and reply to email, what’s going to work for me?
If all you are doing is surfing the internet and replying to an occasional email, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on all the bells and whistles to get a great wireless router. Look for a router that has a set up CD and a good, solid warranty. Many of the well-known brand names offer a basic router which is high-quality but made to be affordable for consumers.
For a simple, easy to use product which will get you connected wirelessly in no time at all, the Cisco-Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G Broadband Router is an excellent choice. Set up and connection is simple and does not require any know-how to make your connection secure. This Wi-Fi router also gives you the ability to plug up to four wired computers in, or wire in another hub to increase the size of your network. This router is an amazing deal for less than $100, but you can currently find it on Amazon.com at a great price.
I stream a lot of movies/TV/music and play bandwidth-reliant games. What’s my best option?
For media streaming or games that require a lot of bandwidth, look for a router with a built-in media server or USB port to connect a media server or file-sharing drive where media could be stored in a centralized location. Having the ability to directly plug devices in to a wired port is also a nice feature to have available. Wireless-N is optimal, and some of these routers allow for extremely high speeds across the network and Internet.
If you need a router that comes with a built-in USB port and UPnP AV media server to allow you to effortlessly share your files over your network, then might I recommend the Cisco-Linksys E3000 High-Performance Wireless-N Router. Attach your Blu-Ray, HDTV, gaming consoles and PCs to the router in minutes, and experience optimal gaming experience with simultaneous dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz speeds. No matter what you connect to the E3000, you can enjoy transfer speeds of up to 300 Mbps. This router sells for $180-220 but Amazon.com has a great deal on this wireless router.
If speed, security and the ability to customize your network without breaking the bank is important to you, look for a wireless router that comes with a software suite to help you get started. These are much easier to use than a user manual, because they walk you through the set up process step by step, and tell you when to plug which components in for maximum results. They will also assist you with setting up a network password, and adding devices.
I own an Apple TV and other Macs, what’s the best wireless router for me?
Any wireless router will work with your Apple TV and Mac-based laptops. Nevertheless, why not use a wireless router that is specifically designed for Apple-based hardware? At the current price, it is an admittedly high-end, but still affordable solution for your household or office network. The router is also small, classy, and beautiful which may or may not matter to you.
I’ve never set up a network. How do I customize it?
Many of routers these days come with software which allows you to fully customize the browsing experience of each and every device on the network. Do you have guests coming in from out of town that you’d like to have access to the internet, but not your computers or files? Do you have children that you worry about them getting onto sites you haven’t approved? Are you concerned they’re getting online when they should be sleeping or doing their homework? Look for a customized security suite that allows you to set up guest networks, browsing hours, or to block certain sites or types of sites from one or more computers without restricting every computer on the network. An example of this type of software would be the Cisco Connect software.
The Cisco Connect software is available on the Cisco-Linksys E3000 router, as well as the E2000 Advanced Wireless-N Router. The E2000 is a great choice for users who want a customizable Wi-Fi router which gives them parental controls and password-protected Internet access on a separate network to allow visitors the ability to access the Internet without having access to your computers or data. This is where the Cisco Connect software comes in handy, because it gives you that kind of control over your network and the access different users have to the internet. It offers extremely high speeds and a wide connectivity range at an affordable price. This router sells for less than $100 and is currently available on Amazon for even less than that.
What is the difference between the Wireless-G and Wireless-N Routers?
Wireless-A, Wireless-B, Wireless-G and Wireless-N are terms you might read a lot when you’re looking for a new wireless router. Wireless-A and –B are older standards which are not used much any longer. Wireless-G has been the standard and does offer a decent connection at an affordable price.
The newest wireless standard is the Wireless-N, and almost all new Wireless-Ready devices these days are coming with Wireless-N capable network adapters. Wireless-N routers will be backwards compatible to –A, -B, and –G network cards, so you’ll always be able to wirelessly connect to them from your PC, MacBook, iPad, iPhone touch, mobile device, or even older devices (provided they have a wireless network adapter).