WHAT'S THE BEST WIRELESS ROUTER FOR YOU?
Deciding Which is the Best Router For You
Consider These Factors Before You Buy
Consider these factors before plunking down your money on a wireless router:
The top brands in wireless routers include Linksys, D-Link, Netgear, and Belkin. We recommend sticking with one of these brands; they all offer quality products, have good customer service and technical support.
- Cost and Type of Router
The main categories of wireless routers are Wireless G and Wireless N routers. Wireless G routers are the most popular type. Wireless N routers are fairly new on the market and are still in draft status. Expect to pay between $75 and $150 for your router, depending on the type you select. Careful shopping at online sites may yield special pricing for some models.
- Security, Anti-Virus Software
You'll want to be sure your computer network is secure. We recommend routers with NAT (Network Address Translation) and SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection) features as well as filter capabilities. Even with these features in your router, virus and worms can still attack the computers on your network, so be sure each one has a good working anti-virus program.
- Wireless Capability
In order for a wireless router to work on your network, you'll need wireless adapters for each computer on your network. Most all computers sold today come with these adapters, but if yours is older and doesn't have a network adapter, you'll need one of these first.
- Read the Reviews
Before deciding on which one is best for you, visit the review sites to see the recommended wireless routers. You can find reviews by the experts and by consumers such as yourself. Review sites we recommend include CNet Reviews, ConsumerSearch, About.com, and SmartGuider.com. We read the reviews at all of these sites before writing this article, and find them all to be good places to check before buying.
Wireless Router Types
Wireless G Routers
This is the "second generation" of wireless routers, and the most common. They provide WiFi access to your network, allow you to connect a minimum number of devices to your network, and should come with good security, firewall, and network management security. These routers should give you good speed, although there are a few factors that might interfere with that speed. Baby monitors, microwave ovens, bluetooth devices and cordless phones can interfere with your Wireless G router. There are "Super G" additions to many of these routers to avoid these pitfalls. You'll find those in Netgear Rangemax and D-Link Rangebooster, to name a few.
Wireless N Routers
These are the "third generation" of wireless routers and are fairly new on the market. They are actually still in "Draft" stage, and you'll often find them referred to as "Draft N Wireless Routers." Final approval is expected in 2008. They provide faster speeds and over a higher range than the "G" models, but because they are still in the draft stage, expect many changes between now and when final approval is given in 2008. If you buy one of these routers now, chances are they will not be compatible with what's available even 6 months down the road.
Where To Buy Your Wireless Router, and What You Can Expect to Spend
You have two basic choices as to where to buy your wireless router. You can buy from a local retailer, or you can buy online. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. If you live in an area where there are several choices of retailers such as Circuit City, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, or Sears, you should easily find the router of your choice. Disadvantages to buying locally might be that they are out of stock, or you may have to deal with a pushy salesman trying to sell you something you don't need. But if you want your wireless router right away, might need some help setting it up, and can withstand the sales pitches, this is a good choice.
The advantage to buying online is that you can often find cheaper prices than through retail stores. You don't have to go anywhere, and you can get your router delivered right to your door, usually in just a few days. This is especially handy if you live some distance away from one of the major retail outlets who sell this device.
On average, expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $150 for a Wireless G router, and from $115 on up to about $165 for Wireless N routers. Careful shopping may find some prices lower at some online or retail outlets.
There is so much information on wireless articles that we could not include everything in one article. Be sure to see our related articles on Wireless G and Wireless N routers. Here is where you'll find more information on these technologies, makes and models, pricing and where to buy.