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Take the Guess Work out of Which Home Wireless Router to Buy

- September 21, 2011 - 4 Comments

We at Linksys understand that picking out the right router can be a challenge.  Do you buy the cheapest, most expensive or right in middle?  Or is it not about price and all about function such as performance, dual band, features, or range?  Or do you not really know?   

60% of households are not wireless yet and we understand there are new users to wireless networking everyday and don’t really understand all the specs about a wireless router — only that they need one because they want to walk around their house with their laptop while still being connected to the internet or want to connect their new tablet to the internet wirelessly or maybe, just want to start a wireless home network. 

All these reasons are good reasons to invest in a wireless router.  The things you should look for are Wireless-N, which gives you the latest standard-based wireless technology with speeds up to 900 mbps (depending on the router), and Dual-Band which you should decide if you want or need this.  If you have multiple users in your home, have a tablet or connect an internet enabled TV or game console you should look for a Dual Band routers, but if it’s just a few computers that want to connect to the internet wirelessly, a standard Wireless-N Router like the Linksys E1200 or E1500 will work just fine.

And lastly you should also look for features such as simple set up software, guest access, parental controls, automatic channel locator, Ethernet or Gigabit ports and USB ports that can connect printers and storage:   

  • Simple Setup Software – Like Cisco Connect software, the software enables users to setup all their wireless devices with ease 
  • Guest Access – Give your friends and family and kids friends their own connection to the internet without the worry of them connecting to your network and accessing your computer 
  • Parental Controls – basic parental controls for managing your kids use and the sites they visit 
  • Automatic channel locator – this is a feature that helps identify the best wireless channel to get the best performance possible automatically 
  • Ethernet or Gigabit ports – these ports provide you wired connectivity.  Devices that are close to the router are ideal devices to connect to the ports. 
  • USB Ports- a USB port that provides connectivity of a printer, scanner or storage device.  Connecting these devices to the router will enable everyone on the network to access and use. 
  • Single Band/ Dual Band: 2.4 GHz or 5.0 GHz- Look for frequency bands to know if you are buying a router that supports 2.4 GHz which is a single band router or 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz which identifies that it is Dual Band router.  
  • WPS – Wireless Protection Setup. This is a feature that helps configure and set up other devices to the wireless router if they also have the WPS feature. 
  • Speeds –  300Mpbs, 350Mbps, 400Mbps, 750Mpbs, 900Mbps.  Looks for speeds of 300 Mpbs or more.  This will also help ensure you are purchasing a Wireless-N router.  The higher speeds helps to also determine which bands and how many spacial streams are used.  The higher the speeds typically means that both the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz bands are being used and more spacial streams have been added to give you better overall performance. 
  • Range- Looks for Routers that provide good reliable range.  If you live in an apartment or small condo the entry level Wireless-N routers should be good for you.  If you live in a larger home and plan to do video streaming as well as have multiple devices connected to your home network – the Dual Band high performance routers like the Linksys E4200 are ideal for you.    
  • Security – Most Wireless-N routers now come with WPA/WPA 2 encryption which is the highest level of security you can get on your home network today.  
  • Also look for warranty and 24/7 support information.  You never know when you’ll need it.

So that’s just a few pointers on getting you started when looking for a wireless router.  If you have other pointers that helped you in your shopping experience – let me know, I’d love to share them with other readers!


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  1. For those of us more concerned about tec specs then product features, can Cisco linksys start putting more info on the box? One can always hunt online to find them, but one huge advantage netgear has is the put a good amount of info on their packaging. Even the router CPU speed, flash size and amount of RAM. I feel insulted as a customer that linksys feels I'm to dumb to understand that stuff, at least that's the way I see it. Thanks a ton!

  2. I've been spending some 'intimate' time with our dual band router and network setup lately, mainly because our Internet Service Provider didn't... provide a service that is. Our access to the Internet kept failing because of issues on their network. Which forced me to look at the Cellular 3G / 4G networks as a backup. At this moment we're using our (newly purchased for this purpose) Smart Phones to provide us with Wi-Fi Hotspot capabilities, but I've searched for (and found) some routers that have 3G / 4G as a backup (or even main port with the landline WAN as a backup) all built in. Cisco makes (at least) one (881G/W), so does Netgear (MBR1210 Turbo Hub) or Ericsson (W35 Turbo Hub). It would be GREAT to see such a product under the Linksys range aimed at the home user or the cottage user and slightly more affordable than the Cisco Business Product. Secondly, I think ALL Routers need at least 2 extra features – a physical ‘undo / back / Crtl-Z’ button as well as a ‘click here to accept changes’ software button just after configuration changes have been saved, to make sure I haven’t tweaked myself right off the network :) That way, if I don’t click on the button, the unit reverts back to its previous settings in say 60 seconds, with me back on the network. Don’t laugh, our Linksys Router has a few traps built in to catch the unwary and force me to walk up 2 flights of stairs with my laptop in hand to physically connect (via Ethernet cable) to ‘undo’ what I’ve just changed – sometimes inadvertently. For instance, I use the MAC Address Filter in the Wireless settings to ‘permit’ only the MAC Addresses in our household. But whenever I need to add a new unit (e.g. a smart phone or tablet), I have to undo this feature so the unit can access the network and so I can see its MAC Address and add it to the list… no problem so far. Then, enabling the MAC Filter Feature again, our Linksys (WRT610N) secretly changes the ‘permit’ button (previously ticked) to the ‘prevent’ button, which of course then throws off exactly everyone in our own home network the minute I hit the save key – not funny… just ask my wife.

    • Hi Algy -- great comments here. I will take your info back to our engineer team for you make some great points - especially since you are and have experienced it! Thanks for taking time to comment - i think these will also help other readers.

  3. Good set of instructions for new comers for the wireless networking world....!!!! worth...