What to Look for When Purchasing a Wi-Fi Router
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You will likely find wireless routers everywhere you look – in every apartment, house, business and even that sketchy van that is always packed by the river. Having a functional wireless router gives you the ability to connect your computer and mobile devices to a broadband Internet service. Your connection then allows you to share your business data files as well as stream video on Wi-Fi-connected devices.
While you have the option of choosing a wired router, it’s advisable you go for a wireless model so you don’t have to deal with Ethernet cables running all over your place. Don’t forget that wireless routers allow easy access to the Internet for your smartphone and tablet devices.
However, if a device only works via a wired connection, wireless routers feature a built-in switch for this purpose. This leads to the question, what should you look for in a Wi-Fi router while shopping?
Fitting Wi-Fi Standard
Like smartphone manufacturers, router makers are always adhering to new and powerful wireless standards – also known as IEEE protocols – with the advancement of technology. This is why you will come across standards like 802.11ac, 80211n, and 802.11g, which aren’t random numbers.
802.11ac is the latest standard on newer router models, which means that it is capable of supporting Gigabit speeds. This is faster compared to previous models that had a 600Mbps limit. The ac models are backward compatible with devices that implement older standards.
Number of Bands Required
Dual-band routers have been on the market for many years, but today you will find manufacturers rolling out tri-band routers too. A dual-band router usually has two radios that operate at 2.4GHZ and 5GHz frequency bands. The design allows you to have separate wireless networks to improve speeds in an otherwise crowded network.
Tri-band routers feature a second 5GHz band antenna to handle many mobile devices connecting to a single network and spreading them around for enhanced efficiency and data management. While they are rare, tri-band routers are especially useful in an office or dorm environment.
The biggest issues plaguing average routers involve interference, which occurs when you can’t get a signal everywhere it’s needed. However, modern routers have a few tricks up their sleeves to deal with this issue.
One solution is using smart processes that will help in the identification of dead zones or devices, and tailor your Wi-Fi beacon to reach them. Some software like a router traffic monitor and many others are some things you should remember if you have ever had to deal with bad router experiences.
Multiple User Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) is a technology you will find in newer router models. These routers will connect directly to up to four mobile devices at the same time. Therefore, instead of the router moving data really quickly between one device at a time, your network maintains direct device connection without refocusing, making Internet connections more reliable and faster.
All indications show MU-MIMO will be a dominant technology in the future. If you buy a router with this technology today, you should not expect much change. Few mobile devices today are compatible with this technology but expect a slow, but sure, transition towards MU-MIMO – something to consider when creating a forward-compatible network.
The convenience of having a wireless connection means that you have access to the Internet no matter your location. In addition, a Wi-Fi network is especially useful for more than just binge-watching your favorites on Netflix – in bed. However, you need to ensure that the router is right for your requirements.
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