By Jayanta Ghosh
Connect your computers, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles and SmartTVs to each other and to the Internet without a hitch.
A router lets you distribute the Internet connection in your home to a variety of devices, including desktop computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets, Internet-capable TV sets and streaming media boxes. If your Internet service provider (ISP) is your cable company, then your router will plug into a cable modem, which provides your link to the Internet. For other types of services, such as Verizon FIOS, the router may in some cases be combined with a broadband modem in a single box that your provider supplies when you sign up. If you don’t want to buy or rent a router from your service provider, you can still get one on your own.
When it comes to routers, there are many options to choose from with countless differentiating features. While helpful, this can make finding the best model for your specific needs a headache.
Modem vs. Router: Which One Do I Need?
You can’t have one without the other. A modem interfaces directly with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to supply you with an online connection, and a router sends that Internet connection to your multiple gadgets. These two devices are often sold separately; however, you can also buy them together as a combination.
Do you have a small apartment where the router will be just a room away or even in the same room? Distance won’t play as big a role, but you’ll still want speedy throughput capabilities. In our ratings, look for a router that performs with excellent or very good throughput in both ‘near’ and ‘typical’ situations. Remember to activate the router’s security features, especially if you live in close proximity to others, such as an apartment building or a crowded urban area. Other aspects of your home might also interfere with your router’s performance. Drywall, plaster, hollow doors and uninsulated doors and floors cause some signal degradation. But the biggest offenders are aluminum studs (found in office buildings and modern apartments); insulated walls and floors; glass and solid brick and stone. And of course, the more floors, walls, and windows of any kind in the way, the worse for the signal. Throughput will be slower because of the weaker signal strength. With enough obstruction, the signal could eventually drop altogether.
What type of router should you buy?
There are a lot of different routers out there and a lot of complicated jargon that goes along with them. Fortunately, you don’t need to be too concerned with all that. Just any new router these days will work fine with the vast majority of your gadgets. When buying a Wi-Fi router, you should ensure that it supports 802.11n or 802.11ac. If the router supports either of those Wi-Fi connection types, it will let your devices browse the Internet at the fastest speeds possible. If you’re planning to stream movies, it is especially important to make sure your router supports this fast connection; you’ll need it to get great high definition video from the Internet.
What is single band or dual band?
The 2.4 and 5 GHz bands are the frequencies in which wireless communications operate. 802.11 B and G devices use the 2.4 GHz band, while 802.11N can use either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band. 802.11ac only uses 5 GHz. A single-band, 2.4-GHz router is geared toward simple wireless networks. On the other hand, a dual-band router operates on both the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies. When shopping for a router, you’ll find both single band and dual band models. Single band routers operate on one wireless frequency only, the 2.4GHz band. While it works well for surfing the Internet, this frequency can get overly congested making it unsuitable for high-bandwidth apps like streaming video. Dual band routers transmit data over the 2.4GHz band and the 5GHz band, which is less prone to interference from other devices. With a dual band router, you can browse the Internet on the 2.4GHz band while streaming HD movies on the 5GHz band and neither band gets overloaded. In short? Dual band means less interference and faster speeds. All wireless AC routers and select Wireless N routers offer dual band functionality.
List of Budget Routers available in market:
TP Link TL-WR740N 150Mbps Wireless N Router: If you are looking for a cost effective product, then this is your best option available. The device performs at 150 Mbps speed and there are 5 Ethernet slots available including 4 LAN and a WAN. It can cover a satisfactory range of 1100 square feet and perform at a range of 2.4-2.4835 GHz. There is 3 years native warranty available with the product as well.
D-Link DSL-2520U ADSL2+ Wired Ethernet/USB Combo Router (Black): D-Link DSL-2520U is a combination router with Ethernet and USB and has just about everything a home user would desire. Along with exceptionally fast Internet speed, the D-Link DSL-2520U ADSL2+ Ethernet/USB Combo Router also provides features like Quality of Service (QoS) which enhances online streaming, VoIP (Voice over IP) and gaming experience. It also integrates a full-fledged firewall that works to protect you from malicious attacks on the Internet. With a surprisingly low price tag, the D-Link ADSL2 Ethernet Modem is one of the rare combinations of price and performance.
Netgear WGR614 Wireless N 150 Router: It is another affordable product in its range available that performs at an efficiency of 150 Mbps with a frequency range of 2.4 GHz. The signal capacity of the product can easily cover each corner of 1200 square feet range. There is Wireless-N technology that ensures such high-end performance from the device. Starting from the home usage to business sectors, it has the ability to satisfy customers of all ranges.
Digisol DG-HR1400 Wireless Broadband Home Router, 150 Mbps: DG-HR1400 150 Mbps 802.11n Wireless Broadband Home Router is the best choice for Small office / Home Office users, all computers and network devices can share a single xDSL / cable modem Internet connection at a high speed. Easy install procedures allow computer users to set up a network environment in very short time – within minutes, even inexperienced users. When the number of your computers and network-enabled devices grow, you can also expand the number of network slots by simply connecting a hub or switch to extend the scope of your network. All computers and IEEE 802.11b/g/n wireless-enabled network devices (including PDA, cellular phone, game console and more) can connect to this wireless router without additional cabling. With a compatible wireless card installed in your PC, you can transfer files up to 150Mbps (transfer data rate).
TP-LINK TL-WR841N 300Mbps Wireless N Router: 300 Mbps Wireless N Router TL-WR841N is a combined wired/wireless network connection device designed specifically for small business and home office networking requirements. TL-WR841N’s exceptional and advanced wireless performance make it ideal for streaming HD video, making VoIP and online gaming. Also, WPS button on the sleek and fashionable exterior ensures WPA2 encryptions preventing the network from outside intrusions.