So, you’re looking for a router? Purchasing a wireless router can be tough. Initially, every router seems to look identical to one another and you assume that all of them provide the same functionality. However, there are numerous wireless router models exist and each of them possess its own set of unique characteristics. Certain features as speed, warranty, and cost are a few of the considerations everyone has when purchasing a new router. Here are the details.
How does a router work?
A router simply allows you to connect multiple devices to the same IP address. The router takes the information sent to and from your computer(s) and the Internet and forwards that information to the correct destination. Without a router or switch, it would be impossible for your Internet modem to send a web page or software you’ve downloaded to the correct device with multiple computers connected. The router actually creates a “fake” unique IP address for each device on the network. The reason we call it fake is because that IP address only matters on the network to which that device belongs. The rest of the world can only access the IP address of your modem, which talks directly to the router. So if they all do the same thing, how is each router different?
Wireless routers measure their speed in megabits per second and usually come in slow, average and fast models. Older models offer about 11 Mbps, mid-range ones 54 Mbps, and the faster routers can claim up to 450 Mbps. Most buyers are tempted to think that router speed is the most important quality of a router and will make their connections faster, but this is actually not the case. High speed routers cannot directly speed up an internet connection and any extra boost from the router might not be worth the extra cost. So consider some of these other categories before blindly purchasing the more expense router with maximum speed ratings.
Also, the speed of a router depends on its processor. If you think of a router as a mini version of a computer, there’s a central processing unit (CPU) that it uses to carry out every function it requires. The CPUs of routers, as in PC’s and Mac’s, varies from brand to brand and model to model.
Most routers usually come with a warranty package together with their equipment, don’t buy one that doesn’t! The length and terms of each router’s warranties vary widely. A better warranty may indicate a manufacturer more committed to support their products, while a lesser warranty could indicate the company feels there product is of a lesser standard. Always consider the warranty, as not only is useful for when the product fails, it may also indicate the quality of the product.
There is a huge selection of review sites across the web that allow for anonymous reviews on products, such as routers. These product reviews can potentially be quite helpful and informative. However, sometimes they are filled with garbage that can’t be trusted. Anyone can post a review of a product, but how are we the purchaser to know they truly have our best interest in mind? The answer is we don’t. For all we know, the reviewer could be a plant or an employee of a rival product, who gives a glaring review in order to deter us from making a purchase. The same goes for overly positive reviews, what if that person works for the company’s marketing team? There is no way to know for sure, so don’t take every horror story as the gospel.
Some manufactures offer a rebate on the full price of their products, so don’t necessarily dismiss a router due to its initial price. Also, much like used cars, older routers may be able to serve your needs as adequately as a new one for a cheaper price. Many companies continue to update the firm ware on routers, even after they release new versions, so an older model can be a great deal. Be sure to shop around as many electronics stores and websites as possible before you make a purchase as there are some great deals out there.
Image use courtesy of Olivier Bruchez under the creative commons license.