What makes a router expensive? Is it the brand name or the features? Or maybe the price tag itself? If you want to save some cash, then you should consider buying a cheaper model instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a high-end device.
The Internet has changed our lives forever. No longer do we need to go outside to get information. Nowadays, we can access anything from anywhere at any time. And thanks to the advancement of technology, we now have wireless devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc., that allow us to connect to the web through WiFi signals.
A router is basically a network device that connects computers together and allows them to communicate with each other over the internet. There are two types of routers – wired and wireless. Wireless routers usually come in three varieties: fixed (which means they stay put), portable, and mobile. They also differ in terms of their speed, range, and connection quality.
When buying a home router, you should consider its features, performance, reliability, ease of setup, and security. There are several types of routers, including wireless routers, wired routers, mesh routers, and combo routers. Each type has pros and cons. This article discusses some of the differences between them.
Things to consider when buying a router
Changing wireless standards
Wireless technology has evolved considerably since it first became popular. In fact, we now live in an era where many people are wondering whether it’s even worth upgrading their current router. While there are some benefits to staying with older technologies, such as those that use older wireless protocols like Wireless N, there are plenty of reasons why it might make sense to switch.
Here are just a few reasons why you might want to consider switching out your existing router:
The latest generation of routers uses a protocol called 802.11ac. These routers offer up to eight times the speed of previous generations while consuming less power. They also provide better coverage and reliability.
Most modern computers and phones include built-in wireless adapters. However, the old standard, Wireless N, doesn’t work well with these devices. Newer models, including Apple’s AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule, feature 802.11n connections.
If you plan to purchase a laptop, tablet, or smartphone soon, chances are that it will come with support for 802.11n. But if you already have one of these devices, it probably won’t be able to connect to a router that supports 802.11ac. And if you do decide to buy a device that does support 802.11ac, you’ll likely find that it costs more than a similar model that offers 802.11n connectivity.
Should you use the router provided by your ISP?
If you sign up with a different ISP in the US, you may be offered an equipment rental fee of around $5 to $8 per month. If you’re in another country, your ISP usually bundles the equipment into your internet service package.
Most often, the device they send to you is a modem/ router combination that you’ll find serviceable. If you’re in the US and plan on keeping the network equipment for over a full year, it’s typically cheaper to buy your own equipment than to rent. You can usually find lists of compatible equipment online for under $50 and up. Make sure you get a combination device or a standalone router with a modem.
Even if you’ve received a free router, you might still want to buy your very own for better speed and better performance.
Buying your own gear isn’t always guaranteed to get you better performance, but it could save you some cash in the future and give you better control than their run-of-mill routers don’t include. Network storage is an example of a file system.
The life span of a router
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about routers very much. They just work, right? But what happens when they start acting up? What makes a good router? How long does a router last? These are all questions we’ll try to answer here today.
Remember that networking hardware doesn’t always last forever. As well as changing quite frequently, networking hardware is put under a lot of stress every day. You’re using your Wi-Fi connection to connect everything from your computer, and gaming console to your smartphone, tablet, and a streaming device.
As more devices are added to the network, such as smart lights, thermostats, or even smart locks, that load is only going to get larger, and over time a router’s performance can begin to degrade.
Is Gigabit necessary yet?
The average American home now has access to fiber Internet connections. While most people still rely on cable providers, many companies are offering gigabit-speed broadband options. But what does that actually mean? And how much faster is Gigabit compared to standard DSL or cable modems?
“Gigabit is the fastest consumer internet connection out there,” says David Berenbaum, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association. “In fact, we’re seeing some ISPs offer up to 1,000 Mbps.”
But while Gigabit is fast, it’s far from ubiquitous. Only about 20 percent of Americans live within range of a gigabit provider, according to Akamai Technologies. Of those, just 3 percent subscribe to gigabit plans.
Even fewer homes have access to true gigabit speed. A recent survey found that less than 0.5 percent of consumers had access to 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps). That number increased to 2 percent for households that subscribed to T-Mobile’s prepaid unlimited data plan.
So why do we need gigabit speeds? Well, it depends on what you want to use the Internet for. If you’re looking to stream 4K video online, you’ll need a lot of bandwidth. According to Cisco Systems’ Visual Networking Index report, the average household needs roughly 40GB of data each month to watch 4K movies.
That’s why having a gigabit network could make sense. For example, a family of four might need 10GB of data per person per month to watch 4K videos, giving them a total monthly requirement of 40GB. With a gigabit network, they’d theoretically be able to download that amount of data in under five seconds.
Of course, there’s another reason to consider getting a gigabit network. As mentioned earlier, you might need one someday for future upgrades. “If you’re planning on upgrading to a smart TV or adding a media server later down the road, a gigabit network makes sense because it allows you to move large amounts of data quickly,” says Berenbaum.
Routers range in price from as little as $20 (£21 or approximately AU$40) to upwards of $500 (£490 or AU$799). You need to decide between a cheap solution and a high-quality one.
For two reasons, it’s hard to recommend a super high-end router to an average consumer. First, the pace at which technological advancements occur is very fast. While a top-of-the-range router may very likely future-proof you for several years, it’s nearly just as susceptible to obsolescence as one that costs half the price.
Second, networking hardware moves faster than ISPs, so mid-tier routers are often more than enough for the typical user and even some power users.
Unless you absolutely need a top-tier router with the best possible speed, a router in the price range of $100 or less will be enough. If you’re looking for a router that provides wireless access and your home Internet speeds are as low as 10Mbps or 15Mbps, you can save some serious cash by opting instead for a less expensive router.
A lot of people don’t know how much of their home they can actually access via Wi-Fi. A good way to find out is to buy a free app like NetSpot, which lets you see exactly where your router is positioned and what areas are covered. You’ll probably want to move it around until you’ve got the best spot — and maybe even add another one somewhere else. If you’re worried about running out of space, you can always opt for a dual-band router, which allows you to connect multiple devices simultaneously.
But keep in mind that some routers cost hundreds of dollars, and you won’t be able to make use of every single feature unless you spend a ton of money.
Most of the time, buying a more affordable wireless router and a couple of power line adapters will be enough to get the job done. Power-line adapters connect computers directly to the electrical wiring in the walls. They’re relatively inexpensive and work wonders when it comes to expanding your network to hard-to-get places in your house.
Make sure to check the speed limits of the power-line adaptors, too, since not all of them are made the same.
Single- or dual-band?
Dual-band wireless routers are here to save the day
Wireless routers are essential tools for most people today. They provide fast Internet access, allow multiple devices to connect to one network, and even offer some security features. But there are two main types of wireless routers: those that operate exclusively on either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies, and those that support both.
The 2.4GHz frequency is widely recognized as being congested and prone to interference. This makes it difficult to use in areas where many devices are operating at once. Conversely, the 5GHz frequency is considered cleaner and allows for faster speeds. However, it’s also much harder to find devices that operate on this frequency.
If you want to know whether a particular device supports both frequencies, look out for a label like “802.11n/ac,” which indicates that the device supports both 2.4GHz technology and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. If it doesn’t say that, it probably operates solely on the 2.4GHz frequency.
Dual-band routers are designed to address the shortcomings of each type of router. These models combine the speed of a 5GHz router with the stability of a 2.4GHz model. You’ll still be able to use your existing devices, such as smartphones and tablets while enjoying increased performance overall.
You might think that choosing between a single-band or dual-band router is pretty straightforward. After all, both types of routers support both frequencies. Unfortunately, there are several factors that make selecting one over another a little trickier.
Before printers with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities became commonplace, a USB port on your router was important for connecting peripherals like scanners and cameras. But routers with USB ports are becoming less popular as people start using inexpensive hard drives and flash memory sticks to store files. These devices provide better performance and reliability than traditional hard disks. They’re also cheaper and easier to find.
But even though USB ports aren’t as critical anymore, some manufacturers still include them in their products. Here’s what you need to know about how they work and why you might want one.
could change how we live, work, play
The internet of things is about to become even more pervasive. While it might seem like a futuristic idea, smart routers are already here. And while they don’t replace traditional routers, they do simplify the process of connecting devices and making sure everything works together.
Not only are routers getting faster and more powerful, but they’re also becoming smarter too. Google’s OnHub routers are just one example. These wireless mesh networking devices aren’t exactly cutting edge anymore, but they still pack some serious punch.
They come with built-in voice assistants, allow you to set up and control your home network remotely, and offer better security features. Plus, they’ve got a lot of room for improvement. For example, they often lack the ability to prioritize data streams based on what device needs it most.
Google’s OnHub routers are a step forward in terms of connectivity and usability, but there are plenty of other options out there. Here’s our list of the best smart routers of 2018.
Do Wi-Fi Routers Degrade Over Time? Reasons Why
Wi-Fi routers seem to start degrading in terms of speed and reliability after about five years. This doesn’t mean that you’re buying a lemon; it just means that there are things that can go wrong with your router over time. If you want to avoid having to replace your router too often, here are things that you might consider changing in your home network.
1. Change Your Router’s Firmware
The firmware inside your router controls many aspects of how your device works, including what settings you use, whether it supports certain features, and even how long it takes to boot up. You can change the firmware yourself, but most people don’t do this very often, since it requires technical expertise. A better option is to buy a new router.
2. Update Its Operating System
Routers come with operating systems that help manage their functionality, but those operating systems can become outdated. For example, you’ll probably want to update the firmware on your router every six months, but you won’t necessarily need to upgrade the OS.
3. Check Its Power Supply
If your router runs low on power, it can slow down and stop working properly. To make sure that your router isn’t running out of juice, check the power supply. Make sure that it’s plugged into a wall outlet and that the cord is securely attached.
Routers can vary in size, capability, and cost as much as they do across brands. While many budget models are capable of doing the basics well enough, there are often better options out there. High-end routers can offer advanced features that help you take advantage of your home network, but they come with a hefty price tag — and you’ll usually want to pay even more for those extra bells and whistles. If you don’t know what type of router you need or where to start shopping, we’ve got you covered.