Wireless network buying guide

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A Wi-Fi network allows you to connect to the Internet wirelessly from anywhere in your home. It is easy to configure and allows seamless connection at any time, giving you smooth access to browsing and streaming content at any time.

What is a wireless network?

A wireless network, or Wi-Fi for short, is the method by which an Internet connection is distributed to devices that can connect to it to access it without the need for wires. Several types of devices can connect to a Wi-Fi network, such as computers, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, printers, televisions, streaming boxes, speakers, systems home theater, surveillance cameras, smart light bulbs and other smart home automation devices.

The modem is what brings the internet connection to the house, while the router is what broadcasts this signal as a Wi-Fi network to these connected devices. As speeds increase and Wi-Fi signals get stronger, a good home network can meet the demands of different users with different devices operating at the same time.

What you need for a network

It comes down to three things: the Internet connection purchased from a supplier, the modem and the router.

Modems are usually included in your provider’s monthly Internet subscriptions. If this is not the case, for whatever reason, contact your supplier for other possible options.

These modems are sometimes dual-use devices that can also function as routers, which may seem handy, but in fact is not the best way to get the most out of your Internet connection.

Routers that are standalone products are hubs that distribute the connection and then manage how the connected devices get the bandwidth they need to do their jobs. Wi-Fi is an industry standard in consumer electronics, making it ubiquitous in almost everything on the market that requires an internet connection to function.

Installing a router is much simpler today than it was five years ago. Quick start guides of just a few pages are sometimes supplemented with step-by-step on-screen instructions to help illustrate what needs to be done. You can change the network name and password as desired, as well as administrator access to change the router settings.

Router software also allows you to set up a guest network for visitors who only have to log in, as well as parental controls to restrict access or ban offensive websites. You can also see a network map of all devices connected to the router and define settings or restrictions for a specific device, if desired.

What is a mesh network?

Mesh networks or Whole Home Wi-Fi are distributed multi-device Wi-Fi networks to allow access over a much larger area. This is different from what Wi-Fi bridges and extensions do, where the existing connection from the mesh networking devices central router is simply extended to generate a better signal in another part of the house. In a mesh network, each device or node in the mesh network is an extension of the router itself; so it’s like having the same router in multiple rooms. The power and performance of each node is equal to that of the router itself, and since they are constantly synchronized, the connection between them allows a constant speed in a larger space.

Knots are also situational, although you may not notice it because of their great fluidity. If you move from room to room in your home, your device will connect to the node closest to you to provide the best signal. This reduces the need to constantly connect to a central router.

If you want to have the speed you expect right next to your router, everywhere in your house, then a mesh network is the solution. The D-Link Covr system is an example of a mesh network device. Expect more and more router manufacturers to offer their own model of mesh networking devices.

Find the right router

Assessing the size of your home and what users will do online can be a determining factor in determining which type of router is best for creating a fast and sustainable network. Keep in mind that your router cannot go faster than your internet connection allows. There are many manufacturers of routers: Linksys, D-link, ASUS, NETGEAR and TP-Link.

What is dual-band?

As current routers are uniformly dual-band, they are capable of distributing the internet connection on two separate frequencies – 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. One reason for this choice is to reduce interference from other products that use the 2.4 GHz band, such as microwaves and cordless phones. Another reason is to channel more bandwidth into the 5 GHz band, which makes it ideal for devices that do a lot of streaming, downloading, and online gaming.

The two bands operate simultaneously, so that one will not cannibalize the other. Devices that don’t need a lot of bandwidth to operate efficiently, such as printers, e-readers, and some smart home gadgets are among this list. Note that some devices only support the 2.4 GHz band.

What is the tribande?

tri-band router

You can see this term in some high-end routers, and it’s another way to distribute the connection more evenly. A tri-band router has a 2.4 GHz band and splits the 5 GHz band in half to create a third band. The goal is to unclutter the 5 GHz band by making the router automatically distribute the devices between the two bands. The result is designed to reduce clutter and allow more bandwidth flow. This will not make the network faster, but could make it more efficient by sharing the existing speed. An excellent example is the Linksys Wireless AC2200 triband mesh Wi-Fi router presented here.

Wireless standards – AX, AC or N

In technical terms, Wi-Fi standards start with the prefix 802.11, while a letter is added at the end as a suffix to indicate which protocol it is. This is why routers post this standard and protocol on the box and in marketing language.

802.11ax, Wi-Fi 6 or Wireless-AX is currently the fastest protocol available. New routers equipped with Wireless-AX could theoretically quadruple the speeds of Wireless-AC. This would represent up to 1.1 Gbit / s (gigabits per second) in the 2.4 GHz band and 4.8 Gbit / s in the 5 GHz band.

This bit rate would allow high quality streaming to multiple devices at once, but could also dramatically increase resolution. It would be possible to stream 8K content and download large files in a fraction of the time it currently takes.

802.11ac, or Wireless-AC, was the fastest protocol until the evolution of Wi-Fi 6 or Wireless-AX. For non-AX routers, a Wireless-AC connection resides in the 5 GHz band. It has increased transfer speeds over long distances with less interference to wireless devices, making it suitable for gaming and HD video streaming. It can support bandwidth speeds of up to 1300 megabits per second (Mbps). It is also the protocol sometimes used for routers that offer tri-band functionality.

802.11n, or Wireless-N, was probably the most used protocol when it resided in the 2.4 GHz band. It can support transfer speeds of up to 300 megabytes per second (Mbps). Like Wireless-AC, Wireless-N speeds will be limited to the speed of your actual Internet connection. On Wireless-AX routers, however, AC will occupy the 2.4 GHz band, but you can still connect if your device does not support AX or AC.

Beamforming technology

Routers are designed to broadcast the signal in space in all directions. Beam formation locates the location of the connected device and focuses the signal towards it for better throughput. It is a standardized part of 802.11ax and 802.11ac standards, and a common feature built into most current routers, but not all Wireless-AC devices can support beamforming. If so, it will work with the router transparently without the need to activate the function.

QoS (Quality of service)

Game routers are not the only models to be equipped. This is more common in routers now, which allows prioritizing bandwidth for a certain application or device. For example, if there is a device that does a lot of 4K streaming, or a critical console for online games, setting up QoS can make these more important than any other connection. It is best not to go overboard with this feature, as it can be confusing, but it could be very effective if used sparingly and in a targeted manner.

What is MU-MIMO technology?

Abbreviation for multi-user, multi-input, multi-output, MU-MIMO is an extension of the way bandwidth is allocated to connected devices. Previously, devices were getting the bandwidth they needed in a queue, although this was not noticed unless it slowed down or was buffered in the midst of heavy network traffic.

When the router and the connected devices both support MU-MIMO, the bandwidth is prioritized equally and simultaneously. This is better suited for handling demanding devices and applications, since the signal is constant for each of them, rather than having to wait briefly for bandwidth. This means that heavier tasks, such as multiple 4K streams with online games, can be done at the same time without compromising the speed of one another.

This technology is relatively new to the market. More and more routers are starting to support it, while devices are catching up. Devices launched in 2018 and 2019 support it more widely, making it a more common standard.

Wireless security

All routers are equipped with some form of encryption technology, such as WEP and WPA, which scrambles messages on wireless networks so that they cannot be read by anyone who might be looking for them. It is this technology that also highlights the password protection of your installation and the access to the guest network that you may have set up for increased security.

ADVANTAGE CHARACTERISTICS
WEP
(Wireless encryption protocol)
Provides basic security protection for wireless devices
WPA and WPA2
(Wi-Fi protected access)
Offers more powerful wireless data encryption than WEP for added security
Password protection Helps prevent outside people from accessing your network
Access to the guest network Limits use for guests by denying them access to shared devices that may contain sensitive information

Advice:

  • The establishment of a password will prevent outside people from accessing your network. It is designed to “lock” your wireless signal and deny access to those who do not have the password.
  • Access to the guest network allows you to set up an additional network that can be accessed by people who visit your home. Using a separate password, users will have access to the internet, but will not be able to access shared devices that may contain sensitive information.

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Connect your smart home

Houses get smarter thanks to the various devices that allow automation and control. With your router, you can control a number of different products, including surveillance cameras, light bulbs, thermostats, sensors, garage door openers, speakers, door locks, doorbells, coffee makers and many more.

In many cases, these products can be controlled both at home and outdoors, or can be scheduled to perform a given task at a given time.

Zigbee and Z-Wave

These are wireless standards that predominate in smart home devices and accessories. They are capable of communicating via Wi-Fi, but operate in parallel like low bandwidth mesh networks to broadcast their respective signals farther than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth could do.

However, they are not directly compatible with everyday devices, such as computers, smartphones, tablets and TVs. Instead, they communicate with them via a hub, which is usually plugged directly into the router. In addition, they are not compatible with each other, which means that you could not control a Zigbee and a Z-Wave at the same time via the same application. They must be checked separately.

Other things to consider

Cable networks

Wireless networks are the norm in most homes today, but wired networks still offer a stronger and more reliable connection to the Internet due to reduced latency. In addition to the Wi-Fi antennas, many routers are equipped with LAN (local area network) ports on the back to directly connect the devices.

Range Extenders

If you have problems with the range of the radio in your home, you may want to consider a range extender. Just plug it into an electrical outlet in your home and it will send your internet signal from the modem to your trouble zone, like a dead zone. These devices can be used with wired or wireless routers and are often an easy way to extend the life of your existing router and increase its range in remote areas of your home.

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Powerline

Powerline devices work by routing the Internet connection through your home electrical network. Just connect one Powerline device directly to your router, and the other Powerline receiver to another room in the house, and you can enjoy powerful Internet in areas that would otherwise have had a weak Wi-Fi signal. or nonexistent.

Wi-Fi adapters

If you have a computer, laptop, Blu-ray player, or Wi-Fi compatible high-definition TV that doesn’t have a built-in wireless network card, a Wi-Fi adapter is what you need. should. These plug directly into a USB port so you can connect wirelessly to your network and access the Internet. There are also USB adapters specially designed for MU-MIMO compatibility.

Go to the next stage

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Now that you have a better understanding of the meaning of all buzzwords and technical specifications, check out the wide selection of Best Buy technologies for your home network.

Buy network technology at Best Buy

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