With so many different wireless technologies available to purchase on the market today, having a good understanding of the devices you will use and knowing what your goals are for your home network is important. This article will provide you with some tips and features to look for as you start to plan your home network and shop for your new wireless access point.
First off, you should purchase a wireless access point (or wireless router) that is compatible with the devices you own. For instance, make sure that your wireless access point is compatible with all of your PCs, network printers and multimedia devices before you make your purchase. Additionally, don't just opt for the biggest and the fastest, there's actually a good chance you don't have any devices that are compatible with the cutting-edge 3x3 (450 Mbps) radio for example. So why pay the extra expense for a premium wifi router if your devices won't see the performance benefits? However, if your devices aren't currently compatible with the latest wireless access points and technologies but you still want to max out your speed and range, don't forget that you have the option to purchase an aftermarket wireless adapter. These adapters offer better performance than your outdated internal wireless cards and can increase your device's connection speed and range. Also, most wireless adapters use common connection interfaces like USB or ExpressCard. An added benefit of these adapters is how easy they are to setup. In most cases, they are usually plug'n play which allows you to just plug the adapter into the correct port and after a few seconds of installations in the background you'll be connected to your network.
Another thing to keep in mind while you're looking for your new wireless router, is that the 2.4 GHz wireless band is very congested. If you live in an urban area, you might want to consider a dual band wireless access point. Many PC and Mac computers and now even tablets have built-in dual band client support. The quality of your connection and its performance, especially at close range, will improve if you use the 5 GHz wireless band. Please note that the distance of the 5 GHz range will not be as far as the 2.4 GHz band, but, a dual band access point/wireless router will allow you to operate both networks simultaneously. This will allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds long range and strong performance. While looking on the shelves, be aware that devices that support dual band may not say 5 GHz on the box, but if they list 802.11 wireless n and 802.11a as supported standards; that indicates that they support 802.11 wireless n in 5 GHz.
Lastly, if you decide that what you really want from your home network is a longer available range, there are many long range wireless access point devices and client adapters on the market that you can choose from. Look for amplified routers or routers with high gain antennas installed. Most consumer and small office grade equipment transmits at ~50mW, but the best high power wireless routers and access points use power amplifiers and high gain antennas to transmit a substantial amount more power than that.
With these features in mind, you should be able to pinpoint a wireless access point that will be the center of your perfect home network. But keep in mind that modern 802.11n wireless networks vary heavily depending on the equipment used and also the specific configuration of your network. Understanding the technology, regulations and limitations surrounding wireless networks can help you obtain the best performance out of your home network so you can get to downloading, sharing media and browsing the web faster.