|Wireless G Routers: $40-$60||Wireless N Routers: $70-$170|
Wireless networks, also known as Wireless LANs (WLANs), allow for wireless communication between computers and the Internet without the need for cables between the networked devices. Simple wireless networks can be set up for the home or small office using one's existing Internet access. Typically, a person who is familiar with setting up a computer can install a home wireless network in about an hour by following the guides and manuals.
Related articles: Internet Access, Internet Phone Service
- Wi-Fi technologies conform to several wireless standards that allow the network devices to communicate and interact with one another. There are currently four wireless standards: 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n. Every wireless networking device will list what standards it follows on the box.
- 802.11g and 802.11n are the prevalent wireless technologies, though most routers still support older standards.
- Wireless-G (802.11g) broadband routers typically cost less than the newer and faster Wireless-N (802.11g) ones. These 802.11g routers range from $40 to $60. The Linksys WRT54G2 Wireless-G Broadband Router is well-reviewed option in this price range.
- Wireless-N broadband routers cost more and offers the fastest speed and longest range. These routers cost anywhere from $70 to $170 depending on what features and capabilities get implemented. The D-Link DIR-655 Extreme N Wireless Router at $90 is good choice. The higher priced Netgear Rangemax WNDR3700 Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router at $160 offers twice the bandwidth using Netgear's RangeMax technology.
What should be included:|
- The wireless broadband router and a network cable to connect to your home internet cable or DSL modem.
- User manuals and quick start guides to help install and set up the router for the wireless network.
- In order for one's computer or laptop to communicate to the newly set up wireless network, network adapters such as wireless USB adapters, PCI cards or laptop PC adapters may also be needed. Most newer laptop and notebook computers already have built-in wireless capabilities.
- USB adapters typically cost around $10 to $20 for wireless-G such as the Belkin Wireless G USB Adapter ($22). For wireless-N adapters, those range from $25 to $70. The Belkin N+ USB Adapter has gotten favorable reviews ($70).
- PCI adapters for desktop computers involve opening up the computer case and installing the card into a free PCI slot on the motherboard. A wireless-G PCI adapter like the Cisco-Linksys WMP54G Wireless-G PCI Adapter costs around $36.
- Professional installation is also available for those who would prefer outside help. Best Buy's Geek Squad can set up a wireless network for $150, each additional computer or device to the network costs $49.
- TIP: While all different brand wireless devices should be able to communicate with each other because of the wireless standard, sometimes companies will make the installation for devices under the same family have easier set ups.
- If one needs to exchange the range of a wireless network, a wireless access point (WAP) or bridge may be used. These typically cost around $80 for a wireless-G one like the Netgear Rangemax Wireless Access Point WPN802. There are not many wireless-N extenders or bridges currently on the market, but Linksys does offer the WET610N Dual-Band Wireless-N Ethernet Bridge .
Shopping for a wireless network:
- TIP: Sometimes bundles will be offered at a better price and these often include a wireless router and a USB adapter to be used on a computer.
- TIP: Many of the networking companies also provide some online or telephone support if there are installation issues, thus saving on any outside professional servicing costs.
- The companies Linksys by Cisco , D-Link, Netgear and Belkin are major manufacturers of wireless routers and adapters.
- Store retailers such as OfficeMax, Best Buy, Staples , and Office Depot all sell wireless networking equipment.
- Online retailers such as Amazon , Newegg.com and CompUSA also sell wireless computer components.
- TIP: All of the various networking companies also offer their products for sale on their websites. However, the prices there are often not as discounted as what one would find either in a store or from online retailers.
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