A WLAN router, or more commonly referred to as a wireless router, is a networking device that offers the functionality of a normal router while also acting as a wireless access point. In other words, it will allow you to set up a network where you can connect computers and devices both locally through a LAN connection using an Ethernet cable as well as wirelessly by using a wireless USB adapter. There are three main factors that you need to take into consideration when selecting a router: the band, the security level, and the antenna options.

As wireless routers have evolved, there has generally been three generations of communication standards.

802.11b Standard

While technically the first generation of wireless routers would be generation a, we’ll discount this as a is long obsolete and was never really used in the home anyways. Therefore, what we can consider being the first generation is generation b. While not completely obsolete yet, it still provides the slowest speed and weakest signal strength while being the most vulnerable to security issues.

802.11g Standard

G is the second and more modern generation and provides faster speeds while offering a stronger signal strength and distance. Speeds max out at 54MBPS, which will usually be sufficient since it’s generally faster than the internet connection most people will have. We’ll talk more about the maximum speeds a router is capable of later on in this article as well.

802.11n Standard

N is the latest and most advanced generation and offers up to 300MBPS while having a greater range and signal strength with improved performance in environments where the signal may be obstructed (floors, walls, etc).

Wireless Router Speed

As you might have concluded yourself already, you should absolutely stay away from routers that only support b. Luckily, this shouldn’t be too hard, as routers capable of supporting only generation b are already hard to come by. A router that supports either g or n should be suitable for your needs. While n is more advanced, it’s also very new technology and may be harder to come by, especially if you have a certain budget that you need to stick to.

N does offer a much higher maximum router speed, but this isn’t something that you necessarily MUST have. The 54MBPS offered by g will normally be more than enough. Most internet connections won’t be near this speed and should be fine with a g router. However, if you are able to get near speeds of 30MBPS, then you should probably consider going with a router that supports n instead. Another scenario where you may want to go with n is if you move large amounts of data or stream between the computers on your wireless network. Since this isn’t dependent on your internet connection, a faster router could offer you improved speed.

If you’re going for speed, then you should also consider the speed of the devices connecting to your network. If you choose to go with a router that supports n, but has wireless USB adapters that only support g, then you won’t get the full benefit of your router.

Security

Another important thing to take into consideration when looking for a WLAN 11g router is the security level offered. There are three main modes of encryption: WEP, WPA, and WPA2. WEP is the weakest of the three, and if the router you’re looking at doesn’t offer WPA or WPA2, run. WEP is incredibly easy to hack into, so if someone really wants to get into your network, they will. WPA2 is your best option, but WPA is also acceptable as well. Bottom line, security should be a huge priority, so make sure that you invest in a router with sufficient security levels.

Antenna

Depending on your situation, you may or may not care about the antenna configuration. If you plan on placing the router in a heavily obscured area where there is lots of feedback or objects in the way, then you may want to look into routers that have several antennas. A NETGEAR, Linksys WLAN router or a Belkin WLAN router would be a place to looks for multiple antennas. Either way, don’t be worried if the router you are looking at doesn’t have an external antenna, as many routers have built in antennas that will be sufficient for broadcasting your signal.

Choosing the Correct WLAN Router

In conclusion, there are three main things to take into consideration when picking out a WLAN wireless router. First, you need to decide which band will be the best for you. This will depend upon your internet connection speed and how much internal data transfer/streaming you do, but generally a router that supports g will do the job. Equally as important is the security options offered by the router, as insufficient security can lead to all sorts of problems if people get into your network and abuse it. Lastly, if you need to broadcast the signal through multiple floors or have other interference, you may want to look into routers that have multiple antennas so you can configure the signal direction to better serve you.