Guide on choosing a Wireless Router

By on September 21, 2011
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What features to look for when connecting devices wirelessly at home or office.

With the explosion of wireless devices in the last few years, a wirless router has pretty much become a requirement for every home and office. Gone are the days when you were stuck in front of your desktop- when wireless access didn’t matter much. But with every household sporting a combination of laptops, tablets and Smartphones, you need access to the Internet from your bathroom to your balcony. We have thus put together a guide that should help you pick a wireless router that will work for you. Lets start by talking about some of the terminology that routers can confuse you with.

Internet connectivity

The first thing you need to be sure of is that your router can connect to the Internet and that depends on the type of connection you have at your home of office. If you have an Al-Shamil connection by Etisalat, then you need an ADSL modem built in your router otherwise you will not be able to access the Internet. If you have Fibre or are using du, then you don’t need an ADSL router which will bring costs down by a bit but increase the amount of devices you can chose from significantly.

Once you chose your ADSL or non-ADSL router, you will need to configure it’s settings for an Internet connection. If you have fibre, this can be as easy as selecting the type of connection which is generally PPPoE in the UAE and then typing in the username and password provided to you by du or Etisalat. On an ADSL modem.

Gigabit Connectivity

Most of the budget to mid-range routers will support 10/100Mbps wired connectivity which works fine if you all you are doing is browsing the Internet or downloading files. However, if you plan of copying big files across your internal network or stream high definition movies, then you should really be looking at Gigabit wired connectivity. Even offices that feature a NAS device should ideally be looking at Gigabit to not saturate the throughput. Chances are that you have already started watching hi-def movies especially if you have a Full-HD TV at your place so I highly recommend getting Gigabit connectivity on your router. It will cost a little extra but will make you a bit more future proof.

USB Port

Many new routers have a USB port that can either be used to plug-in a USB drive or a printer to share across the network. While useful, I don’t think this is a must-have feature. When it comes to printers, I find it much easier to share the printer using your computer instead of the router and besides, new printers are starting to features Wi-Fi built-in so you directly connect the printer to the router. For USB drives, I’ve found that most of the USB ports are too slow on routers to offer a good file transfer speed and also configuring the USB drive and creating shares and permissions is not the easiest of most intuitive procedure.

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About

Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of tbreak.com and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

Comments
  • 3bas

    Quite a nice informative article. 

    I’d like to know, will either of these routers need configuration for NAT settings. I’m having issues connecting to Xbox Live via shitisalat’s AlShamil internet connection. 

    • Abbas Jaffar Ali

      All the three routers support UPnP which *should* automatically configure all the ports from all your devices. I remember pre-UPnP days when I had to manually configure ports for certain applications but that shouldn’t be the case now.

      • 3bas

        Sweet. Thank you. 

        Also, will they work on eLife? 

        • Abbas Jaffar Ali

          Yep- all 3 work on elife. Tested them personally :)

          • 3bas

            Brilliant. Thanks again 

            Cheers 

  • Assil Ksiksi

    Great article, Abbas.

    One question: do you think that the Airport Extreme is worth the hefty price tag?

    • Abbas Jaffar Ali

      Well- the Linksys is actually a 100 Dirhams more so AE isn’t the most expensive of the bunch. I really liked it’s range and speeds were decent as well. If you have more Macs than PCs then I suggest AE.

  • dubaigirl191

    Does E-life require ADSL router?

  • Ajish

    I want to make a wireless connection to my home du internet line. Which router should i buy and what’s the approx cost?

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