Larry Braud, another one of my Terry’s Computer Tips readers, wrote to ask:
Terry, my wired router bit the dust yesterday. I have an old wireless router available, but I thought I would get one of the newer, faster ones. Looking at the ads in today’s paper, what would you recommend?
Unless you’re going to buy a router and new wireless card for your notebook, I would not buy any of the super-high-speed wireless routers. Paying extra for the proprietary 108 Mbit/second models does not make sense, even if you think you will upgrade your computer’s wireless card later. The technology changes too fast to make this strategy cost-effective.
Although I expect that every one of them supports the standard 802.11b and 802.11g in addition to their proprietary super/extreme mode (and I have not heard that any of these super-speed wireless routers do not support the standards), the super-speed 108 megabits/sec wireless routers do not work with other manufacturers’ super-speed cards. In other words, the 108 Mb/second rate is available only when you are running the same company’s matching super-speed wireless card in your computer.
My recommendation is still the 802.11g Linksys WRT54G router, not one of the special ones. I have 802.11a, b and g built into my Dell notebook computer. After dealing with an add-on PC Card on my last notebook — including the possibility of breaking the card, I don’t want to use an external PC Card or USB wireless connector if I have a built-in option.
Also, the nature of your usual connection comes into play. I rarely use wireless with my laptop. It is my primary computer, but I have a power brick and ethernet cable at my laptop’s table in the den. If wireless is your only connection for the house or business, it may be worth your while to go with the faster setup. I would not consider purchasing 802.11b (the slow 11 Mbit/second standard) at this stage — the additional cost for 802.11g is pretty low.
I have a DLink wired router also, for travellig use. Its interface is more simplified and flashier than the Linksys interface — and seems to have a lot less “meat” to it than the one on my Linksys wired router. The Dlink’s interface is probably more obvious for a novice who wants to do networking.
Both DLink and Linksys provide excellent manuals for their 802.11g and faster wireless modems. They explain, not only how to set up the security controls for their specific models, but they also explain why this should be done. You can even visit the Linksys and DLink web sites and download the manuals before you buy their products — this is a nice consumer-friendly touch. With the original 802.11b (11 Mb/sec), the manuals were very marginal with respect to security.
Also, when setting up your wireless network, you should first get the wireless network operational and then, second, set up the security settings. Both the Linksys and DLink manuals, the last time I looked, provided excellent instructions on securing your wireless network.
Be sure to secure your wireless network. Read more in my Wireless Security page at www.TerrysComputerTips.com.