Buyer's Guide: Wi-Fi Routers
Posted 30 December 2008 - 07:22 AM
1. I was never able to get my 1st Gen Airport Express to synch up with my 'white blob' Airport Extreme using WPA security. Hopefully a replacement Airport Express will fix that problem. All I could get to work across my Mac-only network was WEP 128-bit using a DLink wireless access point. (On the bright side, that DLink has an external antenna jack which helps push the signal from the basement where it's located across the entire house.)
2. My current wired router by DLink gets saturated by HTTP and DNS network traffic on the wired port. So I'm very leery of commercial routers these days. (Its precedessor had similar problems.)
3. My brother tried to set up a wireless network with a Earthlink-supplied DSL modem. Turns out both of those boxes by default used the same IP address/subnet, and it took me about 2-3 hours to figure that out. I ended up disconnecting the DSL modem, manually configuring the wireless (which wasn't easy, the 'wizard' kept on trying to configure that device to 192.168.1.1 and I had a hard time finding the manual configuration option). Then when I got that wireless router on a different 192.168 subnet, I could plug in the DSL modem, and configure the WAN port to use 192.168.1.x (DHCP from the DSL modem.) If none of the preceding made any sense to you, see below about making sure you get a good return policy if you can't get stuff configured.
So here are three specific experiences with wireless and wired LAN technology. Caveat Emptor... Make sure you know exactly what you want your stuff to do before you buy it, buy stuff only when you have the time to work through the configuration, and make sure wherever you buy from has a generous return policy if you can't make it work. And be prepared to spend some significant time to get it all working (even with Apple-only hardware...)
Posted 30 December 2008 - 07:25 AM
"Your network will only go as fast as the slowest component, so unless your Macs, your wireless router, and the peripherals you’re connecting wirelessly all support 802.11n, they’ll network at only a fraction of the speed they otherwise could."
Is rather mis-leading... It implies that if you don't have all 802.11n devices across the board (for wireless) then your entire wireless network will be slowed down. This is NOT the case. While it is true that a session will only go as fast as it's slowest component, that's only for devices communicating with each other. With all routers having Ethernet SWITCHES inside, and the wireless signals being able to communicate independent of each other (especially when not going to each other) you probably won't encounter slow-downs as much as the article would lead you to believe.
I have a device that's only 802.11bg (a pda) which connects to my router, which all my other items connect to (eventually)... My wireless signals are not slowed down to bg speeds because of that device. IF I was to use a wireless connection between two items that are of mixed speeds, then yes, it will be only as fast as the slower item.
For me, this just about never happens, since all my shared volumes, and printers, are wired.
As for brands to select from... Belkin USED to be a reliable brand. Over the past couple of years I've tried, and have had fail, several routers from them. Ever since I went beyond 802.11g capable routers they've been horrible. At one point I went through no less than three N1 Vision routers before getting one that held up (for a time). A few months back, that one would just lock up every few days forcing me to hard reboot it before it would work again. After having it do this three times in a 7 day span, I pulled it off the network and replaced it with a Linksys router (WRT610N) which has been running just fine for the past 2 months now. I MIGHT give the new Belkin N router a shot, but my hopes are NOT high that it will last. I do like their interface better than the one for Linksys, which is the only reason why I keep giving them a shot...
Posted 30 December 2008 - 07:48 AM
I had problems with one wireless router that supported WPA/WPA2 and WDS, but not at the same time. Go figure.
Posted 30 December 2008 - 08:22 AM
In addition, I installed 2 terabyte hard drives on the extremes for the students to backup their data.
While some of the new routers have some nice features, the most important feature is reliability. As of Jan 1, 2009, each of these has been running without failure for over 13,000 hours. I would be very interested to see comparison with these new routers.
Posted 30 December 2008 - 09:12 AM
- Having supported Apple and third-party wireless routers, I can testify that the ease-of-use factor for Airport products is not to be underestimated, even if you're already networking savvy. As with other Apple products, the user experience, quality, and reliability offset the premium price.
- Though the current AirPort products don't support port mapping/forwarding via UPnP, they do support it via Apple's own flavor, NAT PMP. (And I have much better success, for what it's worth, using NAT PMP to get Back to My Mac working than when using UPnP.)
- Though the current AirPort Extreme doesn't have a dedicated port for an external antenna, there are third-party solutions available (such as from quickertek.com) that aren't that difficult to install. (Personally, I propagate my network--and the iTunes content on my media server--with a sprinkling of AirPort Expresses.)
- Though DDNS in the sense you're using it isn't built in, there are third-party Mac clients (such as from DynDNS.com) that support this feature.
- Though the AirPort Extreme 802.11n isn't dual band, if you happen to have another 802.11a/b router (such as an AirPort Express) on hand, you can connect it to the AirPort Extreme to create a true dual-band network. The process is described in the product manual.
Posted 30 December 2008 - 09:46 AM
Posted 30 December 2008 - 12:36 PM
Posted 04 January 2009 - 04:43 AM
My best experience, though, has been with Linksys tech support. A few years ago, after explaining that they did not (at that time) support Macs - and my assurance that I understood and that it didn't make any difference anyway - they were very patient in helping me troubleshoot a problem (turns out the client had been assigned a fixed IP address years ago so I had to set the router to use a fixed IP address while configuring the computer to use DHCP). More recently I got a new modem and Linksys router and this time they were even Mac prepared when I called. Again, they took all the time I needed to solve the problem (I had to change the router's default IP address - I wouldn't have figured that out on my own, either).
These days quality (free) tech support is hard to find so I give Linksys their props.
Posted 05 January 2009 - 09:27 PM
All my wireless devices are "G". I don't care so much about speed since everything works fast enough. But I want to be able to have wider range. If I change my router to an "N", will it give me added range inside my house, even if it's not necessarily faster?
My TiVo says it is getting a signal strength of about 65%. It usually streams in HD, indicating the speed is fine. But occasionally it will stop and catch its breath, and downshift into standard definition, indicating a diminished signal strength.
I also get a terrible signal in some areas of the house where I would otherwise like to use my laptop.
I can't move the router, but having it stronger would be helpful. It's a Belkin F5D7230-4.
Thanks for any advice.
Posted 14 April 2010 - 04:02 AM
I have an Airport Extreme and it is dual-band. It puts out three networks, a high speed network (on 5ghz), a low speed network (on 2.4 ghz), and a public network (which unfortunately doesn' support WEP).
I'd *like* to put out a public network w/WEP (for devices that don't support WPA), but can't because the AE doesn't support it.
How can you usa an article to make a serious decision about equipment if the article is so far out of date?