You’re binge-watching your favorite tv show, enjoying the benefits that instant streaming offers, when the unthinkable happens: just when the plot has reached its most dramatic moment, your picture-perfect plot line begins to skip. Or glitch. Or pause altogether. It might be because someone accidentally hit the wrong button on the remote. Or, it might be your WiFi router.
WiFi routers are the digital backbones of most homes. A good one can provide a seamless wireless experience. From smart features to speed, we’re breaking down the most important factors that go into buying a WiFi router.
WiFi routers are a conduit. An internet signal travels from the modem to the router, and then to all of your various devices. A WiFi router can be thought of as your internet project manager. Not only does it allocate resources, but it translates signals into something every gadget in your digital arsenal can understand.
Generally speaking, this signal comes in two frequencies: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. To understand the way these frequencies work requires some of those physics principles you learned in high school, but you do not need to understand the exact science about it to select a router. All you really need to know is that 2.4GHz is better at going long distances and through walls and obstructions, but at a cost: it provides a weaker signal. 5GHz is stronger but has a shorter reach.
From video games to streaming television, social media to video chat, WiFi routers have a lot of responsibilities in the average home. It goes without saying that you want a WiFi router that can do the heavy lifting for your internet use, but how you use your internet can also play a factor. Consider the following common WiFi uses and how routers can differ between them:
Sometimes WiFi goes wonky for no reason at all. Who hasn’t found themselves, almost by force of habit, migrating around a large space in search of the best WiFi signal? Mesh WiFi routers are changing all of that.
These systems consist of a main router that connects with a network of satellite devices placed all around your home, making for a more saturated WiFi experience. No longer is there a better Wi-Fi spot in your house because every room has equal coverage. Additionally, they are all ultimately part of the same wireless network, so they share the same login and security information. Plus, Mesh WiFi is scalable so as your needs change you can add modules to your network.
Tri-blend channels: Many devices offer channels for the varying frequencies, with some devices even offering a tri-band feature. This allows even more devices to connect to the router at once without experiencing congestion.