By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com
Consumers have become accustomed to constant internet access, no matter where they are, without being tethered to a wall. With the range of wireless routers available today, setting up a home wireless network is fairly easy and inexpensive. After analyzing features and consulting expert and consumer reviews, Cheapism has singled out three reliable routers that can be had for less than $50.Read our top three wireless router recommendations and decide for yourself.
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- The Linksys E1200 (starting at $44) is one of the more basic routers the company offers. The signal reaches about 175 feet, according to one expert review, and connects to 802.11b/g/n devices. The letters represent wireless standards overseen by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Wireless-n is the latest and fastest to be ratified by the IEEE, with a maximum transfer speed of 300 megabits per second. In real-life testing, this router managed approximate speeds of 36 to 54 Mbps. The ease of installation and configuration help make it a solid choice for home users.
- The D-Link DIR-605L Cloud (starting at $40) earns plaudits for its stability and affordability. Reviews note that it also comes with a rather snazzy feature for a budget router: With Mydlink, you can go online or use an iPhone or Android app to remotely view web browsing history, see any devices connected to your network, and even block unwanted and potentially dangerous connections. The router supports fast wireless-n connections, as well as wireless-g for older devices.
- The Rosewill RNX-N300RT (starting at $28) is a particularly inexpensive router, yet it still garners a number of positive reviews for reliability. The router supports the 802.11b/g/n standards. Users say setup is simple and, if anything goes wrong, the technical support staff is helpful.
It's important to secure your wireless network, especially if you use your home computer to do things like shop online, log into online banking, or store sensitive information. The three routers listed here offer WPA2 encryption, which is more secure than the previous WPA and WEP protocols. Be sure to create a strong password that's difficult to guess -- no "password" or "linksys" allowed -- to keep others within range from piggybacking on your network.
These basic models may fall short if multiple users try to stream HD video from across the house, but they're all capable of handling a basic home workload. All three broadcast at a single 2.4 GHz frequency, in contrast to pricier dual-band models that also use the 5 Ghz frequency. Many other devices operate on the 2.4 GHz band, including microwaves, car alarms, and phones, so it's possible for your Wi-Fi signal could be affected by interference.
Related: Inexpensive laptop recommendationsYou'll get the fastest connection by plugging a computer directly into the router. The models featured here have four Ethernet ports with theoretical transfer rates of up to 100 Mbps. Set up your wireless router near a desktop computer or in a home office so you have the option of plugging in for an extra boost of speed when you need it.
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