Is a Walmart Wireless Router For You?

Nov 4, 2013 internet, router, walmart, 0 Comments
Walmart wireless routers


Wireless routers have become an important part of any home or office. Today, routers provide a connection point between the Internet and numerous devices. Wireless routers have always been a great way to access the Internet without bulky and unattractive wires. Wireless routers are now a necessity as the number of Internet connected devices that we use each day has increased. But how do you choose the right wireless router for your needs?

While this choice may seem like an easy decision — just drive to a store and pick up the lowest price Walmart wireless router, there are several factors that can affect performance that users need to consider before making their choice.

Compatibility

Compatibility is a key factor in deciding which wireless router to purchase. To make certain your router is compatible, you will need to know if your Internet connection is Broadband from a cable modem or if it  is through a DSL connection. Internet service that is accessed through a cable modem will require a Ethernet/Broadband router, while Internet service through DSL can use either a Broadband router or an ADSL router. ADSL routers are NOT compatible with Internet service via a cable modem.

In addition to deciding between a Broadband and ADSL router, you will need to know if your modem utilizes Wi-FI or Bluetooth technology to make the connection, and choose a router with technology that matches.

Your router will also need to have a number of free ports that is equal to the number of devices you wish to potentially connect to the Internet at the same time.

You should also choose a router that transmits across bands that are compatible with your device.

Do You Need a Router with Single or Dual Bands?

Walmart Wireless RouterThe term bands refers to the frequencies at which devices operate wirelessly. There are two main frequencies, the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, and devices that are 802.11N compatible can transmit across both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands while devices that are compatible with both 802.11 B and G can only access the 2.4 GHz band. There are pros and cons to both types of bands, as the 2.4 GHz band has a longer range, but more users have devices that access this band, so it is “crowded.” This can affect transmission speeds. Less devices operate at 5GHz, so it’s “less crowded,” with a faster transmission speed, but a much shorter range than the 2.4GHz band. This can affect the physical location where you will install both your modem and router.

While it may seem that having a dual band router, with both 2.4GHz and 5 GHZ bands, would solve all problems with having multiple devices with 802.11 N, B and G, the transmission rate will still be slower if you have 802.11 B or G devices connecting on the 2.4 GHz band while a 802.11 N device(s) is connected to the 5 GHz band.

For users with a single device, such as a laptop or computer, that use the Internet for casual surfing, a less expensive, single band router may be the best choice. However, users with numerous devices, that perform several tasks simultaneously, such as surfing, downloading music or movies, and playing online video games, will want to have a dual band router.

What About 802.11ac?

Some manufacturers are advertising 802.11ac wireless routers with processing speed claims of over 1 Gbps in a dual band router, or 500 Mbps for single band routers, while Wireless N offers connections speeds of 450 Mbps for single band and 900 Mbps for dual band. The drawback with 802.11ac is that it’s significantly more expensive than traditional 802.11 Wireless N, and due to the many factors that can affect transmission speed, such as signal interference and physical obstruction, units rarely achieve the advertised speed, even though this technology does provide better range for the 5 GHz band. It really comes down to a budget choice and personal preference as to whether an individual user will choose 802.11ac over 802.11Wireless N.

Walmart Wireless Router: Memory

Another factor that can affect the performance of wireless routers is the internal RAM and Flash memory of the router, with most routers averaging between 8 and 128 MB of RAM and 1 to 8 MB of Flash memory. Users with multiple devices that will access the Internet at the same time will want a router with a minimum of 64 MB of RAM and at least 4 MB of Flash, anything less and transmission rates are cut down drastically.

Walmart Wireless Router: Protection

It’s important that your router protects your devices from malware and viruses that can be downloaded from the Internet. Before deciding on a router, make certain that it has DMZ and port forwarding as well as support for DHCP, VPN and BOOTP protocols as part of its firewall, as well as having the full duplex feature so that all of your devices can access the Internet safely.

Brand Reliability and Price

Brand reliability and price really are down on the list of factors to consider when choosing a wireless router. Walmart has traditionally been known for low prices, but also carries some of the most well known brands in their electronics department. Once you have found a router that has all the features that you need, at a price that you can afford, you may want to conduct an online search for product reviews of the specific brands and models that fit your search. Walmart also provides a hand ratings feature on their website for most of the products that they sell.

By keeping all of these factors in mind, it should be a bit easier to choose the best Walmart wireless router for your needs and budget.

Once you’ve made your purchase and set up your router, you can use Digital Landing’s Internet Speed Tool to help you determine your actual transmission speeds so that you can attempt to locate and minimize sources of connection interference and get the best connection possible with your new router. 

Photo credit: ecycleOntario


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Lyn Brooks

Lyn Brooks is a diverse freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the electronics industry. Her articles have appeared in Digital Landing, Stack Media, and various Yahoo! channels. The current focus of her writing is in the areas of tech, personal finance and travel. Brooks is also working on a series of novels in the science fiction genre with an expected publication date in 2014.

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