WiFi access is a-changing, or at least it is with several of the major wireless router manufacturers.
We recently played with three of the newer generation routers from Netgear, Linksys and D-Link and, although they all had one clear objective - - - to make wireless connections more accessible in larger homes and offices - - - each had one or two features to separate it from the pack.
The most powerful of the three - - - and the most expensive - - - is the Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band 802.11ac WiFi Router ($299.99).
Like the others in this group, this router boasts a bevy of antennas (six to be exact) and is designed to connect simultaneously to every wireless device in your home or office.
We put it to the test by connecting it to our high-speed modem on the second floor of a nine-room house and then tried to access it using several devices in the basement (ie: Man Cave), the first-floor family room and even on the deck. We were greeted with a strong signal everywhere we went.
A few of its key features include:
- The availability of three WiFi bands (one at 2.4 gigahertz and two at 5 gigahertz)
- A combined wireless speed of up to 3.2 Gbps
- Every device is optimized by SmartConnect for the fastest speed possible, depending on range and location
- Beamforming technology to maximize the wireless signal
- A USB 3.0 port and a USB 2.0 port
- A one gigahertz dual core processor with three "offload" processors
- Five Gigabit Ethernet ports (one WAN and four LAN)
The Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Router ($279.99) is a dual-band router with four antennas that are designed to maximize wireless coverage.
Using the same criteria we adopted for the Netgear, we were pleasantly surprised with its range, although the signal was a bit weaker when we went out on the deck. It also comes packed with most of the same features we found on the Netgear - - - two USB ports, dual-band connectivity at 2.4 and 5 gigahertz and Beamforming technology.
So, what makes it different?
- It has a 1.2 gigahertz dual-core ARM processor
- Four Gigabit Ethernet ports
- An eSATA port to connect hard drives or other devices using SATA cables
- Smart WiFi, which allows you to connect to your network from anywhere using a smartphone app or web browser
The D-Link AC 1900 WiFi Router ($189.99) has three antennas and, like the Netgear and Linksys routers, was able to connect all of our devices without a hitch. Also, as with the other two routers, the D-Link automatically assigns devices to either wireless band to optimize performance, has four Gigabit Ethernet ports, operates on two bands (2.4 and 5 Gigahertz), and a dual core processor. Also, like the Linksys, you can download a smartphone app or use a web browser to monitor, control and access your home network.
Here's what makes it different (aside from the price):
- You can connect WPS enabled bridges, routers and other devices at the push of a button
- You can enable a public or guest network
- It will automatically adjust data rates to avoid network lag when slower devices are detected
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