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Lesson 2- Buying your Networking Hardware

Introduction

In this video we start out with choosing a Wireless G router.  Linksys makes the most popular 802.11g router, the WRT54G.  Wireless N routers are available from every networking hardware maker. Linksys and Dlink are the most popular.  We will cover the major manufacturers, online stores and how much to pay for the components.

Recommended Networking Hardware


D-Link DIR-655 Wireless N Router

Encore ENLWI-N Wireless N PCI card


D-Link DWA-140 Wireless N USB adapter

LINKSYS WPC600N Wireless N Cardbus Adapter

 


ENCORE ENHWI-N Wireless N Router

 


ENCORE ENUWI-N Wireless N USB adapter

 

  

First I'll advise you to watch this entire video series before you buy your router and wireless that work adapters.  There's lots of great information throughout these videos that you will need to make good purchasing decisions.

Selecting a Router

We'll begin with the router. If you've decided to go with the Wireless G router you will need to look low in the list of wireless routers on the maker's website.  The makers always put their latest hardware on the top.  The Wireless G routers are well-established. They've been out for a while and they just work.

From Linksys the WRT54G is the standard for basic Wireless G router. You can find it online for around $40. You'll see routers with features like Range Plus or Super G. These were added to make Wireless G faster with better range.  Don't bother with these. The prices on these routers bring them up to the cost of Wireless N and at that point you would just go with Wireless N. 

If you need the extra speed and range for wireless and there are lots of choices.  Most makers are breaking down their wireless and routers into good better and best models.  The good Wireless N routers are slightly faster than Wireless G routers with better to go coverage. The better Wireless N routers are even faster still with better signal coverage. The best routers max out the Wireless N's range and speed.

Tthe better and best routers usually also include some QOS or Quality Of Service features.  QOS is there to make sure all your time sensitive data gets priority on the network. This would be things like video streams, online gaming and voice over IP phone calls that need to happen in a timely manner. The QOS gives them priority.

 A few of the higher end wireless and routers can use a 5 GHz band instead of the standard 2.4 GHz when transmitting the wireless signal.  This ability is called dual band and requires special dual band adapters for each computer to work.

It's up in the air whether dual band actually helps.  It could be and probably is just clever marketing.

The two biggest router makers are Linksys and D-Link. There's also Netgear, Belkin, Asus and a few others. From Linksys WRT150N and is their basic Wireless N router, for around $80.  There better Wireless N router is the WRT300N which increases range and speed for around $100. The WRT330N is their best router, adding gigabit ethernet ports and some QOS optimizations for online games at around $160.

D-Link has pared down their offerings and are no longer selling a basic Wireless N router. Their DIR-655, which is the router we use in this video series, is very similar to Linksys's high-end router, for around $120. D-Link also offers the DGL-4500, which adds a display on the top of the router and features dual band for around $180.  Special dual band wireless adapters are required for each computer.

When you go to the maker's website look for a buy now link next to the product.  They have updated prices from the largest online stores for each part and you can also locate a store near you that carries the product.

Trendnet, Belkin, Encore and Netgear all have similar offerings.

Asus has an interesting Wireless N router.  The WL-500W has a USB port on it where you can connect and share an extra hard drive or printer and share them with all of your computers on the network.

Before you decide on a router you need to read lots of reviews.  Do a Google search for the model number you're looking at and review and you'll find several professional reviews.  Now these professional reviews are great, but don't overlook end-user opinion.  Both Amazon.com and Newegg.com have great end-user reviews.  They each use a five star system. 

On Amazon.com, if you're looking at a product, just click on customer reviews at the top and at the top it shows the most helpful favorable review and the most helpful critical review. The helpfulness is voted on by other end-users. If you scroll down you get a list of all the end-user reviews. It sorts by most helpful and you can also search by newest first, which would be the most recent reviews.

On Newegg.com you can click customers reviews and they show two or three of the most helpful reviews on the main page. If you click read all reviews you get a page of just reviews. If you scroll down it's sorted by hopefulness. You can also search by date posted, highest and lowest rating.

These give you insight into what you might expect when you use the router. That said keep in mind that these are just people.  Some of them will receive a broken part.  It happens.  Some of them will have broken the part and won't admit it.  Some just don't know what they're talking about and they won't admit it.  Pay most attention to the opinions that others have rated most helpful.

Even if you're not in the US and you can't order from Amazon.com or Newegg.com you can still use them as a resource for choosing your hardware.

Selecting your Wireless Network Adapters

For the wireless network adapters it's best to get an adapter that the manufacturer recommends for the router.  This will ensure the best compatibility and speed.  This is not to say it won't work if you use adapters from different manufacturers. In these videos we're going to use a D-Link router with Encore, Netgear, Broadcom and other wireless network adapters, from different manufactures and they all work together.

Each manufacturer offers PCI card and USB wireless adapters for desktop computers. You just need to choose the most convenient type for each of your desktop computers.

For your notebook computers, you can get a PC Card or Express Card adapter depending on which one your notebook takes.

Again, don't run out and buy before you watch all the videos.  It only takes a few hours to watch and you'll save yourself a lot of time and money. Sit back and keep watching.

Next, in Section 2, we will show you how to connect the modem to the router and install a wireless network adapters inside our computers to get them on the home network.

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