Broadband routers are the central feature of many home networks. These routers support sharing of cable modem or DSL Internet connections. They also include various network security features like firewall capability. Before you buy a broadband router for your home, factor the following criteria into your decision.
Wired or Wireless
All major broadband router manufacturers offer both wired and wireless Ethernet products. Price differences between the two have shrunk considerably in the past year. However, to go wireless, each home computer requires special network adapters that are not cheap. If you do go wireless, keep in mind the popular 802.11b wireless Ethernet standard is being phased out in favor of 802.11g.
Port ConfigurationEntry-level wired broadband routers feature four ports for connecting four home computers. Four ports may not be adequate to support larger families or neighborhood get-togethers like "LAN parties." Five-port models add an extra "uplink" port that allows you to expand your network later, and to support a mix wired and wireless computers. Eight-port routers are best if you need the extra capacity now.
BrandThe many brands of broadband routers vary greatly in their pricing, reputation for quality manufacturing, warranty terms, technical support, and aesthetic "look and feel." There is no one "killer brand" for home broadband routers. When choosing a product, factor in the opinions of friends and coworkers who already own a broadband router. Beware of false claims from strangers on the Internet.