The first generation of wireless routers for home broadband networks used a technology called 802.11b. 802.11b wireless routers have now been available for several years. The ones listed below have emerged as popular and proven products. Each supports 11 Mbps 802.11b, a built-in switch with DHCP server and NAT firewall. The choice typically boils down to personal preference and brand loyalty. Rebates on these routers are often available, that can also tip the balance in a buying decision.
The D-Link DI-514 is an exceptionally small unit, less than 6 inches (16cm) wide and less than 8 ounces in weight. This makes it ideal for small spaces. The DI-514 supports standard security features including 128-bit WEP, both MAC and IP address filtering and content filtering by URL and/or domain name. Buyers of this product may need to upgrade the firmware to ensure maximum reliability. Wireless signal strength on the DI-514 is adequate but not known to be exceptional.
Some consider the signal range of the BEFW11S4 to be superior to that of the DI-514. However, this Linksys router is more than double the size and weight of it's D-Link counterpart. The BEFW11S4 supports generally the same features as other routers in this class: built-in 4-port switch, firewall support, Web-based setup wizard for ease of installation, similar VPN pass-through capability, and so on.
3. Netgear MR814Netgear routers are known for their unique designs. With it's rounded corners and reasonably small size, the MR814 is arguably the most attractive of all 802.11b wireless routers. However, the MR814 utilizes plastic casing and not the excellent metal cases of earlier routers like the RT311. The MR814 boasts the standard array of wireless router features. Netgear provides their 3-year limited warranty for the MR814 that is much better than the 1-year standard warranties of other products.
This SMC product has been available since 2001. Unlike other wireless routers in this category, the 7004AWBR supports just a 3-port switch for its wired connections instead of the standard 4-port. In return, the 7004AWBR offers a standard printer port and a built in print server capability. It also offers a COM port for external modem-dial up sharing. SMC supplies a limited lifetime warranty with the 7004AWBR. With these extra features, expect to pay a bit more for this product than for others.