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Buying Advice for WiFi Router :)

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Anupriya

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Kindly help me choose a Wifi router.

I'm a Hathway Broadband user (not a BSNL/MTNL user, so that rules out ADSL routers/routers+modems).
I had some queries, hopefully someone can answer them :).

1. Difference between a N150 and N300 router?
2. Which one of the above to choose if the residence size is 600 sq. ft.?
3. What are the popular online sources to buy routers? (I googled "buy wifi router" and only Flipkart had good results, as in a great product range)
4. If one can buy used routers online, where should one look? ( 'Coz I believe this option can be considered to save some bucks :):) )
5. Which is a preferred brand for routers, in terms of daily usage and after sales support (TP-LINK | Netgear | D-Link | Cisco Linksys) ?
6. I will be using the internet on my Desktop PC as well as my Laptop and I already have a modem. After browsing the forum, I infer that I'll be requiring a

router only. Can someone confirm :)
 

apk

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Hello,

If you are looking to spend minumum bucks on this one, then any entry level model from reputed brands will do.

I got a netgear wifi router a few months ago from flipkart. As usual, the flipkart service was excellent. Price difference with respect to other online retailers was very small (flipkart slightly higher). Since I trust flipkart (am a regular customer), I prefered to purchase from flipkart.

Best,
APK
 
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kartikay

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My 2 paisa...

In Nxxx, xxx denotes the max speed which router can support. So N150 converts to 150Mb/s and N300 to 300Mb/s. Range is mainly affected by no. of antennas and their power which is denoted in db. For 600 sqft any starting N150 router should be enough but you also have to check the placement of router, as with more walls to cover signal strength degrades.

For buying Flipkart is a good option as you have more choices and delivery service is decent. I wont suggest to buy used one if you are looking for an entry level router as the cost difference will be few 100 bucks but you will not have warranty. I have been using Tplink router and found them to have good value for money as they give 3 year warranty and more features for their entry level models which one mostly finds in more pricier brands. You can check out this:

TP-LINK TL-WR740N 150Mbps Wireless N Router - TP-LINK: Flipkart.com

In case you are looking for media streaming you can go for N300.

Cheers!!
 
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m.a.sara

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any specific routers that is best for 2 floors (duplex)? or is it better to install a separate antenna/receiver for 1st floor? - This is for fibre optic cable from TTN bangalore.

Experts, please advice.
 
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Anupriya

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Hello :)

Thanks for the replies guys - apk,kartikay,naving,aakashr !
As of now I'm contemplating TP-LINK TL-WR841N ..
I hope it's a good decision..:eek:hyeah:

P.S.: Are there any known issues with this one ?

Thanks,
Anu :)
 
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apk

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I have not heard of too many routers failing easily. These units are usually built to last. I have an ADSL modem that is 7 years old and still going strong. In fact, the charger for this modem conked out, but the modem still chugs along fine. My wi-fi router is not very old and hence cannot comment on it's longitivity.

Best,
APK
 
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swiftwind

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I would recomend tp link 8968 which i am currently using. This is adsl router which has a wan port as well.

Following are the pros

Has adsl and wan ports with 3g backup
Dual antenna.
Good range covers 2 floors for me
Wireless. Steaming to devices on full hd without buffering.
In built usb port
Usb drive can be configured as storage, ftp, media distribution point and 3g modem.
Ftp can be accessed from internet by using dydns which i felt it as a very useful feature.
Usb can be used to connect 3g stick and can share the net in case of priary wan interface failure.
Replaceable antennas are useful if u need to have a high gain variant.
Can be a single point of dlna server. Iwas able to stream media to my ps3 phones laptop htpc etc
Vfmat aprice price point of 2600 for the offered features
Cons
No ddrt support
No bit torrent support
Not a broadcom chipset
Samsung smart led was not able to see the files on the media server. Iknow its not a fault of tp link but the issue with samsung compatability. I was able to stream from every other device.

Regards
 
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haisaikat

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Guys you can check this out as well, has 3 antennas, upgradable, Open source support, USP port:

TP-LINK TL-WR941ND 300Mbps Wireless N Router - TP-LINK: Flipkart.com

I have a higher version with Gigabit ports and it gives me good signal strength through upto 2 walls / 1 ceiling and 1 wall.

But this not Router only, not Modem + router.

Cheers!

I think this one should be good considering the open source support and USB port and gigabit. But remember one thing that do not expect too much from a N300 router for hd streaming if the client is distant from router (not only by straight line but also by number of obstructions like walls, ceilings in between). Also having many antennas does not help if the internal transmit power is low as antenna gain is merely summed up with internal transmit gain. However definitely a router with replaceable antennas score better. Refer this earlier post of mine for additional details on pros and cons re-quoting below for easy ref, you may ignore the model suggestions as this is a bit old.

1. Range vs Throughput
We often fall for an advertised router as High Power / Maximum Performance but a router cannot be at the same time serving a client at a long distance and have higher throughput at the same distance. The farther you go away from a router the throughput and signal strength falls. Many routers reviews specify high throughput but mostly at a close distance or even with line of sight which does not happen ideally in our homes. So ideally we should select a router whose throughput does not drop drastically over distance if we have to have a balance between range and throughput.
Also regarding range there is another factor to be considered, the 802.11 (a/b/g/n) is based on the fact that when a packet is transmitted by the router, on receipt the client must send an acknowledgement back to the router completing the transmission cycle hence having higher power routers only mean that their capability to throw their packets is more over a long range but if the client cannot throw the acknowledgement packet over the same distance then the router keeps on transmitting the same packet. So ideally, the dead-sopt in your home that you intended to win by a muscular router could on the contrary be actually improved by making the clients long range with higher gain antennas, etc.
Why High Power Routers Don't Improve Range - SmallNetBuilder

2. Single Band vs Dual Band, the 5GHz dream
While the 5GHz dual band was introduced showing a dream of improving the throughput over wifi specially for media, in reality it still suffers from range being much less than 2.4 GHz. Also the Also lack of compatibility with common N clients which mostly supports 2.4 GHz make 5GHz not widely utilized. I doubt in reality how much is the impact of interference of other near band signals over a 2.4GHz N signal, do not think that to be as much as it is advertised. Rather I would prefer two separate 2.4GHz N routers one to serve for normal clients and another for media / video if at all required (one connected to the other as parent-child or to a main switch)

3. 150 mbps / 300 mbps / 450 mbps
While we sometimes fall for advertised throughput of 150 / 300 / 450 mbps we need to understand that this is achieved using MIMO (Multiple In / Multiple Out) which means that a typical 300 mbps router is trasmitting over two closely placed channels (like channel x ~ 2.412 Ghz and channel y ~ 2.432 GHz) and the 300 mbps throughput would only be achieved between the router and the client only of the client is also capable of transmitting over MIMO (i.e can connect on multiple channels) which unfortunately normal clients do not have usually be it our smart phones, or media player, etc thereby ending up conneting with max 150 mbps. Similarly 450 mbps means transmission over 3 channels simultaneously.
There is another catch in this, there is a concept of channel width typically has values like 10 / 20 / 40 MHz which indicates the number of available channels from which the router can select one or more for transmission. These MIMO concept work only in the 40Mhz channel width setting and most importantly this 40MHz channel width is possible at a closer range only but not at distant locations from the router. Hence even if I have two clients connecting individually at 150mbps link speed with a 300 mbps router it does not signify always that both will get equal benefit of 150 mbps for throughput and might easily end up sharing 150mbps between themselves. This will be the case even if two clients connect to the same router in close range (40 MHz possibility) but they are transmitting over the same channel unless we can ensure that clients are connecting to distinct channels only.
10 quick and easy ways to boost your Wi-Fi | News | TechRadar

3. NAS
Not only my own router but also many newer models support NAS capability enabling USB enabled storage being added to network. But what needs to be kept in mind is that the data transfer throughput is no where near to dedicated NAS (even if it supports USB 3.0), hence becomes bottleneck while sharing bigger media files for streaming like videos. Also once you add a drive, in many cases you will also need to login to the web console of the router and manually mount the drive to enable sharing. So decide and act accordingly on this feature.

4. Other important features I consider to be worth
a. External Antennas
Having external antennas give you the provision to boost the range by adding higher gain / powered antennas later on to boost wifi range which you do not get easily for ones with internal only antennas like mine (Linksys WRT 610N) or even the newest E4200 from Cisco. If you lookup on the net you will see many sites selling E2000 modded with two high gain external antennas and selling at more than the normal price of E2000.
b. Wifi on/off
I see this mostly on Netgear models (I have one WGR614) a nice switch which can turn the radio part on / off keeping all the network switch functions available. This will save router life / power during all those nights when you left the router on to get your downloads ticking on NAS / PC connected wired with router.
c. Dual band on/off
Not seen in any and absense of individual on/off per band makes you login to web console and enable / disable the 2nd band.Some newer router models are offering touch screen control but they come at their own cost.
d. USB Print Server
Some modern ones are giving this feature but beware USB based print servers are buggy and sometime you might have to restart the router / clear print queues in situations where there is an error while printing, my personal experiance using them be it with my NAS or sepoarate USB print server is not that good. Have a dedicated wifi printer now, much better.

5. Custom firmware
DD-WRT and Tomato are two of the most popular custom firmware that are available today freely for flasing your router with. While they offer more flexibility than stock firmware like more control over transmit power, etc but in my case the biggest advantage I found was to that it allowed my 2nd band (5GHz) to transmit another 2.4 GHz signal which the stock cisco firmware did not. Hence now I am running one 2.4 in mixed mode (for G clients) and the other 2.4 in N-only mode (media transfer).
Again in some cases installing custom firmware allows you to use a cheaper router as wireless bridge or repeater.

6. On my radar
Going by feedbacks I am on lookout for importing a refurbised E2000 in and around 30 USD (not willing to spend more at the time) and planning use it a wireless bridge with custom firmware since it can connect at 300 mbps at close range as compared to my existing Dlink DAP 1522 that can connect at 150mbps only.
Another router for long range that I have on my radar is the Buffalo Nfiniti Airstation WZR-HP-G300NH v2 router as I found that to have the best balance between long range and throughput over distance. But again these are future only plans.

7. Comparison of routers
You may refer to this site Real Help For Your Small Network - SmallNetBuilder for comparison of different router models for different aspects that matters most like throughput, signal range, signal drop with distance,etc. Their reviews are very detailed however they do not usually cover comparison measurements in aspects like UPnP scanning / NAS throughput, etc
 
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AshD

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But remember one thing that do not expect too much from a N300 router for hd streaming if the client is distant from router (not only by straight line but also by number of obstructions like walls, ceilings in between)

What would you recommend for media streaming?
 
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AshD

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I liked the

Cisco Linksys E900 Wireless N300 Router. I also saw a X1000 Linksys model around 2400 INR range

Any use experience for these 2?

Apart from this, can someone recommend a good repeater?
 
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haisaikat

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I liked the

Cisco Linksys E900 Wireless N300 Router. I also saw a X1000 Linksys model around 2400 INR range

Any use experience for these 2?

Apart from this, can someone recommend a good repeater?

Remember that a repeater works by making your effective throughput to half. Nevertheless for your repeater better buy a separate a router that supports flashing using open source firmware like DD-WRT and reconfigure as a router converted to repeater at least at 60% cost of a standalone repeater.
 
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AshD

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Remember that a repeater works by making your effective throughput to half. Nevertheless for your repeater better buy a separate a router that supports flashing using open source firmware like DD-WRT and reconfigure as a router converted to repeater at least at 60% cost of a standalone repeater.

this is great.. sounds Hi Fi.. can you suggest any router that suits the requirements?

BTW, my choice for Linksys is more cos of the looks. Looks so nice without the antennas..Any economical options from TP Link for the same high end functionality of the X2000/3000?
 
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haisaikat

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What would you recommend for media streaming?

While I am going to test the throughput and range of an AC router myself in next couple of weeks (will lend from a friend), for N generation routers I would recommend better try for wired connection first since that is the best means of streaming HD video.
 
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haisaikat

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this is great.. sounds Hi Fi.. can you suggest any router that suits the requirements?

BTW, my choice for Linksys is more cos of the looks. Looks so nice without the antennas..Any economical options from TP Link for the same high end functionality of the X2000/3000?

It is always advisable to have options for installing external antennas if range can be a criteria for considering the router. If you look at the router hyperlink in my signature you will know that what was the extent of hasstle to expand the range of a cisco router that looked good otherwise.

If your requirement is of repeater only, then refer this list of TP-Link routers that are DD-WRT compatible and choose any one that is available and within your budget

Supported Devices - DD-WRT Wiki

Also you can take the below informative reading to get to know how this repeater mode works and what all you need to do

http://lifehacker.com/5563196/turn-your-old-router-into-a-range+boosting-wi+fi-repeater
 
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AshD

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If your requirement is of repeater only, then refer this list of TP-Link routers that are DD-WRT compatible and choose any one that is available and within your budget

Thanks a lot for this info.. Once I install my router in the new home, will take a call depending how it performs.. and the range I get..
 
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