Wireless router recommendations for a home with PC and Mac
October 8, 2008 5:59 PM   Subscribe

Setting up a wifi network for parents - PC and Mac - need current router recommendations

I'm giving my mother my old Powerbook for her 70th birthday, so she can edit and upload her photos and run her Etsy store without my dad "helping". He has a PC in his home office. I've trolled the older wireless router recommendations but nothing dealt with both OS on the same network.

I have the same setup at home with the SO, and we happily coexist via Airport Express, but I am there as tech support. I can just buy another Airport Express for the parents, but I am concerned about their ability to troubleshoot when it goes down, OR more importantly, when they drag my brother (who actually lives in the same state) over to fix it, he is PC-savvy but wouldn't know how to turn a Mac on. He could probably be taught but there have been times with AE that I was troubleshooting via voodoo.

My dad will stay connected via Ethernet and I can train Mom in how far she can go with the Powerbook before losing signal, so I don't need the strongest signal in the world. I do, however, need something idiot-proof for when the signal goes down. They are using cable modem if it matters.

Thanks in advance for recommendations.
posted by micawber to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Routers are OS-agnostic. I use a Linksys WRT54G for my home network, which currently consists of a Dell WinXP laptop, an iMac, and an iPod touch. But since you like your Airport Express, why not go with that? You're already familiar with it--and you know you're going to be called on to support it.

As for the pain-in-the-ass factor, nothing so far has happened to my setup that couldn't be fixed via power cycling. So, as long as you can train your parents (or their PC-savvy friend) how to do that, you should be in business.
posted by wheat at 6:11 PM on October 8, 2008

Using WRT54GL, for XP Laptop & MacBook. No issues with my cable modem.
Previously had an AirPort Express and a D-Link router, but they both died. AirPort died after 1 year, D-Link after 2 years. Bought the Linksys after reading good reviews, so far it's working fine.
posted by arcticseal at 6:31 PM on October 8, 2008

My girlfriend needed essentially the same thing. Her old router died and they needed a replacement. It's a multi-OS household but as an above poster said, that doesn't matter much with routers.

I went with a WRT54GL and flashed Tomato firmware to it. I run DD-WRT on my own router and can absolutely not see myself going back to stock firmware on any router. These custom firmwares allows for many more features than stock firmwares and, in some cases, performance and stability benefits. Tomato seems a little less featured, but a bit easier to use. I also set up remote login so I can check on the router and open up ports or whatnot if they need. DD-WRT and Tomato also both support SSH, if you're into that. The nice thing is that all the administration is done via web browser or terminal, so you can do it from a Mac or PC.

Flashing custom firmware can void the warranty on the router, so if you're not tech savvy then it may not be the best idea. It's pretty easy, though, and there are plenty of guides on how to do it.

I'll leave non-custom firmware routers to other posters to recommend. :)

FYI, it's been about three or four months since I set them up with their router and I haven't gotten a single inquiry on how to change something or a complaint that something went down. :)
posted by Tu13es at 7:48 PM on October 8, 2008

Best answer: I have a Linksys WRTP54G (with the VoIP port) that I've been using since 2005 with no problems at all. I usually run a Powerbook, a MacBookPro, and an HP wireless printer on the network, but I recently brought home a Dell/Vista laptop for work and that connected to my network with no problems. My only problems, frankly, come from Comcast screwing up my service (grr stupid monopolies).
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:08 PM on October 8, 2008

I went the cheap route and got a DLink after I moved in the spring, I was completely dissatisfied with the quality of the signal. Eventually I paid for a WRT54G and things are back to normal now. I never thought a router could be the source of my wifi problems but there ya go.
posted by furtive at 9:25 PM on October 8, 2008

Another vote for Linksys WRT54GL. The thing rocks!
posted by cyanide at 9:33 PM on October 8, 2008

Netgear DG834. Seriously. For your mum and dad - absolutely fine.
posted by daveyt at 4:41 AM on October 9, 2008

Response by poster: I've decided to go Linksys since the price is good and it's common enough that my folks can get support for it from random person my mother works with, etc. I can't risk going AE and having a critical outage at a time when it is absolutely impossible for me to make the journey to see them.

thanks to all for weighing in.
posted by micawber at 2:12 PM on October 12, 2008

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