New wireless router help needed.
November 5, 2011 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find the best wireless, simultaneous g/n router that also functions as a print server natively or using Tomato or DD-WRT. More inside-->

Hello everyone.

I'm looking to upgrade from my current Linksys/Cisco WRT54G2 router that is running DD-WRT firmware.

I'd like to bump up to a wireless N router that will simultaneously support devices that run G and N. Additionally, I want to relocate a USB printer to my router location so it must also function as a print server. The router can do this natively or using an alternative firmware like Tomato or DD-WRT.

In researching a new wireless router, my brain has turned to mush. I'm really having a hard time understanding the differences between dual band, simultaneous band, ect. That makes it really hard for me to find the router I need.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I really appreciate your time.
posted by Jackie_Treehorn to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
That word, simultaneous..

You can set your N router to simultaneously connect both G and N devices to the same 2.4GHz network. As soon as a G device connects, it will drop the speed back to G levels for for everything. You can even add B to that, but it would drop the speeds back to B levels.

You can get Simultaneous Dual Band routers too. In that case you'd create a 2.4GHz network at the same time as you create a 5GHz network. The one at 5GHz could theoretically connect both A and N devices, but typically you'd reserve it for only N devices. Leaving the 2.4GHz network for legacy connections, and keeping the 5GHz network at the highest possible speed.
posted by Chuckles at 10:52 AM on November 5, 2011

I guess I failed to mention that you can get dual band routers that only create one network at a time, you pick either a 2.4GHz network or a 5 GHz network.

You don't actually have to have Simultaneous Dual Band, you could just keep using your WRT54G2 for the 2.4GHz network because in practice any 2.4GHz network will be running at wireless G speeds anyway.

Many of the devices you have that are advertised as wireless N are actually only capable of wireless N in the 2.4GHz band. Many laptops on store shelves right now are wireless N, but only in the 2.4GHz band.

Also, wires are good! (which is to say, what do you need out of your wireless network? maybe a wire to your media player is a better idea than a new router)
posted by Chuckles at 10:58 AM on November 5, 2011

The Apple AirPort Extreme is simultaneous dual-band, 802.11 g/n, and supports attached printers. It works best if you have a Mac, but you can configure and use it with only PCs just fine.

Anecdotally, I've found them to be nothing but stable and reliable workhorses lately.
posted by aaronbeekay at 4:28 PM on November 5, 2011

Seconding aaronbeekay on the Airport Extreme. I had used Linksys and Netgear previously, and while they were generally okay, I found they needed to be rebooted every few months. I've had the Airport Extreme for about 6 months now and have yet to even have to think about it.

We have a mixed-OS household running OS X Lion, Snow Leopard, iOS 4, iOS 5, Win XP, Win 7 and smattering of other items (Tivos, HP WiFi-enabled printer) and nothing has given us any problem at all.

Also nice if you have an iOS device is the free Airport Utility that allows you to configure the router from your mobile device.

Yes, it's a bit more expensive. It's totally worth it, though.
posted by neilbert at 4:49 PM on November 6, 2011

Thirding the airport extreme. I have two of them (yes I used to be an apple fanboy) and they are rock solid. Not the most customizable and you have to configure using their little program rather than a web interface but they work awfully well.
posted by DJWeezy at 4:19 PM on November 7, 2011

and you have to configure using their little program rather than a web interface but they work awfully well.

You know, when neilbert brought that up I was going to say something, but I resisted...... I can resist no longer.

Every normal router can be configured from any device with a web browser. It is only Apple routers that require anything special at all. Yet Apple can make it seem like a feature that they provide an app for their iPhones?!!?

Jackie_Treehorn, if you need some more clarification or more specific guidance, just ask. Buying an Airport Extreme will cost at least 50% more than just as good by some other company. Odds are that you can get the price much lower than that, depending on what capabilities you actually need. That doesn't make the Apple choice bad, just be aware of what you are chosing if you go that route.
posted by Chuckles at 6:10 PM on November 7, 2011

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