Networking Buying Guide - Best Buy Canada

August 06, 2013

Networking Buying Guide

A WiFi network gives you the power to access the Internet from anywhere in your home without connecting a single cable. It’s easy to set up, eliminates 'dead zones', and provides a stronger connection so you can enjoy the Internet and media without interruption.

What is a Home Network?

A wireless or WiFi network is a way to share an Internet connection with other devices in your home. It enables you to connect computers, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles, and media centres to the Internet. It’s easy, convenient, and can open up new possibilities in rooms that otherwise have weak or nonexistent Internet connections.

Think of the router as a hub that takes the signal from your modem and sends it out to your compatible WiFi ready devices.

What You’ll Need for a Basic Network

To establish a basic network, you will need the following:

  • Cable/DSL Modem
  • Wireless router

A cable/DSL modem connects the Internet to your service network. You’ll need to contact your phone or cable provider for service.

A wireless router connects wireless and wired adapters to your network.

Some models feature a high-speed wireless modem and router in one.

After you’ve set up the modem you receive from your service provider, you’ll need to plug an Ethernet cable from your router into the modem. Your router will likely come with a CD or offer a web browser setup making it a cinch to configure. When everything has been properly connected, you’ll be ready to access your wireless network from your compatible devices.

Finding the Right Router

The size of your home and what you want to do online will determine the type of router you’ll need to create a fast, interference-free wireless network.

Single-Band vs. Dual-Band

Wireless communications operate in two bands:

  • Single band
  • Dual band

Single-band routers use a 2.4GHz frequency, which is the same used by most microwaves and cordless phones. If you have a number of devices sharing the same frequency, you might notice a disruption in your Internet speed.

Dual-band routers give you the option to use either 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency. This will minimize interference from other devices in your home and allow your Internet to run smoothly. Some models can operate in both frequencies at the same time, so you can set it up and let it do all the work of choosing the right one.

Defining the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is a technical standard for accessing information over a wireless network. Use the following table to determine the best WAP for your needs:

BENEFIT 802.11g 802.11n 802.11ac
Email, web browsing, or word processing
Listening to music and watching DVDs
Multitasking between applications such as gaming, web browsing, downloading, burning discs, and more  
High-definition entertainment  
Video editing and 3D gaming  

802.11g (wireless G) operates within the 2.4GHz band, and can support speeds up to 54 megabytes per second (MBps).

802.11n (wireless N) operates within either a 2.4GHz or 5GHz band, and can support up to 300 MBps.

802.11ac (wireless AC) operates within either a 2.4GHz or 5GHz band, and can support up to 6.8Gbps. It’s also backwards compatible with your 802.11n devices.

An important point to consider when reviewing these speeds is that your wireless device is limited to the speed of your Internet connection.

Security

All routers come equipped with some form of encryption technology, such as WEP and WPA, which scrambles messages over wireless networks so they can’t be read by anyone who might be looking. Most models also feature password-protected setup and guest network access for enhanced security.

FEATURE BENEFIT
WEP
(Wireless Encryption Protocol)
Provides basic security protection for wireless devices
WPA and WPA2
(WiFi Protected Access)
Offers stronger wireless data encryption than WEP for enhanced security
Password protection Helps prevent outsiders from accessing your network
Guest network access Limits use for guests by denying them access to shared devices that might contain sensitive information

What Can I Do With My Network?

Web Browsing

Getting online is perhaps one of the most popular reasons for setting up a wireless home network. Every device that’s connected to your network will give those in your house the freedom to access a single Internet connection to check email, browse websites, watch YouTube videos, and more without connecting cables.

Video Calls

If your computer, tablet, or smartphone feature an internal or external web camera and microphone, you’ll be able to make use of video calling services such as Skype thanks to your wireless network. In most cases, there are no fees associated with video calling.

Wireless Printing

When you set up your wireless printer as part of your network, every device that’s connected to the network will be able to access and use it. That means, you and everyone in the house can easily print documents from anywhere in the house.

Stream Music and Videos

Connect wirelessly with your computer, or just about any other device that you’ve stored content on, and stream it through your TV and home theatre system.

Smart TV

With an intuitive dashboard and apps such as Facebook or Netflix, Smart TVs allow you to enjoy all the same online content that you’d see on your computer through your TV and home theatre system.

Gaming

Today’s gaming consoles offer a more interactive experience than ever before. Get online and battle it out with friends, or browse the web, watch Netflix movies, make Skype calls, and so much more.

Other Features to Consider

Wired Networking

While wireless networking is quickly becoming the norm in most households, wired networks still offer a more solid and reliable connection to the Internet. You can easily set up a network using a wired router in much the same way as setting up a wireless router, but you will need to connect all your devices to it in order to access the Internet and other shared devices.

Range Extenders

If you’re having trouble with the wireless range in your home, you might want to consider a range extender. Simply plug one into an electrical outlet in your home and it will send your Internet signal from the modem to your troubled area, such as a dead zone. These devices can be used with wired or wireless routers.

Powerline

Powerline works by creating a bridge between your Ethernet and the electricity grid in your home. Simply connect a Powerline device to an electrical outlet and a second component to your modem, and enjoy the Internet in rooms that otherwise had a weak or nonexistent WiFi signal

MIMO Technology

Short for multiple input, multiple output MIMO technology offers faster speeds and better resistance to interference in routers than those without it. It uses multiple antennae to send out multiple signals for improved performance across greater distances in your home.

WiFi Adapters

If you own a WiFi-ready computer, laptop, Blu-ray player, or HDTV that does not come equipped with a wireless network card built in, a WiFi adapter is what you need. These plug right into a USB port so you can wirelessly connect to your network and access the Internet.

Mobile Internet Stick

When you need high-speed Internet access on the go, an Internet stick will give it to you. You simply plug it into a USB port in your laptop or tablet, and it will let you browse the web, shop online, video chat, and more even if you’re unable to find an available wireless network. It does, of course, require a paid subscription from your service provider.

Best Buy

Take the Next Step

Best Buy carries a huge selection of wired and wireless routers, powerline devices, Internet sticks, and networking accessories you need to create the ultimate setup for your home. And with brands such as
D Link, Linksys, Netgear, and Cisco to choose from, you’ll always find what you want.

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