A Lan router today can come with a great number of extra features. They commonly have additional built-in extras such as wireless network access, torrent downloading, vpn, firewall, network bridging capabilities and more. A lan router no longer limits itself to handing out a mere IP address (acting as a Gateway and NAT too) and discerning buyers often have a long wish list.
Prices for these devices usually range from far less than fifty dollars up to several thousands of dollars for high performance solutions intended for large networks. This site is focused more on the former; the inexpensive home or home office consumer level router.
Lan Router Manufacturers
You can acquire a Lan Router from several different product manufacturers. Sometimes these units may be referred to as Internet Routers or even Wireless Routers (if of course they contain radios). Here follows a quick list of just some of the Manufacturers of Lan Routers.
- Bountiful Wifi
- Buffalo Technology
- Cradle Point
- Engenius Technologies
- TP Link
With a compatible lan router and the appropriate custom firmware, many people are creating enhanced versions of their routers. It is possible to install custom firmware only on particular brands of lan routers. Tomato is just one of the many firmwares that exist. It is known for it’s simplicity and it’s attractive graphical charts. Other examples of custom firmware include Dd-wrt and Openwrt.
The Linksys WRT-54 is an example of a lan router, that while old, can run these custom firmwares just fine in most cases. The Asus 500G Premium is another in the same class that has a little extra memory and a slightly higher clocked cpu. It even has a pair of USB ports which can be used for storage. In the case of Openwrt this storage could pave the way for a miniature Debian Linux system.
Custom firmwares for your Lan Router are not for everyone of course. If you can get beyond the initial technical requirements and procedures (which includes finding a compatible router), you certainly do benefit by going this route (no pun intended). The added features can turn a cheap router into one that, performance aside, is capable of providing many of the niceties of a high end router costing several hundreds of dollars more. Bandwidth management (shaping), torrent utilities, vpn, visual reporting tools and more await the brave souls willing to risk flashing custom firmware into their routers. Most folks with simple requirements will prefer to purchase a router that works out of the box as is.
If you are interested in bang-for-the-buck you could pick up a Linksys Wrt 54G (or one of the other similar compatible lan routers), install a customer firmware (see above) and despite the fact that the device would be missing both Gigabit Ethernet and wireless-n technologies, may wind up solving your requirements. Two reasons would be price and features. It is possible to purchase new Linksys wrt 54GLs today on special for as low as $29.99 and with a custom firmware you could end up having a lan router with features not unlike units costing several hundreds of dollars more.
Understanding Gigabit and N
Fast Ethernet is slowly giving way the Gigabit ethernet in Broadband routers. If you have a Lan Router that only supports Fast Ethernet (100base-T) for it’s network switch component, if will likely not effect your Internet sharing performance. Most Internet connection speeds today don’t approach even the original 10 mbps Ethernet standard so saturation should not be a problem for most connections. However, the speed of your local area network is dramatically improved for all devices that support 1000 baseT (gigabit Ethernet) and it’s 1000 mbps theoretical rate.
Just as the newer faster Ethernet standard is replacing the former slower standard, a similar revolution is taking place in wireless. Just as the G wireless standard slowly displaces the B, it gives way to wireless-N. The new standard can operate as much as three times the speed of G with nearly twice the range. If you wanted to future proof your choice of a Lan router (and require a wireless access point) you would select both Gigabit Ethernet and Wireless-N over Fast Ethernet and G. Wikipedia has more information about the various wireless standards.
Ensure that the broadband lan router you select supports the type of Internet connection (dsl, cable, satellite, wireless, wifi, etc.) you have. This is known as the WAN (wide area network … or Internet) connection. Most Internet connections provide a standard Ethernet port. However, there are 3G routers for example that may only support a USB connected modem. In the end just be certain that you know ahead of time the lan router is suited for your particular WAN connection type.
Research the specific model of lan router that you intend to purchase online ahead of time. Product reviews, product details and product descriptions can quite often be very helpful. The assist in not only making your purchasing decisions but also in the likeliness that the lan router is going to be something you don’t mind living with for years on end. Yes that DOES sound like marriage and there certainly is wisdom in choosing carefully!