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Technology Research Center Main

What router is right for you?

Wireless Networking Research Center

Stay connected without the cables

A wireless network lets you connect to the Internet and your files from anywhere in your home or office. Find all the answers you need to have the fastest network and get the most out of it. Plus, use our convenient tools to find the router and accessories you need.

A quick overview

A network turns your entire home or office into an Internet connection through a WiFi signal. Once your set up with the right equipment, you can access the Internet and your files from any device that's connected to your network.

Learn more about wireless networking

Things to consider

How big is your space?

Just like a radio signal gets fuzzy as you get farther away, your wireless signal will weaken across more distance. A wireless router with greater range will ensure you have a signal throughout your home or business. Consider obstacles like walls, floors and electrical interference, as well. The rating of your router can also improve performance.

What are you using your network for?

As you do more on your wireless network, you'll need improved speed and performance. A properly set up wireless network can make your network capable of handling a variety of activities. A stronger signal will reduce lag for gamers, that dreaded delay between your actions and the reaction on the server. For those looking for entertainment, reduced buffering time the load time before a song, movie or game plays is a big benefit of greater speed and performance from your router.

How many devices are you connecting?

Of course you'll want to connect your laptop or computer to the Internet. But these days, your tablet, television, smartphone, game console — in some cases, even your appliances and thermostat — can be put on your wireless network. If you have several devices connected, you may want to consider a dual band router. Dual band routers transmit on two separate wireless bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The 2.4 GHz provides a more basic connection for simple Internet usage, while the 5 GHz band offers a much cleaner connection with less interference for sensitive network use like video streaming and gaming.

Is your data protected?

Sending and receiving information over your wireless network is convenient, but it also requires more security. Be sure to protect you network with passwords and possibly firewalls to guard against cyber intrusion. Parental controls let you set times that the wireless network and certain sites can be accessed. Guest networks allow those you invite to access the Internet through your wireless network without accessing private documents.

Shop by performance

basic-meter

Basic performance

Basic Internet usage, including emailing and surfing the Web from WiFi-enabled devices, range ideal for apartments or condos.

advanced-meter

Advanced performance

All the features of a basic router,
plus the ability to use multiple devices, range ideal for single-level homes or offices.

maximum-meter

Maximum performance

The benefits of an advanced router, plus video streaming and online gaming capabilities, range ideal for multi-level homes.

Wireless networking FAQs

Q: What is a wireless network and how does it work?

A: A wireless network allows you to connect to and share a variety of things within your home or office environment without wires. One of the most popular uses of a wireless network is to share a broadband Internet connection with computers, tablets, smartphones or other Internet-ready devices like TVs or game consoles. You could also share a wireless printer or centralized hard drive storage by wirelessly connecting to a Networked Attached Storage device.

At the heart of a wireless network is your wireless router. It uses radio waves to send, receive and resend signals to connected computers and devices. Using the example of sharing a broadband Internet connection, the wireless router converts the Internet signal that is coming into your home or office into radio waves so that devices like your computer can be connected wirelessly to the Internet. This same wireless signal (Wi-Fi) also allows all your Wi-Fi-enabled devices to access other devices between like printers, computers or other network-enabled devices without being connected by wires.

A wireless network for sharing the Internet consists of a broadband Internet service provider (ISP) connection, a modem, a router and Wi-Fi enabled devices such as computers, tablets and printers. Your modem connects you to the Internet through a service typically provided by your phone, cable or satellite company. It then sends this signal to your router via an Ethernet cable. The wireless router then sends a wireless signal out to the Wi-Fi-enabled devices in your home.

Q: What are the benefits of a wireless network?

A: A wireless network is an essential part of your digital home. It's a convenient, productive, cost efficient and fun way to access the Internet, stream media, share files between computers, print wirelessly or connect other network-enabled devices without the hassle or costs of wires. With the right wireless network, you can connect and take full advantage of popular Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as:

  • Computers and Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Network Storage
  • Internet-Ready TVs or Blu-Ray Players
  • Printers
  • Smartphones
  • Game Consoles
  • Security Cameras

Q: Which wireless router is right for me?

A: You might have heard terms such as Wireless-G, Wireless-N or Dual-Band Wireless-N when shopping for your wireless router. These refer to the current wireless networking standards. All are very easy to set up and are secure, but they do vary in speed, range, price and additional features. The information below will explain a little more about each of these wireless standards to help you determine which is best for you.

  1. Wireless-G: If you are looking for a secure network to cover the basics like surfing the Web, emailing and chatting, sharing printers or connecting multiple computers in a small apartment or office, Wireless-G will work for you.
  2. Wireless-N: If you want to cover the basics plus stream music or movies, and have access to multiplayer games online in an average- to large-size home or office, Wireless-N is a better choice.
  3. Dual-Band Wireless-N: If you have a larger home or office or plan to use the wireless network heavily for streaming music, HD movies, playing multi-player games online and/or have several people and devices that are connecting via Wi-Fi, a Dual-Band router is best for you.
  4. Technology Standards: Wireless-N is the current standard today offering the best speed and range. The N standard is backwards compatible so if your devices operate on an older standard such as G, -B or -A, they will still connect but may not achieve the maximum performance of the N router.
Wireless Standard Frequency Band Speed Range* Ideal For:
G Technology
(802 11g)
2.4 Ghz Single-Band 54 Mbps 150 feet Web surfing, emailing and basic networking
Single Band N150 Technology
(802 11g with N Features)
2.4 Ghz Single-Band Up to 150 Mbps Up to 250 feet Better coverage and speed for Web surfing, emailing and basic networking
Single Band N Technology
(802 11n)
2.4 Ghz Single-Band Up to 450 Mbps 250 feet or more Good coverage and speed for downloading, web surfing and emailing
Dual Band N Technology
(802 n)
2.4 Ghz and
5 Ghz
Dual-Band Up to 450 Mbps x 2 250 feet or more Best for streaming media, online gaming and web surfing

*Ranges are approximate and depend on many factors such as other wireless interference or obstructions like walls and doors.

Q: How do I set up a wireless network?

A: To get started you will need a wireless-enabled computer, a wireless router and a modem. The modem is usually provided by your service provider for a monthly fee but you can also purchase a modem separately. Please check to make sure the modem you purchase is approved by your service provider.

Below are basic instructions for setting up a wireless network. However, you should always follow the manufacturer's instructions provided with each new router.

STEP 1: Computer

  • Turn on your computer
  • Confirm you have a wireless card in your computer by following these steps:
  • Click Start → Double click on Control Panel → Double click on Network Connections.
  • If you see the words "Wireless Internet Connection" then you have a wireless card already.
  • If you don't, you will need a wireless adapter that matches the wireless standard of your router, which can be found on staples.com or at any Staples® store.

STEP 2: Modem

Using an existing modem from your cable or DSL provider:
  • Verify your modem is unplugged from the power outlet. You will be powering it back in a later step.
  • Ensure your serial cable or phone line (DSL) is connected to the modem.
Installing a new modem:
  • Contact your service provider to ensure your new router is an approved device. Once you have an approved device you will need to provide your service provider with some basic information off of your modem.
  • Verify your modem is unplugged from the power outlet. You will be powering it back in a later step.
  • Ensure your serial cable or phone line (DSL) is connected to the modem.

STEP 3: Wireless Router

  • Start with the router powered off.
  • Using an Ethernet cable, plug one end into the router and the other end into the modem.
  • Using a second Ethernet cable, plug one end into the router and the other end into the computer.

STEP 4: Powering Up

Modem
  • You initially unplugged your modem. If you have a battery-backed modem it will not have fully powered down. If you have a reset button you will want to press the reset button at this time. In some cases you may need to remove and re-insert the battery to recycle the modem.
  • Plug in and power on your modem. It can take up to two minutes for your modem to recycle.
Router
  • Now plug in the wireless router to a power outlet and power the modem on.

STEP 5: Set-Up

  • Every manufacturer has their own process but most have a Wizard that is started by either inserting a CD into your computer or by going to a Web site designated by the manufacturer. The Wizard will walk you step by step in connecting to your router, naming your wireless network and securing your network.

Need assistance? Let our Easy Tech experts help.

If wireless networking seems overwhelming, Staples can help. From buying advice to professional in-home set up, our technology experts are ready to help. Just visit any store or call 1-866-4EZ-TECS (439-8327).

Enhancing your wireless network.

Routers: Where your network begins.

Your router is the core of your wireless network, but don't forget about the ways that you can enhance it. Expand its reach and its capabilities and get the most out of your network.

Range extenders:
Increasing your network's reach.

Sometimes even the most powerful routers need a little extra oomph to reach those last few yards. Or maybe you're moving a router into a bigger space? An easy-to-install wireless range extender will increase the wireless connection. Just place it between your router and any dead zones and you can enjoy a strong signal in new locations.

netgear-powerline

Powerlines:
For places the signal won't reach.

Sometimes, even with a great signal, a room has too many obstacles or too much interference to get a good wireless connection. One solution is to install a powerline adapter. Simply plug one into an outlet near your router, and another where you need a connection, providing network access without installing Ethernet cables.

iomega-media-player

Media players and access points:
Play movies, music and games.

When you want to stream media like songs, films or play games online, you'll want to look at some accessories that will optimize your network for more data. A digital media player will access files from USB drives, hard drives, computers and the Internet and stream them right to you television for comfortable watching. Wireless access points will allow multiple Ethernet-enabled devices, including HDTVs, Blu-Ray players and game consoles to connect to your network for a more robust experience.

cisco-router

Protecting your data.

There are a variety of ways to protect your data over your network. A Virtual Private Network router will give you access to your network across multiple sites, home and business for example. Security routers have built-in protection direct from your router, while firewalls provide a more secure connection remotely.

Enhancing your network FAQ

Q: What is wireless printing?

A: Wireless printing is perfect for simplifying and increasing the productivity of any home office or small business by allowing you to print without wires. You can connect either a wireless or wired printer to your network to allow one or more devices to print wirelessly. Both printer types are easy to connect, but wired printers require a router with a USB port and the ability to support USB printers. (Shop all wireless printers)

Q: What is wireless gaming?

A: Most gaming devices such as Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii are wireless-compatible. These devices can be connected to your wireless router to play online games and to access online content such as movies or TV shows.

Q: How can I extend the range of my network with Powerline?

A: Powerline technology allows you to reliably transmit your Internet signal directly to network devices through the electrical wiring in your home or office with the help of your outlets. One adapter is plugged in near your router and the other into the outlet in the room you need Internet. This eliminates the need for costly Ethernet cable installations and enables Internet access in rooms where wireless signals don't reach. Depending on your needs your Internet signal can be extended from the adapter in the room you need Internet, via an Ethernet wire to a device or repeated out as a wireless signal. There are different products for each of these so make your decision based on your needs. (Shop all PowerLine products)

Q: How can I extend the range of my network with range extenders?

A: Sometimes due to the size of your home or the materials used to build your home your existing wireless signal does not reach every room in your home. You can now purchase easy-to-install wireless extenders which effectively double the range of your current wireless. Just place the wireless range extender in between your existing wireless router and the area where you are not getting a strong signal. After installation you'll have a new, stronger wireless connection in those hard-to-reach parts of your home or office. (Shop all wireless extenders)

Q: What are external hard drives and Network Attached Storage devices?

A: Hard drives are perfect for increasing storage capacity, protecting your important files and even allowing users to access their content outside their home network. Hard drives can be connected to a network for file sharing and storage. Hard drives are usually device specific; for instance a USB hard drive can only connect to one computer at a time unless you have a router or other device that enables sharing. NAS, or Network-Attached Storage, is a centralized device that lets you share information between all devices on a network without additional software installation, usually connected to the router via an Ethernet cable. Many Network Attached Storage devices also allow users to access files on their hard drive from any Internet connection or mobile device. (Shop all hard drives)

Q: What is digital media player?

A: A digital media player is a home entertainment product that plays videos, digital photos and music files. They can receive media files from USB devices (such as USB drives, digital cameras and camcorders), home network drives, external hard drives, computers or the Internet and stream them to a television. Digital media players can be connected to a home network through a wireless connection or a wired Ethernet connection. Many digital media players have been certified by the Digital Living Network Alliance® (DLNA®), a trade organization by Sony® that confirms interoperability with game consoles, Blu-ray Disc® players, connected TVs and other streaming devices. Some media players include a built-in hard drive, allowing the user to both store their media collection and play it back on their television. (Shop all media players)

Q: What is a DOCSIS 3.0 modem?

A: If you want faster Internet, DOCSIS 3.0 modems may be right for you. DOCSIS 3.0 is the next-generation Internet protocol for modems, capable of downloading files up to 4 times faster than the older DOCSIS 2.0. We suggest you check with your Internet service provider prior to purchase to ask a couple of simple questions.

  1. Do they offer DOCSIS 3.0 service yet? If they do not but will soon DOCSIS 3.0 is backwards compatible to DOCSIS 2.0.
  2. What models are approved by your service provider?
  3. What information will they need to switch from your current cable modem to the new modem? You usually just need to provide a serial number from your modem.
  4. If you purchase your own modem, your service provider may remove or offer a reduced monthly fee.

(Shop all modems)

Q: What are Internet-enabled TVs?

A: Unlike traditional TVs, an Internet-enabled TV lets you connect to the Internet and provides access to content like YouTube videos and movie streaming through Netflix. Access to content is specific to each TV manufacturer.

Q: How do I connect my computer to my HDTV?

A: If you want to view TV shows, movies, Internet pages, pictures or whatever is on your laptop screen on your HDTV screen there are many choices. If your computer and HDTV have an HDMI port you can simply connect them with an HDMI cable. There are also options in the market that allow you to make the connection to your TV wirelessly, but these depend on the technology in your laptop. Many of the PC laptops sold after 2010 have Intel® Wireless Display powered by the Intel® Core™ Processor Family and Microsoft® Windows® 7 which provide many options for wireless connectivity.

Q: What are the benefits of security surveillance?

A: Surveillance systems and network cameras are all different ways to help secure your home and/or small business. They allow you to keep an eye on your valuables, children or office while you are away. Many also offer the ability to store the video on a DVR or computer and view what is going on from a computer or mobile phone.
(Shop all security cameras)

Watch videos

Learn more about features and benefits with these helpful videos.

Which is the best wireless router for me?

Which is the best wireless router for me?

How do I set up a wireless network?

How wireless networking works and what you'll need.

What are the benefits of a wireless network?

Shop by brand

Shop for Netgear networking electronics Shop for Linksys routers Shop for Belkin routers Shop for Cicso network routers Shop for D-Link equipment western-digital
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