Selecting a wireless router or another wireless network device

With computer technology advancing so rapidly, choosing a new network device can be difficult. Here are some tips for choosing a wireless network router or another wireless network device.

What to consider when buying a device

Look for the phrase "Compatible with Windows 7" on the device packaging. This indicates that the device supports Windows Connect Now (WCN) and a number of other networking technologies that simplify wireless connectivity. You can also use the latest version of WCN with Windows Vista if your computer has Windows Vista Service Pack 2 installed.

Here are some other factors to consider before choosing a new device:

  • Speed and technology (802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n). 802.11a and 802.11b are earlier technologies. 802.11g and 802.11n are more recent, faster, and more flexible. For more information about the differences, search Help and Support for "Wireless networking: frequently asked questions."

  • Warranty information. A better warranty can help you choose between two devices that are essentially the same in other regards.

  • Cost. Some higher-end routers and devices have features that you might not need or use. On the other hand, an extremely basic router might be lacking some desirable features.

  • Sales rankings and user comments. The experiences other people have had with a router or device can tell you a lot. This is a good way to avoid the technical jargon and still find an excellent device.

  • Reviews—either online or in computer electronics magazines. This is another good way to learn about a device's best features (as well as the not-so-great features).

If you're buying a network adapter, router, or other devices at the same time, consider choosing all the same brand. This might help you avoid compatibility problems.