A router is the link between your devices and the internet. It allows multiple users and devices to use a network simultaneously by filtering the information coming in and going out, ensuring it reaches the correct destination.
Types of router
Routers can connect your devices to the internet wirelessly or with a cable.
If wired, most devices connect using an Ethernet cable. This is a universally compatible cable that works with computers, games consoles, TVs and many others. It provides a fast internet connection with excellent stability.
Smartphones, tablets, laptops and numerous other mobile devices can connect using WiFi. This allows your devices to access the internet without any cables at all, providing an excellent connection with great manoeuvrability.
With no wires and automatic connection to your preferred networks, your devices will connect as soon as they detect the signal, making WiFi the perfect connection for portable technology.
Wireless routers have different ratings depending on their range and how fast they work. This rating can be found on the side or base of most routers and is worth checking if you are having difficulties with your connection.
G-rated routers are no longer widely available as they are not suitable for current internet speeds. Some newer tablets don’t support ‘G’ rated routers either.
If you have a ‘G’ rated router, consider upgrading to make the most of your internet.
Although an improvement over ‘G’ routers, N150 routers have also been phased out as technology has been developed to support the increase in internet connectivity we require in our homes.
An N150 router does not offer the best connection for multiple devices or the fastest speeds currently available.
The router sent by your service provider will most likely be rated N300. They are suitable for use in a household with 2 to 4 internet devices and are great for everyday computing tasks such as browsing social networks. However, they don’t offer optimal performance for high definition media streaming or gaming.
N600 routers and above are suitable for large homes or households with a multiple web connected devices. They support online gaming and HD streaming and offer excellent range.
Dual band is often available on N600 routers and above. Simultaneous dual band routers provide two signals at the same time, essentially working as two routers in one. One signal is a normal broadband signal suited to everyday internet browsing while the second is a faster connection delivering high speed internet specifically for gaming, streaming or downloading. This means that normal internet use is not slowed down by downloading or gaming and vice versa.
AC routers offer the ultimate connection for internet users with fibre optic broadband and fast connections. They offer the highest speeds available - perfect for online gaming, HD video streaming and fast downloads.
AC routers can support over ten devices at once, making them ideal for well connected homes.
They also use beamforming, a new technology that directs your wireless signal to specific devices within the house. Like shining a torch light from the router straight to your device, beamforming provides a much more stable WiFi connection for mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Many new and upcoming devices support AC connectivity, making an AC router the easiest way to future-proof your home.
Powerline kits are perfect for connecting non-wireless devices or devices where a cabled connection is preferred, such as Smart TVs, game consoles and desktop PCs.
They work by sending your internet signal through the main electrical ring circuit of your home, effectively turning any plug socket into an internet access point.
They are usually sold as a double pack containing a sender and receiver, although receivers can be purchased separately as there is no limit to the amount of receivers on a single network.
The sender unit is plugged directly into a mains plug with an Ethernet cable connected to the router. The receiver is then plugged into any free plug socket near your desired device. Simply connect an Ethernet cable between the receiver and your device for a stable, wired internet connection.
Which powerline kit?
Powerline kit speeds vary from 200 to 600 megabits per second (Mbps). 200 Mbps is fine for basic internet use, while 500 to 600 Mbps kits provide the speeds required for Smart TVs and game consoles.
Some powerline kits support pass-through, a useful feature that allows you to continue to use the plug socket despite it containing a powerline plug.
Using a powerline kit with a surge protected multi-socket will significantly reduce the speed of your connection though this can be avoided by plugging the multi-socket into a powerline adapter with pass-through.
PLEASE NOTE: If you have multiple electrical ring circuits in your home, a powerline kit will not work as the signal cannot pass between them.
Range extenders, sometimes called signal boosters, offer a solution to homes or buildings that lack complete internet coverage.
By placing a range extender in the direction of poor reception but within the reach of your network, you can relay the wireless signal further, giving a better connection. This works well in homes with thick walls where your device may see the wireless signal but can only maintain a weak connection.
A range extender can also be used to send your wireless signal into an open space or outside - perfect for lazy summer afternoons in the garden.
Range extenders are rated like routers, from N150 to N600, making it easy to choose an extender that matches your router’s speed.
As they require no network configuration, range extenders are ideal for use with Sky routers.
A network hard drive is a large storage device that allows you to securely save your important files and photos to a hard drive via your wireless network.
If you choose to, a network hard drive can be shared with all the users of your home network, making it easy to share documents and pictures. You can also access your files and photos from anywhere in the world.
Network hard drives plug directly into your router, giving easy, cable-free access to large amounts of storage for a large number of devices. How you access the drive from your device can vary, though whether it’s through an app or a simple set-up menu, it’s an easy process and one that offers a revolutionary way to back up your important files.
Available in a variety of sizes from 1 TB to a colossal 6 TB, there’s certain to be a network drive to suit your storage needs.