A broadband router is a useful thing to have at home. Basically, a router acts as a connector between your Internet and all the internet capable devices in your house. Using a router means that you can allow many devices, such as computers, iPads, Smartphones and even gaming consoles, to use the same internet connection. A router can give you access to the Internet all over your home. You can also use a broadband router to enable sharing of devices such as printers with every computer in your home, as well as for sharing files between computers on your network.

Wired or Wireless Router?

Traditional routers used the Ethernet standard for communication, using an Ethernet cable running between the router itself, all the computers in the home and the broadband modem. However, newer routers tend to use wireless technology to communicate between the network computers, the modem and the router, letting you go wire free within your house and allowing easy movement of computers, laptops and other portable devices.

Wireless routers also use the Ethernet standard, so there is little difference in network speed or functionality, it's simply more convenient to have a wireless router. You need to consider two factors in your decision.

Firstly, there's a chance that your home devices may need network adaptors for WiFi if they are older models or not already WiFi adapted. These network adaptors can be very expensive.

Secondly, be wary of wireless routers that use the 802.11b standard, which is being phased out. Most new routers will use the 802.11g standard. This should be noted on the packaging of the device you choose.

Port Configuration

Going for a basic model router may be a good money saving option. However, basic wired routers will limit you to four connections. This is because they have only four input ports. If you need a wired router, it's best to go for an eight port router if possible, since it gives you more options. Wireless routers are not so limited, and often higher end models contain plenty of extra features such as media streaming services or VPN capabilities.

Which Brand?

Unlike with many electronic products, there is actually no market leading brand for routers. There are many companies that make routers, and they will differ greatly in terms of quality, warranty, tech support, looks and price too. But there really is no number one recommendable brand. The best thing that you can do is to shop around, read product reviews and ask for advice when shopping, either from staff in a reputable computing shop or from family and friends.

Think About Your Network Use...

One thing that you can do that will help you choose, and help others advise you, is to think about your network use. How many devices do you want to connect to your network? What does internet usage look like in your household? People how stream movies, spend a lot of time downloading, or who play online games will require more powerful routers with higher end specs than those who simply surf the internet and send emails.