In the past, most households could get by with a basic single-band router that kept a handful of devices connected to the home network. These days, however, it's tough to find a home that doesn't have multiple devices connected to it. Smartphones, gaming consoles, tablets and laptops now compete for your online access.
If you're constantly losing your wireless signal, experiencing slow streaming video with constant buffering, or have to wait longer than usual for web pages to load, there's a good chance your router is having trouble keeping up with your networking demands. If that's the case it's time for an upgrade.
Here are three reasons to consider upgrading that old, out-of-date wireless router and our recommended router to get back to smooth data sailing.
1. Outdated router compatibility means slower speeds
Most consumers probably haven't considered that their Wi-Fi router has become horribly out of date. As they start streaming more video and connecting more "smart" devices, they're going to start noticing slowdowns.
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Most people are still using router gear based on a 2009 Wi-Fi standard known as 802.11n. But the new 802.11ac is three times faster and offers greater range and bandwidth. Still, routers using the slower standard outsold equipment with the newer technology last year.
2. Consumers need faster wireless for online video
Ready to dive into the newest Netflix binge-worthy show? Great! There's just one caveat. Viewers are now finding that their smart TV sets and connected boxes -- like the Apple TV, Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire Stick -- aren't able to watch all the internet video they want without buffering, especially as more shows become available in high definition and ultra-high definition.
3. Growing sales of "smart" appliances put further strains on home networks
On average, 5.5 million smart devices a day are being connected in homes around the world, according to research firm Gartner. In addition, it estimates there will be 6.4 billion of these "Internet of Things" devices by year's end, and 20.8 billion IoT devices by 2020. This futuristic technology is certainly the next wave of technology but also means more data for your already over-worked router to process.
Other than reverting back to the Stone Age, the solution is to upgrade your home router to at least 802.11ac capacity. Netgear's Nighthawk line is the best-selling consumer router with 802.11ac and its performance reviews have been very solid.