I have owned a lot of home internet routers over the years. Why? There used to be a time when I swore that they created them to be unstable and last only 1-2 years. It seemed like every router that I owned suffered from constant disconnects, or just one day stopped working. I've had this problem for years. And it bugged me.
When I moved into this home in 2006 we got it wired with Ethernet during construction. At the time wireless routers were not that great, and I wanted to make sure that I had a reliable connection to my office, family room, and additional places around the house. In addition, my home is set up for whole house audio and an intercom system, and the Ethernet wires are used to connect these systems.
The central hub of the system is in the basement. There is a junction box that houses the cable modem, a gigabit switch, my router, and other components. I would show you a photo, but it's an absolute mess right now. 🙂 With the location of the router being in the basement, a strong wireless signal is important to reach our laptops, mobile devices, and various streaming media boxes around the house that are not connected via Ethernet. My home is about 2700 sq feet over 3 floors. My office is on the top floor of my home and this is where I spend time when I'm working. And at any given time I may be working on 2 computers, streaming video, or listening to online radio. My kids are probably somewhere playing with their phones or tablets or playing online games.
NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router
The NetGear Nighthawk is a very powerful Smart WiFi router that enables your home's wireless network to take advantage of the fastest speeds available. And for those of us that have several devices that we prefer to connect via Ethernet, there are 4 ports available. Created for large homes, it includes high-powered amplifiers with 3 external antennas.
- Five (5) 10/100/1000 Mbps—(1 WAN & 4 LAN) Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Now with NETGEAR genie® with remote access
- Easy & automatic installation of the NETGEAR router with Internet provider gateway to upgrade your WiFi
- 1GHz Dual Core Processor
- Advanced features for lag-free gaming
- Prioritized bandwidth for streaming videos or music
- AC1900 WiFi—600+1300 Mbps speeds
- Free PC backup software
- NETGEAR genie® App—Enjoy more of your connected home
The Nighthawk also features parental controls to block out inappropriate content across your home network. Adults can use a Bypass Account password to bypass parental controls on their own computers. The parental controls use OpenDNS, so you will have to set up an account there to use them.
While the parental controls do a decent job, one thing that I would like to see added that I see missing in a lot of parental controls is the ability to block keyword searches. For example, if a child searches for “sex” they should be presented with a page telling them something like “Sorry! This is not safe for young eyes.” or something to that effect.
I have a confession. While setting up and testing the Nighthawk I activated parental controls and then forgot. I locked myself out of most sites right along with the kids. LOL!
The NetGear Genie App
Managing the content on your router usually requires logging in to the router via your web browser by visiting http://192.168.1.1 or a similarly assigned IP address. NetGear has made this easier by introducing the Genie app. You access this via your smartphone or computer and manage your router. It really takes the guesswork out of configuration. Of course, if you are a nerd like me and love to tinkle, you can still do it the old-fashioned way. 🙂
With this app, you can manage wireless settings, guest access, parental controls, and much more.
Since installing the NetGear Nighthawk router, my wireless connection has greatly improved. I never get disconnected from the network anymore, and my main computers achieve great speed, even on the top floor of my home.
The NetGear Nighthawk AC1900 is available from Amazon.com for $189.99. It is expensive but well worth it for a large home with a lot of simultaneous internet devices in use.
There is also a wide range of Netgear Nighthawk routers available at Best Buy.
Netgear N300 WiFi Range Extender
One way to get even more range out of your connection is to use a range extender. A range extender literally takes your WiFi connection and stretches it further. Reliable WiFi connections can become a problem in older homes and have a lot of concrete and or metal in the walls. Or in places with interference from other objects. Imagine that your bedroom has a very weak WiFi connection, but if you move your laptop out to your family room the connection is fine. This can be helped with a range extender.
You would simply plug your Netgear N300 Range Extender along the edge of the area in your home where the connection is still good. Or better yet between the area of good connection and dead area. Make sense? I put my range extender in my dining room right below my kid's rooms. Their rooms are farther from the router so their connections were weaker. Now with their computers connected to the range extender WiFi, they get full bars.
Setup is easy, and is first done with the unit in the same room as the router. When you first plug the unit in, you connect to it with your laptop via WiFi and follow the easy prompts to configure your extended network. Once that is completed you can move the N300 to its new home. You would connect your laptop or mobile devices to the newly created WiFi network.
This definitely improves the mood in my home! No one is upset that their WiFi is slow. 🙂
The Netgear N300 is available from Amazon.com in a few different versions for around $35.