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Roust Your Router

How strong is your internet connection in your smart home? Are you using your ISP supplied router? If yes, there is a good chance you aren’t receiving the performance needed for effective streaming in today's connected world. Perhaps you might think about upgrading your router to a more recent model? And ... perhaps you might think about doing that every year for a while? That is how fast progress is being made in wireless and wired communications.

When you do the upgrade, be prepared to centralize it and to configure the router properly for operation with your devices. Your devices will love you for it. And speaking of your ISP – how is their service level and have you contracted for the speed you need? A rough rule of thumb is 15mbits per streamer. Pony up.

Good news regarding centralizing your gear in a visible location – routers are looking better than they used to. If that central point is the kitchen, can you imagine an ugly antenna-laden, outer space looking device with protruding cables sitting in the middle of the counter? The wife would tear them off, and the dog would eat it.

Today, you can consider a variety of better looking routers, including the Google OnHubs, and others. Give it another year and I bet all the consumer routers will have their looks transformed. Got to love competition. Commercial ones get racked. Ultimately looks and power count. Power can overcome looks, powerful allows you to hide ugly. I want my router to communicate flawlessly at high speeds, resist all hackers, have the strongest signal on earth, and look really good (or be hidden).

Once the looks are covered – how about configuration? There are a variety of wireless communication gotchas to pay attention to, even including interference from your microwave (2.4Ghz devices). Shees. Maybe your neighbor is using your channel – try changing it? Glass, concrete, metal in the way? Are the antennas optimized? Fortunately there are a lot more diagnostic and tuning tools than in the past to assist with wifi problems. Good news – technical pros can help you, and the help teams from the router companies are doing a better job.

My opinion - everyone benefits from better user interfaces, where 95% of regular tasks are clearly identified and accomplished with the press of a button or two. And in the networking world, this means clearly explained menu options that are easily accessible. A company well-know for providing this type of interface is Synology with their RT2600ac:

Ultimately … wherever and whenever you can – use wired. Category 6 ethernet cables can be retrofitted to almost any home environment. And Category 6a cables can support 10GB Ethernet, so a little bit of future-proofing there. Also, your data is flowing over copper and thus offers less security concerns, transmission interferences, and at the faster speeds, etc. Wired is always better - just not quite as easy.

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