Is your loved one trapped with a wired internet connection? If you want to set them free with a wireless router, don't bother going shopping this Black Friday. While Best Buy, Staples and Wal-mart are offering some deals, according to their leaked Black Friday circulars, these deals are not what they seem.
Best Buy is offering the Linksys WRT160N for about $60. This router gets good reviews from CNET and PCMag.com, as well as positive user feedback. So far, so good. However, this very router is currently selling for about 32 bucks at Amazon.com, and 45 bucks at Staples. Interestingly enough, this Linksys router isn't included in Staples' Black Friday circular. Staples is offering the NetGear WNR1000 RangeMax 150 for $35, and Wal-mart offers a similar model, the Belkin N 150 router, for $30. Sounds good, right?
Not so much. Both of these models are so-called N-150 routers. As we discuss in our wireless-router report, N-150 routers are not 802.11n-certified. They support only 150 megabits per second maximum data link (less in real life) -- half that of a real Wireless-N router. According to Tim Higgins at SmallNetBuilder.com "these are a marketing experiment aimed at luring unsuspecting shoppers who think they are buying something that will make their G devices work faster and/or go farther (they will do neither)."
Yardena Arar warns against both of these models in an article at The New York Times, explaining, "These products don't use the multiple antennas that make 802.11n so fast and far-reaching." Our advice? You're better off with a wireless-G router than one of these N-150 routers, and there's no need to dash out and buy any routers this Friday.
For more information about wireless standards and the best-reviewed routers, check out our recently updated wireless-router report.