Old equipment can only do so much. Time to make it better.

How did we get here?

My original thought for this weekend was to bring Danny DD to my sister’s to do some streaming. I brought some of my own equipment like a second monitor, mic and camera, and I thought I would have pretty much everything I needed. Not so fast, my friend.

As it turns out, there is a small issue of an eight year old router to contend with. Now, back in it’s day, it was a great choice. It is capable of 2.4 and 5Ghz and rated up to 802.11 ac (including a/b/g…….). It does a fair job with only two people and the occasional guest, but even my brother in law has expressed frustration, because, after all, the modem is new, everything should be fast and not buffer.

The modem is new, but that means a very fast signal can’t go anywhere.

The modem is fine, and the internet speed is quick, I don’t yet have the cap on the download speed, but they are getting in excess of 50Mbps upload, which for a cable company is rather impressive. The problem is several fold and as technology improves, it causes more of a gap. One that the older router just cannot make up. We didn’t have the technology that now exists, eight years back.

What’s the big deal

There are a few factors here. A few years ago, they switched to streaming content instead of using a cable tuner. That meant more devices running more often. A lot more often. TV, a home pc and laptop, phones, a tablet……… you see where I’m going with this. That is just the devices that they now might use everyday and/or stream from. That doesn’t include the son on the other side of the house with several devices, the TV in the family room that streams, and guests that come over like myself.

That router is rated to handle, on it’s best day, about a dozen devices. These days, even your kitchen appliances or security systems try to use the same internet. It’s a lot more than the old equipment was ever designed for.

Time for a change.

This is a very typical situation, with a typical family. Yours may be slightly different, but as we move away from a device like a cable tuner and get the next great phone, tablet, or laptop, we may be disappointed with the results if we don’t look at the equipment we use to connect with. We go all out on a bigger tv or new phone, but they can only do as well as what is supporting them.

Think of it like getting a shiny new sports car that does 150 mph (240 kph). Do you know how to drive that fast? Are the roads you travel on designed to handle a car that fast? Probably not. It’s similar to a high speed train traveling on a freight train track. It’s not made to do that. The train can go fast, but the track won’t handle it.

So, what’s the solution?

Time for new equipment

Now this can be tricky, too. Some internet providers furnish one that works with their equipment, and some have you furnish your own. My provider supplied one, their provider supplies the modem, but not the router. Both have advantages and disadvantages. In my sister’s case it means they have a very wide range of routers to chose from. Too many to choose from. It’s not hard, just go buy the best one, right? Do you need the best one? Probably not. You may not need something that expensive to do the job.

Find the one(s) that best fit your situation. Do you need something capable of covering several thousand square feet or when one covering a couple of thousand will do? If you aren’t adding on to your house any time soon, you don’t need one that covers three times the area.

Budget is another concern. You can buy a great quality router for less than two hundred USD and be set for another five or six years. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to do a great job. Keep in mind, you probably spent a lot on that new phone, or TV, and the supporting equipment deserves to fit the situation.

Brand quality counts. If you’ve never heard of the company, there may be a reason why. Keep in mind, though, just because you recognize the name doesn’t mean greatness. We all know at least one brand of our favorite products, that we absolutely stay away from. Bad reputation might make a company famous. Just saying.

My advice on new equipment?

Do your research. And even after you ask questions and look at different models, look at different retailers to make sure its a good deal. Sometimes it also may be worth it to pay an extra few bucks to go see, feel, and touch it before you buy it. There is a lot to be said for a hands on experience, after all, that’s what you will have to do when you have it home. You can also go get hands on, then order it from a retailer that has it on sale.

Still no idea? Get your brother, you know the one with tech experience, to tell you what the actual issue is, then have him find the best tool to solve it. Put your trust in a third party with no bias. He may even write about it and your movies won’t buffer when he tries to play online.

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