Router Holiday Buyer’s Guide 2015

As devices come online this holiday, whether they are gifts or treats to ourselves, we need a solid home network to keep up with the ever growing list of devices that need an internet connection. Imagine the load on your poor old router, as it desperately looks around for more bandwidth for the new devices knocking on its proverbial door.

Fortunately, good routers for upgrading your home network are plentiful. Why not pick a router that will withstand the onslaught of new devices, and then some?

Staples Router Holiday Buyer's Guide

Apple AirPort Extreme

Staples Holiday Buyer's Guide - Apple AirPort Extreme

Price: $249.00
Dimensions: 6.6″ height x 3.85″ width x 3.85″ depth
Tech Specs: 802.11ac, dual-band (1x 2.4GHz, 1x 5GHz), 3 LAN ports, 2 USB ports, OSX and iOS apps for setup and maintenance

The Apple AirPort Extreme is quite the diminutive wireless router, with its slim and narrow profile barely taking up any desk or shelf space, it’s certain to complement minimalist decorations or clean workspaces in general. Don’t be fooled by its small size, however, as the Apple AirPort Extreme packs quite the punch despite its small size. With the latest 802.11ac wireless standard, the AirPort Extreme is capable of operating at high speeds, automatically selecting the correct frequency (2.4GHz or 5GHz) for optimal user speeds.

Setup and management of the AirPort Extreme is as easy as plugging it in and downloading an app. However, it seems that the app is built around the Apple ecosystem, so the Apple AirPort Extreme is perfect for Apple-centric households.

Perfect For: Homes that are contain predominantly Apple devices, the Apple AirPort Extreme is greatly complementary for Apple-centric homes.

Key Things: The Apple AirPort app is available only on OSX and iOS devices, though there is always Bonjour for Windows.

The Bottom Line: Powerful router packed into a tiny little frame, great if you have an Apple ecosystem already present and want to enhance it even more.


OnHub by Google & TP-Link

Staples Holiday Buyer's Guide - OnHub Google TP-Link

Price: $239.99
Dimensions: 7.5″ height x 4.5″ width x 4.0″ depth
Tech Specs: 802.11ac, dual-band (1x 2.4GHz, 1x 5GHz), 1 USB port, iOS and Android apps for setup and maintenance

The OnHub by Google & TP-Link is the first in a rather different approach to routers, containing zero LAN ports, meaning that this is one of the only routers on the market that only offers connections to wireless devices. Similar to the Apple AirPort Extreme, the OnHub has automatic frequency selection of its dual-bands (2.4GHz and 5GHz) so devices only need to connect to a single wireless access point and the router decides which frequency is best for the connection and the network as a whole.

With the mobile app, available on iOS or Android, the OnHub is one of the easiest routers in the market to set up and maintain. The app will guide you through the entire setup process with very clear cut instructions, and will even identify potential issues with your network in very simple language.

The OnHub is perfect for people that want their routers to “just work”, with its simple and easy setup and maintenance through the mobile app, as well as with its self-updating capabilities. Power users may find it not as easy to tweak and fine-tune settings, but casual tech users will find the OnHub to be more than enough for their needs.

Perfect For: Users that want a router that “just works”. The OnHub is extremely easy to setup and maintain, and even updates itself.

Key Things: Setup and maintenance happens entirely through iOS and Android apps, and there are no real ports for wired connections.

The Bottom Line: Great router that really changes expectations from a router, being essentially a self-managed little device, it’s perfect for the hands-off and those who don’t want to tweak.



Staples Holiday Buyer's Guide - ASUS AC3200

Price: $319.63
Dimensions: 2.28″ height x 11.4″ width. x 7.4″ depth
Tech Specs: 802.11ac, tri-band (1x 2.4GHz, 2x 5GHz), 4 LAN ports, 1 USB port, web interface for setup and maintenance

For the more technically savvy and adventurous, the ASUS AC3200 might just be your dream router. The AC3200 boasts tri-band capabilities (one 2.4GHz and two 5GHz bands) and can also automatically manage which users are on which bands, keeping the speeds as high as possible and keeping the network humming along smoothly.

Power users are able to use the web interface to tweak and fine-tune settings, allowing them to optimize the performance to their exact standards. With the largest profile of the three routers in this list, the ASUS AC3200 seems to give off a real “science-fiction” vibe, with its six antennae protruding from its sides and back making it look like an alien mothership of sorts.

Of the three, the ASUS AC3200 is the most expensive router, but is also the most customizable and performant of the three. If you’re in the market for raw power and high performance, then the AC3200 is what you must consider for your home network.

Perfect For: Power users who want the highest performance from their router, and are not afraid to tweak and fine-tune settings until it’s just right

Key Things: Of the three routers listed here, this is the most traditional for setup and maintenance, using a web-based interface accessed through a browser. And it has quite the large profile, given it’s wide base and six antennae.

The Bottom Line: The ASUS AC3200 is top of the line, and packs power and performance into its larger frame. This is the power user’s dream, and definitely the best performer of the bunch.


Router Holiday Buyer’s Guide 2015
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Router Holiday Buyer’s Guide 2015
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Jon Lim

Jon Lim is a professional developer, writer, and an avid technologist. He has written creatively for the past 16 years, and professionally for 4 years.

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