For those who have yet to embrace wireless technology in their home, a wireless network can make a vast improvement for any family owning more than one computer. In years past, a computer network was something reserved for workplaces and geeks. It took a network technician to come out and drill a bunch of holes in your walls, set up a mess of wires and hardware, and then, several hundred dollars worth of materials and labor later, your network was in place. When you wanted to move anything, you had to call the technician back to drill more holes and charge a few hundred dollars more. Now, by connecting your computers via a wireless network, you can be linked up for only the cost of the hardware. Netgear and Linksys are two companies that manufacture such wireless network hardware..
For the average consumer, Netgear’s Wireless g Router WGR614 or Linksys’s Wireless g Router WRT54G can serve as the piece of the network which directs traffic around the inside of a network. Routers also allow messages both to and from outside of the network, as in Internet traffic. The router, in combination with wireless adapters, which plug into each device’s USB port to add that computer or printer to the network, are all the hardware that is required to connect your pc’s together.
Netgear’s WGR614 and Linksys’s WRT54G are very comparable in performance and speed. Both routers from Netgear and Linksys provide up to 54 Mbps, which is quite fast considering that the majority of cable internet connections are in the 4-7 Mbps range. If your typical 4 MB file takes about 20 seconds to download from the Internet, the same file could conceivably be transferred from one computer to another on the network, in a second or two.
Both Netgear and Linksys also provide some form of security. Netgear’s Wireless g Router WGR614 boasts of providing a firewall. Linksys promotes its VPN pass through for virtual private networks, and provides IP address filtering to keep out unfamiliar addresses.
One of the biggest differences between Netgear’s WGR614 Wireless g Router and Linksys’ WRT54G appear to be in their appearance. Netgear’s wireless router is rather flat, rounded in shape, and silver in color. It has one antenna in the back that sends and receives network traffic. Linksys’s wireless router is black, with a blue faceplate, and is much more angular in shape than the Netgear router. The Linksys router also has two antennas in the back, but this doesn’t seem to provide any stronger signal.
The only other obvious difference between the two is their price. While prices may differ depending on sales, location, and other market factors, generally speaking, Netgear’s Wireless g Router WGR614 can be found for under $50. The Linksys Wireless g Router WRT54G is typically around $70. The other pieces of the wireless network, such as the individual PC or printer adapters, are also typically cheaper for Netgear. Usually, the phrase, “you get what you pay for” would be wise, but in this case it doesn’t seem warranted, as they are both about equal in performance.
While Linksys may have at one time held an advantage in ease-of-use over its competition, nowadays, they are all about equal in setup. As these are the lowest priced among consumer wireless network routers, their performance won’t compare to Linksys’ and Netgear’s Super g Wireless Routers or higher, ‘business class’ routers. So, it really just boils down to price and appearance. If style is important, and the cost doesn’t mean anything, the Linksys WRT54G is nicely futuristic looking. If price is everything, or a silver disk fits one’s decor better, the Netgear WGR614 will go well.