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The Not-Very-Exciting (But Very Necessary) Gadget You Need? A Great Router

A 4K TV, gaming console, tablet and a whole bunch of new smart home gadgets. It was a tech-cellent holiday at your house this year!

But, wait. Why’s your Wi-Fi running so slow? And why can’t you get everything to connect?

The excitement can quickly turn to frustration if your home network can’t support those new — and existing – devices.

A premium router might not have been at the top of your family’s wish list, but it’s essential for keeping those other new devices connected to the internet and running smoothly. Think about all those gadgets in need of Wi-Fi, from smartphones and tablets to thermostats and refrigerators.

“Sometimes people can have a hard time investing in a great router. But once you start getting all these great devices, you’re going to need something that’s strong and that can handle everything,” said Roberto Olivares, the Geek Squad manager at the Best Buy store in Rochester, Minnesota. “Your router is like the motor in your vehicle. It powers the rest of the devices you have in your home.”

Time to go premium?

If you’re having problems with your network, such as weak signal strength that causes buffering when you’re trying to watch videos, it might be time to replace your router. Upgrading to a new router can give you faster speeds, increased range and the ability to connect more devices.

  • Basic routers are recommended for up to six Wi-Fi devices, and they support tasks like email, web browsing and music streaming.
  • Premium routers, meanwhile, support more devices and data-intense activities, such as gaming and streaming 4K video. For example, the Linksys WRT32X is specifically engineered for gamers.

“A basic router is going to be great for smaller spaces, such as an apartment where you don’t have more than a couple of rooms,” Roberto said. “But I’ve had families come into the store that might have laptops and tablets and gaming and this and that. In those situations, you need to invest in a premium router.”

What about whole-home Wi-Fi?

Do you have Wi-Fi dead zones in your house? Maybe there’s a back bedroom that never seems to get a good connection? It might be time to explore whole-home Wi-Fi.

Whole-home Wi-Fi uses a series of routers placed throughout the home to ensure you get a strong, uninterrupted signal throughout your home. Roberto, for example, uses the Linksys Velop, with a router on each floor of his house.

“They’re designed to talk to one another to create a web, or mesh, of signal throughout the house,” he said. “It’s pretty awesome.”

Similar products include the eero Home WiFi System, Netgear Orbi and Google Wifi. For example, if you have a home over 2,000 square feet, a great option is the Velop 2-pack or the Orbi +1.

And don’t forget that you can turn in your old router and get a 15 percent off coupon toward your new one.


Looking for all the options available? Click here. Or, still can’t get your Wi-Fi working right? Geek Squad can help you get more out of your home network. Read this story about a great Geek Squad experience.