Two years of waiting and thinking. I wanted a new router that supported 802.11n speeds. It wasn’t important for years, as most of our devices ran on 802.11g. I do admit to buying a Wireless N adapter for the Tivo Premiere, with an expectation of one day moving to an 802.11 home network. For a time, I was transferring tv shows from the Tivo to the home PC (and later my iPhone 4), but Verizon and many other cable providers now block any copying. Since last year, however, we’ve added two new smartphones and one Nexus 10 tablet that all support 802.11n speeds. I eventually would like to finally get a tablet of my own this year, so that would make 5 devices that could take advantage of faster wireless speeds.
I’ve never been a fan of how Verizon forces customers to use Actiontec routers. There are so many nice and feature-packed routers out there on the market, but unless I want to maintain two devices, and figure out how to properly bridge them, I’d be stuck with the best Actiontec I could get. In the end, I wanted to keep it simple — one networking device. Verizon now offers the Actiontec MI424WR GigE router, which is the latest router to support 802.11n. It also has Gigabit Ethernet and a number of other features, but I’m mostly interested in the faster wireless speeds. What’s not so good about it? It’s a single stream router. In a mixed network (comprised of devices that run on g or n), the Actiontec’s compatibility mode will drop the entire network down to g speeds. The nicer dual band routers on the market will support both g devices and n devices — each would run on their own frequency band, and not impact the other. Sweet for everyone else, big caveats for me.
I would also have jumped in earlier, except Verizon will not just send you the new router when your original basic 802.11g router is working fine and dandy. To get the newer Actiontec, you have to pay the $79 fee, and that’s why I’ve waited two years. This year, I decided to pull the trigger on it. Verizon broke the fee up over the next three bills, and let me know that the router would arrive in 3-5 business days. In 3 days, it was here.
In slightly related news, we also acquired a new (and free) table with drawers that we put our black-and-white laser printer on, instead of using a tv tray that we purchased back when we were newlyweds. Sensing an opportunity to reorganize, I cleaned up, and changed the layout for a bit. I had no real issue with setting up the router, though I had some difficulty to get the Tivo wireless N adapter onto the network, but eventually reran setup on it, and all was good again. Well, mostly good. It’s supposed to light up green on 802.11 g networks, and blue on 802.11n networks. Right now, it’s green, and that perturbs me. Luckily, I can still sleep at night, but I’d still like to figure out what the deal is with it.
After dabbling with the router settings, I’m sticking with 802.11n-only (“Performance” mode) for now, but I’m sure I’ll have to dumb it down to the slower speeds later. For now, I just want to see if there is a noticeable difference in speed.