Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
A television router is a device that takes streaming digital signals, as from a laptop, to project them onto a television or to send them remotely to other rooms, TVs, or devices in a home. To choose the best router for your purposes, know your existing equipment needs to determine the compatibilities your router should have and determine what aspects you value. These may include wireless TV router specifications, performance, or compatibilities. Products are available from simple and cheap to midrange and high-end units; most family-type needs will be met by midrange varieties. Additional considerations include a router's speed, usually in megabits per second (Mbps), pricing, and available bands. Some may even permit cross-functionality with cable and asymmetric digital subscriber lines (ADSL).
With the advent of wireless technology, these units operate by transmitting on a frequency such as an ultra high frequency (UHF) signal carrying the digital information to a receiver. These signals are powerful enough to use in crowded areas and can penetrate walls. This makes choosing the best wireless TV router a matter of determining its desired range and how well it preserves signals without dropping out from interferences. Different classes of device also exist to accommodate one or more wireless streams at various rates.
Sometimes a wireless TV router is labeled according to its protocol standard, so it's a good idea to determine the latest standard. For example, wireless N, or 802.11n, refers to an improvement in speed and range over previous standards of 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g. The N variety went through a couple of incarnations with manufacturers before it was officially made a standard, so early adopting units may read draft n or draft 2. These routers typically sport three or more antennas to boost strength over their predecessors, permitting greater distances and fewer dropouts in comparison to the older designs. Newer units may have backward compatibility with earlier standards.
Distance and obstacles, however, may affect the final performance of a router, so it's wise to understand your environmental conditions and see what reviewers and customers have to say about their experiences with a particular router. With speeds of over 200 Mbps, N type wireless TV router products commonly have enough signal strength to permit effective multitasking and portability around the home. They often feature multiple inputs and outputs to permit overlapping users to watch television or surf the Internet with minimal interferences. Additional ports might include local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), or universal serial bus (USB).
Most wireless TV router units come in small tabletop units and operate between a specified range of bandwidth — for example, measured in terms of gigahertz (GHz) — and may function in two or more bands. Some might feature multiple ports to connect other devices, such as computers, digital video recorders (DVR), or gaming or audio systems; these ports might have individual bandwidth capacities: for example, 10, 100, and 1,000 Mbps. Users who demand the larger transfers of video streaming and gaming are better served by units that can handle high-speed Internet connections. More powerful routers may be better rated to handle the high-speed demands of home theater systems.
Some people may be satisfied with a smaller wireless router that can link up to a USB port. These are typically portable devices and may have an external antenna. Such devices connect to laptops and afford mobile access to wireless networks. In contrast, a wireless TV router may offer additional features such as Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) compliance, a standard that allows consumer electronics to share content in home networks. They may also permit parental controls, which may better suit family needs than a run-of-the-mill router.
@Vincenzo -- Here's something to consider that is an issue a lot of people don't want to discuss because of copyright concerns -- a lot of content that doesn't stream well for one reason or another is pirated in the first place. Even if you get a box that handles AVI files, it might not handle those that are encoded in an odd format.
It is far safer (and much more legal) to only download paid content put together by professionals who are aware of standards and follow them to the letter. Otherwise, you might have to do a lot of converting if you grabbed a bunch of AVI files off an illegal site that was not encoded to industry specifications.
The DLNA capability can be a blessing or an absolute curse if you don't do your research. Say, for example, you love the idea of a smart TV because it can stream content from your wireless network. You have an old-fashioned, dumb TV so you figure out a DLNA box will effectively add smart TV capabilities to your television.
The problem with those adapters is that some of them are very finicky about what kind of content they will stream. For example, it might not handle AVI video -- a very common format -- well. If you have AVI content to stream, you may find you have to convert those files to another format that your DLNA box likes. That is time consuming and irritating, and such misery would have been avoided had you picked a box that will handle AVI files.
The lesson here? Research, research, research before you buy.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!