Folks' Linksys WRT54Gwhatever shat itself recently. I had set them up with what seemed to be the equivalent of mine, at the time. Mine's the black model with the green lights; theirs were blue for some reason. Mine's older, but still going. Although a couple of years ago I had to start resetting it every day. I switched off its DHCP and assigned static IP's to my few devices, and that worked around the problem evidently. Maybe it was just getting bombarded at the time, and I could go back to dynamically-assigned IP's now, but whatever.
Anyways, it's dissappointing that theirs didn't last very long. I think these were about $60 routers (which bought you just wireless A/B/G, at that time). The wireless light was off and all four network port lights were flickering (even though only one had something connnected to it), not responding at its admin web address even after unplugging it for a minute. So definitely not salvagable, at least at my knowledge level.
So it seemed to keep it reasonable at under three figures, today's choices are $45 wireless-n routers and $90 wireless-ac ones. The "TP-Link Archer C5 Wireless-AC1200 Dual Band Gigabit Router" seemed well-reviewed, so I picked one up at the local Fry's. It has two external antennae, which I figured was a plus. It's got gigabit ethernet ports, which might possibly come in handy when Time Warner Cable bumps up its Internet speeds. It supports wireless-ac, which mom's iPhone could use, but also wireless-n that is the fastest that dad's netbook uses.
I'm not an expert, but of course I don't use the "dummy button" (WPS), which auto-sets up God-knows what defaults. Their admin screens were unfamiliar, having only used that formerly ubiquitous Linksys system, but everything was findable. Apparently wireless-ac and wireless-n operate on different frequencies or bands or whatever, so you actually set up two access point names. It auto-switches its admin addy to 192.168.0.1 when something else is taking 1.1, which is nice, as they had called cable guy out while I was at work, and he replaced their cable modem with one that had built-in wireless capability and took up 1.1. (I initially tried that address, and got web pages for the vendor of that device, which was my first clue.) I don't think our old Linksys models do that.
The results: Crap. Wireless-ac signal was so weak that mom's iPhone would switch over to cellular downstairs. (Wireless light was off on the cable modem.) Wireless-n signal is better, but still not all bars or whatever. Seriously, this is all of a 1200 sq ft two-story duplex home. One room down and one room over, and wireless-ac was paltry. I have a 1000 sq ft townhome of similar configuration and with wireless-g I get full bars from anywhere in my place, and a least a few feet outside my garage.
So basically I paid $90 for low-power wireless-n, because I had to switch her iPhone to that. So what then I'm wondering about is, are the later wireless technologies only theoretical, laboratory tech? These houses are just wood and drywall. I thought by getting the $90 router my folks would be ready if they ever wanted to stream movies some day. What good is wireless-ac if you basically have to be in the same room; it'd be faster to just do a wired connection then.