When shopping for a new wireless router even the most technical-minded person can struggle with all of the acronyms and standards that are used by manufacturers and retailers. It helps to know that most of these standards refer to the speed and that unless you are purchasing a router for business use then you dont necessarily need the latest 802.11n standard. It is far better to read reviews and comments about the speed and range of individual models.
When purchasing a router it is a good idea to ensure that the standard you select matches the receiver in your laptop or PC in order to make your connection reach the maximum speed. For example, if you buy the latest 802.11n router but only have an 802.11g radio in your laptop then the speed will only ever reach that of an 802.11g router. Similarly an 802.11n router with three aerials will deliver the best connection but this is only useful if the radio inside your laptop also has three aerials.
In terms of security virtually all modern routers come with WPA encryption. It is not advisable to purchase a router that does not offer this encryption. Most routers also come with a firewall and if you intend to use online gaming or VoIP applications then it is a good idea to check that it allows port-forwarding as many firewalls are designed to prevent this kind of traffic.
Another feature to look out for is smart wireless technology that enables the router to switch between channels and locate the strongest wireless channel available. The router will detect interference and once connected it will continually monitor the chosen wireless channel and switch to a new one if there is too much interference. This means you will always receive the best signal possible.
If you are concerned about energy consumption then some routers offer useful power-saving modes that reduce power consumption when they are not connected. They will automatically return to full power when connected or when any internet traffic has been detected. This is useful if you prefer to leave your router switched on throughout the day and night rather than turning it off every time you leave your house.
There are lots of wireless routers to choose from and you can easily compare products online. As with many consumer electronics you generally get what you pay for but it is still a good idea to check some independent reviews prior to making a purchase.