I was recently asked to share a WiFi router recommendation for digital signage, so I thought I’d pass along the response to our blog.
My first thought was that the request is like recommending a car to a new acquaintance. So many questions! (target price? driving style? climate? business or pleasure? urban/rural? passengers? gear? kids? pets? … ). There’s no end of room for debate, and no single right answer.
That said, most of our customers aren’t strangers and their needs are pretty simple. They’re small or medium sized businesses, not international airports or NFL stadiums. And although they’re businesses, they usually don’t have complex commercial demands like high scalability or VPN. They just need something reliable and fast for the digital signage in their lobby. A quality consumer router will likely do the job. If you’re that type of user, read on. (If you need higher security or scalability, take a look at business routers.)
In general, you’re looking for:
- a WiFi router that supports the /a /b /g or /n WiFi standards. If you find a new router that has support for /ac – that’s fine. It just means it supports the latest and greatest standard – the router will still be compatible with the ScreenScape Connect.
- reasonably high speeds (>100Mbps). A higher speed is important if you’re planning to stream video like YouTube, and less important if you’re not.
- a WiFi router that’s equipped with dual band (2.4GHz and 5Ghz). The ScreenScape Connect supports both of those bands. You want this so you can get a strong signal to your device, even if your location is crowded with interference. The dual band option will help to find a quiet(er) frequency. Having a 5GHz option is like moving a conversation to a side room in a crowded bar – it’s much easier to communicate.
Recommendation: the Archer C7 WiFi router
With these points in mind, the TP-LINK Archer C7 is a good all-round router that sells for about US$100 at the time of this post. It’s what I use for my own network, and it’s good value for money. To continue the car analogy, the Archer C7 is like a Honda Accord V6 – reliable, decent power, good mileage at a great price.
You may also consider a simple range extender like the TP-LINK RE200, depending on the proximity of your router to your digital signage device. They’re inexpensive and it can’t hurt.
For more options, the New York Times recently offered a good article on consumer grade routers that you can read about here.