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Features
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Insights & Definitions
Brand
Brand

Brands help you identify specific solutions that you will or will not consider. Brand is also a good indication of whether the product is focused on business users or consumers.

The number of solutions that a vendor has within a specific product category can indicate their commitment to, and corresponding success in, that market.

Another indication of vendor quality can be articles written and videos produced about specific products (use the "Articles & Videos" link on this page). Generally, such reviews are only provided for market leaders.

Price
Price
Quantity is the leading reason for vendors to discount their pricing. Quantity discounts are available to the pricing shown on the left. Enter the quantity you need here.

Price can be an indication of quality and value. Any vendor that charges more for a product than the marketplace is willing to pay will not remain in business, or at least in that market, for very long.

The price actually paid for a product is usually driven by available budget, but specific feature requirements can sometimes command a higher price.

Routing Protocols
Routing Protocols

A routing protocol specifies how routers communicate with each other, they enable selection of routes between any two nodes on a computer network. The leading routing protocols are:

BGP - Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is an exterior protocol designed to exchange routing and reachability information between autonomous systems (AS) on the Internet. Typically used by carriers and very large enterprises.

EIGRP - Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (EIGRP) is an advanced version of IGRP. It is a distance vector interior routing protocol. It is used by routers to exchange routing data within an autonomous system. EIGRP is a Cisco proprietary protocol and used by many enterprises.

HSRP - Hot Standby Routing Protocol (HSRP) is a Cisco proprietary redundancy protocol for establishing a fault-tolerant default gateway.

IGRP - Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (IGRP) is a distance vector interior routing protocol. It is used by routers to exchange routing data within an autonomous system. IGRP is a Cisco proprietary protocol, but has been largely replaced by EIGRP.

IP - IP (Internet Protocol) routing is a process used to determine which path a packet or datagram can be sent. The process uses routing information to make decisions and is designed to send a packet over multiple networks.

IS-IS - Intermediate System to Intermediate System (IS-IS) is designed to move information efficiently within a computer network, a group of physically connected computers or similar devices.

MPLS - Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a data-carrying technique for high-performance telecommunications networks that uses short path labels rather than long network addresses, avoiding complex lookups in a routing table.

OSPF - Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) uses a link state routing algorithm and is an interior routing protocol, operating within a single autonomous system (AS).

RIP-1 - The Routing Information Protocol (RIP) is one of the oldest distance-vector routing protocols which employ the hop count as a routing metric. Originally published in 1988 it uses classful routing.

RIP-2 - RIP version 2 (RIPv2) was developed in 1993, due to the deficiencies of the original RIP specification. It included the ability to carry subnet information, thus supporting Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR).

WiFi Standards
WiFi Standards

WiFi or Wireless LAN (WLAN) standards are compatibility standards developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). They are also referred to as 802.11 standards.

The current standards are:

802.11a

802.11a supports bandwidth up to 54 Mbps and signals in a regulated frequency spectrum around 5 GHz. Because there is less interference in the 5GHz spectrum, 802.11a is often used in "noisy" electrical environments, such as hospitals. This higher frequency compared to 802.11b shortens the range of 802.11a networks. The higher frequency also means 802.11a signals have more difficulty penetrating walls and other obstructions.

802.11a has a fast maximum speed and its regulated frequencies prevent signal interference from other devices. But 802.11a has a higher cost and a shorter range signal that is more easily obstructed

802.11b

802.11b supports bandwidth up to 11 Mbps, comparable to traditional Ethernet. 802.11b uses the unregulated radio signaling frequency (2.4 GHz) as vendors often prefer using this frequency to lower their production costs. Being unregulated, 802.11b gear can incur interference from microwave ovens, cordless phones, and other appliances using the same 2.4 GHz range. However, by installing 802.11b gear a reasonable distance from other appliances, interference can easily be avoided.

802.11b provides for the lowest cost, a good signal range, and it is not easily obstructed by walls, ceilings, etc. But it also has the slowest maximum speed of any of the 802.11 standards and home appliances may interfere with it.

802.11g

802.11g supports bandwidth up to 54 Mbps and it uses the 2.4 GHz frequency for greater range. 802.11g is also backwards compatible with 802.11b, meaning that 802.11g access points will work with 802.11b wireless network adapters and vice versa.

802.11g has a fast maximum speed with good signal range that is not easily obstructed. But 802.11g costs more than 802.11b and appliances may interfere with it.

802.11n

802.11n, also called "Wireless N", supports up to 300 Mbps of network bandwidth. 802.11n also offers somewhat better range over earlier WiFi standards due to its increased signal intensity, and it is backward-compatible with 802.11b/g gear. It increases the amount of bandwidth supported by utilizing multiple wireless signals and antennas (called MIMO technology) instead of one.

802.11n has a faster maximum speed and best signal range. It is also more resistant to signal interference from outside sources. But it costs more than 802.11g and its use of multiple signals may interfere with nearby 802.11b/g based networks.

802.11ac

802.11ac is the newest generation of WiFi signaling in popular use. Its network bandwidth is rated up to 1300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band plus up to 450 Mbps on 2.4 GHz. 802.11ac utilizes dual band wireless technology, supporting simultaneous connections on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi bands. 802.11ac offers backward compatibility to 802.11b/g/n.

802.11ac has a fastest maximum speed and best signal range. It costs more than 802.11n and its use of multiple signals and dual frequencies may interfere with nearby 802.11a/b/g/n based networks.

Ethernet Technology
Ethernet Technology

Ethernet is a local area network (LAN) technology. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created the standard which they call 802.3. An Ethernet LAN typically connects via special grades of copper wires.

Wireless Routers usually have an Ethernet port or ports to connect them to the LAN. The speed of that connection is determined by the type of Ethernet connection used. Those types are:

Ethernet, also known as 10BASE-T, which provides transmission speeds up to 10 Mbps.

Fast Ethernet, or 100BASE-T, provides faster transmission speeds up to 100 megabits per second.

Gigabit Ethernet or 1000BASE-T provides an even faster transmission, at speeds up to 1000 megabits per second (1 gigabit or 1 billion bits per second).

10-Gigabit Ethernet is currently the fastest commercially available version which provides up to 10 billion bits per second.

Quality of Service (QoS)
Quality of Service (QoS)

Quality of Service (QoS) refers to a network device's ability to achieve maximum bandwidth and deal with other network performance elements like latency, error rate and uptime. Often important for voice and video applications running over the Internet, QoS can also prioritize mission critical applications ahead of non-critical applications.

Standard Memory
Standard Memory

Standard Memory is the amount of Random Access Memory (RAM) that ships with the Router. RAM is very fast memory that loses its information when the router is shutdown or restarted. On a router, RAM is used to hold the operating system, system tables, and buffers. RAM is also used to store routing tables, keep ARP cache, and performs packet buffering (shared RAM).

Additional RAM on a router adds more room to prevent network congestion and improves throughput. This is particularly useful if you need to store large routing tables. Home or branch routers typically have RAM measured in megabytes (MBs), while enterprise routers will have RAM measured in the gigabytes (GBs).

Flash Memory
Flash Memory

Flash Memory is a very popular non-volatile, rewritable memory chip used for storage. Most routers do not have hard drives. They use flash memory for similar purposes of storing programs and data, even when the system is off (non-volatile memory). On a router, Flash Memory typically contains the full operating system and system configuration. This allows you to upgrade the OS without removing chips.

Additional Flash Memory on a router improves performance. Home or branch routers typically have Flash Memory measured in megabytes (MBs), while enterprise routers will have RAM measured in the gigabytes (GBs).

Number of USB Ports
Number of USB Ports

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard that defines the cables and communications protocols used for connection, communication, and power supply between computing and electronic devices.

A USB port built into a Wireless Router allows it to share the USB connection with any device that has access to the network, and this can be useful for a variety of reasons. From flash keys to portable hard drives to desktop computers, it can give you access to USB devices that aren't otherwise attached to your network. USB storage is one scenario for sharing one connection with many users.

USB Version
USB Version

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard that defines the cables and communications protocols used for connection, communication, and power supply between computing and electronic devices.

1.1 - USB 1.1, released in August 1998, specified data rates up to 12 Mbit/s.

2.0 - USB 2.0 was released in April 2000, adding a higher data rate of 480 Mbit/s. However, due to bus access constraints, the effective throughput is limited to 280 Mbit/s. The USB 2.0 specification also included Mini-A and Mini-B Connectors.

3.0 - USB 3.0 specification was released in November 2008. The new SuperSpeed mode provides a data rate of 5.0 Gbit/s. Communication is full-duplex in SuperSpeed transfer mode; earlier modes are half-duplex.

Rack Mountable
Rack Mountable

Rack Mountable refers to the ability of a server, router, network switch or other similar device to be mounted in a standard 19-inch equipment rack or a 23-inch equipment rack. This is desirable when equipment density, environmental controls, or uninterruptable power is a concern.

Firewall
Firewall

A firewall capability is a network security safeguard, either hardware or software-based, that controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on a set of rules.

Security Features
Security Features

Security Features include widely used data encryption, user authentication, and network access standards.

AES – also known as Advanced Encryption Standard, is a symmetric block cipher used by the U.S. government to protect classified information and is implemented in software and hardware throughout the world to encrypt sensitive data.

DES – also known as Data Encryption Standard, a popular symmetric-key encryption method developed in 1975 and standardized by ANSI in 1981 as ANSI X.3.92. DES uses a 56-bit key and uses the block cipher method, which breaks text into 64-bit blocks and then encrypts them.

EAP - Extensible Authentication Protocol is an authentication framework frequently used in wireless networks and point-to-point connections.

FIPS - Federal Information Processing Standards are a set of standards that describe document processing, encryption algorithms and other information technology standards for use within non-military government agencies and by government contractors and vendors who work with the agencies.

LEAP - Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol (LEAP) is a proprietary wireless LAN authentication method developed by Cisco Systems.

MD5 - is a message-digest algorithm widely used cryptographic hash function (which maps digital data of arbitrary size to digital data of fixed size). MD5 has been utilized in a wide variety of cryptographic applications, and is also commonly used to verify data integrity.

PEAP - Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol is a version of EAP, designed to provide more secure authentication for 802.11 WLANs (wireless local area networks) that support 802.1X port access control.

RADIUS - Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) is a network protocol that provides security to networks against unauthorized access. RADIUS secures a network by enabling centralized authentication of dial-in users and authorizing their access to use a network service.

SHA-1 - is a cryptographic hash function (which maps digital data of arbitrary size to digital data of fixed size) designed by the United States National Security Agency and is a U.S. Federal Information Processing Standard.

SSH - also known as Secure Socket Shell, is a network protocol that provides administrators with a secure way to access a remote computer.

SSID - Service Set Identifier (SSID), commonly called the "wireless network name", filtering is an example of MAC filtering whereby the SSID is used to determine access to the network and its data.

SSL - Secure Sockets Layer (SSL, but sometimes called HTTPS or Hypertext Transport Protocol Secure) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral.

TKIP - Temporal Key Integrity Protocol is an encryption protocol included as part of the IEEE 802.11i standard for wireless LANs (WLANs). It was designed to provide more secure encryption than WEP, the original WLAN security protocol.

Twofish - is an encryption algorithm based on an earlier algorithm, Blowfish (see above), and was a finalist for a NIST Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm to replace the DES algorithm.

WEP - Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is a security protocol, specified in the IEEE Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) standard, 802.11b, that is designed to provide a wireless local area network (WLAN) with a level of security and privacy comparable to what is usually expected of a wired LAN.

WPA - Wi-Fi Protected Access is a security protocol and security certification program developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to secure wireless computer networks. The Alliance defined these in response to serious weaknesses researchers had found in the previous system, WEP (see above).

WPA2 - Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, the follow on security method to WPA for wireless networks that provides stronger data protection and network access control. WPA2 provides government grade security by implementing the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) FIPS 140-2 compliant AES encryption algorithm and 802.1x-based authentication.

WPS - Wi-Fi Protected Setup (originally Wi-Fi Simple Config) is a network security standard to create a secure wireless home network.

DHCP Server
DHCP Server

The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a standardized network protocol used on Internet Protocol (IP) networks for dynamically distributing network configuration parameters, such as IP addresses and DNS servers for networked devices.

When a device has a DHCP Sever, it means the device can send network settings automatically to other devices on the same network, reducing the need for a network administrator or a user to configure those devices manually.

DHCP Client
DHCP Client

The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a standardized network protocol used on Internet Protocol (IP) networks for dynamically distributing network configuration parameters, such as IP addresses and DNS servers for networked devices.

When a device has a DHCP Client, it means the device can receive its network settings automatically, reducing the need for a network administrator or a user to configure these settings manually.

Web-based Management
Web-based Management

A device (switches, routers, or wireless access points) with an embedded web-based interface that allows users to manage the device from anywhere on the network through a standard browser.

Power Consumption
Power Consumption

Power consumption refers to the electrical energy required to operate an electrical device. Generally expressed in watts, power consumption is important for data center deployments or anywhere that electrical availability is a concern.

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