Review: Linksys EA3500 DualBand Wireless N Router

Linksys EA3500 DualBand Wireless N RouterRouters are similar to the heater in the basement of your house: essential, yet you almost forget it’s there…until it stops working.

Not long before Christmas I was having serious problems with my Linksys (WRT-54g) router: every time someone in my house wanted access to the internet, we would have to reset it. My home network has consistently high traffic, from online gaming to surfing the net to numerous mobile devices that all work off wi-fi. So I had to get a router that could handle a plethora of devices with heavy network traffic. After looking at many types of routers I decided to purchase a wireless-N dual band router since dual band frequencies allow for smooth HD video streaming, gaming, and quick downloads.

Having decided what type of router would work for my household, I began to research different types. Based on reviews that I read online, I was able to narrow my selection down to Linksys or D-Link brand. Because my last router was a Linksys and it had lasted 6-7 years before finally throwing in the towel, I decided to go with a Linksys again. If the new router lasts even close to as long as the previous one, it will be outdated and in need of an upgrade before it physically stops working.

Setup was easier than I had expected because all the wiring was already in place; all I had to do was swap out the old router and plug all my ethernet cables into the new one. The provided software will walk you through how to set up and configure your wireless router and even give you access to the advanced settings (if you so dare). I was able to set up and configure everything without using the software but now I enjoy being able to tweak the network settings and customize it to work best in my household.


Price: $129.99 from Best Buy
Ownership Length: 2-3 Months
Buy at Amazon.com (aff)

 


Pros
1) Speed: Very fast even with many devices connected
2) USB Port: Extra port to plug in accessories directly to router
3) Software: Not necessary for setup (if you know what you are doing) but it does make it quick and easy if you use it. It also allows you to change advanced settings

Cons
1) Cost – A little pricey

Summary

One of the best aspects of this router is that it doesn’t get slowed down when there are many devices connected to it. I have probably had about 15-20 active devices running simultaneously without a problem, whereas my previous router would have trouble with anything close to that. Most of the traffic is from gaming on both the Playstation 3 and multiple computers in addition to Netflix, which is almost always running somewhere in my house. Wanting to experiment with the USB port on the router, I attached a 1TB external Toshiba hard drive and loaded all my music onto it, basically creating a home media server that allows me to play all my music on any device connected to the network. Overall, I’m very satisfied with its performance and would recommend it to anyone looking for an in home router that can handle high traffic.

What data plan should I get?

Wireless data plans

Smartphones

How much data would you use in a month with your smartphone? Most people on average are not aware how much data they use with their phones regularly. To know what type of wireless plan to purchase, a basic understanding of your habits and the data that correlates with them is necessary, especially because everything data related varies greatly from one task to another. Data is always expressed in a numerical format representing bytes.

1GB = 1,000 MB or 1,000,000 KB

What is data?
Data is the information sent to and received by your device while accessing the internet through apps or web browsers. Wireless data usage is dependent upon multiple factors, including what you use data transmission for and how often you send data over the wireless network as opposed to over Wi-Fi.

Before you can use that new smartphone to transfer all sorts of data, you first need to have a wireless plan. Depending on your carrier, you will have a number of options to choose from; all of these are based on monthly usage, which resets every billing cycle. Verizon, for example, offers plans starting at 1GB (gigabyte) per month all the way up to 10 GB per month.

The brand of phone you have can also determine if you go over your data allotment. [1]

Data Hogs
You might be asking, “How much can I do with that?” The most important factor relating to data usage is all dependent on your interests and habits. Remember, everything uses data–just different amounts. Sending or receiving videos, picture, or other attachments and streaming music or videos uses the most data.

Basic communication, such as E-Mail, uses the smallest amounts of data, ranging from 2 KB to 30 KB depending on the length of the message. Visiting websites uses more data because almost all websites have media and interactive content, and depending on the contents of the site, each page view can use 100-300 KB. Watching videos uses an average of 1MB of data per video, depending on the view quality chosen. When on YouTube, using regular quality instead of high quality can reduce the data used by about 60%; the same applies to streaming music. Any high-quality video or sound files use much more data.

The Breakdown:
To sum everything up, let us assume that you have chosen the 1GB/month Verizon data plan and want to know how far it will take you. Using the full 1GB, you would be able to send 50,000-400,000 E-Mails depending on content and length. Using the phone to only browse web pages, you would be able to view 5,000-15,000 pages. (Keep in mind, this is using all of your monthly allotted data.) However, we do not use our phones for only one specific reason–they are multi-purpose communication/entertainment devices.

Based on a 1GB data plan we have broken down the numbers for you in the table below. Our estimated totals are based on our personal usage average.

Category: Avg. % Used: In MB: Estimated Total:
E-Mail 20% 200 MB 2,597 E-mails @ 77 KB/E-mail
Websites 40% 400 MB 6,400 Websites @ 62.5 KB/Page
Photos 20% 200 MB 957 Photos @ 191.5 KB/Photo
Streaming Videos 5% 50 MB 25 YouTube @ 2MB/Video with a 4-minute average
Streaming Music 5% 50 MB 107 hours @ 28 MB/hours

Data Management Tips
1) Turn off automatic updates for Apps
2) Connect to Wi-Fi instead of 3G when available
3) Store music and videos on device instead of streaming
4) Take advantage of mobile websites instead of using full websites
5) Switch E-Mail apps to manual mail retrieval instead of “Push”

Useful Wireless Data Plan Sources:
1)Christopher Parson’s Data Education Brochure
2)Think With Google – Mobile Planet
3)E-mail Monday – Mobile E-Mail Usage Stats
4)Techno Buffalo – 8 Tips for Managing your Mobile Data