WiFi routers always seem to make you sacrifice something, don’t they?
You’re either paying for speed and spending an ungodly amount of money, or opting for the budget pick and waiting forever for things to load.
You shouldn’t have to make that choice. One bright spot on the WiFi landscape could come from an unlikely place: Walmart. The big box store is gearing up to save you money and headaches by launching a line of store-exclusive routers that minimize cost and maximize performance.
These routers were launched under a new private label called Jetstream, a label exclusive to Walmart that prides itself on offering more-reasonable-than-usual prices. When tech items are on the cheap end, you’re usually forced to sacrifice quality — but that’s hopefully not the case here. (We haven’t tested them ourselves yet, but their claims seem promising.)
Calling themselves “the next generation of high-performance routers,”Jetstream claims that their N300 and the AC1900 routers see two times the coverage of competitors, and for half the cost.
Let’s get into the details on two such routers:
The smaller of the two, the N300 router wants to ensure that there are no blind spots in your home’s coverage with its high penetration rate — so you no longer have to sit right beside the router to ensure your content will actually load. The external 5dBi antennas offer more than enough connection for casual use for the whole household.
For extra connection, the N300’s multiple LAN ports can give wired access to devices like TVs, laptops, and gaming consoles. This router goes for $34.99 (already $20-$50 lower than similar routers, like this one by D-Link), but frequently drops down to $24.99.
Jetstream is bringing out the big guns with the AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit router. It’s reportedly as intense as it looks, featuring six external antennas working at 1900Mbps and reaching up to 3,000 square feet. To translate, this is the speed you want for 4K gaming and heavy duty streaming to prevent lagging and buffering — the two main complaints you’ll see when reading router reviews. MU-MIMO, the short term for multiple users online at once, is possible here, so no one has to be kicked off or deal with a crappy connection. This is ideal for packed households, homes with numerous gaming consoles, and small office spaces.
Performance is flexible due to the use of two independent networks that work together to support both 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz channels. This is what you’d call a Qos (quality of service) router, where internet traffic is prioritized to let the most important stuff past through first. For example, streaming a work meeting on Google Hangout or an HD video will usually require more immediate attention than downloading a big file, and the Qos feature’s job is to pull out which things matter most. The AC1900 router goes for $149 (already $30 lower than similar routers, like this one by Netgear for example), but frequently drops down to $99.99.