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Wi-Fi Router Charts

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Closing Thoughts

Peer-to-Peer may be the domain of bootleggers, slackers and cheapskates today, but it probably will play an important part in the legal distribution of video in the not too distant future. Real-time video streaming, particularly of HD content that doesn't have the "H" compressed out of it, simply won't scale to the level needed for the content providers to make a decent buck.

So somewhere, sometime, the download experiments that movie providers like Movielink and CinemaNow are running will probably become a part of the normal video content distribution / acquisition system. And when that happens, it will be important for routers to be able to handle more than a handful of simultaneous connections. (See this article by Robert X. Cringely for his take on who the "legit" P2P players are likely to be.)

So assuming you buy the premise that your router needs to handle P2P, should you buy only the top performing RangeMax 240? In reality, most of the products tested will probably work fine on the broadband connections that most of you appear to have, judging from our recent poll on Internet download speed. Given download speeds between 5 and 10 Mbps and more limited upload speeds, you'll probably only be able to open at most less than a dozen up and download streams. The possible exception is the original Netgear WPN824 RangeMax, which was the only product to fail the 64 connection test.

However, if you've got a nice, speedy 30 Mbps fiber connection, then you probably would want to aim for the Netgear RangeMax 240, or the D-Link DI-634M, DGL-4300, or its wired only twin the DGL-4100. Any of these should serve you nicely given that they support up to 128 simultaneous connections.

Finally, be aware that most ISPs monitor for P2P traffic and rather than threaten you with service termination, simply dial down your bandwidth. So while most of these routers may up to the challenge of handling high-bandwidth P2P traffic, you may find that when you go to fire them up, your big ol' pipe gets pinched down into a little bitty straw, which is no fun at all.

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