Setting up your Wireless Home Network
The first choice you need to make is your primary wireless network technology. This is the network itself, the medium on which you’re working – you need to decide how all of your devices should communicate with each other.
Exactly what that means depends on your own goals, but you can do well to remember certain key points to keep in mind. Most notably
Bandwidth: Modern streaming media or download services move a lot of data, and most networks will see at least some use of such functionality. You need to maintain the ability to make use of these services; if your wireless network doesn’t have sufficient bandwidth, its other advantages are a moot point.
- Compatibility: Understand the devices that you intend to use, and find out which standards they support. There are plenty of similar-looking specifications out there, but only a few front runners see any sort of wide use. If nothing supports the technology that you want to use, than the technology won’t be usable.
Power consumption: A standard that uses more power for broadcasting its signal will have better range, but – in portable devices – it’ll also burn through the battery more quickly. Depending on what you need from your network, you may care more about the range or the power use – but it’s important either way.
WiFi vs. Bluetooth – Which Wireless Network Technology?
WiFi is the most common standard for working with Internet connections and home or business networks. Based on the IEEE’s 802.11 specifications, WiFi is targeted at long ranges, high bandwidth, and security; most of the wireless devices on the market are compliant with the WiFi standards.
It’s designed for setting up wireless local area networks, and it excels at that – but you need a fair bit of configuration to set a device up, making it somewhat inconvenient for the sorts of small networking jobs intended to simply connect one machine to its peripherals.
Bluetooth is designed for just that task. It broadcasts on the same frequencies that WiFi does, but at lower power; unlike WiFi, Bluetooth is intended to supplement as oppose to replace a local area network.
WiFi connects to a router to a computer in an organized, top-down fashion, where Bluetooth connects a computer to peripherals or other computers in a more ad-hoc manner.
Generally, it’s not well-suited for large, multi-user networks; Bluetooth is intended for personal networking. If you have, say, one computer and a printer, it’s the simpler, easier way to handle networking them.
There’s no wrong answer here. What matters most of all is that you use the wireless network technology that suits your own purposes.