Access point: How to choose the best in 2021?
Do you have problems with the WiFi signal distribution in your home, company or business? Today we are going to talk about the network device that has everything to help you: The access point.
Able to distribute the WiFi signal with exceptional efficiency, the access point is a perfect solution for those looking to improve the range and speed of navigation in a large space. But how to choose the best model? And how exactly to use this device? Stay with us to know everything you need to know about the subject!
First, the most important
- The access point is the best device for distributing WiFi signal. It has a greater range than other devices and allows a huge number of simultaneous connections.
- It is possible to install an access point in several places, especially shops and companies. It is recommended for large areas or where many people use the internet.
- Access points can be used in three different modes: Root, repeater and bridge. You must make the correct configuration before using the device.
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The best access point models: Our opinion
To begin, we will introduce you to some access point models that are among the best on the market. We have made a selection of products that meet different needs and that will surely make you satisfied!
- The most complete access point
- The best cost-benefit
- The access point for those looking for greater reach
Do you know what benefits an access point can provide for WiFi distribution in a given location? Don’t worry: The buying guide is the sector where we will explain all the details about this network device!
We select the most common questions about the access point and prepare complete answers for each one!
What is an access point and what is it for?
When we need to fill a large area with WiFi signal, whether residential or business, we often suffer from the router’s range. Places like schools, hotels and houses with many rooms are without access to the internet in important areas.
The access point, also called AP, is the device that best solves this problem today. It works as a “filter” that, installed at a certain point, removes the noise from the signal and recovers it completely, making a retransmission with a wide range.
In addition to the range, which is usually huge, reaching up to 200 meters, the access point still allows a great number of simultaneous connections and manages to make this signal distribution without loss of speed to any point.
To work perfectly, the access point is connected via cable with the device that originally receives or distributes the signal, which can be a modem, router or switch.
Did you know that WiFi technology is Hawaiian? In 1971, the company ALOHAnet managed to connect the islands that form the archipelago of Hawaii without using wires, which was a huge feat at the time.
It is clear that data transmission was very low at that time and that technology had to evolve a lot to reach what it is today: In 1997, the first domestic models were sold at 2 Mbps, a derisory value compared to what is currently achieved.
What are the advantages of an access point?
The access point is the device that best manages to redistribute WiFi signal available on the market. It does this by maintaining high speed in all directions and until the end of its range, in addition to allowing many people to connect at the same time.
Other devices, such as simple routers and wifi antennas, do not have the same signal distribution or reception capacity. So there is a lot of difference between what they can deliver in relation to the access point.
We can say that the access point does not repeat or enhance the signal. He receives it, cleans and redistributes it. That’s why there is no loss of performance.
Security is another strong point of the access point. It allows full access to the network administrator, who can view which devices are connected and how they act. Thus, any suspicious activity can be banned.
The only disadvantages of the device are the high value and the fact that it is not worth it for small areas: A simple repeater can do the job quite efficiently in this case.
See below the main advantages and disadvantages of the access point:
Access point or router?
But if you already have a routed modem, capable of transmitting the signal, you may wonder if it is better to use an access point or a router to do the distribution. In that case, it depends on some aspects!
The main one is the distance to which you need to take the signal. Routers are rarely able to be efficient for more than 100 meters, and even when they do, there is a loss of speed. Therefore, for large areas the access point is always recommended.
The connection capacity of an AP is also superior. And all of this is reflected in the price!
Therefore, if you need to distribute a signal over a large area, with more than 100 square meters, it is better to use an access point. Below that, we recommend the router with the support of some repeaters.
We compare the equipment in the following table:
For which locations is the use of an access point recommended?
As mentioned above, you will not install an access point in your home unless it is very large. For residential environments, this device is recommended only when the built land exceeds 100 square meters.
However, there are many places where the use of the access point is essential. For example: Business buildings, hotels, schools, universities, large restaurants and places with considerable movement of people.
If you need a connectivity solution in a shopping center or in a building occupied by several different stores and companies, the access point is a great option due to the range and the large capacity for simultaneous connections.
Supermarkets, large department stores and common areas of condominiums are also places where the installation of the access point is recommended!
What are the ways of using an access point?
When choosing your access point, you may come across a specification on which modes the device works. There are three possibilities: Root, repeater and bridge.
So that you can easily understand the difference between each mode, we explain what each means below:
- Root mode (default): It is the most used. In it, the access point serves as the basis of the internet signal, a role that the router plays in most homes.
- Repeater mode: When used in this way, the access point receives a signal distributed by another device, such as a router, and repeats it, making the range longer. It may be a good distance from the original device.
- Bridge mode: Rarer, it is used when it is necessary to make a connection between two different devices. Imagine, for example, two buildings separated by 100 meters and a router in each. The access point can be halfway and allow the signal to reach everywhere.
It is important to know the access point modes both to buy the correct model, and not to make mistakes in the settings!
How much does it cost and where to buy an access point?
The range, frequency, power and quality of an access point are the main factors influencing the price. The simplest models cost between R $ 200 and R $ 400, while the most recommended for heavy use can reach R $ 1,000.
Stores specializing in computers and communication solutions for companies are the most recommended for the purchase of an access point. We recommend that you make your purchase over the internet, as you will find a greater variety of models in stores like Amazon. See also Amazon international.
Purchasing criteria: What to consider when choosing an access point
We have already shown you the advantages and benefits of an access point, as well as in which situations to use it. Now, we need to discuss technical criteria that will help in choosing the best model. We selected four:
- Traffic capacity
- Frequency and speed
- Ease of installation
Below, we go into more detail about each of them!
How many people use WiFi from the location where you plan to install the access point? If it is a considerable number, such as in a shopping center or a business building, it is important to pay attention to the traffic capacity of the chosen model.
Almost all access points allow at least 100 simultaneous connections, but this value can eventually be much higher. For uses in less busy places, a simpler device will do the job well. However, in some cases the ideal is to choose a model with higher capacity.
Another account you need to make before choosing an access point model is what area it needs to reach. This way, you will know exactly what to look for in this specification when making the purchase.
Range is one of the great advantages of the access point and, if you need to cover areas up to just over 100 square meters, any model will suffice. Above that, it becomes necessary to have a device that offers better territorial coverage.
Frequency and speed
Devices that transmit WiFi signal work mainly on two frequencies: 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz. The first is older and does not allow such a high speed, while the second is modern and is not present in all models.
The 2.4 Ghz frequency can distribute the signal with a maximum speed of 300 mbps. As much as it is more than enough for navigation in public places, such as restaurants or shopping centers, it can leave something to be desired for hotels, business buildings and schools.
Choosing a model already capable of proving the frequency of 5 Ghz helps to reach speeds of around 800 mbps, ideal for all types of navigation. The investment is slightly higher, but in many cases it is worth it.
Ease of installation
Installing an access point is not very complicated. The device must be connected to the modem or router with a cable and be connected to the socket, and that is where the questions related to the physical part stop. The biggest problem may be when making the settings.
In addition to adjusting the way the device is used, it will be necessary to complete all the necessary settings so that the signal is distributed perfectly. In some models this may be easier, in others, not so much. In any case, it is possible to call a technician if serious difficulties arise.