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Old 11-02-2010, 06:53 PM   #1
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Computer cable modem/router


I guess you should know I'm no geek
I have comcast cable and renting their computer cable modem about $5.00 per month.
I want to buy a lap top perhaps a Sony around 15" with b/ray I expect to pay around
$750.00 to $800.00 around Christmas when the sales start.
I would like to buy my own modem with a built in router one compatable with the Comcast cable company. I have 42 inch Samsung hd tv two years old. So where am I going with this ?
I would like to be able to send a movie / pictures to the TV through the computer say ( Netflex ) I know a good Modem Router runs about $130.00. and I would like to retain my older ( 7 years old ) desk top too.
That's ok my limit is $1000.00 total. " Best Buy " will come out and do the set up for $150.00 If it's a hassel OK but if it's a matter of plug A into B
and so on ?
I see where the Netgear, D-Link and Linksys are rated best ?
Would they compatable with Comcast ?
How many ports do I need ?
I know there is someone who can use a simple term like, all you need is a X/Y system two special ( I guess ) cables call Comcast and return theirs,
Perhaps this will help many others with the same question.

Robut

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Old 11-02-2010, 08:55 PM   #2
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Cable Modem:
You should definitely do a little legwork to ensure the new cable modem will work. (Sorry, no easy answer to this part.)

It needs to conform to the Data over Cable Service Interface Spec 1.1 at the bare minimum. If you have bursting or other performance boosting services attached to your account, you need to go higher. Some helpful details here: http://mydeviceinfo.comcast.net/

I'm a network administrator, and I never lose any sleep renting my cable modem from the ISP. I get newer models when I want them, and if it breaks, I drive five minutes and get a replacement. Buying your own is indeed cheaper, but the break/fix process is arduous because the modem manufacturer will blame the ISP and vice versa.

Router:
I never go for those router/modem combo devices. That boils down to personal preference though.

Intellinet (hard to find,) TrendNet and SMC are good consumer-grade brands. Linksys varies from year to year, and I've seen too many Netgear and D-Link routers fail to ever recommend them.

Laptop:
Word to the wise: Don't buy Sony, and don't buy black friday or big box retailer 'sale' laptops. A <$400 laptop may seem like a good deal, but you will get exactly what you pay for: Last year's batch of Celeron boxes that they're trying to push out the door. I say this after having spent a few years working for a large retailer's tech bench.

Netflix:
Not a lot of people still use their PCs as media centers, which is what appears you're trying to do.

You might be interested to hear about a product called the Roku. Link here:
http://www.roku.com/

It's basically a box you connect to your TV that streams Netflix via wired or Wi-Fi. Ties into your existing Netflix account, no additional monthly cost. Easy peasy.


Last edited by RedHelix; 11-02-2010 at 10:48 PM.
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Old 11-03-2010, 04:58 AM   #3
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Thanks RedHelix
Thank you for all the input, Now I'll do some of that leg work
and track down some of these sites.
This is exactly why I went to DIY, There is always someone unbiassed who is willing to stir one in the right direction.

Thanks
Robut
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Old 11-03-2010, 06:04 AM   #4
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This is THE modem to get.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16825122009

It supports the newest standards which Comcast is in the process of switching to. You'll get better speeds out of a DOCSIS 3.0 compatible modem in the next year or so than anything older.

As far as routers go I still love the Linksys WRT54GL flashed to Tomato Firmware. There are newer, faster models available, but this one is one of the most reliable well supported devices out there today. It depends on what speeds you may need in the future as to whether it will be a bottleneck on you network or not.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-190-_-Product
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Old 11-04-2010, 09:25 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robut View Post
Thanks RedHelix
Thank you for all the input, Now I'll do some of that leg work
and track down some of these sites.
This is exactly why I went to DIY, There is always someone unbiassed who is willing to stir one in the right direction.

Thanks
Robut
It's my pleasure. If you need any input on purchasing decisions, I'll be happy to lend a hand.

poppameth also pointed out newegg, a great site that I forgot to mention.

I'm also a big fan of the WRT54G with custom firmware (I use DD-WRT on my Intellinet,) but probably only if you had a little background experience flashing a router. But even if you're just looking to buy, plug-in and forget, the WRT is still a good router.
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Old 11-04-2010, 06:44 PM   #6
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I use to use DD-WRT firmware. It's very good. So is Tomato. I tend to go Tomato now because it has all the features I need and is much easier to setup and use than DD-WRT. If you are a novice at this stuff, definitely go with Tomato. I've never had Tomato cause me any problems. DD-WRT can brick a router in a heartbeat if you do the slightest thing wrong. I've seen it brick two of these routers trying to do a simple firmware upgrade. Granted that was a few years back now.
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Old 11-05-2010, 11:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poppameth View Post
I use to use DD-WRT firmware. It's very good. So is Tomato. I tend to go Tomato now because it has all the features I need and is much easier to setup and use than DD-WRT. If you are a novice at this stuff, definitely go with Tomato. I've never had Tomato cause me any problems. DD-WRT can brick a router in a heartbeat if you do the slightest thing wrong. I've seen it brick two of these routers trying to do a simple firmware upgrade. Granted that was a few years back now.
Oh totally. DD-WRT is better suited for Cisco guys () who somehow have a need for multiple SSIDs and static routes, but don't wanna blow $400 on a home router

I also use it on a few of my subnets at work. It's crazy useful in a pinch.

But if you're just venturing custom firmware land and want to expand the functionality of your router without overloading it with features you won't use (and will break it if misconfigured,) Tomato is a better bet.

Last edited by RedHelix; 11-05-2010 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 11-05-2010, 02:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poppameth View Post
As far as routers go I still love the Linksys WRT54GL flashed to Tomato Firmware. There are newer, faster models available, but this one is one of the most reliable well supported devices out there today. It depends on what speeds you may need in the future as to whether it will be a bottleneck on you network or not.
why would you guys recommend a wireless router that is only B/G compliant? what about N?

Is there a reason to not use an N compliant router?
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Old 11-06-2010, 10:24 AM   #9
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The main reason not to go with N routers is that none of them are all that great at this point. There are way too many problem reports floating around. They may work just fine for average use but for anything more advanced they tend to start giving the user headaches. Hopefully that'll change soon. Wireless N signal hasn't been focused on as much as it should be because it's use is limited at this point. You can get blazing fast speeds transferring files across your network on Wireless N but as far as you internet connection goes, I don't think this is much in the US public sector than can even saturate a Wireless G bandwidth. Wireless N is fairly useless for internet use at this point. That'll change as service providers upgrade their networks and offer more speed. But until it is available, the companies making these routers aren't going to worry too much about how good the N devices really work since you can't test it anyway. Pay for a full scale Cisco and you probably find much better N capabilities.
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Old 11-06-2010, 11:33 AM   #10
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Wireless-N is extremely useful for a niche set of scenarios, but on the whole, it's more expensive and most people simply don't have a need for it.

N-Cards get a better signal gain when used with an N-Router of the same dBm as a G-Router counterpart, presumably because MIMO is built into the standard. (Note though that MIMO is also available on a lot of 802.11g equipment.) So if you live in a huge house and can't see your G router from the opposite corner, well, N might do the trick depending on placement and how the house is constructed. Unfortunately, you'll hit the same set of proverbial brick walls when dealing with factors that impact signal gains... such as, say, brick walls.

Wireless-N saved my butt when my company (development firm) needed to set up Wi-Fi at a construction site that had tons of high-voltage wires surrounding the building with the DMARC. G couldn't break through the interference, but a directional N came through clear as a bell.

When Draft-N was announced, it was hailed as a great way to stream multimedia within a LAN. But c'mon; with devices like Roku, Boxee, and newer Blu-Ray/DVD players, everything gets pulled directly from the internet. Poppameth hit the nail on the head: Yeah, you can brag about the 300 to 600Mbit/s on your router, but your ISP will grant you a fraction of a fraction of that.

(Let's just hope that ISPs ever upgrade their networks )

Last edited by RedHelix; 11-06-2010 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 11-08-2010, 12:53 PM   #11
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Interesting discussion..hope the following helps the OP and others. I have been thinking of upgrading my Linksys wireless G to Linksys wireless N. Why? Well...I'm paying Comcast for 16mbs download speed but only realizing a fraction of that. To confirm...I plugged my laptop directly into the Comcast modem...got right about 16mbs. Then plugged the router back in to the modem and whilst sitting in the exact same spot next to the router I only got about 9 or 10 mbs internet speed. Then I moved to further points in the house on my wireless network and saw my internet speed degrade with distance from my router. Why on earth would a G router rated (at least theoretically) at 54mbs not be able to keep up with a 16 mbs internet connection and only end up delivering at half that speed?? I had figured there's just some inherent latency/overhead in wireless...and that "theoretical" speeds are much different than experienced speeds....so am about to pull the trigger on the Linksys E3000 dual band N router. Is this not going to help? What gives?
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Old 11-09-2010, 05:51 AM   #12
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It could be crappy firmware causing the slowdowns. That's another reason the WRT54GL is so highly rated. It's a Linux based firmware and can be easily flashes to Tomato or DD-WRT to greatly enhance the performance of the router. The stock firmware on a lot of these things isn't that great.
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:28 AM   #13
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Interesting discussion..hope the following helps the OP and others. I have been thinking of upgrading my Linksys wireless G to Linksys wireless N. Why? Well...I'm paying Comcast for 16mbs download speed but only realizing a fraction of that. To confirm...I plugged my laptop directly into the Comcast modem...got right about 16mbs. Then plugged the router back in to the modem and whilst sitting in the exact same spot next to the router I only got about 9 or 10 mbs internet speed. Then I moved to further points in the house on my wireless network and saw my internet speed degrade with distance from my router. Why on earth would a G router rated (at least theoretically) at 54mbs not be able to keep up with a 16 mbs internet connection and only end up delivering at half that speed?? I had figured there's just some inherent latency/overhead in wireless...and that "theoretical" speeds are much different than experienced speeds....so am about to pull the trigger on the Linksys E3000 dual band N router. Is this not going to help? What gives?
Is this a relatively new development, or has your router always performed this way?

Couple of items:
-Each connection you add to 'the wire' results in a loss of throughput. Always. Your issue sounds a little disproportional, but we'll get to that.
-The Mbps you're paying for from your ISP is not guaranteed. You could very well get 16 one minute and 10 a few hours later. Have you experimented with this over an extended period of time?
-Does the router manufacturer have a firmware update available?

If you're positive the router is the culprit, my suggested COA would be to try a manufacturer firmware update, and if that doesn't take, look for an MTU setting and consult with your ISP to see if they recommend deviating from the default. (Usually 1500.)

As for the Wireless, 54Mbps is an extremely theoretical number to a point where you disregard it. When your Operating System reports that it's connected at 54Mbps, it's reporting on the theoretical maximum transfer speed, not actual. You're more likely to be exchanging the important data at 24-36Mbps, if that. (Which is still pretty darn fast.)

Last edited by RedHelix; 11-09-2010 at 07:30 AM.
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Old 11-11-2010, 08:43 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the very helpful info. I honestly don't know if this is a new development. We've had this service for about 3 years....and no one in the house is really complaining. It's more that I found www.speedtest.net... and so checked it out and when I saw the results I spoke to my ISP and they confirmed I'm getting the throughput I'm paying for to my modem. I actually did check my firmware and found it to be not the most current. I updated it last night and haven't check speed in every room in the house but it seems I do have some degree of improvement. I checked my MTU setting and it is indeed 1500. Lastly I do now realize that the 54mbps is purely theoretical. But I figured it would at least manage to handle 16mbps...one third of 54!!! Anyway...just tested the kids desktop upstairs...a Win 7 machine Core 2 Duo less than a year old...only getting about 5mbps. I've clearly learned that not only does signal decrease with distance but so does throughput. Seems like investing a one time amount in a N router will help me get better performance out of my monthly ISP fees.
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Old 11-12-2010, 03:33 PM   #15
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Piste- Do you know if your laptop has a "G" wireless network card? If it is older it may be a "B" wireless card which top out 11Mbps in theory.

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