With Sony‘s announcement that they will have 4K streaming available soon, you should really be considering the speed of your wireless internet. Many consumers still struggle to stream HD video from providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Vudu (don’t even get me started on the ‘buffer’ time if someone else is on the internet in the house.) Needless to say, the future of Ultra-HD is coming and you might as well make an attempt at being able to stream it in all of it’s 4K glory.
Enter the next-generation of wireless connectivity, the ‘AC’ router and bridge. ‘AC’ refers to the latest home Wi-Fi standard “802.11ac.” Earlier versions include 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n. The 802.11ac standard calls for technologies to deliver data streams at a quicker speed by making more bandwidth accessible, using dual bands at 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and “beamforming” to focus the data stream to the receiving device, i.e. a Smart TV, media player, an AC bridge, etc. In layman’s terms, Wi-Fi 802.11ac routers make it possible to stream a lot of stuff while meeting the demands of HD video streaming.
It is pretty standard for the numbers in the router model number to indicate its speed potential. Western Digital’s AC router MyNet AC1300 can stream up to a combined 1.3 Gbps, the Linksys 6500 AC1750 can stream 1.75 Gbps when using the joined 2.4GHz and 5 GHz bands. While ‘AC’ routers have been available for a little over a year, client devices such as media players and Smart TVs have been slow-moving in adding the required 802.11AC Wi-Fi (receiver). You can’t blame them, however, as the AC standard is just now being finalized and the qualifications were never determined.
It’s still practical to make use of an AC router when your media streaming devices don’t have an 802.11ac adapter by using an AC bridge wired-to-wireless adapter, which connects to up to four devices using Ethernet cables. It receives the 802.11ac Wi-Fi stream from the router and transmits the streaming video to your connected devices.
There are a plethora of home entertainment aficionados who still vow that the only way to be prepared for HD streaming is to connect Ethernet cables right to the modem. That is all well and good for homes that have a total wired solution and have giant switchers to accommodate a lot of streaming devices. But I’ve found that an AC bridge integrated with an AC router is an exceptional solution for streaming HD video. And, further more, you don’t have to worry about signal loss or subpar picture quality when your teenage son refuses to step away from Grand Theft Auto 5.
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