CNET's roundup of top networking devices

CNET editor Dong Ngo's collection of top-rated networking devices for the first half of 2011.

A good router is the essence of a robust home network. In the photo: the Web interface of the Asus RT-56U, the only wireless router that earned CNET's Editors' Choice Award during the first half of 2011.
A good router is the essence of a robust home network. In the photo: the Web interface of the Asus RT-56U, the only wireless router that earned CNET's Editors' Choice Award during the first half of 2011. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

When it comes to home networking, we tend to pay attention to the central device, namely the router or the gateway unit, only when something is not going right. But that's not because we're forgetful. Good networking devices are designed to be taken for granted: the longer users can forget about them, the better the devices are.

In order for you to easily forget about them, they need to be easy to use as the initial setup process can be intimidating. Once in a while, you want to add new devices--say, a friend's laptop--to the wireless network and don't want that to take too much time, either. Also, as your home network evolves, you'll want to use more and more features, such as network storage or even power line networking, which turns your home's electrical wiring into that of a network.

For a wireless router, you also want it to support dual-band and offer the highest wireless speed over the longest possible distance.

Finally, none of us wants to have to take a loan in order to afford a robust home wireless network. The good news is, more often than not, we don't have to. Wireless routers are getting more and more affordable while progressively offering more features and faster speeds.

Below you'll find our lists of the best routers and wireless networking devices CNET has reviewed so far in the first half of 2011. If you're looking to implement a wireless network or improve an existing one for your home or even a small office, these are worth taking a look at.

Best 5 wireless routers.

Best networking devices.

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