A router is the kind of thing you rarely think about -- until it stops working.
And, take it from me, they do fail. Just the other day, in fact, the Internet connectivity in my house started acting super-flaky. Great throughput one minute, barely any the next. Strong signal near the router, unusual drop-off one floor up. (Maybe antenna failure? Hard to say, as my Cisco Linksys router's antennas are internal.)
Luckily, I had an older router on hand. I swapped it in and, boom, problem solved. So here's my advice to you: Get an inexpensive spare router and keep it around for exactly this purpose. Or, if you're already experiencing connectivity issues, get an inexpensive new router and see if it solves your problem.
Either way, here: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Newegg has the TRENDnet TEW-711BR 802.11n Wi-Fi router for $4.99 shipped. Well, OK, it's $14.99 shipped, but then you redeem a $10 mail-in rebate (PDF), which comes in the form of a prepaid debit card.
Let me note straight away that deals like these tend to go very quickly. Hope you're able to get to one before they sell out!
This is, unsurprisingly, a fairly no-frills router, albeit one offering one-touch Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), all the usual security options (including WPA2), quality-of-service (QOS) features, and a three-year warranty.
It has four 10/100 Ethernet ports and a wireless range of up to 150 feet. There's also built in "GreenNet" technology that promises lower power consumption.
For any router you're considering, you've got to look to the user reviews to see how it fares in the real world. This one averaged four out of five, er, eggs from over 30 customers. That's about as good as it gets. (Seriously, check other router reviews and you'll see what I mean.)
Call me crazy, but I think it's a good idea to keep a spare router on hand. And for five bucks? Now it's an excellent idea.
Bonus deal: A few weeks back, Expansys was offering cheap deals on an assortment of Google Play Edition smartphones. One of them just got a little cheaper: You can now buy the HTC One M7 Google Play Edition (32GB) for $359.99, plus about $10 for shipping. This is an unlocked LTE phone that's compatible with any GSM network (meaning you can use it at home and abroad).
Bonus deal No. 2: Regular readers know my stance on video games: wait, wait, wait. The cool new title that's $60 now will cost you a fraction as much if you can be patient. To wit: GameStop has preowned copies of Mass Effect 3 for Xbox 360 for $2.99. (Shipping is extra, though you may be able to find it for in-store pickup.) That's three bucks for one of the top-rated games of 2012!