A wireless router is an electronic device that acts like a regular router, but performs its functions through a wireless access point (WAP). In other words, it is used for computer network connection and internet connectivity but without the need for cables. It is usually found in any house that has broadband connection. Because of the prevalence of laptops over desktop computers, it is the preferred connection nowadays.
A wireless access point or WAP, on the other hand, allows cabled communication devices to connect to a wireless network such as Wi-fi or Bluetooth. It can relay data between wireless devices; such as laptops, printers, gaming consoles, mobile phones and others. Because it is prone to misuse and abuse by other external wireless devices, most wireless routers have security features such as WPA-PSK, AES, WPA2, TKIP, WEP, IEEE802.1x, WEP and WDS encryption. These security features are very much recommended in both home and business networks.
These are the characteristics of most wireless routers today. They have LAN ports, which is like the network switch; WAN ports, for connection with wide area network (a computer network covering a broad are); and wireless antennae for connections from other wireless devices, using the Wi-fi.
Wireless routers too have a history, and there have been developments on it. Old wireless technologies use IEEE 802.11a and 802.11b standards. The former is capable of 5 GHz frequency with up to a maxium 54Mbps. On the other hand, the latter uses 2.4 GHz capable of up to a data rate of 11Mpbs.
With developments in technology, the next wireless routers followed the 802.11g standard. It uses the 2.4 GHz frequency but unlike the 802.11b, it is able to reach up to 54 Mbps. But today, latest wireless technologies use the 802.11n, which is usually referred to as 'Wireless-N' or 'N'. The 802.11n standard is capable of higher speed, reaching up to 150Mbps to 300Mbps. Most current wireless routers use this 'N' standard.
Major manufacturers of wireless routers nowadays are 3COM, Netgear, Belkin, Linksys, Buffalo Technology, D-Link, TP-Link, Apple Inc., ZyXEL Communications Corp. and Wifirobin.