Virtually every internet service provider will supply you with some kind of free or cheap modem when you sign up with them. However, unless you're paying a premium for your internet service, 'cheap' is likely to be the most important word: the quality of the hardware, software and performance isn't likely to be stunning.
If you want to maximise your net connection, then, or if your old device simply gives up the ghost, a decent quality modem/router is a worthwhile purchase. And there's no bigger name in network equipment than Cisco.
The Cisco Linksys X3000 is the higher-end model in a new range of routers. Supporting both cable and ADSL 2+ connections, it's a sleek-looking thing. It's thin and small, yet comes with a full complement of four Gigabit Ethernet ports, support for 802.11b/g/n, and a USB port that lets you connect and share storage.
Setup is simple. Cisco has created some configuration software specifically for the Mac (dubbed Cisco Connect) which actually works really well.
Performance, too, was good. We compared the Wi-Fi strength using 802.11n with an Apple Time Capsule, and the X3000 consistently delivered higher signal strength and therefore speed. Connection speed over ADSL 2+ was always solid and reliable, with no line drops.
Overall, the X3000 is a well-made, easy-to-use router with all the features you're likely to need. Its one issue is that it's a little on the pricey side, but you can at least see the quality you're paying for.
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