Very few subscribers to cable Internet service put much thought into the cable modem that will be used for the data connection. The cable company will happily lease whatever modem it has available, but this may not be the best cable modem for the subscriber. In addition, the cable company will charge up to $10.00 per month for leasing one of its modems, and if the subscriber plans on keeping cable Internet for any length of time, leasing a modem could become an expensive proposition. It makes much more sense to purchase a modem, which will pay for itself in only six to 12 months. For those who do not know much about this indispensable piece of Internet equipment, the following guidelines concerning how to choose the best cable modem may be of great benefit.
The most important factor when choosing the best cable modem is to make sure that it is compatible with the cable provider’s Internet service and the subscriber’s computers and Internet-connected electronics. When properly cared for, a cable modem can last for up to a decade, which makes it difficult to predict whether the service and equipment will continue to be compatible for the duration of the modem’s life. However, if the subscriber is apt to switch service providers, it would be prudent to make sure the modem is also compatible with the services offered by the cable company’s competitors.
Most cable providers can provide a list of compatibility specifications for cable modems, but if such a list is not available, then a subscriber will have to do some research. To begin, the subscriber should ask which models of cable modems are being leased to customers. Then, he or she can find the specifications of the modems online and search for similar models.
Reliable Cable Modems
It should go without saying that the best cable modems are usually those that are the most reliable. Some minor brands or unbranded modems are notoriously unreliable and may fail within the first year. However, some of the big electronics companies have models of modems that are known to work reliably until advances in technology dictate replacements. Independent, online reviews are a great way to discover the most reliable brands and models of modems. Another great way to find a reliable cable modem is to ask at local electronics stores. However, subscribers should be careful when asking inexperienced sales clerks. The best information typically comes from service technicians.
Cable Modem Warranties
Once a cable subscriber has put in the research to find the most reliable cable modem, long-term warranties are not an issue. However, a defective product may slip through quality control for even the most reliable brands and models. Most defective modems can be recognized upon first use, and most of those that do not present a problem on the first day will fail within a few months. A manufacturer’s warranty of one year should suffice. A two-year or three-year warranty is ideal, but it is generally not worth the money to pay for additional warranty time. Chances are that the money paid for an extended warranty or a store warranty will be wasted.
Cable Modem Installation and Use
Internet subscribers who are not technologically savvy will find that the best cable modems are those that are easy to install and use. Good cable modems are plug-and-play devices. Installation should require nothing more than connecting a coaxial cable, an Ethernet cable and a power adapter. The entire process should take no more than three or four minutes. Cable modems that also double as wireless routers will be a bit more complex but should be comparable to any other wireless router.
Once the modem is installed, it should work flawlessly. Experiencing a few occasional hiccups that require turning off the modem and turning it on again is normal, but these instances should not occur more than a couple of times per year. The best cable modems will have a series of LED lights on the front that can help with troubleshooting any problems that may occur. These lights should have definite meanings and be easy to interpret.
Make Sure the Modem Fits the Space
Cable modems vary significantly in size and weight. Cable subscribers with limited space should be sure that the modem is going to fit. The size of the modem has nothing to do with its quality or reliability. A size should be chosen based on available space and ease of use. Small modems are easily moved and transported, but the lights may be difficult to read.
Basic modems are highly desirable because they are simple to install and use, but several models are available with additional features, such as wireless routing. Modems with built-in wireless routers are more expensive than basic modems, and the quality of the router may not match the quality of dedicated routers. A subscriber without wireless devices will want to purchase a basic modem and add a wireless router when it is needed.