WiFi (also known as the IEEE 802.11 protocol stack) has become trivial after the boom of the Internet in the early years of the 21st century. Most residential Internet connection offerings in the market has turned the WiFi router an essential piece of hardward, mainly due to the plethora of devices without any form of physical (cabled) connection, like smartphones, tablets, digital music readers, etc.
There are dozens (if not hundreds) of different devices, with different funcionalities and connection speeds, but in essence, they all do the same. They allow simultaneous connections of several devices in you home or office to connect to the Internet via Ethernet cables or WiFi.
A few months ago I discovered the Banana Pi R1. This is a WiFi router unlike most.
Its hardware features make it a very powerful router, even capable os playing multimedia files (HD movies, mostly), mainly due to its HDMI connectivity.
|CPU||A20 ARM Cortex ‑A7 Dual-Core (Arquitectura ARMv7)|
|GPU||ARM Mali400MP2 Complies with OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1|
|Network||5x10/100/1000 Ethernet 8P8C (RJ45, 1 WAN port e 4xLAN), 802.11n Wi-Fi|
|Video input||CSI connection (compatible with Raspberry Pi)|
|Video output||HDMI, CVBS, LVDS/RGB|
|Audio output||Jack 3,5mm and HDMI|
|Power||5V 2A, via Micro USB|
|USB Ports||1x USB 2.0|
|Storage||MicroSDXC (up to 256GB), SATA 2.0|
|Operating systems||Android, Linux (several distributions), OpenBSD, FreeBSD (testing), Windows IoT Edition|
Comparing these features with a mainstream router of the same price range, we can clearly see the advantages. Below are the hardware features of the ASUS RT-AC66U:
|CPU||Broadcom BCM4706 (MIPS 74K architecture)|
|Network||5x10/100/1000 Ethernet 8P8C (RJ45, 1 WAN port and 4xLAN), 802.11ac Wi-Fi|
|USB ports||2xUSB 2.0|
|Storage||128MB + 2MB|
|Operating systems||AsusWRT-Merlin, DD-WRT, TomatoUSB|
The price tag is similar but, as you can see, the Banana Pi R1 is more expandable and also has a graphics processor, HDMI output and SATA port, which makes for a terrific media player.
In the second part, I’ll be talking about the available operating systems and how to install them.