A wireless router is the core component of any home network and the latest standard is called 802.11ac. If you're upgrading your router, it's well worth investing in one as it will become the standard which all tablets, smartphones and other Wi-Fi equipment use over the next couple of years. It's much faster than 802.11n - the current standard - and offers better range, too.
Top models cost upwards of £150, but there are cheaper options, such as BT's Home Hub 5. If you want to get the benefit of 802.11ac with your current laptop (which doesn't support 802.11ac) then you need a USB dongle. Ideally you want a USB 3 dongle, and a free USB 3 port on your laptop to get the best speed.
Powerline networking adaptors
Some homes are too large for any single wireless router to cover, so powerline networking adaptors (also known as HomePlugs) can be useful. These make your mains wiring double up as network cables, sending data along the copper wires already in your walls. You plug one in next to your router and another in the room in which you need internet access. Most adaptors offer only an Ethernet port, which you'd use to connect a PC. However, if you need Wi-Fi, make sure you buy a kit in which one of the adaptors has built-in Wi-Fi.
These are often called range extenders, but it's a confusing area as there are other standalone plugs which repeat your router's signal and aren't powerline networking adaptors.
The beauty of powerline networking adaptors is that you don't need to use them in pairs. You could start with two, and add single adaptors when you need to add a network connection in a new room.
If you travel abroad regularly, a portable router could be handy. You can use it to share an internet connection in a hotel room, and some models also have a SIM card slot so you can share mobile broadband. Some are battery powered, while some require mains power. Don't assume that those with a SIM card slot support 4G - they may be limited to 3G, so check our reviews first.
Here are the best networking products you can buy in the UK in 2014/2015: