Wi-Fi took homes by storm in 2001 with ever-cheaper residential gateways that combined a full-featured access point (AP) with minimal firewall support and often multiple Ethernet ports for also attaching wired local area networks (LANs).
There are at least a dozen minor and major brand name makers of home gateways, including the big boys like Proxim, Intel, and 3Com; computer companies repackaging and reformulating other makers' devices (Apple and others); and a whole group of high-quality consumer-oriented firms including Linksys, D-Link, SMC, and Buffalo.
Many of these units now cost $100 to $150. Some of these devices come in several configurations with varying options: printer sharing or not; modem port or not; Ethernet switch or not. These home gateways generally lack the network management and service robustness needed for corporate infrastructure, but are over and above the needs for a home or small office that has less than a few dozen machines. For networks without wireless servers, any of these units should be far above adequate.
New, faster draft 802.11g equipment is just hitting the market in early 2003 for slightly more than 802.11b gear -- it has a rated speed of 54 Mbps versus b's 11 Mbps speed, but it requires full backwards compatibility with existing 802.11b equipment. (Don't confuse 802.11a and 802.11g: the "a"a flavor -- which is one of two approved Wi-Fi specs -- works on a different frequency range from 802.11b and g, but also has a top rate of 54 Mbps.)
Where manufacturers have multiple similar models, I've tried to point to the cheapest, simplest one and indicate features and costs for the higher-priced alternatives.
View the full comparison matrix with explanations of each term. You may want to print the matrix.