What is a wireless access point? The wireless access point is the place for your wireless devices to connect to the network. There are two ways to log in to the network depending on what you learn about wireless routers: (1) through a wireless Access Point (2) through a wireless Router.
A Wireless Access Point is used to make wireless connections to an already existing network. When you consider what is a wireless access point, don't be confused by the name, an access point, and a router is both wireless access points. The one that is officially called an access point has one connection that is connected to the network hub and the wireless devices connect through this equipment to get to the network.
A Router is, in its most simple terms, a piece of equipment that connects to 2 different networks at the same time. It does this by having a network connection to your internal network and a connection to an external network. The external system is usually the Internet through a cable or DSL modem.
To understand wireless access point vs wireless router, you have to know that the Internet uses public IP addresses to send and receive data on the Web. These addresses are becoming scarce which is why you usually receive a dynamically assigned address when you connect to the Internet from your Internet Service Provider. That way, they can reuse that address when you are not using it. You can get a static address from you ISP if you have a need for one, but you usually have to pay a premium price to get it.
Your internal network might have anywhere from one to hundreds of computers connected. Each of these computers needs an IP address to be able to access the Internet, but you can't get that many public IP addresses.
A router is used to let you assign non-public IP addresses to your internal computers, and it uses the public IP address allocated to it to connect to the Internet. It then translates your internal address to the Internet address so that your computers can access the Internet. When data is received from the Internet, it knows which computer internally is waiting for the data and sends it to that computer.
A Wireless Router is a regular router just like a wired router but also lets you connect wireless devices to it. It is a wired router and wireless access point built into one device that can be used on a mixed wireless and wired network.
Answer these questions (yes or no) to see which type of access point you need to connect.
(1) I already have an existing wired network that I want to connect into?
(2) Am I building a new completely wireless network?
(3) Am I building a new wired and wireless network?
#1 = YES: You can purchase an Access Point if your existing network has a wired router to connect it to the Internet. If your network connects directly to the Internet without a router or you are adding Internet access to your network, you will need to purchase a Wireless Router.
#2 = YES: You will need to purchase a Wireless Router to be able to connect it to the Internet.
#3 = YES: You will need to buy a Wireless Router to be able to connect it to the Internet and the wired network.
As you can see, a Wireless Router can be used to connect to any of these configurations. The Access Point can only connect to an existing network, so to be on the safe side, you may want to purchase a router in case you want to make changes in the future by connecting hubs and routers.
By now, you should have determined which Wireless Standard you are going to use with your network after you know how to connect computers to wireless routers.
If you are building a complete network, I suggest that you purchase all of your equipment from the same manufacturer.