Wireless Router or Wireless Access Point?

Joseph asks, “I have heard about wireless routers and wireless access points. What is the difference and what would I need for a home wireless network with broadband dsl connection?”
Depending on who you ask a wireless router and wireless access point might be the same thing. In general, wireless access point implies connectivity to a wireless network, while wireless router implies connectivity to a wireless network plus some additional security features associated with a hardware router. The second part of your question about which to choose for your DSL connection is complicated by not knowing what you already have in place, but I’ll make some basic suggestions to help in the decision process.
A wireless access point is exactly that, a point of access for your computer to connect wireless to a network. The access point makes itself known to other wireless devices (like the wireless card in your computer) by broadcasting an SSID which then displays in the list of available wireless networks on your computer. The wireless access point acts as a gateway to connect your computer to other computers on the local network and out to the Internet (usually by passing through a router or hub). A wireless access point also typically provides WEP or WAP encryption for data transmission across the wireless portion of the network.
Wireless routers have all the features described above associated with wireless access points, with added firewall and routing functions for your data. The firewall helps prevent inbound connections from the Internet from accessing data on your PC, just like the software firewall on your computer. The advantage of a firewall at the router level is a layer of protection before your computer is ever reached, similar to putting up a fence around your yard to keep people further away from your front door. The routing components are useful depending on how many computers are on your home network and what you plan to do with those computers. One component of routing is enabling two or more computers to communicate with each other behind the protection of your firewall. If you want to share your printer with other computers in your house, you can do it without also making that printer available to everyone else in your neighborhood. The other component of routing is providing specific access to services on your computer from the Internet at large, the most common of these at the moment being the online aspects of many PC games or the file sharing components of BitTorrent.
In deciding which option is better, the key is to look at what you already have in place. If you already have a router, you might not need a second router on your network, an access point may suffice. On the other hand, if you have a broadband connection and no router, getting a wireless router provides the added benefit of additional protection for your PCs as well as the required wireless connectivity.