Firstly, routers don't install, so there really is very little "messing around".
Is it as difficult as it sounds? No.
Idiot-proof guides? I'm working on one, but it's not finished. Still, you might find the present content of some use click here
I usually opt for 3Com, Linksys or Belkin depending on who/what/how/etc. The 3Coms have a nice best-of-both-worlds approach, with a wizard that actually works well and a config interface that is well laid out and very tweakable. Good build quality (likewise Linksys).
Look for the 3Com 3CRWDR100A, the Linksys WAG354G or the Belkin 7632 (not the 33).