Wifi Analyzer

This tool is useful for home-network troubleshooting, as well as for finding open networks on the road.

Wifi Analyzer by Farproc is not for every Android user, but in the right hands it can be quite useful. At first glance the app can seem a bit intimidating--in fact, I would wager that it was designed for Internet service providers to troubleshoot wireless networks. But attentive users, if they do some careful prodding, may find this application to be pretty darn handy.

The app opens with a screen that analyzes the strength of your wireless connection. Now, even though I have no idea what "-100 to -40 dBm" means, I do know that grey typically means bad and green usually means good, and that in most cultures a needle pointing to the right is a good thing. This screen also gives you a clear idea of the strength of the wireless network.

With a swipe to the right, the app shows the various networks in the area, as well as their SSIDs, signal strengths, and--most important--whether they are "locked." One cool feature about this screen is that if you click on a network that is not locked, you can connect to that network directly from the app (provided that you download the auxiliary application Wifi Connecter Library).

The next screen asks you to set the "AP" and shows the assorted channels and their strengths. I wasn't too sure what to do with the information here, so I moved on. The screen after that shows a color-coded, continuous line graph detailing the signal strengths of the surrounding networks. On the last screen you can see which networks are using which channels. The app also offers a series of customizable features that I won't pretend to comprehend.

Among the maze of techno-jargon and complicated charts and graphs, I found some great uses for this app. For instance, you can identify the dead zones in your home network, spots where you wouldn't want to put your computer. You can also determine which channels are congested and set your home's wireless network on a less-frequented channel (for some reason, everyone in my neighborhood is on channel 11 or 6).

Lastly, if you travel often, this app gives you an easy way to determine if you are near an open network. With this app on the job, you won't find yourself taking out your laptop in a hotel just to realize that the network requires payment to obtain access.

Wifi Analyzer isn't for everyone. As a tool for setting up your home's wireless network or as a travel companion, though, this application will save you a great amount of time.

This story, "Wifi Analyzer" was originally published by PCWorld .

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