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Review: Android-based Wi-Fi stumblers

Four easy-to-use wireless management and security tools that cost under $2

By Eric Geier, Network World
March 19, 2012 07:03 AM ET

Network World - Wi-Fi stumblers are handy when checking for channel usage, signal strength, security status, and detecting rogue access points, in situations where enterprise-level tools aren't necessary. We recently reviewed stumblers for your PC or laptop. Here's a look at a few Wi-Fi stumblers for your Android smartphone or tablet, which makes it even more convenient for quick and simple wireless checks.

Meraki WiFi Stumbler (Free)

This is one of the most basic Wi-Fi stumblers, but can still be useful for simple channel and signal checks for access points in the 2.4GHz band.

Once you open it, you'll find a small bar graph showing how many access points are detected per channel (1 - 11 only), which can quickly help you identify possible channel overlapping. It also displays in numerical values how many SSIDs and access points are detected. You'll also find a SSID list, displaying the channel(s), signal (RSSI in dB), security type, and any detected access point vendor. Though it displays the security type, it doesn't distinguish between the personal (PSK) and enterprise (EAP) modes of WPA or WPA2.

Stumbler

It automatically sorts the SSID list alphabetically and doesn't let you sort by any other means, which could be an issue when browsing through a dozen or more SSIDs. It does however group access points with the same SSID and represents them as one entry on the main list. But the signal shown will only represent the access point with the highest signal.

When you click on an SSID (whether one or more access points), it displays the BSSID/MAC address of the access point(s) and a small live line graph of the signal over a minute in time. Only the AP with the highest signal is charted on the line graph, but it displays numerical signal values next to each AP on the list.

On the bottom of the app you'll find a convenient Email Results button. Tap it and it will automatically summarize the scan results in the body of a message and also attach a CSV document, which includes the relevant details and the GPS coordinates as well.

Wifi Analyzer (Free)

This is a more advanced Wi-Fi stumbler, giving you multiple ways to view the access point details. In addition to the common 2.4-GHz band, it also supports the 5-GHz band on supported devices. Though by default it's Active Directory-supported, you can actually hide the ADs for a week at a time via the Settings.

Watch a slideshow version of this story.

The access point list displays access point details: SSID, BSSID/MAC address, security, channel (1-14), and signal (in negative dBm) via a graphical bar and numerical readout. It automatically groups access points with the same SSID and lets you expand to see each individual access point entry. You can sort the access point list by channel, signal, openness, alphabetically, or in natural order.

Though by default it only shows WPA or WPA2, you can make it show full security methods via the Settings. Then you can distinguish between the PSK and EAP modes of WPA/WPA2 and the TKIP and CCMP encryption types.

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