Nuts About Nets' AirSleuth is a strong low-end contender

Score: 3.4 out of 5.0

AirSleuth Pro defines the low end of notebook-based spectrum analyzers today. At only $395 (with even less expensive - and less capable - versions available), this product, which is available in both USB and PC card versions, will get you basic 2.4 GHz. (no 5 GHz. capability is included) analysis. The hardware is old Proxim HomeRF (PC card) and Symphony (USB) adapters. Stifle those snickers, after all, these are being used only for detection, not communications, and their radios are more than serviceable at providing the data needed for basic spectrum capture and analysis functions. Setup was straightforward; load the software, reboot, install the driver, enter a registration code when it starts up, and you're off. No manual is provided, but a useful, if limited, help capability is available on the Web.

As might be guessed by the use of the off-the-shelf radios, responsiveness and resolution for this product were both lower than those of the other products tested - it's best to let this tool run for a while before evaluating any reported data. Still, AirSleuth Pro does a credible job of showing instantaneous energy in the 2.4 GHz. band, along with a heatmap of energy over time.

An interesting feature is an analysis of the "best" Wi-Fi channel, determined by cumulative energy sensed in each channel over time. This might be useful in very small installations, but would likely not help in larger deployments where the 1-6-11channel allocation is almost universally (but perhaps not optimally) applied. Another interesting facility is a network discovery capability, listing sensed Service Set Identifiers by channel, signal strength and quality and traffic density.

We have to say that we weren't crazy about the user interface (the dynamic re-scaling of some views made it hard to focus on the data), but there's an impressive array of functionality available here, especially considering the price. If only AirSleuth Pro could deal with the 5 GHz. bands, this product would have scored higher.

< Return to test: Analyze this: Low-cost WLAN spectrum analyzers do the trick>

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