It used to be that if you wanted to detect a WiFi network you had to pull out your laptop, boot it up, and scan for a signal.
Now, many manufacturers are selling portable WiFi detectors that fit easily in your pocket. The problem with the majority of these is they will only tell you if you've got a signal and the signal strength. The problem with that is there's no way to tell if the WiFi network is Encrypted or not. Today we take a look at a new next generation WiFi detector from Canary Wireless, their Digital Hotspotter. Not only can it detect opened and closed networks, it can tell you the SSID as well as other information.
The Digital Hotspotter is a small grey colored box about the size of a small tape measure. It features an LED display, control button and has a loop molded at the top that can be used with a lanyard or even a keychain ring. The unit also comes with batteries.
To use the Digital Hotspotter you simply press the white button. The unit will then scan for WiFi signals and will report whether or not it found one on the LED Display. IF you press the button again after the unit finds a network, it will search for another. After 30 seconds the unit automatically shuts itself off. This way there is no way of turning the unit on accidentally while in your pocket and fully draining the battery.
-Detect both 802.11b and 802.11g network signals.
-The Signal strength of the network.
-The SSID name of the network.
-Detect encrypted WiFi networks (WEP and WPA)
-Provides the channel number the network is using.
We used the unit for a period of two weeks under various conditions such as indoors, outdoors, and in a car. The Digital Hotspotter performed well in all cases, and the range of the unit was quite good. We were able to detect the office's network at a distance of 150 feet, and we think it could actually detect further than that.
One thing we didn't care for was the way the molded loop on the unit was designed. We tried with some difficulty to put it on a keychain ring, but we finally got it on. Another mark against it is that the Digital Hotspotter is about twice the price of its competitors.
-Detect encrypted WiFi networks
-Detect network channel
-Battery saving auto off