AirMagnet Goes Small

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2008-04-15 Print this article Print

Review: The device is small enough to make it less cumbersome to walk the halls, yet it has a screen large enough to accurately trace a walked path and see all the pertinent information and diagrams on screen.

Looking to get their portable products into the hands of a broader range of users and on a wider variety of devices, AirMagnet officials have ported both their Survey Pro 5.1 and Laptop Analyzer Pro 7.6 applications to the UMPC form factor, starting with the OQO 2.

The increased processing power and larger screen size that an ultramobile PC affords over standard handheld devices allowed Air??íMagnet to port the full laptop iterations of the applications, rather than its more conservatively featured handheld editions.

I found Survey Pro, in particular, to be an excellent fit for the UMPC form factor. The device is small enough to make it less cumbersome to walk the halls while collecting the survey data, yet it has a screen large enough to accurately trace a walked path and see all the pertinent information and diagrams on screen.

Survey Pro's data collection and signal mapping features are outstanding, allowing me to separately collect both passive (listening for beacons) and active (joining a wireless network) data to easily view the differences between a network at rest and in use.

Meanwhile, the product's simulation features allowed me to quickly predict the effects a new access point could have on the existing topology, without having to actually deploy the device.

The Pro version of Survey adds a handful of useful features, including AirWise expert, which allowed me to configure alerts for when signal strength or data rate thresholds fell below acceptable levels, and to create reports with which I could visually suss out signal strength, noise and interference on a per-AP or per-SSID (service set identifier) basis.

The Pro version also integrates with AirMagnet's Spectrum Analyzer, although that data will need to be collected on another device, since the OQO does not have a PC card slot-which is needed for AirMagnet's analyzer card.

On the other hand, I found Laptop Analyzer Pro a little difficult to work with on the UMPC form factor. I faced an awkward choice with the OQO: run at a low screen resolution and struggle with dialog boxes that did not fit within the confines of the screen, or run at a high screen resolution that made it rather difficult to read monochromatic, text-heavy pages such as the Policy Management screens.

However, on Laptop Analyzer's more colorful-and graphically depicted-Start, Channel and other analysis screens, it was fairly simple to discover and isolate troublesome security or performance incidents.

I learned the hard way that neither Survey nor Laptop Analyzer works on the new Windows Vista-based versions of the OQO 2. Both applications are Windows XP Professional-only for the time being, so if you just bought your OQO, you very well could be out of luck.

Prices will vary depending on the hardware and software combination you select. In my case, the full package ran $9,539 for the device and the Pro versions of Laptop Analyzer and Survey.

Survey Pro ($3,695) and Laptop Analyzer Pro ($3,995) can be purchased individually, and there are Standard versions of both applications (Laptop Analyzer, $3,495/Survey, $1,995) available with fewer features than the Pro editions.

AirMagnet resellers such as InfoLogix and PacketLogix are also offering bundles that include both the hardware and software components.

Senior Analyst Andrew Garcia is at

Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at

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