Last week I mentioned the Canary Wireless Digital Hotspotter HS10, a full-featured WiFi detection and analysis device, and promised to post my thoughts on the device when I had gotten to try it out.
Well, I have mine, and have played with it, and highly recommend that you do too. The device is small, about 2 inches by 2 inches, and under an inch thick. It uses 2 AAA batteries (included), has a single line LCD display, and a single button. (It also has a cut-out at the top that looks like it may be intended for putting on a key ring, which I’d not do as the device is too bulky for that).
Press the button and the device starts scanning. As soon as it finds a network it displays a scrolling message in the form: SSID, signal strength (indicated by 1 to 4 bars), secure|open, channel. This message scrolls repeatedly until the button is pressed again and the next found network is displayed. The display keeps cycling through found networks, unless no network is found in which case it displays a “No AP found” message. There is no on/off button, the device turns itself off after 30 seconds.
I tested it in my house (it picked up my network, and several neighboring networks which my computer did not find), and all over my office. The Macromedia Michigan office is in a 28 story building, and I stopped the elevator at random floors and found lots and lots of open networks (including some with SSID’s of well-known companies). Oh, and apparently there are lots of open SSID’s named LINKSYS NETGEAR and DEFAULT (no surprise there).
I don’t know if it missed any networks, but I am amazed at what it found and at how fast it found them.
I do have two complaints about the device (although neither are overly serious). Firstly, the display needs a backlight. Secondly, the device should list how many networks it has found before showing the first (that way you’d not need to keep scanning unnecessarily).
But that being said, this device is well worth the $50 it cost me, and I highly recommend it.