January 19, 2005

Best WiFi Seeker, Finder, Detector, Locator Roundup

Handtops.com has a great comparison review of just about every WiFi detector currently available on the market. Included are photos, summaries, usage tests, a feature comparison chart, and more. The following devices are covered:

  • Smart ID WiFi Detector - WFS-1
  • PCTEL WiFi Seeker (made by Chrysalis Development)
  • Kensington WiFi Finder Plus
  • Hawking Technologies WiFi Locator - HWL1
  • Canary Wireless Digital Hotspotter - HS10
They left out the original Kensington WiFi Finder, which as they aptly stated, "had very poor reviews online so we weren't disappointed about it's exclusion from our roundup." However, the new Kensington "Plus" model received a more favorable reception this time around (pardon the pun).

Quite newsworthy is the Canary device listed above, as it is the first and only WiFi detector I've seen which includes an LCD screen to display the wireless network's SSID (network name), channel, and encryption status so you know whether it's an open network without having to boot up your laptop. If multiple overlapping networks are present, repeat the scan as needed to view their information. Finally, someone has been paying attention to our suggestions.

Kudos to Handtops.com for compiling and publishing one of the most useful and nicely formatted reviews I've read in a while. The author(s) thoughtfully declined to declare a winner, simply because each device has its trade-offs. People's needs and tastes for these devices tend to vary. In this regard, the information provided should help most folks select an appropriate device depending on signal sensitivity, size, weight, cost, and information displayed.

Keeping score in the product-branding department: Have we used up all the good WiFi detector synonyms yet? For you sports fans, we've now used "Finder", "Detector", "Seeker", "Locator", and the trendy-sounding "Hotspotter" -- making it ever more challenging to find them all with a single search string.

Let's see, what's left: The WiFi Sensor? Surveyor? Recognizer? Informer? How about The BeeGee? (oops, that one is really close to a well-known pop group -- but like the racing airplane, it could be small and fast). Or will we see more sporty names like "The GlobeTrotter" or "The DoubleTake" (for dual WiFi and Bluetooth detection)? Anyway, enough fun. Place your bets.

Topic(s):   Mobile Tech & Gadgets
Posted by Jeff Beard