MetaGeek inSSIDer for Office hands on
May 17, 2013 6 Comments
The unstoppable MetaGeek.
Talk about a company that knows their target audience! MetaGeek proves once again that they can pull off simple to use tools that incorporate legitimate (and sometimes difficult to get) data into a simple to use interface, targeted at a specific type of user. In this instance, MetaGeek has launched their inSSIDer for Office product – intended to provide the small office user unprecedented insight into their RF to help them make intelligent decisions about their wireless infrastructure.
The first thing you should know about MetaGeek is that they specialize in visualizing spectrum analysis data. This is the geek-out squiggly lines that your favorite wifi engineer loves to gaze at for hours on end (okay, maybe not – but you get the point). In inSSIDer for Office, they incorporate some pretty significant RF spectrum analysis data with a no-nonsense approach to telling what you need to know. This product is targeted squarely at the office user (and is named aptly). If you run a small office with a couple of wireless Access Points, you need this. inSSIDer for Office couples MetaGeeks WiSpy-Mini product in an easy to use form factor with your laptops existing wifi adapter to tell you not only what wireless networks are around you, but what the raw RF behind the scenes is doing. If you are experiencing interference from a microwave oven – or other wifi interferrer, this will show that quite nicely. Basically, if you’ve tried to use the netstumbler type products (even the free MetaGeek inSSIDer for home) but are looking for a low-cost ‘step up’ – this is it.
With an easy to use user interface, the main page of the application is broken up into four sections that logically flow from left to right starting with a good ‘Learn tab’ that gives you a good overview into what you’re about to see.
Following through the top tabs into Networks, Channels, and Analyze basically walks even the most novice user logically through visually displaying what they have in the air around them, what’s free/used, and gives you a really strong understanding about what’s going on in the non-802.11 world without needing a degree in understanding RF.
Once you’ve launched the application, the Networks tab gives you a wealth of information including a spectral mask view in the bottom of the page as well as a list of SSIDs in range of your adapter.
The first thing you should do is select your network from the list by moving up and down using the arrow keys then pressing the intuitive ‘s’ key for select. Once you’ve ‘starred’ your network(s), pop on over to the Channels view for a good Green/Yellow/Red view of your environment, then onto Analyze for an easy to read and understand ‘observed issues’ with your selected networks – including some no-nonsense advice for you such as, “Overlapping Starred Network: This condition will cause slow speeds on each network. Please use the standard non-overlapping channel scheme of 1-6-11.”. The application is deceptively easy to use but don’t let it fool you.
The fine folks over at MetaGeek once again have taken some very complex data, well beyond what you can get with the free tools, and incorporated it into an easy to use, accurate, and cost-effective tool for the small office environment. Any semi-tech savvy user, office admin, or support-geek will find that this pays for itself in very short order.
Full disclosure: I met up with the MetaGeek folks over at Interop recently where I spoke with them about inSSIDer for Office. They gave me a copy of the product to review without obligation. MetaGeek regularly supports such events as the Tech Field Day events and make products that even the most seasoned WiFi expert should have in their toolbag. I can’t wait to see what they come out with next!