REVIEW: 5 top hardware-based Wi-Fi test tools

A look at penetration testers and airwave monitors from AirCheck, Cape Networks, EyeQ, NetBeez and WiFi Pineapple.

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Software tools for testing Wi-Fi can run on a laptop, but dedicated hardware tools offer the convenience of a sometimes less cumbersome form-factor that are compact enough to fit in the pouch of a laptop bag.

This article looks at five of these devices: AirCheck G2 Wireless Tester (NETSCOUT), Cape Networks Sensor, EyeQ Wi-Fi Monitor (7SIGNAL), NetBeez Wi-Fi Monitor and WiFi Pineapple Tetra.

+Also see: REVIEW: Mojo wireless intrusion prevention system; 8 Free Wi-Fi Stumbling tools+

The AirCheck G2 Wireless Tester is a tool that would be useful for any network pro that deals with Wi-Fi installs or troubleshooting regularly and prefers not to toot along their laptop to get measurements. It’s a solid custom-made Wi-Fi stumbler and analyzer with a simple ethernet tester built-in.

The WiFi Pineapple Tetra is a one-of-a-kind penetration or ethical hacking tool for wireless-based attacks. It’s certainly for those pen testers out there, but can also be great for those that just like to geek out or get some hands-on Wi-Fi security experience.

The three Wi-Fi sensor solutions we reviewed all have their own pros and cons:

The Cape Networks solution has the best GUI and sports some good advanced functionality, but requires that you purchase and deploy their hardware sensor, of which there is currently only one model offered.

The EyeQ platform offers two different hardware sensors and also allows you to deploy sensor software onto your existing computers and mobile devices, but it’s lacking when it comes to the GUI and advanced functionality.

The NetBeez solution also allows both hardware and software based sensor deployment with some great advanced functionality, and even supports wired monitoring. But their hardware has more of a home-made look and feel and software deployment is limited to GNU/Linux machines and devices.

AirCheck G2 Wireless Tester

The AirCheck G2 Wireless Tester is a handheld Wi-Fi stumbler, troubleshooting and performance testing tool by NETSCOUT. Although the tester is available a la carte, they sent the kit (model number AIRCHECK-G2-TA-KT), which adds an external directional antenna for better assistance in locating Wi-Fi devices and a test accessory that plugs into the wired network to act as iPerf server for performance testing over the Wi-Fi. The kit sells for $3,095 on Amazon.

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