Review: Marware WiFi Spy

One button sniffs out wireless networks (July 6th, 2005)

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Product Manufacturer: Marware, Inc.

Price: MSRP $29.95 US

The Good

  • Easy to use and finds most wireless networks.

The Bad

  • Battery life varies depending on how it is used. Device has no battery life indicator.

Once you've untethered your laptop and discovered the ease of wireless Internet access, you might find yourself seeking useable wireless connections in unfamiliar areas. The surefire way is to turn your portable on, and set it to detect wireless networks. This is quite a bit of trouble when in transit.

Easy to Use Wireless Spy

Marware's WiFi Spy is a small device, 2-1/2" long by 1" wide and 3/8" thick, that easily locates wireless networks. Just hold out the device and press and hold the button. As it searches, the LED lights move back and forth. If there is a network in the area, they stop blinking and the number of lights reflects the strength of the signal. Four lights is a strong signal. You may need to reorient yourself to find the strongest signal. Most signals over two lights provided good connections. With the proliferation of wireless devices, it's good to know that the WiFi Spy detects both 802.11b and 802.11g networks and does not give false readings on 2.5 GHz signals from microwaves or cordless phones.

The WiFi Spy's battery is supposed to last for 2 years of normal use, but the first one tested did not last very long. Replacing the CR2032 batteries require unscrewing the case, but is easily done. The device fits nicely on a key chain, so it's more convenient than unpacking your machine.

Handy for the Road Warrior

If you are on the road a lot, you'll love the convenience of using the WIFI Spy. If you prefer more traditional methods, you'll have to find a local bookstore or Starbucks. The WiFi Spy can locate any wireless network accessible by a Mac or PC with a wireless card. Walls and other obstructions do inhibit the device's ability to sniff out some connections. In a local Border's bookstore, the Spy couldn't find the network until it was within 10 feet of it. Even if you find a connection, security may prevent access. Each network may have it's own level of protection and require a username and password.

You can purchase the WiFi Spy directly from Marware's online store.

by P.A.M. Borys


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