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Wireless Networking Toys Hardware Technology

WiFi Seeker, Finder, Detector Roundup 168

captainJam points to this review at of five reasonably priced hardware WiFi finders. A snippet: "If you're not using a WiFi enabled PDA, you either have to turn on your handtop or laptop, or wake it from standby just to check if there's a network in the area. While a WiFi Finder / Seeker won't make a connection out of thin air, it will conveniently tell you whether there is a WiFi network in the area."
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WiFi Seeker, Finder, Detector Roundup

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  • by aaza ( 635147 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @12:03AM (#10940485)
    ...or PDA.

    These could be a great idea if you live in an area that has some WiFi, but only sometimes. Also great for when you are out and about, or in another city/state/whatever.

    If you are somewhere that you know has WiFi (office, known hotspot, Starbucks etc), it is not much use.

  • time (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Suburbanpride ( 755823 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @12:04AM (#10940492)
    Its takes less than 7 seconds from the time I open the lid on my powerbook untill I can browse available networks. The wifi dector doesn't even tell you if you will be able to connect to the network or not. I don't really see the use for these devices
  • Re:Woo... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AmigaAvenger ( 210519 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @12:09AM (#10940512) Journal
    umm, did you forget the $1000 laptop to connect the USB to? that usb adapter by itself is very useful i hear!!

    half the /. posts so far are people bad mouthing these things, claiming their bsd/linux laptop does so much more! well of course it does, it is a frickin' laptop! these are nice little devices to have when you don't want or need a laptop with, but still would like to know there is a network there for 'future use'...

  • by CoolSilver ( 794518 ) * on Monday November 29, 2004 @12:15AM (#10940534)
    The only downside to these devices, encription and B or b only networks show up as any other. They are existant or not and signal strength.

    You found a AP in the area. Great, but it is an encrypted airport commercial network for say e-ticket kiosks. You wouldn't know unless you powered up you laptop, draining you battery further and have to wait for windows to start up and shut down. Even hibernation saves login time but not time for windows to load and dump ram.
  • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @12:25AM (#10940566) Homepage Journal

    The best solution by far that I've found is my Palm Tungsten C running NetChaser []. Not only does it detect the networks, it will let you know their SSIDs, the last time you saw them, their MAC address, and a pile of other information. It can alert you by a tone or by using the Tungsten C's vibration function, and can operate with the screen off. It can even initiate a WiFi connection to a selected network.

    I've had mine set-up to operate with the screen off, and vibrate when an unencrypted network is encountered. I can walk around with it in my pocket and can silently know when I'm within range of an unencrypted wireless signal (it just logs the encrypted ones without vibrating). At that point, I can either connect from the T|C, or whip out my PowerBook.

    It's been fun walking around the neighbourhood with it in my pocket looking for open networks. I seem to hit upon one ever 2 or 3 houses. It's nice to know that if I'm really hard up for cash I can probably print up a bunch of fliers and distribute them around the neighbourhood where there are open access points offering to secure their access points for cash :).


  • by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) < minus distro> on Monday November 29, 2004 @12:45AM (#10940624) Homepage Journal
    One of these would be great for situations I frequently find myself in ...

    ... many college campuses are "WiFi Ready" or whatever catch phrase the IT department wants to use to talk about 802.11x access.

    Thankfully poor planning, lack of funds, etc will cause there to be many upon many of blind spots in the buildings, these would be much more useful than carrying around a laptop and watching the indicator on the screen.

    Especially useful when the AP's are "hidden" to be more asthetically pleasing.

  • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @01:01AM (#10940680) Homepage Journal
    Would be great to connect to a network download some MP3s, check email, makes some calls or read a book.

    That's about what I'm setting myself up to do -- I'm going to go with a 100% mobile workplace. I have my Tungsten C with built-in WiFi and my 12" PowerBook with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth -- in the next few weeks I'm planning on adding a Bluetooth-enabled GPRS cell phone with a data service package. It's three devices, but I'll have flexible data access from virtually anywhere, along with phone and fax capabilities.

    WiFi is my preference, but there are many time I'm working outside of WiFi range. With the devices I already own, I'm two thirds of the way there :).


  • by enystrom ( 78427 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @01:04AM (#10940686)
    ... buy a working Sub-Etha Sens-O-Matic!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2004 @01:41AM (#10940789)

    So there we were in New Orleans, staying in an older hotel in the French Quarter with absolutely no broadband (It was being installed for our meeting the following day).

    Were we interested in partying - no way. One of the meeting participants from Germany needed his daily shot of freshmeat while another needed his daily shot of slashdot. So we pulled out our Smart Id WiFi detector, purchased at ThinkGeek and proceeded to walk the streets, laptops in backpacks, Wifi detector in hand.

    Lo and behold, a few blocks from the hotel we found our first wifi hotspot, only to find it was secure. We walked on only to find another secure hotspot. After walking the French Quarter for the next 2 hours we had found several hotspots, but none that we could tap into. Now we realized that we really should have been partying.

    Why can't someone build a WiFi detector that finds the hotspot, flashes if its open and blinks if it can be subscribed to?

  • The basic circuit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EvilMidnightBomber ( 778018 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @02:51AM (#10940963) Homepage
    The standard incarnation is a generic rf detector/level meter with an antenna that is tuned to 2.4ghz.

    The Basic Circuit []
    (Back the url up one dir for datasheets and pics of one hobbyists's implementation)

    And another version [] using a pic instead of a dedicated display driver chip.
  • by mandar1721 ( 774817 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:13AM (#10941021) Homepage
    These, and a GPS device for geocaching. Find what you're looking for with the GPS and log it after finding a wireless signal with the WiFi Detector.

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