AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro 9 For Roaming: Review

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AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro 9 carries out WiFi analysis on up to three channels, making it easy to spot problems from client roaming

AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro 9 lights up simultaneous WiFi analysis on up to three channels at the same time, making it much easier to troubleshoot voice over WiFi and other application problems attributable to client roaming behaviour.

With its new support for multiple analysis sensors, AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer Pro 9.0 delivers the much-needed ability to analyse WiFi client roaming behaviour, albeit with some annoying but not critical limitations.

AirMagnet (a Fluke Networks company) started shipping Analyzer Pro 9.0 this month, finally delivering multi-adapter support to a laptop-based WiFi analysis solution and making it possible to simultaneously troubleshoot and analyse activity occurring on multiple channels, including roaming events.

The new version also delivers a more action-oriented interface and troubleshooting tools with better connections.

Analyzer Pro 9.0 costs £2,518, but is available as a free upgrade to current customers with up-to-date support contracts.

Multi-adapters

Version 9.0 is the first version of Analyzer Pro fully supported on 64-bit Windows operating systems (although the application itself is still 32-bit), and I successfully installed and tested the product on a Dell Inspiron XPS 1330 running 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate.

Unlike previous versions of Analyzer Pro, which used only a single WiFi adapter to detect wireless traffic, commonly scanning across the entire spectrum, Analyzer Pro 9.0 can utilise up to three WiFi adapters to listen into traffic on three channels at the same time without missing a frame on any channel, thanks to time-sliced scanning behaviour.

This capability is particularly helpful because it finally allows administrators to see both sides of a client’s roaming actions from a single analysis station.

Customers can use any combination of a handful of AirMagnet-supported adapters for multi-channel detection, but AirMagnet recommends using its new multi-adapter kit to ensure that each adapter gets equivalent antenna placement.

Roaming Analysis Tool

The kit for Analyzer Pro (£312) consists of a 5-port USB hub that gets double-taped to the top of the back of a laptop screen and three USB Proxim model 8494-US 802.11a/b/g/n adapters to plug into the hub, which stick straight up from the top of the laptop.

Customers can use the multiple adapters in conjunction with the new roaming analysis tool to examine connection details before and after roaming.

For instance, I started a Netflix streaming video on an iPhone 3GS, then walked around the office, triggering roaming between the different access points on my test network.

The roaming analysis tool automatically detected my roaming client, subsequently reporting metrics such as client signal strength, AP and channel—both before and after roaming—with time stamps to indicate when the roaming occurred.