WLPC is an awesome annual WiFi-geek-out-fest where industry professionals get together to discuss what’s going on with WiFi. Attendees learn about new standards, new equipment, new systems, and other ways to be successful as a professional – like using Python to analyze WiFi data, and even 3D printing (cuz, c’mon, why not?!). Though I wasn’t able to attend this year’s event (I’ve got a newborn at home 👶), the Wi-Spy Air and Air Viewer did make an appearance as MetaGeek’s founder, Ryan Woodings, was present to give a sneak peak of the new WiFi troubleshooting goodness.
There was definite excitement and curiosity with the latest generation in Wi-Spy as well as some great questions and comments that Ryan shared with us when he got back from the conference. It was flattering to hear of some of the comparisons to the Wi-Spy Air – such as “[enter other hw vendor name here] Junior.” Honestly, this is what we are going for: a professional grade, handheld WiFi test equipment that is smaller, with lighter form factor, and that delivers 80%+ of features that similar equipment offer but with other awesome things not currently available in those equipment – and all at half the list price of the competition.
Curious as to what questions were asked and what the answers are? Well, here they are! 👍
Q1: How long do the batteries last?
With the Wi-Spy Air, we are including 4 rechargeable AAA batteries. Given the power requirements of the Air and the battery specs, we expect the provided batteries to give the Wi-Spy Air 8 hours of continuous runtime when fully charged. Actually, I’ve been testing non-stop for about a month now and my batteries only just recently needed to be recharged. Also, we are including a USB-A to USB-Micro charge cord that can be used to plug into the Air’s USB-Micro port to recharge the batteries. A solid blue light indicates that Air is charging the batteries. The Air will automatically stop charging when it detects that the batteries are charged. The batteries are used to run the onboard WiFi chipset. The Spectrum Analyzer chipset draws power from the connected device (Android / iPhone) and Spectrum Analyzer mode can continue even if batteries are low or there are no batteries at all in the Air.
Q2: How will the Wi-Spy Air connect to my device?
We are including 4 device cables with the Wi-Spy Air that should allow you to connect with whatever device you have. Cables are a USB-Mini to: A, C, Micro, and Lightning. If you want to acquire your own cable to use, please make sure they are USB On-The-Go (OTG) compatible. Note for Android users: some Android devices, depending on the manufacturer, disable OTG by default which will need to be enabled in order for the Wi-Spy Air to be detected. Some Android manufacturers may also completely disallow OTG usage, so please check your device specs to verify OTG is compatible.
Q3: Can the Air perform standard packet captures?
Yes – actually, all of the data with the exception for the spectrum analysis density view is being dissected from WiFi frames that the Air is capturing. But, I think the real question is “can I get a .pcap file?” We are considering a straight packet capture that can be extracted or uploaded to a user’s My MetaGeek account for a future iteration. So to answer this question, I’ll ask another to the .pcap-seeking users: What kind of information are you looking for in the .pcap, and why? If it’s important, let’s make that info readily available in Air Viewer to save you the hassle of loading it into another software application to discover the info you need.
A bit of a side tangent: but I was thinking a useful ability would be to go into a device analysis mode to see what is going on with an AP or client. Such as, from a client’s point of view, seeing the history of probes, finding an AP, authenticating to the AP, but then maybe failing a 4-way handshake. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
Q4: Can the Wi-Spy Air and Air Viewer perform an iPerf test?
This should be technically feasible, but the potential value of the request seems to be 50/50 depending on who we have asked. If you have a strong opinion on if this is something that will provide you and others like you value, let me know in the comment section below.
Q5: Will there be a tablet version available?
Not at first. The mobile apps are initially being built specifically with iPhones and Android phones in mind. However, we will enable the app for tablet use and will scale for tablets. If we see a lot of tablet usage after we roll out, then that will give us better indication of the demand and use for a tablet-specific app.
Q6: What comes with the purchase price of the Wi-Spy Air?
In addition to the Wi-Spy Air device itself, included in the purchase is a carrying case, all the cables you need to connect the Wi-Spy Air to your devices, a charging cable, rechargeable batteries, and a quick start guide. The Air Viewer application for Android and iOS is also included with the purchase of the Wi-Spy Air. All future updates to the Air Viewer application will be available to you at no additional charge.
Q7: What is on the roadmap for Air Viewer?
This is my favorite question, since we have the ability to do a lot of different and interesting things with the Wi-Spy Air. To me, the question becomes, do we want to chase a competitor, or do we want to figure out what provides the most actual value to customers and end users (which may not equal the existing feature set of a competitor)? The previous answers speak to ability to perform a straight packet capture, perform an iPerf test, or to offer tablet apps. We certainly have some other ideas, but I’d like to know what you are passionate about that will provide you the most value from a WiFi troubleshooting tool. Please comment below and let’s discuss!