JULY 15, 2007
Targus Wifi Scanner ACW20US
A simple tool that does the job well!
This product is in an unassuming square case with an oblong window for readouts and a single button that you press. The package includes two AAA batteries. After you pop those in you are ready to go. I had planned to use the Targus WiFi Scanner while on the road for 12 days earlier this month but time and the delivery system was not on my side. I pressed the activation button while sitting in our condo and, after scanning for 30 seconds, it found no WiFi connections. (access points and service providers are displayed within 60 feet indoors and 200 feet outdoors.) The message shown on the readout was “NO AP FOUND.” That is true as hardly anyone lives here in the summer and my NETGEAR Travel Router is not connected unless I need it.
The readout provides the following information:
No AP Found – No WiFi secure or unsecured available
SSID (Service Set Identifier or unique name)
A set of 1 to 4 BARs that show signal strength like your cell phone - more are better
“SECURE” or “OPEN” Secure meaning the Access Point is encrypted. Open means the unit can be accessed
Channel that the access point is broadcasting 1 to 13
Battery Low means just that
CLOAKED - Means the SSID has been hidden from the outside world.
I am used to seeing a list of available access points that descend in order of signal strength when I start my loaner Lenovo Notebook. Due to its small readout the Targus WiFi Scanner can display only one access point at a time. To see another access point in the area you need to press the button again after the first search is complete. The unit will then display another point if one is available. The scanner automatically shuts down after each search to conserves batteries.
I decided to take the unit on a ride around town. Here are a few of the results I found:
Office on Secure channel 6
Linksys open on Channel 6. ( coffee shop)
Retail WiFi Secure
Pastor Secured on Channel 6 (Church)
JFKW Secured Channel 1
Cloaked open Channel 6
The signal on these varied from one to 3 bars. Remember I was in my car.
Our library has two access points. One for staff that is secured and another for the public that is open to all.
It is a good idea to read up on computer security so you can set your system to block outside sharing of your files if you are running your own WiFi setup.
One use of the Targus WiFi Scanner is to locate the best place within a site area to place your Notebook so as to get the optimum available signal.
I feel the Targus WiFi Scanner ACW20US has its place in the traveler’s life. I was able to locate places that provide legal free access to WiFi (Coffee Shops and my Library) before leaving my car and lugging my notebook inside. The fact that you can see more than one Access Point by pressing the button again makes it more functional than other less costly portable scanners. I also found a number of OPEN not secured sites that may be available but using them might be like poaching on someone’s land.
Quoting Targus:“Travelers, students and other roaming WiFi users can use the scanner to find available networks (please check your local law before using an open network without prior permission). The scanner only detects802.11b and 802.11g access points. It will not detect 802.11a signals.” Retails at 59.99.
To see more on this and other Targus products click here.