Review: Marware WiFi Spy

by on August 26, 2004

Marware’s WiFi Spy is an interesting new gadget, although we’ve seen similar devices from other companies. Unfortunately, the reviews have been poor for those, so we decided to give this new product a try.

The $30 WiFi Spy is designed to help you find wireless networks in the area without whipping out your laptop or PDA. With a very simple interface, the WiFi Spy is easy to use, and convenient. About the size of a car’s keyless entry remote, and just as lightweight, the WiFi Spy can always be around when needed.

The WiFi Spy finds 802.11b and 802.11g networks nearby. It is directional, so you can find which direction the strongest network is coming from.

WiFi Spy
Marware WiFi Spy

WiFi Spy
Marware WiFi Spy in Use

To use the WiFi Spy, press the button located on it. If a network is not found, the series of LEDs will blink. If a network is found, a certain number of LEDs will light up indicating the strength, similar to the AirPort menu bar item.

The WiFi Spy does not find networks that do not broadcast their presence. Basically, this means that if a network appears in your AirPort menu bar item, the WiFi Spy can find it. It will detect open and closed networks, however.

We tested the WiFi Spy around the campus of Ball State University, as they have a nice mix of 802.11b and 802.11g networks. The WiFi Spy found networks easily. We found it to be handy to find the best place to use a computer.

The WiFi Spy uses a CR2032 battery, found almost everywhere, and is advertised as lasting 2 years with normal use. It is easy to change – just unscrew a few screws on the case and change the battery.

Overall, we found the WiFi Spy to be a handy product that not only detects networks, but shows their signal strength. The casual WiFi user might not want to spend $30 on a product that only saves a little time and some battery life, but any road warrior or WiFi junkie will find it quite useful.

The One-Sentence Verdictâ„¢

The WiFi Spy is an essential tool for those who use wireless networks a lot.

Pros: Works well, easy to use, detects most networks
Cons: $30 is a bit much to save some battery life, doesn’t display type of network
Rating: 6/10

The Facts

Product: WiFi Spy
Company: Marware
Platform: Mac/Win
Price: $29.99

This post has been filed in Miscellany, Reviews