Awhile ago I wrote about the AirCheck and what I felt it needed in terms of a device refresh (https://blakekrone.com/check-check-123-aircheck/), it would seem that netAlly took some of those cues in their latest update to the EtherScope nXG. With the latest 1.2 software release, available with AllyCare, there are 4 big improvements to the device. Let’s take a look at them and how they will help engineers!
The first enhancement I want to talk about is the new AirMapper feature. This is exactly what I was looking for as an update to the AirCheck G1 product line. When the AirCheck G2 shipped with a much larger touchscreen I figured something like this would make its way to the devices at some point in time. This feature isn’t only coming to the EtherScope nXG, it will be coming to the AirCheck G2 later this year as well. Will this replace something like Ekahau, iBwave, or TamoSoft? No, nor is it really meant to. This is meant to provide a simpler way to do quick surveys of an area. Given that these types of devices are typically in the Structured Cablers hands I expect to see this used for many ISP installers that are looking to provide the best coverage they can in someones house. That doesn’t mean a more experience Wireless engineer can’t benefit from it though. I’ve found it extremely useful especially with it coupled with the Link-Live cloud application. There are some cons to this solution as it exists today though. The first is scaling, right now you need to know the image pixel to meters relationship. There doesn’t exist a typical ruler tool to set the scale, that will be coming soon though. This makes it a little bit harder to get the file setup but once you are passed this step it works great. The second con is not having enough control over the channels you scan, but again this is being worked on. There is a lot of potential with this new feature and I can’t wait to see how it progresses!
Just like in Wireless SNR plays a role in mGig cabling technology. The EtherScope nXG can know test and display SNR results across all pairs and look at delay skew to see why you might be downshifting rates. As Wireless technologies continue to evolve we can’t forget about the Wired backend. If we don’t have proper cabling your design really doesn’t matter, performance will never be what you intended!
How many times are we sent an email or ticket that says “periodically” we see issues? The hard part about troubleshooting and performance in general is knowing what is the baseline and expected experience and what isn’t. Many people focus on point in time performance measurements to say something is good or bad, but really we need to look at this data across time, specifically the same time each day and every day. This allows you to see abnormalities. With the 1.2 software release you can know set the EtherScope nXG to perform periodic tests which are uploaded to Link-Live for data analysis. This coupled with the next feature enables a new level of remote troubleshooting especially during this trying times we are experience right now with COVID-19.
Simplified Remote Control
Anyone that has used an AirCheck G2 or LinkRunner G2 knows that netAlly has supported VNC in their handheld tools for awhile now, the EtherScope nXG is no different having VNC since it first shipped. But now, there is a new integration with Link-Live. When 1.2 was released I completely forgot that this was a new feature because I had been using it quite a few times during the betas it just became natural to have expected it. With this latest software release you can log into Link-Live cloud service and simply select the EtherScope nXG device you want to remote into and a tunneled VNC session from your browser is completed. No VPN or anything is needed! I see great use cases in this with being able to place the EtherScope nXG into a pelican case, shipping it off to a customer site, having them plug it into a Wired PoE port (this way it can charge and continuously run), and then log in via Link-Live to do remote troubleshooting.
This latest release from netAlly really shows the power of these handheld tools and what they are capable of. The team has put some great features into the device. In full disclosure I have been involved in the product development providing testing and feedback. They understand some of the issues that those of us testing have brought up and are working on enhancements to the product for later releases. I’ve openly discussed with the team where I think these features are useful and where I still will use traditional survey applications, but that is the beauty, we have options! There isn’t a single solution that meets all needs, having the flexibility with these different platforms is great. Having AllyCare for your devices is a no brainer to keep getting enhancements like these. Those of you without an EtherScope nXG don’t necessarily need to run out and get one, but I would encourage it if you can. There are so many great uses cases for this. If you have an AirCheck G2 you can certainly stick with that and wait till the software upgrade later this year brings at least AirMapper to it.
For more information check out netAlly’s video on YouTube.
I was provided with an EtherScope nXG for product testing and development assistance. In no way did that guarantee a positive review or a review for that matter. The above post represents my true and honest thoughts regarding the product.