A WiFi finder is a device used for locating wireless hotspots without actually turning on the laptop or PDA. WiFi finders are small, battery operated and portable. A WiFi finder typically detects a hotspot within a radius of 200 feet and also determines the strength of the signal. A WiFi finder is designed to filter out other signals from cordless phones, cell phones and microwave ovens.
How It Operates
The basic model of a WiFi finder operates on a single button. It also has three or more LED lights that indicate presence of WiFi signals. Once you switch on the button, the device starts looking for WiFi signals. Most finders can detect WiFi signals in the 802.11b-802.11g bandwidth. In a place that has no hotspots in the vicinity, all the LED lights will remain off. One or more lights come on depending on the strength of the signals, with one light initiated for the weakest signal and a strong signal initiates all the lights.
If you have one light and it is steady, you need to proceed in the direction that brings the other LEDs to light. If the lights are not steady, it means that the signal is intermittent or weak.
Advanced models have additional features that make the search easier. These features may include things like a miniature rotating high gain antenna, which makes it easy to track the direction of the signal. Some models come with built in USB ports. This way you can attach the WiFi finder to your laptop and connect to the network. This saves the hassle of having to configure individual hotspots to the laptop’s interface.
Some advanced models can also indicate if a network is security configured. Further, the models automatically recharge once they connect with the USB port.
How to Choose a WiFi Finder
You can pick up a WiFi finder from most of the wireless product outlets.
An important criterion in choosing a WiFi finder is the range of the device, or in other words, how far it scans. Inexpensive models scan in the range of 150 meters while the more advanced models can search in a radius of 300 feet. Wherever possible it is always better to buy a model with a larger range, as this gives the user more options and better signal quality.
Another important factor to check is the USB standards of the WiFi finder. Many of the current models comply with the new USB 2.0 standard. But older laptops have USB1.1 ports. So if your laptop is older, it is important that the WiFi finder you buy is backwards compatible.