AirMagnet Survey Review

Provides a visual tool that we can show our clients that the wireless is either working or not working in an area.

What is most valuable?

I use AirMagnet Survey heavily for the work that I do. My responsibility is to make sure that we have good coverage in our facilities. I have also used it in the past to do the site survey for placement of APs in a hospital.

How has it helped my organization?

I use it heavily, primarily for troubleshooting issues where there are complaints of inadequate coverage in an area. The product itself provides us a visual tool that we can use to show our clients that the wireless is either working or not working in that area. We use it to make adjustments, if we have to, to the coverage.

What needs improvement?

The product is working much better than it had been. We can get it down to a tablet now, which was something that I was asking for. Now, we can run it on a Microsoft Surface. I don't use it now quite as heavily as I had been.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using AirMagnet since 2005; about 12 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We will get lockups every now and then. I still get those; not near as frequently as I used to. The product seems to be much more stable than it was even six years ago. I just used the product at a couple different sites and I think I only had one lockup in probably three or four hours of work, which is good. It was actually the application that locked up because everything else on the tablet was still functioning.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I used to have a lot of problems if we had a large amount of data. If we were doing a large area in a passive survey and we had a large amount of data, it would stop recording. I've not run into that problem now for the last three years. I can do a large-area passive survey and it will continue to record without issue.

Improvements in laptops and other devices has helped. I'm currently running it on a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. I have not run into that problem since moving to that device and with the latest versions.

How is customer service and technical support?

I had a couple issues a long time ago primarily around lockups and those types of issues. Also, when we were collecting a large amount of data, it would stop collecting data. I had talked to technical support about that at the time. That was a long time ago; probably 8-10 years ago. They were helpful. We tried several things to resolve the problem. The problem was probably resolved with newer hardware and improvements that were made to the program over the years. The stability of the application now is probably the best it's been, from my point of view.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We did not have a solution prior to AirMagnet. This goes clear back to 2005. I was getting ready to start doing site surveys for installing wireless networks in hospitals in Iowa. I had four large hospitals and roughly 100 clinics to survey and I was looking for a product. This was recommended by a colleague, so we went ahead and purchased AirMagnet Survey. At that time, it was called Laptop Trio. We used that to perform the actual site surveys for all of our hospitals.

How was the initial setup?

When we first got AirMagnet back in 2005, I had a Fujitsu laptop. It was convertible to a tablet. We got the product purchased. I installed it and was doing surveys within a couple of hours. It's very straightforward. I've not had a lot of trouble with it.

Again, I've been working with it for 12 years. I'm familiar with it. Sometimes, I'm a little rusty, so it takes a little while to figure out how to do a survey again, but it's not that difficult.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

At the time we bought this, it was one of only a couple products out there that was as thorough at what it did. With the proliferation of wireless in our facilities, and throughout everywhere, we've become a very mobile society.

I have been approached in the last year about another product that's out there that's not as expensive as AirMagnet. One of the problems with AirMagnet, in our organization, is the cost it takes to maintain our licensing. We've purchased the product and it feels like you're purchasing it every year again.

There's a product by MetaGeek called inSSIDer. That product is a 1/10 of the cost. And it does very similar functions to AirMagnet. I'm very familiar with AirMagnet, but have been looking at inSSIDer. The cost difference for our organization starts leaning us. We can afford to put inSSIDer in more hands with our technical folks than we can with AirMagnet.

I've maintained a license for this since 2005. I've got the Spectrum Analyzer. I've got AirMagnet Survey PRO. We had Laptop Trio. That continued maintenance cost is starting to seem a bit extreme compared to other products out in the market.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not look at anything else. This came highly recommended and that's what we went with. I didn't look at any other products.

What other advice do I have?

If you're going to use it the way that we use it, I strongly recommend going to a tablet device that's as light as possible. The Surface Pro 3 is about 3.3 pounds. This is one of the things that I had actually talked to AirMagnet about not that long ago; maybe two years ago. I had asked them if they would port it over to an Android device, which was considerably lighter than a Surface Pro at the time. 3.3 pounds doesn't seem like a lot until you spend eight hours a day, five days a week, carrying the device around on your arm with it cocked.

You've got to constantly be putting a mark or, with a pen, you're constantly tapping as you're doing the survey. Now, that thing gets heavy. That would be one thing; if they could get it ported over to run on an Android device that weighs under a pound. That's a huge difference.

I'm not sold on it, like an Apple iPad, but either an iOS or an Android-based device where we can get it onto a tablet and it weighs less than the Microsoft Surface. I've seen guys using this that are carrying around a laptop. You get down to an Android device, it costs a few hundred dollars to buy that and you can run this product on that device. It becomes much more attractive than going out and buying a $1700 Surface Pro. It depends on how often you use it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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