NetAlly EtherScope nXG Review

Pre-programmed AutoTest feature is good, checking all the necessary parameters

What is our primary use case?

I use it for WiFi troubleshooting, network validation, and cabling validation.

How has it helped my organization?

It provides visibility into networks that you could only get by using many other tools. It saves time and that helps with costs.

The nXG also reduces troubleshooting time. Most regular things that would take 10 to 15 minutes can be done in a minute.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the WiFi troubleshooting, network validation, and cabling validation, and the fact that it's an all-in-one tool. You don't have to carry different tools. The multi-technology functionality and its ability to do WiFi and wired Ethernet analysis in one device are the best aspects.

Also, the pre-programmed AutoTest feature is good. It checks where it's supposed to. The basic functionality that it comes with, the checkpoints and the parameters it checks against, those are all good. I like it.

I also use the solution’s full line-rate 10 Gb capability. It works great. It's very easy.

And the AirMapper Site Survey app is good for visualizing key performance metrics. It works well for validating changes. If we are making a change on the grid at a specific point, it works well.

It's easy enough for people without skills to use, and it does provide other tools for people who are more expert. It saves a lot of time.

What needs improvement?

For troubleshooting, the pre-programmed AutoTest feature is not as intuitive as it could be because there are different windows.

The user interface could be a little bit more streamlined, a little bit easier. Sometimes it's hard to find a specific thing that you're looking for. 

In terms of hardware-based improvement, the battery would be the biggest issue. The battery goes out very quickly.

It would be nice to be able to use the device to test from the device and do a hyper-wireless to wired, while using the same device. You would plug it in on one side of the device and then use a wireless to run a throughput test of the wireless without needing a separate device. That would be great. 

Finally, the AirMapper Site Survey for wireless surveys still needs a lot of work. It's not as intuitive as it could be and it can only take readings one at a time. It doesn't do continuous surveying. It's okay at gathering WiFi site survey data, but it could be better. It's stop-and-go.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using NetAlly EtherScope nXG for a little less than a year. I use the tool most in our company but there are three people that I trust the tool with. I handle the maintenance of the tool, in my role as network engineer.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't used the technical support. I wanted to, one day, but it wasn't easy to find who to call. I normally like to call to open a ticket. It wasn't as intuitive as I would have liked. I went to their website and I searched for "support." I was hoping to get a phone number I could call. 

I know we bought support for this product and I don't know when it expires. A portal, or something like that, would be a nice way to know what your support status is. Also, a portal where you could open a ticket would be nice.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I used the Fluke in the past, but the interface was horrible. It was hard to navigate so I mostly used a computer to access network devices to figure stuff out. Obviously, I used cable finders and cable tracers, but I really didn't use anything like this.

How was the initial setup?

The learning curve is a little steep in the beginning. I wish there were more videos showing how to use it. The videos that are out there are very entry-level, very broad and light. It would be nice to have additional video content, besides the documentation, although the documentation is good.

What was our ROI?

The cost of the tool versus its ability to save time or solve problems faster depends on the client. For most clients, it probably doesn't justify the cost if they're not too big or they don't have the need for it. A cost of $9,000 is hard to justify. But if you have heavy usage and find yourself trying to troubleshoot something over and over again, it's worth the cost. You have to have that level of use. It's not for the average, medium-sized company. You would need this for a larger enterprise. It's not easy to justify the cost for most smaller companies. If your company has more than 500 people then it would make sense.

For me, the ROI has been slow. It grows with time. It would grow a lot faster if we had many and many people who could use it. But when there's only one person using it, it's a very expensive tool. I'm not always the one who does the testing, so a lot of people end up doing testing without the tool. It's not a tool that I just give out and send everywhere, again because of the cost. If it were a less expensive tool and we had several of them, it would be easier because everybody would be using it. It would be a part of the toolbox that we would give out to everybody.

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

It's very expensive. I wish I could buy a few more and give them to all the people who could use it, or perhaps send it to a client, given that some of its features are easy to use. But sending something worth $8,000 or $9,000 is nerve-racking. It would be nice that if it were a lot less expensive.

It is quite a delicate tool. And for $9,000, I wish they included a nice pouch to protect it; something to carry it. The Ekahau Sidekick is an expensive tool but it comes with something to carry it on your shoulder. This one is easy to drop and it's $9,000. So you have to be super-careful as well.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

NetAlly's marketing was good. I knew about them, knew what they were doing, so I didn't look further, past them. I always had it in my sights. When I bought it, it was them and nobody else, to be honest.

What other advice do I have?

I've been using it quite often, several times a week; sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on what's happening.

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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