Awarding 802.11 Planet's Best of Show
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BOSTON -- It was a hot day in Massachusetts, but inside the Boston World Trade Center, the show floor of the 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo was cool. Not calm however, as hundreds swarmed in the booths to get information on the latest Wi-Fi products on the market now or soon to come.
It was from among the more than 90 exhibitors on the show floor that we picked the 802.11 Best of Show Awards. While many were nominated and considered, only five could win. Here's the scoop on what we think are among the most promising technologies for WLANs today:
Monitoring and Security
Network Chemistry's Neutrino Sensor -- Targeting the small to medium business (SMB), the Neutrino Sensor (sensors, really) monitor and analyze all 802.11 packets and report results back to network administrators via a management console running on a Windows- or Linux-based computer. The sensors can capture all the 802.11b packets from any Wi-Fi compatible transmitter, including all management packets, on any channel. The company is currently selling the products direct from their Web site, and the price is affordable, at under $400 per unit for 10 sensors or more. Using protocols like SNMP and DHCP, it'll integrate with almost any network to keep tabs on what's going on in the air.
iPassConnect 3.0 service interface -- For enterprise users on the move with a Wi-Fi-equiped laptop, there's few guaranteed ways to get a secure connection back to the corporate LAN. iIPassConnect 3.0, the latest software release from hotspot aggregator iPass, supports not just Wi-Fi but other forms of connection, whether broadband or even dial-up. Hotspot users benefit from instantly being notified if they're in range of an iPass certified location. The software supports various types of VPN connections and firewalls, and should they collapse the iPassConnect tool will tear down the connection preventing any security breach to the corporation. It's roaming that a CTO can feel secure about.
Vivato Switch technology -- While many people dispute the term "wireless switch," few could argue that Vivato's approach isn't one of the most innovative in this industry. With both and indoor and outdoor version of its large-panel, wall-mounted 2.4GHz switches, the company can provide Wi-Fi to one floor of a building or an entire neighborhood.
Home/SOHO WLAN Equipment
WiDeFi's WLAN Xtender Technology -- This "residential extension" product design, which the company will make available to original equipment manufacturers, is more than just a repeater. Using a patent pending technique that works with any access point, it will double the range of the network. SOHOware is already set to offer an indoor version of the product, and there will be an outdoor version as well. We hope to see many versions.
Enterprise WLAN Equipment
Proxim's ORiNOCO 802.11g line -- The first 802.11g products to ship for the enterprise market, the latest Proxim's ORiNOCO units builds on the line that help establish wireless networking in the first place a few years ago. The line currently consists of the dual-radio ORiNOCO AP-2000b/g, which supports two different 2.4GHz networks simultaneously and thus avoids bandwidth issues in mixed-mode networks, as well as the $495 single-radio AP-600b/g. The company also has a full line of multi-mode and single-mode network cards. These products are, at the moment, one of the only prospects for SMBs or enterprises that want 802.11g they can depend on.