SAN JOSE, Calif. — This was our second time picking the Best of Show for a Wi-Fi Planet Conference & Expo, and was certainly the toughest. The vendors on the exhibit floor are showing a range of quality products in a number of categories, any number of which could be a perfect solution in the right area. We feel the five products represented here are among the best the industry has to offer at this time.
To be eligible for the awards, the products had to be on display in the show’s exhibit hall this week, and the company had to nominate itself to get our attention. The editors of Wi-Fi Planet narrowed the list to those we thought had brought the most innovation to the industry in the last few months, and set our judges upon the vendors to get the full scoop. After deliberation, we narrowed our primary categories to a single product each — the Best of Show.
Azimuth Systems’ W-Series WLAN Test Platform — A growing category, testing and validating of wireless networking equipment certainly got a major boost with the recent release of this platform from Azimuth Systems. Its product puts off-the-shelf access points and client cards into a controlled radio frequency mini-chamber for testing. While the price is certainly not trivial, a company who can afford the W-Series will likely be set for product testing for life.
ReefEdge Networks’ ReefEdge WLAN EcoSystem — Announced just this week at the show, this move by long-time security gateway provider ReefEdge into the world of Wi-Fi switches beat out the competition with smart designs from a company with extensive experience in wireless. The ReefSwitch products are impressive, but couple them with the fact that you can use them with third-party access points, including inexpensive units from Netgear that integrate the AutoCell technology from Propagate that allows for auto configuration, and you’ve got a winner.
ZyXEL Communications’ ZyAIR B-4000 HotSpot Access Point — While much of the focus in hotspots is on mobile professionals and the spots they frequent while on the road, there’s still a number of “mom-and-pop” sized venues that would like to provide Wi-Fi — and make a dime or two from it. ZyXEL’s B-4000 is one of the simplest methods we’ve seen to do that. The location owner provides the backhaul, and can program the unit to spit out receipts complete with a username/password to get paying customers online for an hour, a day, or by subscription. The B-4000 comes complete with the simply designed printer, and has all the connections you need to be your wired and wireless router.
Newbury Network’s Wi-Fi Watchdog 3.0 — Being an expert in location-based services wasn’t enough for Newbury Newtorks. Putting such services to work in the world of security has been the company’s turning point. This latest version of their software, premiering here at the show, packs a one-two punch by not only being position aware but also pushing policies based on locations. The location-awareness helps avoid false positives for both rogue APs and friendly users. The company says a potential military customer tried to break into their system’s perimeter security for three days without success — we believe it.
FireTide’s HotPoint 1000S — Innovations in mesh are happening all over, but FireTide’s current solution takes the prize as it supports existing access points from just about any third-party vendor. The mesh is only used as the backhaul, effectively replacing the Ethernet cable that would otherwise have to be run throughout a facility, creating a truly wireless network. (Now if only it could do away with those pesky electrical power cables.) FireTide is innovating the HotPoint’s with some unique designs such as hiding the product and accompanying Wi-Fi access point in exit signs and picture fames, making the network not only wireless, but almost invisible to the naked eye.
Our thanks to Joe Moran, Lisa Phifer and Lee Goldberg for their help.