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Smart ID Wi-Fi Detector review: Smart ID Wi-Fi Detector

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The Good Small; detects 802.11b and 802.11g wireless signals.

The Bad Detects anything in the 2.48GHz frequency, including cordless phones and microwaves; doesn't report whether the network is publicly accessible.

The Bottom Line Until this technology can consistently detect accessible wireless Internet signals, save your money.

4.7 Overall

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Smart ID Wi-Fi Detector

Editor's note: We have changed the ratings in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.

The flashing lights on the $30 Smart ID Wi-Fi Detector indicate signal strength, but be careful: the flashing could also induce a seizure. To activate the iPod Mini-size detector, you press a small button. If there's an 802.11b or 802.11g signal in the area, the lights will flash; the more lights, the stronger the signal. If the lights are solid instead of flashing, the Smart ID could be detecting other devices, such as microwaves or cordless phones that operate in the 2.40GHz to 2.48GHz range, or it could also mean there are many Wi-Fi hot spots around--there's no way of telling which is the case. The signal grows stronger as you get closer, so you may be fooled into thinking that a coffee shop has Wi-Fi access, when it's really just the person who lives above the cafe. And as with all Wi-Fi detectors, you're out of luck if the network is WEP protected; the detector won't tell you whether the access point it's found is public or private.

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