I tested NI’s Observer 8.3 at the University of Hawaii’s Advanced Network Computing Lab using a preconfigured Compaq Evo n800 with a Pentium 4 2.4GHz CPU and 512MB of RAM. I checked that Observer could identify all access points, as well as their type (802.11a or 802.11b), and provide all required base statistics -- MAC (media access control) and IP addresses, whether the device was WEP enabled, basic transfer rates -- by visiting multiple wireless sites across the University of Hawaii campus. These were easy, but I couldn’t find a simple way to determine if the AP (access point) was in ad hoc or in infrastructure (bridge) mode, other than looking at its list of associated stations and making an educated guess.
I ran the device through a few scenario tests, including one where two stations had the same MAC address and several stations were attempting to use the same IP address. Observer had no trouble rooting out the problem in either situation. Finally, I used Observer’s inherent signal strength statistics to determine which APs were slightly out of range of one another and make appropriate adjustments in their placements to improve connectivity.