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NetAlly EtherScope nXG OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

NetAlly EtherScope nXG is #1 ranked solution in top Network Diagnostics tools and #5 ranked solution in top Network Troubleshooting tools. IT Central Station users give NetAlly EtherScope nXG an average rating of 8 out of 10. NetAlly EtherScope nXG is most commonly compared to OptiView XG:NetAlly EtherScope nXG vs OptiView XG. NetAlly EtherScope nXG is popular among the small business segment, accounting for 76% of users researching this solution on IT Central Station. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a comms service provider, accounting for 14% of all views.
What is NetAlly EtherScope nXG?

Multi-technology, all-in-one handheld network tester that enables engineers and technicians to get more done faster, from deployment to maintenance and documentation of their ever-changing Wi-Fi and Ethernet access networks.

NetAlly EtherScope nXG was previously known as EtherScope nXG, EtherScope, netAlly EtherScope.

NetAlly EtherScope nXG Buyer's Guide

Download the NetAlly EtherScope nXG Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

NetAlly EtherScope nXG Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about NetAlly EtherScope nXG pricing:
  • "If you're in the networking world, this product makes great sense very quickly, if you're going to use it more than a few times a week... If you are just looking at a handheld device unit for specific, wireless or wired testing and not much else, the cost may be a little more prohibitive than what you have in your budget."
  • "For the average network shop, the cost is a bit high. In a lot of organizations, people don't share test devices between teams. Generally, you need a device for the network team and a device for the system team, the security team, etc. While the cost is a little on the high side, that is offset by the regular updates and continued improvements that NetAlly adds to the device. Those improvements continue to increase the perceived value of the device."
  • "I don't consider the pricing to be a problem. It's not a cheap device, but it's a very capable device for the money. It's a good value."
  • "The cost is not cheap but it totally pays for itself because it can do so much."
  • "It's a pricey device, but I see value in it from a business perspective."
  • "We paid for the additional maintenance on it (for an extra year) to get that extra coverage. This was the first time that we had this solution in-house, and it was pretty pricey. So, we wanted to make sure that anything went wrong, then we could get it repaired."
  • "The stuff is expensive. I really do wish the price would come down. I don't really call support. I haven't had a problem. But it's really expensive and every year I have to pay them a ton of money. I don't want to make up reasons to justify that cost, but I'm not using the support."
  • "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."

NetAlly EtherScope nXG Reviews

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Independent Consultant at a comms service provider with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 10Leaderboard
Does packet capture at line rate gig or 10 gig without dropping a packet

Pros and Cons

  • "In terms of the solution's full line rate 10-gigabit capability, my other 10 Gb test equipment is much bigger, bulkier, and heavier. One of my ways of assessing the nXG was to compare it with what I knew to be tried and true on 10-gig to make sure that they matched, and they did. It very quickly got my trust. The fact that it can do 10 Gb, without dropping a packet from what I've seen so far — and we used it a lot in that first three months — tells a pretty good story."
  • "One of the biggest pros of AirMapper is that you just hit upload to the cloud and you can use anything with a web browser to look at it and manipulate it, view it, and even share it. The fact that you can review it now on any computer that has web access is phenomenal, versus using the client. That's been fantastic."
  • "When it works, I love the AirMapper Site Survey app. Currently, my device has a hardware bug that the manufacturer and I are working on actively, to get it fixed or replaced. The 5 gigahertz radio on my device is flaky at best... It doesn't seem to have anything to do with the product itself, as much as it is some kind of unique hardware problem."

What is our primary use case?

We have used it for 10 gigabit performance testing. Originally, when we first got the device, for about the first three to four months, that was exclusively how it was used, in a heavy-use environment. We had some new 10 Gb equipment that we were stress testing, but we also wanted to confirm that things were working. We had just gotten the nXG product in our hands, so what better use of it?

After that point, we have used it a lot for wireless, day-to-day operations, and troubleshooting. We've used it for some specific Linux server test-bed scenarios, with different functions tied to it. We've done wire surveys and troubleshooting as well. 

We have definitely used it for the last six to nine months, regularly, as our proof that when we turn up at a new customer, everything's working.

There are four of us, including me, using the device in our company. I'm the most advanced engineer and have been using these products the longest. I've got another engineer who has used it for specific tasks that I've pointed him towards. I also have a technician who uses it fairly frequently for basic testing and troubleshooting and certification. And our NOC manager, who is more a peer of mine — he's more technical than the other two, from the years of experience — was the one who used it for the first three months on the 10-gig. It has a pretty good range of direct uses.

How has it helped my organization?

We used it on multiple devices and pieces of equipment, all fiber, and used it pretty heavily in the lab environment. That environment has now gone to production because of that success. Without this device we would have been blind to a lot of things. It didn't necessarily diagnose or point out any problems at the time, but it definitely helped prove things were working well. That was well worth the peace of mind.

Also, the few times things didn't work, it gave us the opportunity to troubleshoot them and to fix our mistakes. It was never the device [giving us trouble], it was always something in our configuration of the new equipment.

We create test profiles so that we can turn it on, tap one icon, and let it go through the cycle. After a few moments we can look at it and it confirms that everything's green and good to go. Or, if there's a problem, it pinpoints which specific devices are a problem and it helps us know, extremely quickly, if it's something we need to call our NOC for, or if it's something that I or my team needs to address and fix, or if we ultimately have a bigger problem.

It's been priceless because it's one of the devices we carry onsite with us to pretty much any new customer and it's one of the very first things we use. We plug it straight in to our equipment, hit go and make sure everything's green, and then we can start plugging in new stuff.

The unit is easy to use for less skilled staff but with deep diagnostics for experts on staff. That's definitely a benefit I have seen. There's a time and place for an expert — an expert is still going to be needed in certain scenarios — but he isn't needed every time. This particular device has a nice market niche where, if you're an expert, great, you know how to do certain things. But you can have a level-one technician go out and collect data and either upload it to the Link-Live Cloud Service and that way the expert can be remote, or he can save it and review it later, easily. We have technicians and field techs and NOC guys who, when something comes up in the middle of the day, ask a few questions on what makes the most sense and, based on that, I give them a specific product and quickly show them how to use the specific function they need. They go out in the field and they do it.

It has also provided visibility into networks that I could only get by using many other tools. Instead of one tool, I'd have to use two or three or more. Anytime you have to have more than one device and/or specialized training involved, there's a cost to that.

When it comes to the device reducing troubleshooting time, it could be anywhere from 10 percent to 90 percent, because it depends on the case. In a specific case, it might save 90 percent of the time because it's all-in-one, versus [needing to use] several [products]. However, if it's just one specific scenario, it may only save 10 percent. There's a wide variance in between. It depends on what you're doing, why you're doing it, and what you need; how much of an expert needs to be behind the wheel; dispatch versus non-dispatch, etc.

In general, it has made our networking staff more productive. Since we use it kind of sparingly, it could save two to five hours a month. If we used it more regularly and had more need for it, that would be a much higher figure. In my previous job I worked at a university, and this one device would have been saving significant hours a week. In that scenario, I could see having a device in four different peoples' hands and it would be a very large savings very quickly.

What is most valuable?

We use a wide range of its features. 

  • We use the WiFi discovery. 
  • We're starting to use the new AirMapper Site Survey app which came out recently, and I like that quite a bit, with its Link-Live Cloud Service. 
  • We've used packet captures, both wireless and wired. 
  • Performance testing continues to be a go-to when we need it, especially because we can do 10 Gb on it. Most times it's 1 Gb or less, but having 10 Gb functionality is grand. 
  • We use the autolink test frequently.
  • I've even gotten a few apps from the app store. It's nice to have it all built-in.

The multi-technology functionality of the solution, including the fact that it does WiFi and wired Ethernet analysis in one device, means I now have one device that can do a multitude of tests, and fairly reliably. I can lean on it. I can say, "Hey, this is the proof I need," for whatever the scenario is. It is definitely a great asset. I have other tools still, wireless or wired or both. But this one, with its functionality and development, is quickly becoming an all-in-one, versus having to carry two or three or four.

In terms of the solution's full line rate 10-gigabit capability, my other 10 Gb test equipment is much bigger, bulkier, and heavier. One of my ways of assessing the nXG was to compare it with what I knew to be tried and true on 10-gig to make sure that they matched, and they did. It very quickly got my trust. The fact that it can do 10 Gb, without dropping a packet from what I've seen so far — and we used it a lot in that first three months — tells a pretty good story. It's easier for me to walk out the door with this handheld device than it is with two, three, or four big, bulky devices. There's a time and place for the bigger bulky ones too. But, in the grand scheme of things, it's certainly much nicer to carry one than two or three.

In terms of the AirMapper Site Survey app, I love it when it works. I'm on the beta team for this feature and I have definitely found it very fascinating. Its basic use has a great place in the market. I'm still a big fan of NetAlly's AirMagnet Survey PRO. I've used Survey PRO since version 1 and they're on version 9. It's a great product, a great tool, a great resource, although it has limitations as well.

I can definitely see a niche for both and a need for both. In functionality and use, what I really love about the AirMapper program is that it's handheld. It's much easier and lighter to carry around than the old, bulky version. I don't have to worry about having big biceps at the end of the day, or extremely sore biceps. I just go to a specific area, tap it, and wait until it turns green and do the same at the next area. It collects data cleanly and then I can upload it to the cloud. 

To be fair, I love the client of the Survey PRO; love the functionality, and I'm so used to using it that I prefer it. But it's definitely bulky, and program-wise, it's heavy and you obviously have to have a license. It becomes very difficult to potentially share it with or train additional staff. There are pros and cons to both products. There are niches for both and I think there are good cases to have both. 

Once you're used to and understand the newer methodology of how AirMapper collects the data and why, it's fine. And as the person holding the device, you have full control over how quickly it scans by tweaking the settings. If it is taking too long you can change your variables. You have to be cautious because you don't want to lose data. But you can also increase the time if you need to make sure you get all your data. 

One of the biggest pros of AirMapper is that you just hit upload to the cloud and you can use anything with a web browser to look at it and manipulate it, view it, and even share it. The fact that you can review it now on any computer that has web access is phenomenal, versus using the client. That's been fantastic.

The AirMapper app is fairly straightforward in terms of ease of use once you understand the methodology. It definitely seems to be a very valuable asset. I think there is going to be some more development of it because it's still new. Given that AirMapper is basically version 1.0, whereas Survey PRO is on version 9.0 and has hundreds of thousands of man-hours in use, comparing the two isn't fair. You're comparing an infant to a full-grown adult. Over time, I know it's going to grow out of its infancy. Given the WiFi market and the current standards I think it will have a phenomenal place.

One of the main reasons I use AirMapper is the feature in the app that allows you to create heat maps in the vendor’s Link-Live Cloud Service. In terms of its ability to visualize key performance metrics, overall I've been fairly pleased. That part of its functionality is a little more comparable to the AirMagnet Survey PRO. And as I said, it's nice that it's web-based, so I can do it on a Linux machine. I don't have to worry about having a license, I just have to have a Link-Live account. On that level there is good use for it.

In terms of using AirMapper to validate changes or troubleshoot problems, it could potentially be a little slow to collect data compared to other tools. However, you can tweak it to make it a little faster if you want to. It would have a very comparable mean time for getting on site, taking the analysis, uploading it, and then reviewing it. Certainly, one of the most powerful things in this scenario is that you can upload it to the Link-Live Cloud Service and someone who is hundreds or thousands of miles away can review it instantly and give advice if they need to. You can then make some changes and verify again. Whereas with a Survey PRO, or any other WiFi products that I've used, like Ekahau, that might not be nearly as feasible. They need some way to get that data to the other person to review it, and that other person has to have the same tools and versions — everything has to be the same. It can become a hassle if you have to jump through all these hoops to analyze, review, and then recommend changes. The nXG itself has a nice advantage there.

What needs improvement?

When it works, I love the AirMapper Site Survey app. Currently, my device has a hardware bug that the manufacturer and I are working on actively, to get it fixed or replaced. The 5 gigahertz radio on my device is flaky at best. When it works, I've enjoyed it.

I definitely see the power and benefit of the AirMapper and its functionality. It takes a little getting used to, in my opinion, because I'm so used to tapping as I'm walking. This doesn't do that. With AirMapper you have to stop, tap it, and then you have to wait. It is a little bit different methodology. It's a little bit slow to collect the data because you have to tap it and hold and be a little more patient.

I'd like to see further development with some of the newer tools like AirMapper. I know it's going to come, it's just going to take some time. 

WiFi discovery and diagnostics and overall WiFi testing, so far, have been fairly good comparatively, but I'm sure they can go further. Even the autolink tests could probably have some further diagnostic stuff built into them. 

It's just a matter of time. This is like having a newborn baby and trying to get it to adolescence very quickly.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the NetAlly EtherScope nXG for close to a year, starting with when it was in beta, as I'm on the beta team. I was one of the early adopters of it, before it ever got to the press. I had it three to six months before it was out for sale.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

My device was one of the first units. It's been reliable, up until recently with the WiFi. Until recently, it's been phenomenal. It's been rock-solid. It's been great. The exception, currently, is the 5-gig radio acting up. I don't know what the current problem is, but it's likely the hardware. We don't think it's the software at this point. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with the product itself, as much as it is some kind of unique hardware problem.

That aside, it's been just as reliable and stable as any other networking tool I have, whether it be Fluke Networks, NetScout, or any other. It's been pretty reliable and pretty consistent. I can take it with me and not have to be concerned in the field that it's going to let me down.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate NetAlly's technical support for this device extremely well. I'm not the average customer. I have direct access to the developers or the people who are physically making the devices. 

Before I worked in my current company, I used a lot of these products in the field, with paid maintenance and paid warranty and ongoing support. If I used it in the same ways here, it would make perfect sense, and I absolutely would be wanting to pay maintenance, to keep things updated. That way, if a product decided to act up, I could get it replaced or repaired. To me, the maintenance and ongoing support is mission-critical, if it's something that you bought. I would never buy one of these products without buying that maintenance.

What was our ROI?

It has been a while since I've had to deal with the pricing. However, in my previous job I had to do so and I would think the scenario is still the same. There is potential to create a return on investment and cost justification. If you're going to do any kind of wired and/or wireless network troubleshooting, and you want to quickly eliminate anything on the network, this would be a tool to highly consider because it's an all-in-one device for the most part. If you start breaking down the cost for individual products or specific niches, three or four devices, you're looking at the cost of this one device versus the costs of three or four, or even five or six or seven.

At one point, I had 10 devices and we were paying support on 10 products every year and buying new licenses for those products every year. It didn't make sense to carry around 10 things when you can carry around one. It also doesn't make sense to keep renewing 10 things when you could renew one.

If you're in the networking world, this product makes great sense very quickly, if you're going to use it more than a few times a week. Hands-down, this should be an easy mathematical equation. If you're not using it very often, that formula is a little more difficult. But if there is a scenario where you have to have proof, and you have to have it quickly, then you're back in the same ball game. This is a priceless tool and you would be foolish not to have it.

There's a little middle ground where it might be more expensive than what I need and I couldn't justify that. But if it's either of the other scenarios, I could give you a spreadsheet and very quickly make it make sense.

And then you throw in the number of man-hours that you potentially save. Coming from the university where I used to work, man-hours weren't as critical to management, which is ludicrous to me. I know other companies are similar. They're thinking, "Well, if we can save thousands of dollars on this particular device, we don't care how many hours it takes you to figure things out." That is a really bad approach, but I know some businesses work that way. Whether you include man-hours in your equations or not, it doesn't matter because that spreadsheet is going to work.

But as soon as you throw in man-hours saved, that's where the big money is at, very quickly. That's especially true when you factor in expert versus technician versus just an office staff person. You could mail them the equipment and, when they get it, walk them through how to do a couple of quick tests. They could upload it to Link-Live Cloud Service and, all of a sudden, you could still be at your desk while looking at it. You save flight time and unbelievable man-hours trying to get the guy onsite. I understand that there are times when you have to get a guy onsite. But if you can eliminate even one of those, you just paid for the device, or at least for a large percentage of it.

If I did personal consulting, where I got regular paychecks outside of my regular work, it would be priceless to have access to these tools. Hands-down, I would save up for and buy this tool because it's the one device where I would get the biggest bang for my buck.

If I needed that kind of visibility and proof in certain people's networks, it would ultimately save me time. I could walk into the building, plug into their network, hit "go," tap a few things, and I would have a much better view of their network. Or I could potentially find the problem they have, and within seconds.

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

It's been a while since I've even looked at costs. If you are just looking at a handheld device unit for specific, wireless or wired testing and not much else, the cost may be a little more prohibitive than what you have in your budget. But if you have a need for more than one device, and want to try to prevent that unexpected road trip...

What other advice do I have?

We don't use it day-to-day because of the way our company is structured, and its use cases in our business. But we certainly use it once or twice a week, fairly regularly. It has definitely become one of our go-to tools in just about any scenario, whether we're walking or running out the door to a customer's site.

I use the solution's pre-programmed AutoTest feature and I've got my own that I built, as well. I use both. But in my environment, the equipment that it plugs into has very little in the way of discovery functionality and options. In the majority of my environment, that functionality is blocked and limited at a network level. So that function doesn't allow me to do much. 

However, outside of my specific company when I do consulting work, or even at some of our customer sites, if I have to help troubleshoot their stuff — which doesn't happen very often but it does happen — in that scenario it has been extremely helpful because it will give me a deeper dive into the network. Otherwise, I would just be guessing because I don't know what their network looks like.

Overall, as far as technical features go, it would be a nine or 10 out of 10, hands-down. It's an all-in-one device for most functionalities. I'd be hard pressed not to give it a 10. As far as ease of use is concerned, it's absolutely a nine or 10 as well. It's fairly straightforward, out-of-the-box. Even if you don't have a lot of network experience, it doesn't take long. You can tap around and figure out what it does and doesn't do. And there are some great online videos for it already;I've been through some of those webinars as well. There is easy access to those kinds of materials. The fact that it's handheld and fairly lightweight definitely makes it a nine or 10 as well. 

As far as development goes, it's still in its infancy, so that is only a five or six out of 10. It's extremely new and they're trying to come on as fast as they can. Maybe, by now, it's in "early adolescence," but I fully expect them to make more improvements going forward. 

The functionality, what I can do out-of-the-box today, is easily a seven to nine out of 10, depending on what you need. The fact that it can do packet capture, line rate gig or 10 gig without dropping a packet, to me that's a 10. There are not a lot of products out there that can do that. The fact that we could do 10 gig all day long, for three straight months, fresh off the assembly line — that just floors me. That's a big telltale sign of the R&D and the love that went into that device before it ever got into my hands. That's priceless.

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.
Jonathan-Davis
Senior Network Engineer at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
It's easy to hand this solution to someone else and get them to provide consistent results

Pros and Cons

  • "When it comes to that remote troubleshooting perspective of being able to survey an area to see if there are problems, make adjustments, and then have that same individual resurvey that same area, I don't have to send people to a week long class on how to use the device. I know I am getting consistent results, which can verify near real-time, and whether or not the changes that I have implemented solve the problem."
  • "I would love to see port profiles. This is something I've expressed to them. The ability for a technician to plug it into a switch port, and say, "Okay, this port will be an access point or this port will be a phone and desktop PC," thus choosing a profile. It will then push a configuration to the device it's connected to and verify that the switch port is correctly configured, so I can hand this to a phone tech who doesn't have any access to a network switch to be able to make changes. They can go out and plug this into a port, then they are able to push a profile to the switch port through the device. That would be pretty fantastic as a next step for this device."

What is our primary use case?

I use it regularly for both wired and wireless troubleshooting, performance testing, and verification.

I am a customer and beta tester for NetAlly.

How has it helped my organization?

One of the reoccurring things that you will see here is it makes it really easy for me to hand this solution to someone else and get them to provide me consistent results. Often, especially in WiFi, one of the problems which occurs is we have highly specialized tools that take a lot of training and years of experience to optimally use. However, in the case of AirMapper, it's really easy for me to quickly demonstrate to someone, "Here is how you use the program," so they can create a heatmap of an area that I may not be at, whether it's across the city, state, or country. It's easy for me to provide that support. Then, the data is easy to review on Link-Live (almost instantaneously) once they are finished completing that walking survey. The most important feature is that those heatmaps do go to Link-Live and are accessible on Link-Live.

When it comes to that remote troubleshooting perspective of being able to survey an area to see if there are problems, make adjustments, and then have that same individual resurvey that same area, I don't have to send people to a week long class on how to use the device. I know I am getting consistent results, which can verify near real-time, and whether or not the changes that I have implemented solve the problem.

The AutoTest feature has improved the way our company functions. With any large enterprise, you regularly have separation of duties. Your systems teams are generally responsible for your DNS and DHCP services. These are not a network function. In some situations, you might even have a security team who is responsible for managing the back-end services: RADIUS, ClearPass, or ACS, which are the back-end for 802.1x. Sometimes there can be a situation where a user reports, "A wireless problem", but the reality is that the wireless is functioning perfectly. The responsible party might be the systems team, the security team, or it maybe something non-related. Because the AutoTest checks and verifies each of those steps, this provides a clear, very easy to understand, dissected explanation. Then, the device is able to associate and authenticate, completing the four-way handshake, that gets the encryptions working. 

For example, if AutoTest was able to get an IP address, but as soon as it tried to do a DNS lookup, things failed. This is a really easy way of now going to talk to the systems team and saying, "Hey, we have a DNS problem. This isn't a WiFi problem, and it's not a problem in the wireless network. This is a DNS server that's not responding. Let's dig into why". It has clear test procedures that provide very clear, easy to understand results that make it simple for anyone to do some basic troubleshooting. More importantly, they can dive deep quickly into a problem to identify the source rather than just simply relying on a user's experience.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature would be the wireless testing capability. 

The newer features are becoming part of my workflow as well with AirMapper by being able to display coverage in a particular area, e.g., doing small surveys in a particular room or area. 

The ability to remotely troubleshoot: Being able to connect it up from my desk, then do wireless testing (or something along those lines) elsewhere. 

The Ethernet testing and verifying for the network connection makes sure it: 

  • Goes into an access point or device.
  • Correctly configured. 
  • Provides the proper POE
  • Has the correct links.
  • Verifies that my cable installers are delivering on what they promised.

I know when I run AutoTest what I should expect as far as response times from DHCP and DNS. It allows me to create a consistent test that runs exactly the same way every time. Then, whenever I hand it to someone else who isn't as familiar with all of the individual steps, I know that as long as they're running that AutoTest profile, it's the exact same thing as me being there running the testing. Because those results are consistent, when there are inconsistencies, I can assume that it is network or system related rather than user related.

Link-Live's ability to visualize key performance metrics covers the basics quite well. It provides me enough information so I can go, "Yes, this is a signal problem or an SNR problem." Then, I can take it to the next step, "Okay, it's not a physical layer problem because signal, SNR, and all of those things meet expectations. Or, it points out those areas." I can't say that it provides all of the metrics I need, but at least it provides that quick view so I can look at the basics of the physical RF and verify that those do/don't meet the specifications.

This solution provides visibility into our network that we could only get by using many other tools. While there are other tools that provide the same function, it does a great job of covering the basics of a lot of tools all in a single package. For example, some of the other alternatives out there for testing networks end-to-end will do that perfectly fine, but they don't do heatmapping. Ultimately, it's a single toolbox that my support staff and I need to learn. This is rather than having six different solutions that each do their own thing. It's a single device/solution, where if you learn it and learn it well, you can replicate results from disparate systems.

What needs improvement?

The test profiles could be improved a bit. It could be better at managing and adding them, but more importantly, switching between different profiles. Some of the results from the tests could go a little deeper - maybe with an expert mode that allows you to review the pcap for any part of the process, such as, an automatic pcap generation. Especially on Link-Live, I would love it if they would make it so that you could see the capture file. For example, if you go to the DCP request portion of that report, then in a second screen, it will show you the capture file in the pcap. I think there is a lot of ability to improve this area.

I would love to see port profiles. This is something I've expressed to them. The ability for a technician to plug it into a switch port, and say, "Okay, this port will be an access point or this port will be a phone and desktop PC," thus choosing a profile. It will then push a configuration to the device it's connected to and verify that the switch port is correctly configured, so I can hand this to a phone tech who doesn't have any access to a network switch to be able to make changes. They can go out and plug this into a port, then they are able to push a profile to the switch port through the device. That would be pretty fantastic as a next step for this device.

For how long have I used the solution?

Nine months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I handle maintenance for the devices, which includes:

  • Semi-regularly, NetAlly pushes out firmware updates, which are fairly easy to run via Link-Live. 
  • Quarterly, checking firmware updates and ensuring that everything is up-to-date.
  • The initial setup and configuration of the AutoTest profiles and those components.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There are five people who use EtherScope in my company. Their roles include network admin, network engineer, server and system admin, and unified communications admin.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not used NetAlly's techincal/customer support for this solution.

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

Previously, I used some older Fluke devices before going with EtherScope.

I have been really impressed with NetAlly and the way they are advancing the product. Every year, they release a new major revision. Those major revisions are incorporating features that customers have asked for. They are incorporating new capabilities into the existing piece of hardware which expands its capabilities. That is the biggest thing followed by the ease of use for people who I might hand it to.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI in man-hours, time to resolution by shortening the time that systems are down and affecting users, and its ability to find problems before they are experienced by end users (dealing with the problem before it is a problem). 

EtherScope has reduced our troubleshooting times. I think the average person who goes from no tools to this tool would probably see a 20 or 30 percent reduction in time to repair or resolution. I have so many tools, if anything, sometimes it might take me the longer to just decide which tool I want to use. 

The solution has made our networking staff more productive. From the perspective of my junior network admin whom I regularly hand this tool to, it probably saves one or two man-hours a week because of the all-in-one interface. This allows him to troubleshoot wired and wireless quickly.

The learning curve is moderate. I don't think this is a device that you can just simply hand to somebody and say, "Here it is. Use it." I think AirCheck G2 (another one of NetAlly's devices) is that the type of device where I can pretty much hand it to somebody who has never used it before. I can let them play with it for five minutes and maybe answer a question or two, then they are ready to go. I don't think EtherScope is that easy, but I do think that it is easy enough that I can spend 35 or 40 minutes with someone showing them the ins and outs of the device, then they can use it for most of their tasks. While the learning curve is moderate, spending 30 minutes teaching someone how to use this device can save me hours. Therefore, I feel like there is a really good return on the investment of my time in doing the training, because it's not such a complex device that I have to send them off for a week of training just to be able to use it.

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

For the average network shop, the cost is a bit high. In a lot of organizations, people don't share test devices between teams. Generally, you need a device for the network team and a device for the system team, the security team, etc. While the cost is a little on the high side, that is offset by the regular updates and continued improvements that NetAlly adds to the device. Those improvements continue to increase the perceived value of the device.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I pretty much use all the solutions in one form or another because I do a lot of testing for a bunch of companies. So, I have definitely evaluated a lot of other products.

I also use NetAlley AirCheck G2.

What other advice do I have?

I would tell other engineers to decide what their total testing needs are: 

  • To resolve whether or not they need wired and wireless testing? 
  • Do they need to be able to test copper and fiber? 
  • Do they need to be able to test just pure physical and verify that the cabling is correctly installed? Or, do they need to be able to test Layers 2, 3, and 4, as far as verifying that the network is fully functioning and network services are available? 
  • Is the Internet available in their internal servers and external servers? Is it responding?

I would tell them to look at what they need to test, then look at the devices which are capable of running what they need to test. If they find themselves in a situation where they do need to test all of those various things, then I don't think they are going to find a better all-in-one solution than EtherScope.

Would it make sense to hand a EtherScope nXG to a cabling guy? No, it absolutely doesn't. I wouldn't recommend that. However, so many of us perform lots of roles, have to troubleshoot, and test in a lot of different scenarios. In those situations, we do need a tool that is capable of testing all of the various layers, both wired and wireless, and can verify things remotely. EtherScope is a single tool that performs all of these tasks.

I have only tested to 1 gig at this point.

I would rate it a solid eight. I think that there are a lot of places it could be improved, but for the average user, it solves the majority of their problems and concerns.

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.
Learn what your peers think about NetAlly EtherScope nXG. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
553,954 professionals have used our research since 2012.
TB
Test Engineer at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 10Leaderboard
Enhances our efficiency, our ability to perform tests and debug test environments quickly

Pros and Cons

  • "One of the key measurements that we use out of the device is the channel utilization measurement, how much traffic is on the air in a given channel. That's the most valuable feature for us. The ability to make a very fast measurement of how much traffic is on the air is a key value. Otherwise we'd have to do a packet capture and do some analysis. It speeds up our testing."
  • "The one thing that it doesn't do well, when it's doing airtime utilization measurements, is that it will classify things as non-802.11, and that isn't correct. What it could do better is make sure that it classifies all traffic that's in the air correctly."

What is our primary use case?

We are a group that tests WiFi routers and interaction between those routers and client devices, such as laptops, etc. We use these NetAlly devices pretty extensively for getting a third-party view of what's going on over the air.

We use it primarily for its WiFi-related features, such as looking at what channels are being used, what other access points are on the air nearby. At times we use it at a customer's location in real-world settings, and at other times we use it in the lab when we're creating our own scenarios.

It helps us confirm what's in the air.

How has it helped my organization?

Since we're previous users of this type of product from NetScope and Fluke, I don't have metrics that show where this device has sped up our work, but it is an integral part of how we do our work. One way of saying it is that we have multiple RF chambers and test environments and we've equipped each one of those test locations with it's own NetAlly. We consider it an important enough tool that we have one in every place we're doing a test, so that we have the ability to get a quick view of what's on over the air.

It also provides a faster view of the network than what we could get by using other tools. In terms of our efficiency, our ability to perform tests and debug test environments quickly is enhanced by this device.

Compared to if we didn't have the nXGs at all, and we were troubleshooting a problem that could be identified by the device, it speeds up work by a factor of between two to 10 times. Rather than doing a packet capture and slow analysis, you can just take a look at something and be off and running. It speeds things up greatly.

It has also made our networking staff more productive, although I'm not sure how to quantify that. It's kind of like asking a plumber how long it will take him to do his job if he doesn't have the wrenches he needs.

Compared to any other means of getting a given type information, using this tool provides that information in a fraction of the time. It may be that we would go through an entire week and never use these units. So in that week they wouldn't save us anything at all. But when a problem comes up, the ability to pick it up and get the answer we need in a couple of minutes, versus an hour, makes a big difference at that point in time. You may only need that particular "wrench" 15 times a year, but every time you need it, it really is useful.

What is most valuable?

One of the key measurements that we use out of the device is the channel utilization measurement, how much traffic is on the air in a given channel. That's the most valuable feature for us. The ability to make a very fast measurement of how much traffic is on the air is a key value. Otherwise we'd have to do a packet capture and do some analysis. It speeds up our testing.

The newer version of NetAlly, the nXG, does a better job than previous models of allowing us to drill into conversations between individual clients and access points and get packet captures.

Its ability to do 802.11ax is also useful.

In addition, the device is easy to use for less skilled staff but with deep diagnostics for our experts on stuff. The graphical approach that it uses makes it very easy to see what's going on over the air and where your potential problems may be. And the graphical interface to pursue a problem is also very easy to use. 

Having said that, we're a fairly highly-specialized group, so I don't know that I have a good answer about less skilled users. What I'm judging by is that everybody in our lab, whether they're WiFi-specific experts or not, can pick it up and use it very easily. But in terms of whether technicians and other other folks could use it, I really don't know since I haven't given it to other users. But the ability to get to the view that you're interested in, and get a number quickly, makes it an easy-to-use test tool, as compared to a spectrum analyzer or a more complex tool. It's definitely an easy to use device, easy to navigate around, and it makes good use of the user interface.

What needs improvement?

The one thing that it doesn't do well, when it's doing airtime utilization measurements, is that it will classify things as non-802.11, and that isn't correct. What it could do better is make sure that it classifies all traffic that's in the air correctly. That's something that I've complained to them about before. It can infer that you have interference that really isn't there.

Also, the ability to integrate it into automated testing is fairly limited. Part of what we do is automate things whenever we possibly can. The ability to integrate it into automated test environments more readily would be useful.

Finally, while it does support 802.11ax technology, if it were able to give us a bit more information about what's happening in the 802.11ax realm, it would be useful. For example, we can't use this device to determine when something like OFDMA is being used in a conversation between an access point and a client. So more 802.11ax-specific data would be useful.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this particular device for several months. We bought them last year. We've been users of previous models as well, when it was NetScope, and even back when it was a Fluke device.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is improved over previous versions. It has been fine. No problems with it at all. We got the previous device to "blue screen" a few times but we think that was tied to it's being in the presence of 802.11ax traffic.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

If additional features are added that enhance our ability to troubleshoot WiFi problems, then it would get increased use. But we don't know of any such features at this moment in time.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't used NetAlly's customer support in over a year, and that was on the previous model.

They have been very interactive. We've had conversations all the way back to their design engineering teams and that's very valuable: having a company that is active and responsive. We value that.

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

We originally used the Fluke version of the WiFi analyzer and then we used what I think was called NetScope, the version that was the predecessor of this one. We've been users of this same product line for some time.

The driver for us to switch to the newest version was to pick up the 802.11ax capability.

How was the initial setup?

The learning curve was short. It does behave a little bit differently than the previous version, so we had to unlearn how the previous model worked. But once we understood it, it was easy to remember and use.

I wouldn't say it's completely intuitive. The company provided training for us for certain things and, while it was only an hour's worth of training, it really did help. So you can master it in an hour with a little bit of a tutorial. And to be fair, that tutorial took us through the entire product; all the features beyond WiFi. You could learn to use all the WiFi functions in a half an hour.

What was our ROI?

We have seen return on our investment. What we thought we were buying was the ability to quickly assess the WiFi environment wherever we needed to. And it does that.

In terms of the cost of the device versus its ability to save you time or solve problems faster, it's a good value.

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

I don't consider the pricing to be a problem. It's not a cheap device, but it's a very capable device for the money. It's a good value.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be "use it." Get a demo and try it to see how effective it is at identifying, for WiFi situations, what's going on in the air around you. Try it out, go debug something with it. If you are someone in the business of being in the field, day in and day out, try out all of the interfaces on it. If you're a person who has to debug a variety of different network issues every day — Ethernet, WiFi, fiber — I would definitely encourage you to to try it out. It's very capable. It doesn't do MoCA — that's coax cable — which is important to our market space, but for most network installers, I don't think that would be an issue. If you're a network installer you should definitely have a look at this tool.

I don't know that I've learned the following by using the nXG, but it has certainly helped reinforce it: Being able to attain a third-party look at what your WiFi environment is, is key to troubleshooting problems. Devices themselves that may be a part of your network may not necessarily always be telling you the truth. Your ability to get an independent view of what is going on over the air is key. That's the key takeaway for me. I need a reliable way to get visibility into what's going on over the air so that the analysis and the troubleshooting that are going to be done are appropriate. Visibility of what's really going on from an independent piece of test gear is very critical.

The multi-technology functionality of the device, that it does WiFi and wired Ethernet analysis in one device, is not that important to us. We use the multi-function capability maybe 10 percent of the time. Since most of our focus is on WiFi, while it's convenient to have the ability to test other things, we don't use it that often.

We rarely use the pre-programmed AutoTest feature. We typically have our own test protocol for how we want to conduct a test. I can definitely see how AutoTest could be very useful in the field-deployment arena. But we don't use it all that much. It appears to be effective at being able to find top-level network problems. A good example would be if you are testing a device and the WiFi appears to be working but you aren't getting connectivity to the internet. You might want an independent test of that with another device, and that's where AutoTest could quickly determine if you are really getting out to the internet through your router or not.

Within our group, the maintenance and systems engineering group, there are 11 of us using this solution and we are all test engineers. In terms of maintenance, we just use them. We perform firmware upgrades as they are available, but beyond that there is no other maintenance.

This product is a 10 out of 10. It's a solid little product.

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.
Ryan Ulrick
Consulting Engineer at CDW
Real User
Top 10
Multi-media technology gives me the flexibility to reliably test copper, fiber and wireless network infrastructure at the push of a button.

Pros and Cons

  • "The whole product is valuable because it's really a bunch of features that make up the one testing utility. Between auto tests, wireless assessments, its ability to do iPerf speed and traffic testing, as well as packet captures — all of those really contribute to a very successful product and allow me to do my job in a better manner."
  • "The only improvement I can come up with is the battery life. If they could improve the battery life, that would be great."

What is our primary use case?

I currently work as an Enterprise and Data Center Network Consultant. Because of that I’m in a wide variety of customer environments that change constantly. The flexibility of the nXG allows me to keep it with me, no matter where I am and know I have the resource to perform wired, copper or fiber, and wireless network testing. This flexibility allows me to have instill my customers with confidence after an install that their network services are available and functioning as expected.

How has it helped my organization?

As a consultant, one of my primary jobs when designing and deploying network infrastructure is determining a test plan that will be utilized to verify network services and resources are available once work is complete. The nXG provides a versatile testing platform for a variety of media and gives a user the ability to pre-define test conditions. Once defined I can attach the Etherscope to the network and run my tests to confirm a successful installation, or to identify problems within the infrastructure that need to be remedied. With this ability to run test plans efficiently I'm able to proactively improve the Quality of Experience an end-user will have before they even know a new solution is in place.

Given the fact that my job is variable by nature — I'm always with different customers, I'm always in different environments — the ability to carry a single, small, handheld unit that can provide all of this testing, troubleshooting and analysis capability is a game changer. With previous iterations of the NetAlly products, many of these great features were present, but they weren't as flexible - one may not be able to test wireless, or, perform 10 Gigabit testing - and there were times I would end up at a customer site with the wrong tester in my bag and have to find another solution, or waste time retrieving one of my other testers. Now, it's all in a single unit. I never have to worry that the unit I'm carrying won't have the feature set I need that day. I'm able to demonstrate to my customers how much value can be added by simply pulling a tool out of my backpack, plugging it into the network, and analyzing the problem. As an engineers I can then verify the problem and fix it in one fell swoop. I'm able to eliminate a lot of the intermediary work that would have been present had I not had an all-in-one tester.

While I haven't kept logs of when I use the product, how often, and how much time it has saved me, I would estimate that in troubleshooting and testing situations I have increased my efficiency by roughly 50% with the addition of the Etherscope nXG to my tool set. 

What is most valuable?

I don't think I can really hone in on a specific feature that has made this product valuable to me. Its unique combination of testing, analysis and troubleshooting tools packaged into a single unit in a reliable, efficient and aesthetically pleasing platform has been fantastic. The ability to perform packet captures, traffic analysis, iPerf testing and more in the palm of my hand has contributed to a wildly successful product and contributed to my ability to drive customer satisfaction in a big way. 

The multi-technology functionality of the solution (ie. the fact that it does WiFi and wired Ethernet analysis up to 10GB speeds in one device) has really been a huge improvement in the NetAlly products. Previously, while some of the older generations I worked with had those capabilities, they could only do a little bit of wireless or a little bit of wired, but they couldn't really do the whole spectrum together. This product has allowed me to slip one conveniently sized utility into my bag wherever I'm going and know that, right there in my bag, I have the resources to do any of fiber, wired Ethernet, or wireless testing, without having to dig into a bag if I need to change technologies or for adapters or for a different test. It's all one, convenient, centralized unit.

I use the pre-programmed AutoTest feature as a starting point and, overall, it is a very successful utility. It provides a wealth of information to the user. AutoTest isn't just a, "Is your network good to go or is it not?", type utility. The software will analyze the network conditions and provide valuable output to the user to aid in identifying network issues. It will also provide you a detailed readout on how the various test were performed, what step a tes failed out and what caused the failure. For example, if it had to wait too long for a DHCP address to be assigned, or if it couldn't reach a destination, it will provide that output as well. AutoTest provides a large amount of information for quite a few test parameters in one convenient dashboard. It also has the ability to upload those results to NetAlly's Link-Live Cloud Service. That has been invaluable for sharing results among my team members and analyzing results after the fact.

I also make use of the solution's full line-rate 10 gigabit capability very frequently. I have customers who have 10 gigabit or higher infrastructure in their organizations and, whether we have to do speed testing on those units or we simply need to connect to a port that is a 10 gigabit line rate port and determine information about it, having this small unit is wonderful. While NetAlly's OneTouch could handle 10 gigabit, it was roughly the size of a large book. It was pretty difficult to carry around conveniently or break out in the event that I needed to utilize it.

As a handheld tool, the functionality is incredible. I'm always working with one technology or another, but it's all focused around networking.This single unit can provides me the troubleshooting and analysis capabilities of five or six tools that I would've had to carry before and it fits in my backpack. I can carry it with me all the time, charge it very easily via USB-C and immediately have it available and ready to use in a customer environment. 

In addition, the solution is easy to use for less skilled staff, but has deep diagnostics for experts. Many times when I'm onsite, I'll hand my tester to someone who may be a manager or on maintenance staff in that department. I'll send them to a closet to test the cable for me when I'm on the other end looking a console or other readout, so that I can see the results and what's happening. They're very easily able to plug in the device, hit AutoTest on the screen and press start. It's as easy as that.

There are a variety of tools out there for things like packet capture and speed rate testing. But having them all in the single unit is invaluable. You're able to walk up to a device, plug it in, and, if you need to take a packet capture for troubleshooting, it's right there, built into the device. If you need to do a speed test, it's built in. Whereas before, you'd have to have dedicated applications, pull out a laptop, make sure you had the right thing installed and, if not, go install it, and then perform the testing.

What needs improvement?

I've really had some positive experience with this product. But eventually, and I know it's not something that can be built directly into this product, I would like to see NetAlly provide a device, even if it's larger or more expensive, that can test the higher rate speeds like, 40 or 100 gigabits per second.

The only improvement I can come up with is the battery life. If they could improve the battery life, that would be great.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used NetAlly products for several years. The Etherscope nXG in particular I've been using since its launch in October 2019. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've never had an issue with its stability.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not had to interact with their technical support, which I think shows a lot, since I use it pretty regularly.

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

I've always used NetAlly solutions: I've used their OneTouch device, as well as their OneTouch G2, OneTouch AT, and LinkSprinters. I'm pretty sure I've used every physical product that NetAlly provides.

What was our ROI?

I have definitely seen return on my investment with this solution.

To me, it's invaluable. Time-saving, when I'm working with such a wide variety of customers and going from site to site, is one of the most important things that can be improved in my position. Having this tester, the ability to utilize it for quick troubleshooting while I'm on-the-fly, keeping it with me all the times when I'm traveling between customer sites, has been something that I wouldn't place a price point on.

What other advice do I have?

If you're on the fence reach out to your regional account representative within NetAlly and request a demo of the product before anything else. It is a solid enough product that seeing it in use, even within a NetAlly demo, makes it very clear to many customers and many technical decision-makers how valuable a product like this can be in an organization. Its value is very easily shown and very easily understood by a wide variety of people. Requesting that demo and looking at it before purchasing is always a great step, but it will definitely reinforce the decision to do so.

Also, read the documentation. If there's something that you don't understand, or the output of a test looks unclear, or it's something that you haven't seen before, look at the documentation before anything else. Within the manual they very clearly detail all the potential test results, what they mean, and what implications they have. The fact that the manual is available right on the device in a PDF reader is great.

In addition, make sure to look at the app store that's available on the device. It's curated by NetAlly and it has tools that are vetted and specific for troubleshooting and analyzing networks. That app store has a wealth of applications that can be used in addition to what NetAlly has already built.

I would rate the EtherScope nXG at nine out of 10, because there is always room for new features and improvement in any product. That being said, NetAlly has built an incredibly stable product that provides a large amount of value to anyone using it.

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. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
Andrii Danylov
Systems Engineer at IT Management Corp
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Improves our workflow by quickly identifying the network details we need, saving us time

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is the ability to identify the switchboards, when you plug the EtherScope into the network drop, and all other details about the switch. This is very useful because when you are not in that IDF or network closet but far away from that switch, you can identify the board and then configure the board for your needs, remotely."
  • "There are some inconsistencies in how it uploads the test results to the cloud, but it might just need a minor improvement on the software side. When you don't have an internet connection on the EtherScope when you do the testing, it saves the results into memory. When it has an internet connection, it uploads those results, but it doesn't work all the time. Sometimes, you need to manually push it."

What is our primary use case?

Our company is an IT integrator and we have a lot of work on different kinds of IP networks. We deploy networks, we troubleshoot them, and we optimize them. The EtherScope is very useful in our day-to-day activities when we are onsite too, for example, to check the network drop, which port is on the switch, and to see all the details about the switch.

We also use it to test cables for any kind of damage. It tests all eight wires in the internet cable. It has a small dongle that you can put on the other side of the cable and know the exact length and condition of the cable.

We also use it for testing high bandwidth links, such as 10 Gb fiber links between different buildings, or even different sites. We can use the EtherScope to run a speed test to see what the max capacity is that we can achieve on the fiber.

How has it helped my organization?

It helps us to be faster. It definitely improves our workflow because it helps to identify the details that we need from the network pretty quickly, and that saves time. It's definitely a good and valuable asset for our company.

Also, the EtherScope can replace multiple tools. With one tool we can get a lot of insights, from different angles, into the network. The level of detail, from such a simple-to-use tool, is hard to achieve with other such products. There is software on the market, but it's much more sophisticated for getting the same results and details. The benefit is that it's just one tool. The cost is not cheap but it totally pays for itself because it can do so much. For an IT integrator or IT consultancy, it is a must-have tool for troubleshooting customer networks.

In some cases, it has significantly reduced troubleshooting time; we can find the issue faster than before. The reduction in troubleshooting time depends on the issue, but if a user reports, for example, that he has intermittent connectivity on WiFi, this tool can reduce troubleshooting time by half.

It has made our networking staff more productive. We don't use the tool every day because we don't have that many customer issues. This tool is primarily for troubleshooting issues, and we have a lot of other activities besides troubleshooting. I would approximate that it has halved the time we normally require, giving our staff that much more time for other things.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the ability to identify the switch port ID, when you plug the EtherScope into the network drop, and many other details about the switch. This is very useful because when you are not in that IDF or network closet but far away from that switch, you can identify the port and then configure it for your needs remotely. It is very useful to know exactly which port and what exactly the switch is. EtherScope can tell if there are network connectivity and access to the Internet along with the info about the switch. That's the most frequently used and the most valuable feature for us.

Another very useful feature is the WiFi analysis. The EtherScope helps us to see if there is any interference in the wireless and it shows radio channels capacity and current utilization with the number of connected clients on those channels. It shows the channelization (width of the band)of both 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands. It is extremely useful for on-spot WiFi analysis and identifying problems in that area.

The multi-technology functionality of the solution, the fact that it does WiFi and wired Ethernet analysis in one device, is also very useful. This combination of different technologies in one device is very handy when you need to do some troubleshooting on site when there is a problem with the network and you don't know where to start. You can test both wired and wireless connections and identify the issue pretty quickly.

We use the pre-programmed AutoTest feature all the time for both wired and wireless. It has all kinds of possible tests in one test that is run automatically. It's very handy to see the results on different layers of the network.

As I mentioned, we use the full line-rate 10 Gb capability to test the fiber speed, the connection between the server and the distribution panel. We run the re-installed application, installed inside the EtherScope. We can run data between the EtherScope and the server and this shows the true throughput that can be achieved, and it can be fiber or Cat 6 cable. It has very rich functionality and its compact size adds a lot of value because it's very convenient to carry it and use it. 

The fact that it is battery operated is also very good.

The tool can be used by anyone with basic technical knowledge. That person can capture all the information. Another great capability of the EtherScope is that it allows you to upload the results to the cloud at the time the test was done, and then, someone with better expertise can access those results and provide analysis. But to use it, you don't need to be technically educated. It's easy to use.

What needs improvement?

The battery life is a little bit too short.

Also, there are some inconsistencies in how it uploads the test results to the cloud, but it might just need a minor improvement on the software side. When you don't have an internet connection on the EtherScope when you do the testing, it saves the results into memory. When it has an internet connection, it uploads those results, but it doesn't work all the time. Sometimes, you need to manually push it.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using NetAlly EtherScope nXG for around one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I'm pretty impressed, it is pretty stable. I haven't seen any sudden shutdown or any kind of serious bugs. It works fine.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is excellent. I've had some support requests and the response time was good and my issues were resolved.

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

We do have JDSU Cable Certifier. It's two big boxes and they're very expensive. We can test any type of cable with them, meaning copper or fibre, and it certifies that the connections on both ends of the cable are ready for data. It also measures the speed of the connection. 

But now, we use EtherScope most of the time to test the cable and the connection. The Cable Certifiers are used only when we run the cable, but not as much when we want to see if the cable is good and what its speed is.

There is another tool that we have from Ekahau called Sidekick. It's a device for wireless troubleshooting and wireless mapping. It's actually a very advanced tool and we use it a lot. But the EtherScope has part of its functionality and the EtherScope is much easier to use. Also, the time it takes to use it is much shorter. You just turn on the EtherScope and walk around, versus the Ekahau where you need to prepare the project. So the EtherScope saves time on wireless troubleshooting. If it is not a case of wireless mapping, we definitely use the EtherScope and not the Ekahau.

How was the initial setup?

The solution is pretty easy to use and it has a good "how-to" manual with it. The learning curve is pretty short with this tool. It took me two or three hours to get to know it. This was the combined amount of time, because when you need, for example, to test the network drop, you don't need to go over all the features of the tool. So we learned it step by step, as we needed the functionality.

We have five people using this tool. It depends on what project needs it, but they are mainly system network engineers and technicians. The usage is based on the incoming support requests. It is used about three days a week, on average.

There is not that much maintenance for the device. I will update it from time to time if there is an update in the settings available for the server or operating system. But other than that, there is not that much maintenance on this tool.

What was our ROI?

We have definitely seen return on investment in terms of the time that we spend onsite and reduction in the amount we have to pay our workers as a result of that reduced time onsite.

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

There isn't any license. The pricing is not bad. It's moderate, but the tool is worth the price.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at one other tool. I'm not sure if it was from Fluke Networks, but EtherScope is the only tool on the market with such rich functionality. We picked it pretty quickly.

What other advice do I have?

It's a great tool for network troubleshooting. It's an awesome tool.

The biggest lesson I have learned from using this solution is that this is the tool to discover the issue. It's not that it helps to find something new but there are ways to discover the network details in a very efficient way and that's what EtherScope nXG offers.

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.
Wayne Inniss
Field Support Manager at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Eliminates the need for external resources to help troubleshoot

Pros and Cons

  • "It has reduced our internal troubleshooting time. In the cases where we could not internally solve the troubleshooting, we would have had to contact an external vendor to test cable, rerun it, etc. NetAlly EtherScope has let us eliminate that in most cases so we can resolve an issue on our own without having to call a third-party out to identify the problem. It has reduced our troubleshooting time for network cabling issues by a good 75 percent."
  • "The battery life could be better. There have been a couple of times that I used it and put it down, then I went to pick it up and the battery was dead. So, I need to take the power cord with me in order to continue using it."

What is our primary use case?

We use it to troubleshoot network cabling issues as well as identify network ports and network connectivity issues from the end user to the switch. It is a device that helps us test cables and network connectivity.

How has it helped my organization?

It has reduced our internal troubleshooting time. In the cases where we could not internally solve the troubleshooting, we would have had to contact an external vendor to test cable, rerun it, etc. NetAlly EtherScope has let us eliminate that in most cases so we can resolve an issue on our own without having to call a third-party out to identify the problem. It has reduced our troubleshooting time for network cabling issues by a good 75 percent. 

What is most valuable?

It has the ability to identify what VLAN the cable is connected to on the switch. If we go to an office and need to know where that other end goes, then we use it a lot for that so we can quickly trace out and identify cables. It is really good at that.

The pre-programmed AutoTest feature has been good. I have no complaints with its ability to find network problems. For example, we had these power over Ethernet devices that we use for projections. So, if folks go into a conference room, they can wirelessly project to the projector, then that device is plugged in over the Ethernet. We had a cabling company come out and put in a bunch of cabling. They had it all mislabeled and wrong, so we use this device to correct the labeling and locate where those devices were actually plugged in. We needed to have those devices on a specific VLAN. Where the cabling company told us the cabling was, it wasn't there. It was on the wrong VLAN. This device allowed me to find out, not only what VLAN it was on, but exactly what port it was plugged into. Therefore, I was able to trace the cable on the back-end.

We're able to plug this up, then do traces, get Wireshark, etc. We can do it all on this particular device. It is more efficient to be able to pull up one tool and have that tool able to be the whole solve everything, soup to nuts. It's great to do that instead of having to run around, working with two or three different tools and starting over each time.

What needs improvement?

The battery life could be better. There have been a couple of times that I used it and put it down, then I went to pick it up and the battery was dead. So, I need to take the power cord with me in order to continue using it. 

Initially, one of the devices wasn't reading the information from the scans. So, we would do a scan, and it was giving us back erroneous information. Then, when we tested it on our other unit, that unit was fine. We tested the same problems with what we were troubleshooting. We tried testing it with our second unit and the second unit gave us the information that we needed, where our first unit did not. We kind of went back and forth doing that. Eventually we realized that the first unit on known, good scenarios, which were confirmed by the second unit, could not give us the right information. We knew at that point it was not working and that one of the particular unit was defective.

For how long have I used the solution?

About eight months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It seems very stable. We did get two of them. One of them had an issue that we had to get repaired, but the other seems solid. We now have the repaired one back, and it seems solid as well. 

There is no maintenance for the device that I'm aware of.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have four field support technicians who use the devices. Then, we have a network administrator who guides us through usage of it as well as troubleshoots issues. 

We do have plans to increase usage. It's used right now as a troubleshooting tool. Therefore, if we have an issue, we pull it out as we go forward for wireless and some other things where we're doing enhancements. We engage the tool as part of that.

How are customer service and technical support?

Our experience with the technical support was great and knowledgeable. They helped us by sending us a replacement when we realized one of the units was defective. The turnaround time was acceptable. Since I had two units, so I was able to supplement users with my other device. I might have been a bit more crankier if I only had one unit.

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

We didn't use anything prior to this.

What was our ROI?

We have seen reduced time for support and troubleshooting issues. So, I see value it the solution. Over eight months, they have been a little pricey. Though, in certain instances, we have had to bring out cable vendors to identify troubles, and those calls are pretty pricey as well. Because we have eliminated the need for external resources to help troubleshoot on multiple occasions, I would say there has been ROI on it.

Anybody can use it. The higher-end techs can take advantage of it to do more. We can use it for implementations and other things. This has decreased the downtime of our network operations by having us take a shorter amount of time to resolve issues. We are able to test the cable out prior to turning it over. When we are going from a build-out network, we can test every piece of it out, verifying it's all good and everything is correct before we turn it over to production. This eliminates misconfigurations and additional downtime. So, it can eliminate downtime altogether, if utilized properly, for these type of issues.

The solution has made our networking staff more productive. If we get a lot of issues, then it saves a lot of time. It saves about 75 percent of the time of what we had before, e.g., if there were a hundred hours of troubleshooting time before, then we only have 25 hours now, but this varies based on our business. Sometimes, we don't have any network issues, so we don't use it. When we do use it, it saves about 75 percent of our time.

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

It's a pricey device, but I see value in it from a business perspective.

We paid for the additional maintenance on it (for an extra year) to get that extra coverage. This was the first time that we had this solution in-house, and it was pretty pricey. So, we wanted to make sure that anything went wrong, then we could get it repaired, which is pretty standard.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at a couple of other units. We chose NetAlley because its feature did everything that we needed and checked all our boxes.

What other advice do I have?

Buy it. It is worth it. I have gotten more insight into what we are doing using the solution along with more information to make better decisions in regards to troubleshooting or wireless.

We use it anytime that we have network trouble. Now, it's one of the first tools that we pull up if we are having network connectivity issues. The first thing the we do, "Let's get NetAlly and test the cable to the switch." 

If someone picks up the tool, then forgets to put it back. Usually, we hear about it, they are like, "Hey, where's the NetAlly, I know it is being used?"

The multi-technology functionality of the solution does a lot. We haven't dove into everything, but I can use it to test cables. I really like the fact that it does everything that it does. The fact that it does WiFi and wired Ethernet analysis in one device has been great.

We have the solution’s AirMapper Site Survey app in a testing environment. We have been playing with it just to get familiarized with it. We did a wireless survey for a specific area that we were looking to do some additional equipment in. The AirMapper Site Survey app is pretty straightforward. I didn't have to do too much digging. Its ability to gather WiFi site survey data is good and works as advertised.

Initially, for the simple things, the learning curve is pretty easy and quick. It's not a very big curve. However, for complex items, you want to read up on the solution. They have documentation online that you can watch to the help you. The more complex things take more time unless you're familiar with them, and I wasn't that familiar with the solution and had to do a bit more digging, but the simple things were easy.

We haven't had the need to make use of the solution’s full line-rate 10 Gig capability.

I would rate this solution as a 10 out of 10.

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.
KK
Owner at Camber Integration
Real User
Top 10Leaderboard
When providing WiFi for hackathons or at high-end corporate events, I'm able to find the rogues really quickly

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable part is absolutely being able to assess existing WiFi networks quickly. You get very powerful details of networks, details that you couldn't see unless you had multiple pieces of software and hardware. This does it all in one thing."
  • "There is room for improvement in the battery life and price."

What is our primary use case?

I use it primarily to troubleshoot wireless WiFi networks. I look for channel interference, I look for signal level problems, and I channel-ize things on the fly with it, very successfully.

I use it at least once a week. It depends on the jobs, as I do all kinds of different jobs. Sometimes I'll use it every day during the course of a job. Sometimes I'll use it just to analyze an existing system, to define what needs to be fixed or addressed. I also use it just to double check that what I install is the way it's supposed to be, as far as channelization and signal levels go.

I have the unit that came with the extra antenna and I also have the SFP, but I mainly use the main base unit for troubleshooting.

How has it helped my organization?

It works great. It's basically a souped-up Android device that does all the troubleshooting that a souped-up laptop could do, if the laptop had the correct software and interfaces. It's a lot easier to get around and do your thing with it.

The number-one thing that it has done for us is that we do event WiFi sometimes. We have literally provided WiFi for a hackathon and there are people who are not good people in the mix, and they do malicious things with WiFi hotspots. You need to find those rogues, and you need to find them really quickly. I can't think of a better tool to do that with.

Also, using the NetAlly cloud makes it really easy to collect all your tasks and reference them when you're trying to come up with proposals for fixes for existing systems that need to be fixed or replaced.

It provides visibility into networks that I could only get by using many other tools. I'm something of a "road warrior," so anything I can do to keep my mobile office — ie, my backpack — lightweight, helps. Having that and one go-to laptop really helps out a lot, instead of having multiple testing devices.

It has definitely reduced my troubleshooting time. The amount of time really depends on the scenario and what I use it to find, but it can save me anywhere from 10 minutes to a whole day's worth of work. It has definitely made me more productive.

People also think it looks cool. When you're meeting a new client, and you have this thing and you need to answer their questions and troubleshoot stuff on the spot, it separates you [from your competition].

What is most valuable?

The most valuable part is absolutely being able to assess existing WiFi networks quickly. You get very powerful details of networks, details that you couldn't see unless you had multiple pieces of software and hardware. This does it all in one thing.

The pre-programmed AutoTest feature finds network problems quickly, just like all of NetAlly's tools. There are three or four core things that you need to be working on a network and the EtherScope gets to it quickly, for troubleshooting.

It's very easy to use. If you're trying to figure out: What are these SSIDs? What kind of APs? What channels are they on? There's no easier way to drill into those details. It also provides deep diagnostics for sure. It has a lot of features that I don't need for everyday use, but it's nice to know they're there if I ever do need them.

What needs improvement?

There is room for improvement in the battery life and price.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using NetAlly EtherScope nXG for about a year now. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I don't think it's crashed on me once.

I really do wish the battery lasted a little bit longer. I feel that I have to be very conscious of the battery life on it. That's really the only negative thing.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I can't say I have plans to increase usage of it. It's probably going to be the same load. This isn't something I intend to buy for other people. Frankly, it's too expensive and I would get other devices, for my employees, from NetAlly. But I don't think I would do another EtherScope. One is good enough for my company.

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

I've used Fluke, which eventually became NetAlly, after everything got bought and sold. As things actually needed upgrading I got NetAlly. I was going to get a NetAlly regardless, because of their reputation and the other devices that we've had from the company that became Fluke. We trust them. It works. I know they would back it if I called for support. I just haven't had to.

How was the initial setup?

For me, there was very little learning curve. I did go through the whole manual because it was an investment — it's not cheap — to make sure I was doing things right. It was actually really easy, but it depends on the network knowledge you have going into it. It could be really confusing if you don't know that stuff.

What was our ROI?

I have seen ROI through the work on corporate events; there is no tomorrow. You have to fix it right now, and if you don't fix it right now you might not get paid; and you might not make your quarter and you might not make your year. It's critical. High-end corporate events, where their name is on the line, means our name is on the line at the same time. It can pay for itself in one use, depending on the scenario.

You learn your lesson from one bad day. Not having it, and wishing you had it to get out of a scenario, justifies it right there.

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

The stuff is expensive. I really do wish the price would come down. I don't really call support. I haven't had a problem. But it's really expensive and every year I have to pay them a ton of money. I don't want to make up reasons to justify that cost, but I'm not using the support. I understand they have to do R&D and do updates; I get that. But it is an expensive device. It costs as much as some peoples' cars.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I don't even know if there is another option anymore. There are some things out there for people who are just searching the internet, but network professionals are all going to use the NetAlly at this point. I don't think Fluke even makes equipment anymore for network testing.

I also use Ekahau and I do like Ekahau a lot. I'm not at the point where I'm going to replace it, but hopefully I can because I don't want to pay for two expensive things. I'd rather only pay for one expensive thing.

What other advice do I have?

The EtherScope is such a unique tool. Everyone is going to use different features for different purposes. I am more WiFi oriented.

Regarding the unit's multi-technology functionality, I'm not using it too much on the wired side. I do have a lot of tools. Much of the time, when I'm doing wired troubleshooting, it's just simple continuity tasks more than anything. I use the EtherScope for WiFi more than anything, but it is nice to have the wired abilities when needed.

I have used the AirMapper Site Survey app once, just last week. I did not use it fully. I just used it to do a quick assessment. I'm actually curious to find out more about it. It was very easy. I haven't used it with the software. I haven't been able to dump the data into the software and see it fully yet, so I can't say I have a real opinion of it yet.


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.
DA
Network Engineer at a engineering company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 10Leaderboard
Pre-programmed AutoTest feature is good, checking all the necessary parameters

Pros and Cons

  • "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."
  • "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."

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.