Wi-Spy DBx (device finder directional antenna) and Chanalyzer Pro, by metageekI've always been a big fan of the Wi-Spy family of WLAN spectrum analyzers, used to evaluate interference in Wi-Fi installations, ever since their first 2.4-GHz.-only $99 special (which is still available, by the way, if your gift budget is limited). And Wi-Spy got a good review in the last Network World comparative test of spectrum analyzers. The latest edition of their top-of-the-line dual-band DBx (which we tested with the latest firmware) and the latest release of their Chanalyzer Pro software continue the tradition. The user interface of what was already a very easy-to-use product is much improved with additional functions. The optional "device finder" directional antenna lets you walk around looking for an ever-stronger signal from a suspected interferer, and hopefully finding the offending radiator.
Granted, a DBx with top-of-the-line software is going to set you back about a grand - but small businesses that depend upon Wi-Fi will find this is a gift that keeps on giving, as the potential for interference never goes away, and will likely worsen over time. We recommend, therefore, that all serious Wi-Fi installations have access to a spectrum analyzer to either confirm or rule out interference when performance problems arise. And if all you need is 2.4 GHz. analysis, prices here are very reasonable, again starting at that mere $99.
So - if you have a serious Wi-Fi user or network manager on your gift list this year, consider Wi-Spy. And don't forget to check out their ever-expanding line of other products, including the terrific AirPcap pack capture tools (also top-rated in a Network World review) and the free (in case you're out of funds at this point) InSSIDer 2 Wi-Fi scanner/discovery tool. This one is open source, in the event you'd like to whip up a custom version for that special someone this year.
Cool Yule Rating: 5 starsPrice: $599-$999Company Web siteReviewed by C. J. Mathias
AmpliTube iRig iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad Electric Guitar Interface, by IK MultimediaIf you're a musician, nothing brightens your holiday more than a new gadget for your studio. And just in case you're not likely to get that original '59 Les Paul (for you non-guitarists out there, these can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars!) that's been on your list for, oh, forever, there's nothing better than a new effects box to at least freshen up your tone a bit.