For my range test, I switched things around a bit. I used a draft 11n D-Link DIR-655 router and DWA-652 CardBus card instead of the Linksys gear. I again drove the pair with IxChariot, but set the router to Channel 1 and 40 MHz mode. This produced a spectrum covering Channels 1 through 6.
I also moved to my kitchen, to a spot on a counter across from my test Location 4, which is one floor up and at the opposite end of the house from the AP and card location in my office. Figures 5 - 7 show the results for the three products. I again recommend you open the larger versions of each image for comparison.
Figure 5: Cognio Spectrum Expert - Distance Test - 11n 40 MHz mode
Figure 5 shows that the Cognio was able to detect the signal, but just barely. Also note that the Swept Spectrogram view shows only faint signal traces.
Figure 6: Wi-Spy original - Distance Test - 11n 40 MHz mode
Figure 6 shows that the original Wi-Spy also detected the signal, but in a way that could easily be mistaken for noise.
Figure 7: Wi-Spy 2.4x - Distance Test - 11n 40 MHz mode
Figure 7, however, clearly shows that the 2.4x provided the clearest view of the distant signal in all three display modes. There is no mistaking that the signal is there, even in the Spectral View. I suspect that the 2.4x' dipole antenna gave it the advantage here since it was in the same plane (vertical) as the D-Link router's antennas.
Well folks, MetaGeek has done it again with Wi-Spy 2.4x. While at just shy of $400 it's not exactly an impulse buy, it's still thousands less than any other 2.4 GHz spectrum analyzer that you can buy...except for the original Wi-Spy, of course. Since MetaGeek wants to offer a lower-cost alternative to the 2.4x, they will continue to offer the original Wi-Spy for $199.
So which one to buy? If you're just doing the occasional spectrum sweep, or just curious about the 2.4 GHz airwaves around you, $200 is probably enough to spend to scratch that itch. But wireless installers on a budget and other folks who charge for their services would be better off spending the extra $200 for the extra range and, more importantly, frequency resolution of the 2.4x. As the earlier screenshots show, the difference is both clear and provides value. And don't forget the ability to attach directional antennas!
And if you have the Original Wi-Spy and are wondering whether to spring for the 2.4x, you'll have to make that call yourself. It's a lot easier if you paid only $99 for your Original, though. Good Luck!