Comparing product features, it comes down to this: a worker’s everyday results define the value of a tool. This first look at two leading cable test units goes beyond point-by-point comparison charts looking at the device features in the field. A fundamental difference: Net Chaser has a bright color display and and a tree of options with touch screen selection. The CableIQ has a monochrome display and scrolling menus.
What really matters, though, is whether they both can get the job done, over and over, and give results that help ensure quality cable installations and network performance. Here is a differential comparison of the devices, as seen from an installer’s perspective. We’ll start with displays:
Critical features to ensure single-unit testing include cable short and open testing, distance to fault, cable length, miswires, reverses, split pairs, and wiring verification. Tone generation helps troubleshoot wiring by identifying pairs. With far-end test devices and single-ended testing, testers should be able to verify the performance of the installed cable as meeting or exceeding system design criteria.
Beyond basic continuity tests, tester should verify signaling characteristics of the cable, including Bit Error Rate (up to 1 Gbps), Signal to Noise Ratio, Delay Skew, and possibly some TDR features.
Testing installed cabling can involve checking an operational network or simulating network traffic, and verifying that protocol features are correctly occurring using the data rate and protocol types for which the system was designed. DHCP, port scanning, ping and traceroute testing, and other IP protocol features should operate normally. Top testers should be ready to handle the transition to IPv6 as needed, and fully test PoE if implemented.
Data should be stored and transmitted to a PC from the device, or available on removable media for report generation and data analysis.
Test device companies should have an eye to future cable verification needs and use by international cabling teams, to prolong the useful life of test equipment and support global use.
Testers should be operational for as long as needed.