Well, not anymore. The Pockethernet, a network testing device stemming from an Indiegogo funding campaign early in 2014, is attempting to change all of that. Brought to life by German duo Zoltan Devai and Jeroen van Boxtel, the device is aiming to be an all-in-one device to make every IT person's life easier. I received mine in the mail a few days ago and have been playing with it to develop some first impressions since then. Past the video, I get into the unpacking and the Pockethernet's uses!
The original Indiegogo campaign closed in March of 2014 with 370% of the original $50,000 goal, and there have been several delays since the devices were supposed to have been shipped. This is not the end of the world, and I only had thoughts that I might not get the device a couple of times. There have been over 20 updates sent out to backers between the campaign closing and now, keeping us up-to-date with the status of production, shipping and several challenges that were encountered along the way. Producing the devices took longer than expected with a couple revisions and retooling required, regulations taking longer than expected to be sorted out for all the governing bodies worldwide, and even running into difficulties dealing with UPS/DHL.
All of that is now nearing completion, and devices have been and are being shipped. After being unpacked, this is the case that the unit and cables came in.
|Pockethernet in case|
|Pockethernet case opened|
|Front of Pockethernet|
On this front side are the Ethernet jack itself and 5 LEDs:
|Pockethernet - Front|
|Pockethernet - Rear|
|Rear of Pockethernet|
|Pockethernet start screen|
|Wiremap test function|
|Wiremap TDR results|
|Cable gigabit information|
|Online network test|
|Offline network testing|
|Generate report screen|
|Generated PDF of test results|
While playing with the device for a short while I discovered and read about a few odd things it does, some of which can be worked around.
- There isn't yet a quickstart or how-to guide for using the product, although there is an active backer forum where questions are being answered very quickly. If you generally know something about networking and what you are doing, then it probably will not take you long to get up to speed and make use of the device.
- The Pockethernet cannot be used while connected to its USB charger.
- Before you can start an Online test, you are required to run a generic cable test, presumably to let the software know that it's connected to something.
- The cable length results are sometimes correct, but not in other cases. This is a known issue which should be fixed shortly.
- Testing the BER at gigabit speeds currently does not work, although it does at 10 and 100Mbps. As before, this is another known issue reported on the forums.
So...does it really do that?The device as delivered is a solid piece of hardware that accomplishes many of the goals it set out to accomplish, but the software is not completely there yet. For something that I put money down before there was even a physical product, it holds great promise through continued software updates to fix bugs and add additional functionality. One item specifically mentioned that will be added is LLDP/CDP support, and other features to be added include VLAN support, SNMP/web configuration, and 802.x support.
The Pockethernet is still in its early stages, but looks to only have a bright future ahead with continued software updates. At $150 (not yet generally available for purchase) or even slightly more, it is a steal compared to the larger and more-expensive network tools for basic network testing and will continue to chip away at the higher-end tools as more functionality is added. Having only possessed the device for around a week I have already had to use it several times to verify cables both at home and at work, so it is already paying for itself. If you can steer around the various bugs that exist currently, I would definitely suggest looking to purchase the Pockethernet when it becomes available. Otherwise, wait a few months for those to be ironed out and new features added, and then purchase yourself a Pockethernet. I can certainly see myself never needing another network testing tool as long as I have my Pockethernet by my side.