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Rollout: Fluke Networks LinkRunner Pro

Compact, rugged and inexpensive, LinkRunner Pro is ideal for technicians looking to diagnose simple connectivity issues or gnarlier problems on the physical level.

The Upshot

Claim
Fluke positions the LinkRunner Pro Network Multimeter as a multifunction troubleshooter. It can check Gigabit Ethernet links, resolve 802.1X security conflicts and provide comprehensive link-status reports. It also performs PoE verification to the IEEE 802.3af standard and identifies the nearest switch with Cisco, Extreme and Link Layer Discovery Protocols.
Context
Agilent, Test-Um and other vendors in this arena offer much more expensive products or provide significantly fewer features. The LinkRunner's price, capabilities, compact size and durable construction make it ideal for front-line technicians who need to address trouble tickets quickly. A technician can negotiate a link with the network up to 1,000 MBps and ping up to 10 key devices or URLs.
Credibility
The LinkRunner Pro provides the most important connectivity tests in an affordable and durable form factor. It offers essential connectivity statistics without complex or expensive software on a separate notebook computer. While it doesn't decode packets, it replaces an entire bag of tools.

Fluke Networks's LinkRunner Pro Network

Fluke Networks's LinkRunner Pro Network proves the adage "good things come in small packages." Smaller than your average wallet, this durable, feature-packed tool is ideal for a fleet of network techs punching trouble tickets. Its sub-$1,000 price is small, too. We've not seen or tested a similarly priced tool that offers this level of connectivity reports up to gigabit speeds.

The new LinkRunner should prove a handy starter tool for technicians looking to diagnose simple connectivity issues or gnarlier problems on the physical level, including mislabeled cables, bad patch cables and noncompliance with link-layer protocols, such as Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP). At this price, companies will be able to give one to each of their technicians.

Within a minute of connecting the LinkRunner Pro into your network, you'll have key information about Layer 1 through Layer 3. Besides MAC and IP addresses of your device, the router, DHCP and DNS, you'll have an idea of link utilization, link mode (speed/duplex), PoE (Power over Ethernet) voltage and information on obvious problems, such as incorrect wire map or duplicate IP addresses.

However, the user interface will take some getting used to for techs who have worked mostly with single dial devices. This 3x6 device with multiple screens is bound to surprise a few new users.

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