Combining wireless security with a hot-spot directory, JiWire SpotLock makes a useful tool for folks on the move. Due to its database of hot spots, the application takes a few moments to install, but once it's on your machine, it doesn't eat up much memory. With its security module activated, it does consume a fair amount of system resources, so folks with older computers might want to keep a close eye on performance.
However, when it comes to ease of use, it's tough to beat SpotLock. The main window displays handy instructional information, though most users won't need it. The interface's most prominent section is a pane that displays all hot spots within range. You simply double-click one to secure your wireless connection using the IPSec encryption algorithm. A handy progress bar shows you information such as signal strength and connection time. Tabs let you navigate among the connection and the program's comprehensive database of hot spots. The latter can be searched by city, state, provider, or ZIP code, as well as more specific parameters.
In our tests, the program's performance was mostly admirable, though we encountered a couple of glitches. In one instance, the app returned a message saying its security tunnel had faltered, though it quickly reconnected. Also, we occasionally got a pop-up saying our 10-use trial period had expired, even though we'd only used the app a handful of times. On the plus side, the $4.95-per-month subscription fee seems reasonable, and even if you decide SpotLock isn't for you, you can still keep the hot-spot finder for free. Folks who routinely travel with a laptop should take a close look at this application.