Wireless sensor networks have enjoyed a lot of attention recently and industry analysts have predicted aggressive growth, but are expectations inflated or are underlying technologies and emerging products ready to solve real-world problems? This paper compares different wireless sensor network solutions, taking a close look at network topologies, interference sources, and radio characteristics, and assessing their application “readiness.” It explains how application-ready sensors, range-extending routers, an easy-to-use field survey device, and a laptop-resident commissioning tool can take the mystery and risk out of deploying and maintaining wireless sensor networks.