When I wrote about the introduction of the Securifi Almond a couple months back, my first impression based on the press release was that it would be a great, easy-to-use wireless router for those that aren’t very tech-savvy, and probably frustratingly limited for the more advanced user.
I’m here to tell you I was wrong. I’m pretty tech-savvy, know a good deal about networking, and I want to buy a case of these things. It’s that good a product.
Securifi sent an Almond my way to put through its paces, and I have to say that it delivered on pretty much all of the hyped-up marketing claims. It’s claim of being online in seconds is pretty true. From the time I got it out of the box, to the time I was online, was more or less under five minutes. In a time when marketing hyperbole is taking over our lives, this is one device that lives up to the ad copy.
The router itself is quite small (1.9 x 4.8 x 4.3 inches) and has a nice gloss black finish. The integrated 2.8″ touch screen is one of the key features, and fills up the better portion of one side of the Almond. It has three ports (1 WAN, 2 LAN), as well as a single indicator light, and an input port for its (thankfully small) power adapter.
Powering up the router shows a couple boot screens on the built-in touch screen, followed by a start-up wizard. For the wizard-averse out there, this one actually accomplishes what it says it will. It doesn’t offer many options, but does get you an active access point, and does it quite quickly. After asking for your desired language, it prompts you to start the wizard, after which it prompts you to pull a stylus out of the bottom of the unit. I honestly didn’t see that one coming, and it is a very nice feature. It next asks you if you’d like it to be a router or range extender (more on that later). It verifies that you’ve plugged in the Ethernet cable, and then it gives you a screen showing the router’s SSID and password. That’s it. Get that far, and you have an active access point. The Almond generates the SSID and password automatically, so if you want to customize it, you’ll have to dig into the menus. Even so, that proved to be an easy process via the integrated touch screen.
The Almond truly is a router for the “post-PC era.” There’s no need to have a computer to set up or manage the Almond, and most standard configuration items can be done from the touch screen, including, but not limited to, changing the SSID name and password, which is honestly probably what most users are looking for. Other features on the touch screen include being able to see status info, security options, MAC and IP address info, logs, statistics, support info, and firmware update checks.
There’s a nice big help button that takes you to a screen that simply asks “Windows or Mac?”. Clicking your OS of choice takes you to a screen showing you a screenshot of the OS telling you how to connect to your network, and also includes your router’s SSID and password. Everything in every menu is aimed to help users get up and running quickly and easily.
Changing the Almond to Range Extender mode is as simple as clicking the Range Extender button on the main page. Once there, select the network you want to extend, enter the password, and the Almond again sets itself up. And it all just works automagically.
As I noted before, Securifi’s name implies that it takes security seriously, and it certainly does. From random SSID names and passwords, to automatically adding “_nomap” to exclude the router from automatic Google mapping, the Almond aims to give you an easy-to-use router that also keeps your devices and internet connection safe. One of the great features of the Almond is that you can find your SSID and password on the touch screen, without having to log into a web admin tool, remember passwords, etc. The convenience factor is high, but it’s also a huge security flaw. However, Securifi has also thought of that, and has an option for a 4-digit pin to secure the touch screen.
For advanced users, or those who just want to log on on a computer, the Almond has a beautiful web admin interface to dig into some of the more advanced features of the router. Again, there’s a button on the router for this, and clicking it gives you the web admin address, as well as username and password to access it. Once logged into the admin page, you’re presented with a beautiful interface that lays out the status, configuration options, and security features of the Almond. From here, you can do all the things the touch screen allows, as well as dig into to advanced routing and security features. The Almond is definitely more full-featured than I thought at first glance. Unfortunately, I don’t own any devices that are WPS enabled, so I was unable to test that particular feature.
On the performance side, the Almond is on par with or better than the average router out there. I had no issues with internet access and machine-to-machine sharing speeds were quite good. I don’t think that the Almond is quite up to taking care of the gaming crowd, but then again, that’s not its aim. In my streaming video tests, I had great results from a variety of sources, and had no issues getting HD streams to buffer and play without issues.
While I had no issues setting up the Almond, I wanted to see if its simplicity would hold up with someone with less than advanced networking skills. Luckily, my wonderful significant other offered to help. I did a quick factory reset on the Almond, and handed it over. She had about the same results that I had, and had no issue getting her smartphone linked up to the internet in a matter of minutes. I’m pretty sure that anyone who can read and plug in an ethernet cable would also have little issue.
I honestly didn’t expect the Almond to be this good, but it really is. If you need a small router that’s easy to use, this might just be the box for you. My old personal favorite was the Apple Airport Express, but the Almond’s ease of setup simply blows that one out of the water. Even for a cheap range extender, this thing is great.
The Securifi Almond is shipping now, and available at Amazon for $79.