Blazing Fast 802.11ac WiFi - 1.17Gb/s. Compatible with 100’s of Z-Wave & ZigBee smart sensors. All in one exquisitely designed device from Securifi.

Unbox

Impression

I didn’t have any of Z-Wave or ZigBee sensor to test with, so it would be reviewed as 802.11ac router.

Delay

This item has delayed for about a year from newly promising 802.11ac to more ubiquitous one. From the day that 802.11ac router was expensive as gold in Sep 2013 to sub $100 in Sep 2014, good thing was Almond+ did have something special features like sensor things to still make it sound superior.

Back Stand

Honestly I lost all my interest in this router after half a year delay. When I got this in hand it didn’t really shine over my old-trustworthy Asus RT-16N much. Router in my view was a set-it-and-forget-it gadget; it only needed to just work. Almond plus was well built for what it was. It came with stand or wall mount which both were nice compliment to overall design.

An LCD screen with resistive touch made me think it was coming from good old 2000 age. Lightbleed, bad color reproduction, tedious press-to-touch screen with cheap plasticy stylus. Almond+ screen had every bad things for these days touch screen standard. Did it matter? Yes and no, it did for couple weeks because when I first received this unit, the screen was culprit. It only displayed black color while idling which showed how bad Lightbleed was and also made the unit hot enough to cause a reboot after several hours of intensive usage esp. While many devices were streaming via Wi-Fi simultaneously. However, this issue was resolved via firmware update which turning screen off while idling completely. Things were night and day. Almond+ was performing rock solid since then.

Although Securifi seemed to have an intention of using touch screen as main interface, I found the screen was great for one thing which was setting up the internet at very first time. You didn’t have to go through wizard on your computer since the interface was pretty much automatically. The rest was nah. It didn’t scream come using me since my UI was beautiful or anything. Maybe it was because I didn’t have any Zigbee sensor to play with.

For Almond+ web UI or Luna they called, not OpenWRT one, you could set dual band Wi-Fi networks consisting of

  • one 5GHz 802.11ac
  • one private 2.4GHz 802.11n
  • one guest network 2.4GHz 802.11n

and most of thing people needed. However you could only add sensors via the touch screen, no settings to be found in web UI.

In short, the touch screen was a nice addition, which for one like me, web interface was more accessible for things like router.

Speaking of upgrading from 2.4GHz 802.11n to 802.11ac, it was a huge step forward. I couldn’t recommend enough to anyone. Network throughput of 802.11ac made gigabit LAN almost useless. It wasn’t that it was better, but by the fact that it was wireless and blazing fast, laziness always won. I never found a need of LAN cable since the day Almond+ worked steadily. Big file copying, multiple streaming, you named it. 802.11ac surely made gigabit LAN obsolete for most homes.

For a bit more scientific speaking, 802.11n did have 6-8 MB/s throughput while 20+ MB/s was easily achivable on 802.11ac with multiple active devices and gigabit LAN would give you roughly 30MB/s most of the time.

Network throughput for wireless network depended on many factors besides its signal strength; a number of antennas was one of influencial factors, but that was rarely mentioned in laptop’s spec. Thus, results you found might have been very different.

If you guys were familiar with custom firmware or Unix-based command, then knowing that Almond+ software based on OpenWRT would be a nice plus. Although it didn’t have nice and easy UI like Tomato Firmware, it packed with everything you needed to tweak and hack.

Price

$95 at Kickstarter and not available yet outside Kickstarter check it out here

It was a good price at Kickstarter’s promised delivery day, but it turned to be a normal price as far as 802.11ac router competitors were concerned.

Jan 28, 2015 Updated It was publicly available now for $199 at Amazon.com The same price as Airport Extreme? That was a tough call then since so far, OpenWRT opkg had yet to work – no working repository out of the box and as of Firmware Version R1.2.20.4, Almond+ was using pretty old kernel 2.6.36. We had to wait and see how the development team kept up with new stuffs. Otherwise, a bigger company like ASUS might be a better bet especially with cheaper price tag. Please note that I had yet to see an advantage of its home automation thing; I only compared 802.11ac router to another comparable one.

Verdict

Although I had used only routing networking, and Wi-Fi part of it, I wasn’t regret backing it. Everything, but opkg, worked as expected with OpenWRT-based router. For spec alone, Gigabit Ethernet ports for both WAN and LAN and the best Wi-Fi performed as promised. Nonetheless, there were not available anywhere which meant no retail price. Until Almond+ could be bought, I could not say whether it would be worth its price tag, but I would be ok if Securifi did give Almond+ $149 price tag considering comparable alternatives such as $199 AirPort Extreme and $165 Asus RT-AC66U.

It was better late than never after all.