Routers aren’t the most exciting devices, but a few companies have been trying to change that. Luma and OnHub (from TP-Link) have been trying to make attractive routers that can stand as decorative pieces, instead of needing to be hidden. Securifi’s Almond 3 doesn’t look nearly as attractive as those other routers, but what it lacks in form it more than makes up for with function. With a touchscreen interface and the ability to connect with other units to form a mesh network, the Almond 3 might be the most useful router we’ve seen.
The Almond 3 is, first and foremost, a router, producing a dual-band AC1200 Wi-Fi signal that Securifi says should cover homes up to 1,300 square feet in size. Usually, that’s where we’d more or less end discussion of router features, but with competitors like OnHub, eero, and Luma really taking the smart home movement to heart, it’s harder to do that now.
The best feature, and one Almond routers have had since the beginning, is the touchscreen on the router itself. Not only can you use that to connect smart home devices to the router directly without using a PC, it can be used to configure the router. The interface is intuitive and, needless to say, much more pleasant than digging through any given router’s user manual. Smart home devices can be connected using the Wi-Fi network, but Almond 3 also works with ZigBee and with Z-Wave and Bluetooth through the use of Bluetooth dongles. As a result, Almond 3 works directly with most major smart home products on the market — including Amazon Echo.
Supporting the Echo and Amazon’s smart assistant, Alexa, is a big deal. Using a companion app, schedules can be created for smart home products and tied to voice commands given to Alexa. Scenes can be created, meaning with one voice command, Alexa can tell Almond 3 to turn off the lights, lock the doors, and close the blinds — assuming you have all the relevant smart home gear. For even more complex schedules, the companion app works with IFTTT. There’s even an audible alarm on the Almond 3 itself that can be programmed to go off, probably most useful with home security cameras.
I got a chance to look at the app, and it’s very intuitive. Setting up scenes and IFTTT triggers is very simple, which is impressive given that the latter is usually much more difficult to do. The app can also be used to individually manage devices connected to the Almond 3, with revoking or granting access as easy as a tap.
This year, Securifi has added mesh network capabilities. Each Almond 3 unit can act as a range extender, connecting to an existing Wi-Fi network and then creating its own. It’s great for large office or homes that can’t be covered with just one router, or for smaller homes that have dead zones. Each router in the network can be used to adjust settings or connect to other devices, so there’s no one central hub router.
The Almond 3 Router should be available sometime in August. It can be preordered from Securifi or Amazon now for $120 or in a pack of three for $300. Those prices will increase to $150 and $400 after the product has shipped.