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Securifi's Almond line of wireless routers are known for their ambitious extra features. Its original Almond router was one of the first with a touchscreen interface. It then mashed up the router and the smart-home hub with two different products: the Zigbee and Z-Wave compatible, dual-band Almond+ router and this year's Zigbee-only Almond 2015 router/wireless range extender.
Building on that hybrid appeal, today Securifi introduces a new smart-home interface to its Almond+ and Almond 2015 products, as well as a limited-time price drop for both units. The formerly $249 Almond+ now sells for $199, and you'll find the $149 Almond 2015 for a cool $99.
One benefit of the new interface, says Securifi, is that it gives you what it calls a Lego-like interface, using icons rather than text. I can't say the iconography in the picture above looks especially intuitive, but perhaps it makes more sense when you're actually using it.
Another advantage Securifi claims is that, since all of its programming runs locally, it runs faster than cloud-based competitors such as Wink, and you also don't lose your automation rules and behaviors when your outside Internet service drops out.
As logical as it seems to mash together a router and a smart-home hub, the outlook for Almond's efforts is mixed. Most immediately, its iOS companion app is delayed. The company says it's scrambling to get approval, but as of now it's Android-only for the new features.
The potential longer term concern is that, while Z-Wave and Zigbee support will let you connect a lot of different smart home products to your Almond hub, Bluetooth LE is also gaining ground as a smart-home protocol, most prominently by the August Smart Lock . It's unclear whether the Almond can talk to those devices (it might work with the August Connect Wi-Fi bridge).
$99 is a relatively low-risk investment for a decent-looking router that also brings your smart home together. My overarching recommendation is that everyone wait on adopting a new smart-home hub until we see what Apple has to say when it launches its HomeKit smart-home effort, most likely as soon as June. Before then, though, we'll have a full review of the new Almond 2015 that tests both its networking and its smart-home capabilities. Check back soon.