The Securifi Almond is the first single-band router I have reviewed in a while. This is mostly because most new wireless routers, including budget ones, are now dual-band. But the Almond has a novelty of its own: it's the first compact router on the market that can be managed entirely via its touch screen. For this reason, when it was, I called it the router for the "post-PC era."
And I was right, you indeed don't need a computer, or any connected device for that matter, to get the Almond up and running and manage most of its basic settings. Almost everything can be done via its bright, easy-to-use, and responsive 2.8-inch touch screen. You do need its Web interface, which is rather buggy, for the router's advanced settings.
In my testing, the Almond proved to be a solid single-band router with stable Wi-Fi signal. The router's range was short, however. That, the buggy Web interface, and the lack of Gigabit Ethernet and IPv6 support make the router not really worth its street price of about $80; you can find other more advanced, even true dual-band, routers that cost about the same.
Still, if you're looking for compact, simple, yet very hip router for your small apartment or flower shop, the Securifi Almond will make a good investment. Otherwise, check out our list of other budget routers to find some that cost less while offering a lot more.
Design and features
The Securifi Almond doesn't look like a router at all, but rather a digital alarm clock, due to its compact size and its, well, alarm clock type of shape. On one side, it has one WAN port (to connect to an Internet source, such as a broadband modem) and two LAN ports (for wired clients). All of these ports are regular Ethernet (10/100) and not Gigabit. This means you can't expect a fast wired network out of the router. Under these ports are a recessed reset button and the power connector.
On the front the router has a large, for its tiny size, LCD screen that resembles the Metro interface of Windows 8, with buttons organized as tiles. This is the Almond's distinctive feature. Using these tiles, you can change all the basic settings of the router, such as its Wi-Fi network, Wi-Fi Protected Setup, whether it works as a wireless router or as a Wi-Fi extender, upgrading its firmware, and so on. Basically, you can configure your network without using a connected computer at all, making it very convenient to use. I did notice, though, that the Almond needs to restart to apply almost every single change, each time taking some 45 seconds. Still in the end, it took me just a few minutes to set it up.
You can't get everything done via the touch screen. For example, if you want to change the settings of port forwarding, firewall, content filtering, and so on, basically all the advanced settings of a router, you'll need to use the Almond's Web interface. To do this, from a connected computer point a browser to the router's default IP address, which is 10.10.10.254. The default log-in info is admin for both username and password or you can set these to what you like via the touch screen.
The Web interface also has a Metro-type interface: well-organized and self-explanatory. I did find it rather buggy, however. For one, it doesn't work very well with Firefox. For example, when I used Firefox to add a URL to the list of filtered Web sites, the process seemed to stop midway with the browser showing a blank page. Using Internet Explorer (IE) this went through easily. Even with IE, I noticed that if I re-entered a URL that was already on the block list, the interface would create anther entry for that. It would also take entries that has no value. While this is not a big deal, and the blocking mechanism worked in my testing, it gives the impression that the interface is still in beta state.
There are a few other oddities like that here and there in the interface but what baffled me the most is the fact that the Web interface offers the option to make the router work in either the 5GHz or 2.4GHz band, as if it were a selectable dual-band router. In fact, the router is just a single-band router that works only in the 2.4GHz band.