Securifi Almond review
The Securifi Almond is a rather compact Wi-Fi router with one LAN port and two Fast Ethernet ports. It looks unremarkable and much like any other router until you switch it on to find it has a colourful 2.8in touchscreen. Typically, you must configure a router using a PC, tablet or smartphone, but the Almond’s touchscreen lets you configure it directly.
Securifi claims you can configure the Almond in seconds, and that certainly is the case. We were connected to the internet within moments of attaching it to our ADSL modem. From there, you can configure wireless security settings and a guest SSID should you so desire.
WINDOW TO THE SOUL
The touchscreen’s interface is reminiscent of the Metro interface used by Microsoft’s Windows 8 desktop and phone operating systems, which made it seem immediately familiar. The interface is split into five different screens, with each screen bar the last having six tiles on it. Five of the tiles relate to specific option groups, such as wireless security and radio settings, while the sixth is always a tile marked “More”, which takes you onto the next screen. A large Back button is always present at the top of each screen, and this predictably takes you back to the previous screen. A large Home button takes you back to the first screen when pressed. You can also select the language you wish to have displayed at any point by pressing an icon in the top right.
Despite the touchscreen’s low 320x240 resolution, the tiles look large and the text is clear. Each tile is emblazoned with an icon that denotes its purpose as well as a natural language description, making it obvious what function each tile represents. Naturally, we were worried about unwanted access to the Almond’s functions, and were happy to find that there’s an iOS-style screen lock setting that lets you assign a PIN to the touchscreen. The PIN must then be entered every time you want to access the Almond’s touchscreen interface.
The resistive touchscreen is quick and responsive when navigating the interface proper, but it often took many jabs of the onscreen keypad when we entered our PIN into the screen lock. Hopefully this is something that can be cured with a software update. It’s all the more baffling because we had no problem using the onscreen keyboard, which is something we were expecting to hate due to previous experience of resistive touchscreens.
Although the Almond is easy to configure through its touchscreen, you can also configure it using a computer or tablet’s web browser, and the Almonds touchscreen interface conveniently provides you with all the information you need to do so, including the URL, username and password. This is just one more example of the ease with which you operate the Almond. The web interface uses a similar design to the touchscreen and is just as easy to operate.
The Almond can be used as a router, a range extender and as an access point for connecting Ethernet-only devices to an existing Wi-Fi network. With the Almond configured as a router, we connected our laptop to it via Wi-Fi and achieved data transfer speeds of 46.6Mbit/s at one metre and 41.9Mbit/s at 10 metres. These speeds are pretty good for a router operating on the 2.4GHz band, and they’re slightly faster than the similarly priced D-Link DIR-826L’s speeds of 43.4Mbit/s and 41.4Mbit/s at the same distances respectively. The Almond failed our speed test at 25 metres, however, while the DIR-826L scored a good 20Mbit/s at the same distance.
We had no problem configuring the Almond to work as range extender, and completed the process in no time at all thanks to the well-designed setup screens. In this mode, you can connect devices via Wi-Fi and Ethernet and use the Almond to boost the Wi-Fi signals of an existing router. Used this way, the Almond should provide Wi-Fi access in parts of your home or office that the existing router can’t reach. It’s also a convenient means of connecting Ethernet-only devices such as Blu-ray players and smart TVs to the internet.
The touchscreen is a novel idea, but it isn’t a novelty, it’s a genuinely useful way of configuring and managing your router without having to start up a computer or your tablet. Its Metro-like interface makes it easy to reach all the options you need quickly, even advanced features such as content filtering. Disappointingly, its Wi-Fi performance is good at close range but not at 25 metres, and it doesn’t support transmission on the less congested 5GHz band, which might have improved Wi-Fi performance at greater distances. Even so, it’s a good router-cum-range extender and is well priced.
If you just want a regular router then we recommend similarly priced devices such as the TP-Link WDR-4300 and D-Link DIR-826L. Both routers support Wi-Fi on the 5GHz band, can mount USB drives as storage and have more portable Wi-Fi. If you value easy configuration and a neat, compact and portable device above all else, then you should buy the Securifi Almond.
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