The Almond 3 is Securifi’s first attempt to deliver on the promise of easily blanketing a large home with a strong Wi-Fi signal. It joins a growing crowd of “Wi-Fi systems” that include new names such as Eeroand Luma.
Similar to these other systems, the Almond 3 system comprises multiple identical Wi-Fi units. The initial set of three currently costs $299 (discounted from $399) and each extra individual unit is priced at $119 (originally $149). You can connect these units together via network cables, or wirelessly, to dynamically scale up your Wi-Fi coverage.
According to Securifi, the discounted pre-order price will continue until a week before it starts shipping in early August. (UK and Australian prices have yet to be announced, but $399 converts to £300 or AU$535, and $149 is about £110 or AU$200.)
For comparison, the Eero system costs $499 for a set of three, or $199 for a single unit, and the Luma is a little more affordable, starting at $149 for one, or $399 for three, same as the Almond 3’s regular price.
DYNAMICALLY SCALABLE WI-FI COVERAGE
Each of the units in an Almond 3 system can work as either a Wi-Fi router, an access point or a range extender. If you connect a single unit directly to an internet source (such as a cable modem) it will work as a router, just like any other Wi-Fi router.
When a second unit is connected to the first unit using a network cable, this unit will work as an access point, which extends the coverage area of the Wi-Fi network. But if an extra unit is added wirelessly, at the recommended distance of about 40 feet (12 meters) away, it will work as a Wi-Fi extender. In this case, the Wi-Fi speed of the extender will be just about half of that of the first unit.
Whichever way you choose to connect up the units, the Wi-Fi network is extended automatically. Each additional unit replicates the Wi-Fi settings of the first unit. This means you won’t need to fiddle with setting them all up.
Securifi says one Almond 3 unit can cover about 1,300 square feet (120 square meters) with a Wi-Fi signal, which is enough for a small home. If you have a large home, however, three units will cover up to 5,000 square feet (465 square meters). And you can use up to five Almond 3 units together.
ALMOND, MEET ALEXA
Apart from the cheaper price, the Almond 3 has a few extra features that make it more appealing than the Eero.
First is the touchscreen, which, as with the original Almond, allows for easy setup and management of the system, without the need for a computer or a tablet. The Almond 3 also has three network ports: one Gigabit WAN and two Gigabit LAN ports (the Eero has only one LAN).
On top of that, the Almond 3 also has built-in support for ZigBee 1.2, a popular wireless standard for home automation. Z-Wave, another wireless standard, is also supported but only through a dongle (not included) connected to its USB port. The Almond 3 is therefore compatible with hundreds of web-connected devices. And each Almond 3 unit even has a built-in siren, in case you connect it to your home security system.
The Almond 3 includes a mobile app for Android and iOS devices that allows for managing your home network when you’re away from the system, including its Parental Control feature.
Securifi says the Almond 3 will work with all Amazon Alexa products, including the Echo, the Echo Dot, and the battery-powered Tap. That allows you to use voice control to activate the router’s pre-defined rules, called “scenes” — basically shortcuts. For example, you can create a rule called “Party Scene” that turns your connected speaker system on, dims the lights and sets the thermostat to a lower temperature. After that you can activate this rule by saying, “Alexa, tell Almond to activate Party Scene.”
The Almond 3 has a geofencing feature that triggers smart home gadgets when it detects your phone’s IP address leaving or coming back into range. It’s quicker and more accurate than using GPS data, but Almond 3 uses both to help avoid false triggers.
As a Wi-Fi device, the Almond 2 supports the dual-stream (2×2) of the 801.11ac standard, meaning it has a top Wi-Fi speed of 867 megabits per second when working with 5GHz AC clients. For legacy Wi-Fi clients, it has a top speed on the 2.4GHz channel of 300Mbps.
The Almond 3 is available for preorder online now and will ship in early August. It’s also expected to be widely available for purchase in stores. Check back then for our in-depth review.