I live in a small town in the boonies. Tech savvy is rare and the economy poor. People often come to me for help.
So when a tech-phobic friend needed help with a network, I loaned her a Securifi Almond router that I purchased online and showed her how to use it. She has no idea how computers or networks work and no desire to learn.
The Almond has a small - ≈7cm - color touch screen on its small, black, rectangular body. On one side are two Ethernet ports, a reset button, the power input, and a stylus. If you have fat fingers, like me, you'll use the stylus often.
I plugged the Almond in and stepped through the setup process with her. The first choice is between using it as a router or as a range extender. Make that choice and the wizard leads you through the setup step by step.
The most complicated part of the setup is entering the passwords on the tiny onscreen keyboard. The stylus is essential unless you are quite deft.
Then I hit the reset button and had her go through the process, including the password. The router remembers passwords, so normally you'd only enter it once, but the reset erases passwords too.
Internet service can be flaky here, so a couple of days later I got a call, "Internet down! What do I do?"
So I got her started - hit the left arrow repeatedly - until she was at the initial menu. "Pick the Setup menu."
Once she did that the wizard guided her through the process in a few minutes and she was up and running again. Without me having to make a house call!
Long term review
She's been using the Almond for several months and it has saved me a number of trips. Here are the pros and cons.
- Simple graphical setup wizard that noobs can quickly master.
- Minimalist physical design.
- Self-contained, no PC needed.
- Good performance for average users, up to 300Mbs.
- Price. The Almond cost $70, about twice that of a nerdy router of similar specs.
- Two 10/100 Ethernet ports.
- Don't lose the stylus!
- No 5 GHz band.
The Storage Bits take
If you're happy configuring routers today, or you have a many node home network, you are not the Almond's target demographic. But, if like me, you have friends who rely on you for tech support, this is a great product to recommend.
The nearest competition on Macs is Apple's own Airport products. I use an Airport Extreme along with three eight port gigabit switches to tie my gear together. But even Apple's Airport Utility is nowhere near as simple as the Almond.
I bought the Almond based on its promise of ease-of-use. Based on several months of use by a tech innocent - and the declining calls for help - the Almond delivers.
Courteous comments welcome, of course. Did I mention that I bought it with my own money at retail price?