Almond+ Wireless Router And Smart Home Hub Hits Kickstarter, Pre-Orders Start At $95

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The Almond+, a successor to Securifi’s popular Almond home wireless router, made its Kickstarter debut today after making its first hardware demo appearance at CES this year. The router adds 802.11ac network compatibility to the Almond’s existing basic, no computer necessary touchscreen hardware, along with support for Z-Wave and ZigBee based smart-home devices and appliances, making it a standalone central control hub for the connected home.

The appeal of Almond and Almond+ routers lie in their ability to take a device that has remained largely unchanged in terms of user interface, and update that hardware for a world where users have generally moved beyond having to enter IP addresses into browser address bars just to configure their device. The original Almond was the first router that brought complete setup via touchscreen input to the device itself, which while already handy, will probably become more so as the trend towards mobile computing continues.

The Almond+ takes that leap forward and adds another, building in support for ZigBee and Z-Wave wireless home automation standards, which means that the router can also directly control Phillips Hue light bulbs, for instance, and SmartThings-compatible devices. The ZigBee and Z-Wave standards are those with the most early traction, so Almond+ should work with hundreds of devices and sensors right out of the box. Even at its retail price of $99, the Almond+ beats out the competition in terms of standalone home automation hubs on price, plus it includes the 802.11ac-compatible router, which will come in handy as more CE devices build in that successor to 802.11n Wi-Fi.

Another advantage of the Almond+ is arguably its design, though the bold colors and boxy look might not fit your particular taste. Personally, I can easily see throwing one of these things on the wall and actually enjoying its presence there, which is a different strategy from many other router maker’s approach of “make this as invisible or bland-looking as possible.” And at $99, it’s a fair-priced device that has a lot of future-proof features, since it’s unlikely that home electronics companies will abandon both ZigBee and Z-Wave given that companies like Philips are already on board.

The really nice thing about the Almond+ is that it’s being made by Securifi, which has already built out a supply chain for the original and distributed thousands of them through Amazon. That means that you’re more than likely to actually receive a product that resembles what you see on the Kickstarter page today, which is not something you can say for every crowdfunded gadget.