Almond+ Wifi Router

September 20, 2014 at 9:05 pm Leave a comment

I ordered the Almond+ router in March of 2013. About a month ago, it finally shipped.

Exterior

It’s a very nice looking box and is physically well designed.  It has a small touchscreen interface, perfect for getting basic settings on the router to get it up and running.

What?  A touch screen router?  Who needs this?

Yes, I can hear you thinking that.  Just a couple of weeks ago, my brother called to ask my advice about an issue his daughter had.  She just got cable Internet and picked up a wireless router.  Only, she doesn’t have anything to configure it with.  Her computer is a Macbook Air, which doesn’t have an Ethernet port.  Microsoft is promoting it’s new Surface tablets as replacements for laptops.  I can see a day coming where most people probably won’t have an Ethernet port on any machine they own.  For them, a touch screen router makes perfect sense.

Control Your Home

Home automation is one of the key features of the Almond+.  I don’t currently have any compatible hardware, so I can’t comment on how well this works yet.  From reading the forum, most people are having good luck with many products.  I expect that given a bit more time, this support will really mature.

Based on OpenWRT

To me, this is a major selling point.  Instead of trying to roll their own OS, they have chosen to use a great open-source platform, and just build their additions to it.  This made me very excited, thinking about all the expansion possibilities with the package system of OpenWRT.  However, the Almond hardware is based on a different processor and wireless chip than any other OpenWRT platform.  As such, you can’t just point to the OpenWRT REPOs and install new packages.  While the potential is there for this to really open up the possibilities for this little box, it’s currently held back because it’s not really supported yet.

As a Wifi Router…

This is where I have trouble.  Earlier versions of the firmware have had issues with some device types (like IOS devices) dropping off the network.  It’s too early to tell if the newly released R066 firmware fixes these issues completely, or not.

One feature that’s missing is supporting Enterprise Authentication of the Wifi network.  While I understand that business isn’t their target market, I run Enterprise Auth on my Wifi network at home.  Lots of other home Wifi hardware supports Enterprise Auth.

Another feature that seems to be missing is VLAN support.

Conclusion

At this time, I don’t recommend the Almond+ if you are an advanced user.  I expect that as it matures the wifi issues will be resolved, and especially related to OpenWRT, the feature set will broaden.

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