Wireless routers could never be described as user-friendly, almost all relying on labyrinthine web-browser interfaces. To change any setting, you often first need to know the IP address of the router, then log in with the yet another username and password, remember which of the obscurely labelled menus contains the setting you're looking for. You're then expected to wait minutes for the device to restart before your changes are applied. See all wireless router reviews.
The process is a chore that most technical users put up with, while the less-wary just give up. Setting up a router is a real challenge for anyone with less experience. Surprisingly, no manufacturer has so entirely solved this design problem, even if Apple gets close with its app-based routine for its Express and Extreme base stations. Take a look at Group test: what's the best wireless router?
Ease of setup is what makes Securifi's Almond unique. It's a svelte wireless router with a touch-sensitive display on the front, with common settings easily accessible through just a few screen taps. Take a look at D-Link Cloud Gigabit Router N600.
Although you'll still need to venture into the browser interface for some functions, simple tasks such as checking the status of your internet connection or displaying the wireless security password are a doddle, and can be done without needing a separate computer.
Securifi looks to be pitching its product at Windows 8 users. Its interface bears more than a passing resemblance to the Metro tiles in Microsoft's schizophrenic software, with six brightly coloured static tiles on each of its five pages. Like Windows tablets, fingertouch is a problem so there's a stylus attached to the underside of the Almond for text input, helping you change the name of your wireless SSID, security password or edit user information. As routers go, the Almond is fairly basic. There are only two ethernet ports at the back, along with an uplink port for connecting a modem. And ethernet is the slow 100 Mb/s variety too.
Its wireless capability is 802.11n and single-band so limited to the 2.4GHz band with a 2x2 MIMO antenna configuration. It can also be used as a ranger extender for an existing wireless network.
In our testing of wireless performance, it muddled along at best. A transfer rate of 45.9 Mb/s at one metre distance was nothing to get excited about, and neither was the 7.8 Mb/s we measured from 10 metres away. It's safe to say the Almond isn't recommended to anyone for whom decent transfer speeds is a key consideration. But while it isn't for those who demand the best performance, we'd still seriously consider recommending it to a non-technical user. The technology behind computer networking is complex, yet Securifi has done a great job of making it more accessible. The browser-based administration interface, when it needs to be used, is the simplest, most user-friendly design we've seen. Gone are the list of menus on the left, favoured by almost every other manufacturer, replaced with a single screen split into two sections. Once again it borrows heavily from Windows 8's tile-based Metro design.
Big, gay flat tiles with large fonts lead you to each section, and everything is accessible from a single page.
At the top you can see some commonly required network information in one place. It shows the router's IP address, the wireless SSID, and lists the DHCP clients.
Underneath is the ‘advanced' section, with links to the firewall settings, DMZ, port forwarding, a system log and port filtering. Some advanced features present on other routers, such as support for VPNs, are absent from the Almond but once again, this router isn't aimed at the business or power users who would need this. Some aspects of the Almond's interface aren't perfect. Changes to some settings still require a full restart of the router, and the touch-screen display isn't always helpful.
We wouldn't use the Almond ourselves, but it would be our number-one recommendation for any friend or family member who needs constant technical support. While it isn't so simple that it could eliminate the need for them to ask for help at all, the accessibility of the display and clear labelling of its various menus and sections would make it easier to tell them where to look for whatever setting they need to change.