It’s a Router… It’s a Smart Home Hub…

First hands on review of the Securifi Almond+ smart home hub.

It’s Securifi’s Almond+ (plus) that unifies two essential components of a smart home. A powerful router and a smart home hub that supports the two widespread home automation standards. With future proof specifications and a built-in touchscreen for a computer-free setup, the Almond+ tries to redefine the smart home hub.

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Establishing the Almond+

Once the device is connected to power, the system boots up and a wizard pops up on the touchscreen and leads through setup. The wizard is self explaining and intuitive, such that the Almond+ is setup within a few minutes (3 minutes according to the datasheet J). The network functionality can be set to three different modes, namely router, access point or range extender. We set our Almond+ to range extender mode in order to have a better Wi-Fi coverage of our flat.

Adding sensors

The Almond+ supports the integration of ZigBee and Z-Wave sensors from various manufacturers. The inclusion of the Securifi sensors (motion, door and water) using the ZigBee protocol worked immediately, but the inclusion of some Fibaro sensors (motion, door), that use the Z-Wave protocol, needed several attempts.

Furthermore, the Almond+ supports the Philips Hue light system. While adding Hue system, the hub crashed, but after a reboot, the bulbs appeared in hub’s menu.

It has to be mentioned that sensor integration can only be done using the touchscreen interface, except for Nest devices, which can be also integrated using the web UI.

User interfaces

Three different interfaces are available to control the Almond+. An integrated touchscreen, a smartphone app and a web UI.

The touchscreen mainly serves as an interface to set up the hub’s network functionality, to include sensors and to monitor the operation. It is also possible to see the status of the different sensors and to control the Hue bulbs. The interface is tidy and the main screen offers the essential functionalities

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The smartphone app offers a cloud connectivity using an Almond account. With the cloud connectivity, the hub can be controlled and monitored from anywhere in the world. It is even possible to set up notifications for a specific sensor in order to be notified if the sensor has been triggered. An other functionality of the app is the scene creation, with which multiple sensors can be actuated with one click. Setting up rules and also notifications is quite intuitive, where the simple design does a great favor.

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The web UI offers, in addition to the features of the app, a rule creator. It is possible to execute an action based on a trigger. A trigger can be a state of a sensor or a specific time. It is even possible to schedule actions on a daily/weekly base. Creating a rule is very easy for simple actions and can be done within a minute. A minor drawback of the web UI is the missing cloud connectivity, but Securifi told us that they will integrate the rule creation in the smartphone app soon.

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Conclusion

The Almond+ is a powerful smart home hub, to which more than a hundred ZigBee/Z-Wave sensors from different manufacturers can be connected. But it is not a complete product yet. A few functions, such as the rules creator, are still in the beta phase and seem to be not fully thought through. An other aspect is, it’s lacking incorporation of other smart home solutions such as Sonos, Netatmo or Koubachi, since a good hub should offer the ability to control different areas of a smart home. Without these flaws, the Almond+ could be the best consumer smart home hub on the market.