Almond+ precursor Almond (no mathematical symbol) currently holds the number one wireless router position on Amazon in terms of sales, customer reviews, and total gigabytes rushed in a single season of fantasy football. Its touchscreen interface, easy setup--no computer or CD required to activate and connect to WiFi--and extensive sensor compatibility make it both versatile in use and smarter than most elementary school children. Even the know-it-alls who can name all 50 states in the order in which they joined the Union.
While maintaining the original's understated savvy with the mere addition of a "+", the Almond's next generation arrives with increased functionality and prettier hardware colors. Oh, and Doc Brown. Yeah, like Back to the Future Doc Brown, who made an inexplicable guest appearance with the Almond+ during its demo at CES 2013.
Almond+, pre-integrated with Zigbee and Z-wave, emerges from its box equipped to support hundreds of sensors currently on the market. Following setup from the router's built-in touchscreen, users can begin using the Almond+ to control any home system connected to a sensor, including: thermostats" door, window, and other security installations; and lighting. When one of the sensors experiences activity, the Almond+ issues a notification on its own screen, as well as can send a notification to designated smartphones. Smartphone linking, established through the Cloud, enables sensor control from anywhere with a cell signal.
Additional Almond+ upgrades include speed improvements. Its 802.11ac WiFi achieves 1.17 GB per second. That's 4 times faster than the average router, and enough power to accommodate a 5,000 square foot home. For example, it will support the smooth, simultaneous use of online gaming marathons in the basement while HD video streaming is going on two stories up in the bedroom.
Equally notable, the Almond+ costs $99. Comparable systems typically run around $500.
Comparable systems also require a fair amount of piecemealing together, the result of which is a hot mess of cords that more resemble that electrified hair of Doc Brown than the silky spaghetti strands of the Almond+'s limited, discreetly placed cables. The router itself also retains the small footprint of the original, and can be table or wall-mounted.
Almond+ runs as a Kickstarter project through March 9, 2013, and is headed towards resounding success in funding. The Almond Sr.'s real, tangible existence and track record suggest successful funding will also translate to successful realization and production of the +. Anticipated delivery for backers in September 2013. The $99 pledge level returns one Almond+ in black. For the extra $30, get a Pearl White, Kickstarter Green, Sky Blue, or Funky Red WiFi master.