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Review

Almond+ (Plus) the touchscreen smart home router with Zigbee & Z-Wave in test

by 27. September 2015
Positives
  • quick & easy setup in minutes
  • simple & fast teaching of components via touchscreen menu
  • clearly smartphone app
  • solid IT security concept - test result: good protection
  • Negatives
  • no Windows Mobile app (available via native in browser)
  • active menu items are illogical colored (reversed)
  • not all Z-Wave or Zigbee-components are compatible
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    Bottom Line

    All-in-One device with Zigbee and Z-Wave for the smart home. Fast installation via touchscreen. In some corners of the web interface urgently needs to be filed again. At least the IT security fits!

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    Almond+, an all-in-one device from routers and smart home center including various radio systems and touchscreen display: sounds exciting. Here is our review, including the test results from the IT security check.

    Almond+ router & smart home-center in one

    Why do we look at the Almond+?

    Not only that siio.de has been the Almond in mind since december (siio.de reported), the Almond+ + is also the successor of the Almond company Securifi and this is not only good sold at Amazon (in the sales charts), but especially assessed well. Reason enough to the successor Almond+ once to look closer. But let’s start at the beginning.

    The packaging is simple and contains all the important information such as the supported:

    Smart home standards

    • Z-Wave,
    • Zigbee HA 1.2

    Usage scenarios

    • wireless router
    • range extender
    • access point

    Software features (which are needed more frequently)

    • guest network
    • USB file sharing
    • port forwarding
    • VPN server
    • iOS & Android apps

    The cover of the packaging itself also promises a 3-minute permanent setup directly via touchscreen without using a computer – we’ll see…

    Supplied with the following items are included:

    • Almond – SmartHome Gateway
    • power supply
    • various plug adapters
    • dowels, screws for mounting the wall bracket also included
    • stand for the desk (“Desk Stand”)
    • gigabit network cable
    • quick start guid

    Short look over it, everything is here what is needed to start right now – so let’s get started!

    Establishment of Almond+

    [youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jpoooCP9Lk” rel=”0″ showsearch=”0″ showinfo=”0″]

    We have decided to use the Almond+ as a repeater or range extender, and followed strictly the manual or better – the “Wizard”.

    Once the main plug of the Almond+ is in the socket it starts and after a short loading screen you get the oppertunity directly using the “Wizard” a kind of guided installation to perform.

    In step 2, the tutorial shows a short video where the stylus is attached (top right of the device). Now you will be prompted to plug the internet cable, , one would not, simply to

    return and we have set up the choice to Almond+ as a range extender. The WLAN is detected and after selecting which it must be entered in the case of encryption (step 3 + 4).

    Step 5 is concerned with the application of an Almond accounts, so you can control you(r) Almond(s) also remotely and set. More on this later. One argument for undecided is included in the same interface: “92% of users have chosen to do so” if the number on the current user behavior is kept up to date remains open, but I am convinced :-) Later I will see to trust 92% was the right decision…

    For the establishment, you need a PC or a smartphone with Android or iOS. A decision on the smartphone option is the first step to download the app from the respective Almond app store. In connection still email address and corresponding password must be set and after a confirmation email by Securifis we are proud owners of our own account. If you want to enter the data at the Almond+ simply dispense twice on “Next” button, wait for the displayed code and enter it in the online interface (browser or app).

    From reflex or experience is the first thing I check if the latest hardware on it and if not, whether they will download the latest without complications. At Almond+ under the menu item to find “Settings”. The update works by the way very quickly and without errors.

    In general, the menu of Almond+ is very neat and you can navigate quickly and purposefully after a short familiarization.

    Include smart home components

    [youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqjpovS7oHQ” rel=”0″ showsearch=”0″ showinfo=”0″]

    To create rules we need logically sensors that provide us with data available for this purpose. A list of all currently compatible components found at:

    http://www.securifi.com/sensors

    Almond+ Smart Home Router Zigbee & Z-Wave

    Almond+ Smart Home Router Zigbee & Z-Wave

    Here for the review, we test the following components:

    • SZ-DWS02 Zigbee door/window sensor
    • socket (exact name I have just not on hand because the top of the room L)

    So how do I add components? The Quickguide provides information quickly and painlessly in two steps:

    1. Click directly on Almond+ under “Add Sensor” the sub-iteam “Add”
    2. On the sensor you want to add to adjust the “Paring Mode”. This can occur when various sensors operate differently. Just look in the corresponding manual. As a rule, the 1x, 2x or 3x press a button directly on the sensor and already this is recognized by Almond.

    sensors-unsupported-deviceCaution – also unsupported devices are usually first “successful” added to the system. Later in the web interface you can see, however, under the menu item “Sensors” shows the message “Unsupported Device”.

    Keeping track – Which interface do I use for what?

    Basically, you have three different ways to look at your system:

    1. about the browser / web interface
    2. about the app (iOS or Android)
    3. directly on the device
      1. The normal web interface on your home network can be reached most easily via the built-in router, which displays all devices associated with the network. Just click and you can log in directly. The enclosed Quickguide is recognized as a standard IP the http://10.10.10.254. If your the Almond+ (as we in this test) is used not as a router, but as a repeater receives, this course an IP address suitable for your network address. This you can find out quickly but on the touchscreen menu.
    Almond+ Router menue webinterface

    Almond+ Router menue webinterface

    Here also new rules are created and then switched to active

    • The web interface which can be reached via your remote access under https://connect.securifi.com looks the same as the normal (1.1), but has a few functional limitations:
    • „Rules” are not available
    • “Advanced” is not available
    • But one has to manage to be able to select multiple Almonds and each via drop down. This is particularly useful for small businesses or public institutions, which thus want to keep all the floors or building complexes smart home technology overview. One could almost speak of fleet management top – which has not everyone and here’S potential!
    • the smartphone app itself is serves as a summary of all current sensors and their status, as well as the current router functions. Secondly, the devices can be naturally controlled remotely.
    • Directly on the device you can adjust almost everything, add the router / repeater functions, new sensors, change language, weather, time, date, status in the network, diagnostics and more. Only create new rules, adapt or delete rules does not work here.
    Almond+ Router Advanced menue webinterface

    Almond+ Router Advanced menue webinterface

    Creating rules

    The actual automation:

    New rules are as already mentioned above created in the web interface, to select just the menu item “Rules”, scroll all the way down and click on the blue wand labeled “Click to add a new rule”.

    What follows is always a logical if-then link multiple sensors to a sequence defined.

    Some getting used to because you once have to remember, for each “On” rule, you have to create an “off” rules to cover both states.

    Almond+ add Sensor rules

    Almond+ add Sensor rules

    Example

    In our example, we have an illuminated display, ever tackle delayed by 5 seconds once a certain door is opened (at night so you do not groping in the dark).

    There are a lot of application examples, as one might with a corresponding thermostat create rules for the most daily airing a lot – When window, then radiator. Or with automatic window this chore even automate completely. This saves especially in larger apartments definitely 10 minutes every day and that can be really a lot of time in the morning before work ;-)

     

    Almond+ rules

    Almond+ rules

    IT security check

    Together with the company AV-TEST, a world leading independent provider of services in the field of IT security, we want to look from siio blog in the future in our tests on the IT security of the smart home center and gateway. The Almond+ router makes the beginning and was the first smart home centers, which we sent to the laboratory to Magdeburg. There, a team sitting on 30 IT specialists, all together with extensive expertise in the field of IT security.

    Meanwhile, it is no longer only the Windows PC, which is a potential target. More and more devices “hang” in the network and those include mainly smart home centers. From the road we will see precisely whether the washing machine or completed, which is turned off HiFi board in the living room. It is a little way to the comfort that we can access the smart home even while traveling. In order for the smart home office requires permanent Internet connection and is therefore also accessible via the internet, so even vulnerable.

    In order to offer the user, so you, optimum protection against potential attacks, the centers should therefore meet certain safety points, such as an encrypted communication.

    The communication taking place between (smartphone) app or web browser with the smart home centershould be secured mainly from the outside through encryption, because thus can not be directly read along (sniffed) communication. In addition, the connection should be encrypted, at best via HTTPS or SSH.

    In both test points the team of AV-TEST was hard surprised. Positive! Because of Almond+ ER and crowded both points. All communication to the outside is secured using the HTTPS (TLS 1.2) protocol. Even a fallback to the less secure tend to TLS 1.0 has been prevented.

    “…we have tried to force the TLS 1.0, we fooled by the server we can only do this, but it has been prevernted.”

    so Maik Morgenstern, technical manager at AV-TEST.

    Also, the remote access of the app is also protected by https, only the number of hits was not secured to the local surface of the Almond+. Local access via app is not possible, any remote control passes to Almond server. Of particular note is that the app checks the certificate used itself. This makes the system “man-in-the-middle attacks” protected even against so-called.

    “This is the first Android app test ever that checks the certificate used itself…”

    so the team of AV-TEST. It is not your first test of a smart home center. Back in april 2014, it caused great interest, so they took seven smart home systems under the microscope. (read more here)

    Another important issue for the security of smart home centers should be the active authentication. Does the user should at least have to use a password to login to the web interface or the app can. Again showed the Almond+ strength. Remote access via app as well as via the web portal are protected by authentication. Locally on the device can be secured via the touchscreen PIN entry. Another very useful security feature of Almond, is the randomly generated password assignment at delivery, as well as after a reset of the device.

    In conclusion we can say that here Securifi realized throughout a very solid security concept, which goes to some places even over the normal level.

    Really? I personally would not expect from the kickstarter company. Test result: Good protection!

    The test protocol of AV-TEST in pdf format can be found here.

    Conclusion

    With Almond+ Securifi has sit on another one again. The smart homecenter can be set up within minutes and if you have to get used to the interface directly on the router, to get quickly to the information you are looking for. The center not only supports Z-Wave and Zigbee, but also the popular Philipps Hue bulbs.

    The system is now more than a month in continuous use and has caused no error until now it has crashed. Thus, it should be classified at the current time as a totally reliable – and the team of AV-TEST also confirmed the safety! All these points should make a smart home center. Top!

    Bottom line, a sound system that can be expanded with components of different standards, would be nice here a broader compatibility. The surface is partly a bit “bumpy”, especially on the mask of the rules should be filed. Here more complex rules would be desirable than pure “if-then” actions. The price arouses curiosity in each case.

    When and where the Almond+ is available for purchase?

    Who just looking for a new router / repeater / access point and smart home center with a good price-performance ratio, which is at the Almond+ to the right place. For those who can not wait, find it on amazon.com – but be aware – this is the US version (Z-Wave Frequency is different from the European version)

    *Danke Stan für den Hinweis im Kommentar!

    When and at what price the device in Europe comes on the market is not currently known

    About The Author
    Hamashi

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