Those who watched TUAW TV Live a few weeks ago may remember me describing some of the issues that I've run into with streaming video up to Ustream at the same time that my wife is connected to her office VPN. Hawaii's finest tech guru and new TUAW dude Shawn "Doc Rock" Boyd mentioned that he'd resolved similar problems by moving from an Apple AirPort Extreme to something called the Almond. After a few minutes of listening to Doc, looking at the device specs on Amazon and checking out some of the buyer ratings, I bought one for US$80 and I'm happy I did. Securifi, the same company that created the Almond, is now running a Kickstarter for the Almond+, which should be of even more interest to Apple fans.
There are only 73 hours left in the Kickstarter project for Almond+ at the time I'm writing this, and it's almost at 300 percent of its goal. Why are people so excited about this project? It may be because it's a much faster router than the AirPort Express, supporting the 802.11ac and 802.11n WiFi standards instead of just 802.11n. Perhaps it's because it is also has a touchscreen for easy setup and configuration. Maybe it's the fact that it can also be used as a Zigbee and Z-Wave home controller hub. But I think the fact that it will have a $99 price tag and do all of these things is probably the most attractive feature, especially in light of the $179 price tag of the AirPort Extreme.
For Apple users, who pride themselves both on enjoying good design and easy device setup, Securifi's router product delivers at a higher level than Apple's competing products. With the Almond+, the company is raising the stakes on producing accessories with much more utility and a significantly lower price point.