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Hands On

There are two ways to manage the Almond: via the touch screen; and via the web browser interface. Interestingly, some features, such as port forwarding and firewall settings, are available only in the web UI. Conversely, other settings such as enabling the guest network, setting the screen lock Pin, enabling the screen lock, and setting the AP mode are only available via the touch screen. Of course, there is quite a bit of overlap as some features are configurable in both UIs. While I can understand that perhaps only a subset of configuration options would be available via the touch screen, I had expected that all configurable features would have been available in the web UI.

In the next two sections, I’ll take a look at both the touch screen UI as well as the web UI.

Touch Screen Interface

When you touch “Done” on the last screen of the setup wizard, you land at the Home page. The Home page contains five icons for sub menus/functions along with a sixth icon for “More”.

Immediately below the Home title bar, there’s a navigation bar that shows you which of the five menu pages you are currently viewing. In addition, there’s a back arrow to navigate to the previous page, as well as a language selection icon in the right hand corner. Clicking the house icon takes you back to the first page.

The two images below show the first four screens. The fifth screen has a single icon for turning the router into an AP (access point) along with an “about” icon.

Home Pages 1 & 2

Home Pages 1 & 2

I’ll briefly describe each of the functions:

Internet settings – choose from DHCP, DSL Dialup or Manual (static) IP
Security – Change WPA key and security type (WPA, WPA2, WEP, etc.), admin password, screen lock enable and PIN, and show passwords.
Wireless – Change SSID, WPA PSK, operating channel, enable/disable guest network, change guest network name and password.
Range Extender – starts wizard to configure the Almond as a repeater/bridge. This is not found in the Web UI.
Status – Shows top level status for the device (see image below)

Securifi Almond On-screen status display

Securifi Almond On-screen status display

Add Device – Shows SSID/WPA password, and has an icon for starting WPS negotiation. Note: During testing, WPS did not function properly.
Wizard – launches the setup wizard.
Screen Settings – Set screen timeout in seconds, enable/disable screen lock, set screen lock PIN
Web Administrator – Shows IP address of the Almond and admin name/password for logging into the web UI.
Software update – Checks to see if your software is up-to-date. If you have a fairly recent firmware version, you can also update the firmware from the touch screen, if necessary.

Securifi Almond Home Pages 3 & 4

Securifi Almond Home Pages 3 & 4

Connection – Shows the status of your internet connection
System Log – Shows one screen of the system log
Statistics – Shows sent/received packets and bytes
Support – Displays email support address and US-based support phone number
Help – Shows single screen Wi-Fi connection help for both Windows and Macs.
Filter – Lets you set up keyword or URL blocking along with options to enable/disable
Users – You can block (or unblock) hosts based on IP or MAC address
Weather – shows current location and temperature with high and low prediction for the day
Time – Shows current time, day of week and date. You can also force an NTP update from a sub menu.
DMZ – enable/disable DMZ and specify IP address

Web UI

The Web Administrator icon found on the second screen provides all of the information you need to log into the Almond's web UI.

The Web Administrator icon provides web UI login info

The Web Administrator icon provides web UI login info

When you log into the web UI, you land at a page that has a very Windows 8 "Metro" look. Tasks are divided between “Basic” and “Advance” (sic). The Basic settings approximate the first two home pages of the touch screen interface. On some pages, you get a few additional options not found in the touch screen interface. I’ll comment on the differences as we go.

Almond's web UI has a Windows 8 Metro look

Almond's web UI has a Windows 8 Metro look

Internet – you have the added connection options of PPPoE, L2TP and PPTP; You can also add a Hostname and enable MAC Clone
Wireless – you can also choose to hide SSID broadcast; Connected wireless users are shown here. This page lacks the Guest mode functions found in the touch screen UI.
Security – Web UI lacks the screen lock and PIN assignment found in the touch screen UI.
Network – You can specify DHCP starting and ending address as well as the DHCP lease time. In addition, you can specify the primary and secondary DNS servers and up to three statically assigned IP addresses based on MAC addresses.
Update software – you can use this page to update the Almond’s firmware. Unlike the touch screen UI, It doesn’t check for new firmware.
Add Device – this only shows you the wireless connection info. It directs you to the LCD display if you want to use WPS.

For some reason, the designers choose to use a black and white palette for the Advanced settings. These settings are similar to pages 3-5 of the touch screen UI.

Almond's web UI Advance Settings

Almond's web UI Advance Settings

Firewall – this isn’t in the touch screen UI. This menu has the following functions: Remote management; Ping from WAN; Block port scan; Block SYN Flood, SPI firewall. All are disabled by default.
Filtering – this isn’t in the touch screen UI. This allows you to create up to 32 MAC/IP/Port filtering rules
Forwarding – this isn’t in the touch screen UI. Here, you can forward ports or ranges of ports from the WAN to hosts on your local network. You can choose TCP, UDP or both protocols for forwarding. There are no pre-defined services such as HTTP (port 80). You can have up to 32 rules.
DMZ – also found in the touch screen UI – In addition to enable/disable and defining the DMZ address, you can choose an exception for TCP port 80.
Content Filtering – You have a bit more granular control of filtering than in the touch screen UI. You can filter Java, ActiveX and Proxy. You can also filter web sites by URL and keyword.
Routing – this isn’t in the web UI. You can view the existing routing table and add routing rules.
System Log – essentially the same as in the touch screen UI only you get a full screen listing.
System Command – you have very basic command line access. The following commands are available:
break; cd; chdir; continue; eval; exec; exit; export; false; hash; help; local; pwd; read; readonly; return; set; shift; source; times; trap; true; type; ulimit; umask; unset; wait
Support – the touch screen UI also has a US phone number for support – the web UI only has the email address.

Even though it is under the "Advanced" menu, the inclusion of a command line option is very odd, given the Almond's target buyer.

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