SCSI Almond 3S hub reinvents the alarm panel.

The Almond 3S hub-based security, automation, network access and management solution is an impressive collaboration from SCSI and manufacturer, Securifi. It’s a system designed to deliver almost everything to almost everyone – that includes professional installers and monitoring stations. The question is, does it deliver on the promises?

SCSI’s Chad Wright came closest to explaining Almond 3S when we spoke recently.

“Combine a smart home device with router capabilities, NBN capabilities 4G LTE, backup battery, voice, video verification, mesh wireless, dual band Wi-Fi, full IFTT compatibility out of the box, Google Home – all this in one device that manages your entire home, while supporting professional monitoring and professional subscription services for IoT and layers of network connectivity – and you have a product that gives the smart integrator real opportunities. Almond is a completely different way of thinking about things and we know installers and their customers are going to love it,” Wright said.

At its core, Almond 3S is a compilation of functions that defies easy labelling. And these functionalities are extensive, to say the least. Almond 3S has a memory of 256MB RAM with 64MB Flash, the display is colour LCD/TFT 2.8-inch screen support 320 x 240 pixels, there’s a USB 2.0 port and wireless comms include 2.4GHz (1.94-3.12 dBI), 5GHz (2.62-6.14 dBI) and Zigbee (2.7 dBI).

There’s 1 x Gigabit Ethernet WAN Port, 2 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Ports, WLAN is 2 x 2 11ac, 867Mbps, 2 x 2 11n, 300Mbps, there’s IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n wireless, home automation devices include ZigBee (2.4GHz) with built-in siren, there’s Z-Wave in the US, Canada and Mexico (908.42 MHz), which requires a Z-Wave USB dongle, built-in cellular and a built-In LTE Cat 1 module that supports US, Europe and Australian bands. Network protocols include TCP/IP, UDP, ICMP, PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP, NAT/PAT, DHCP, DDNS, WPS and mesh networking.

Other features include parental control, automatic firmware update, SPI firewall, DMZ, port forwarding, advanced content filtering methods (URL blocking, keywords blocking), filtering of IP and MAC addresses, MAC address cloning (for WAN), WAN connection in router mode: DHCP, DSL and manual IP. Operation modes include router, access point and repeater (Wi-Fi range extender). A PIN code can manage LCD touch screen access, there’s cloud and weather information, screen saver, Android/iOS home automation control, wireless connection, multiple SSID; encryption: 64/128/256-bit, and WEP, WPA and WPA2. In terms of range, one unit covers up to 1300 square feet and you can link up to 3 Almond units in a single solution to triple this.

Software features include USB file sharing, USB 3G/4G Modem support for selected models, iOS and Android apps, guest network, MAC filtering, management and configuration via touch LCD screen and web browser. There are hidden advanced features (via WWW), settings available via LCD display (without using PC), selection of operation mode (router, AP, repeater), activation and configuration of guest access (guest SSID), internet connection settings, Wi-Fi security settings, AP mode settings, IP and MAC addresses info, WPS control, passwords check and updates, firmware update, system log view (last several entries), data transfer counter, URL/Keywords filtering, user filtering (IP/MAC) and DMZ settings.

My get-go process during the test is to plug in the hub, power it up and pop a drop cable into SEN’s NetGear switch, hit the power button and wait for the unit to boot up. This process takes a minute or so. The touch screen on the Almond 3S Hub is a compact little thing – only 6 x 4.4cm – and I wonder how I’ll go managing it with man hands. As it turns out, the simplicity of the system – its forgiving capacitive touchscreen seems to guess unerringly what I’m trying to do – means I’m quickly able to get things done and in a couple of minutes, I have the Almond 3S app up on my iPhone, and the browser open on my workstation.

In a couple of minutes, the process is over, and I find myself wishing there were more devices. I end up on Amazon looking at Zigbee smoke, smart and PIR sensors – I never expected to be doing that. They’re not very expensive – between $20 and $50 – but I don’t recognise the grey-market sounding brands and decide if SCSI sells them I’ll be better off buying known quality with a proper warranty and support.

More than any other smart home/security/networking solution I’ve played with, SCSI Almond 3S really has me engaged with the possibilities. Perhaps it’s the networking DNA of the thing – the multifarious comms paths, the rules-based programming of functionality. It might be the underlying SCSI DNA, too. This is a serious solution – I can’t help noticing the backup battery symbol on the hub screen. It starts out empty and by the time I’ve got everything sorted it’s half full. Hard not to like that. Combined with 4G LTE and passive cooling you have a robust solution with Almond.

Don’t miss SEN’s full review of SCSI Almond 3S in the September issue!

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