While touchscreens are appearing on more and more devices these days, putting a touchscreen on a WiFi router may still seem nonsensical. For most homeowners, routers are forgotten Internet devices that stay dusty and hidden behind computers or shelves. However, a super-fast touchscreen WiFi router generation is on its way, and these extra features are far from a bad thing.
First Things First: Router Basics
The typical WiFi router (or gateway) combines several functions into one device. A router’s job is to take a landline Internet connection from a source like cable or DSL and transfer it into a radio signal using WiFi standards that can be picked up by your computer and mobile devices. First, the router must connect devices to the wireless network (or directly through wired ports). Then it must “route” packets of data forward to the correct devices and back to the Internet Provider as needed. Finally, it must constantly broadcast the data out and receive wireless information, translating back and forth as necessary. This function also includes preventing unrequested traffic and general security/login features.
WiFi routers are the most common method of offering WiFi connections in homes and offices, primarily because they take care of so many jobs at once. Their range is limited — the network typically only extends throughout a single building — but they are highly reliable devices. When using traditional routers, settings are managed through an online connection and several buttons on the router itself.
What’s with the Touchscreen?
Currently, the primary touchscreen WiFi router model available is Securifi’s new Almond+ project, which performs all the expected WiFi tasks but also has a small touchscreen at the center of the device. This may feel unnecessary — if the router works in the traditional fashion, why does it need a touchscreen? But this is far from a wasted feature on the Almond+, which includes a collection of additional functions that makes the router a more complex, next-generation tool. The touchscreen works very well with these new features, offering benefits such as:
Touchscreen WiFi Router: Easy Set-Up:
Multiple Standard Management: The Almond+ is notable for its “smart home” focus. The router is made to be used as a home automation hub, not simply a Wireless Network manager. This means it also works with popular home automation standards such as ZigBee and Z-Wave. These are separate wireless protocols from WiFi, used primarily for home alarms, home monitoring, sensors, and various remote control devices. Here is where the touchscreen really starts to shine — you can use it to control various home automation functions through ZigBee or Z-Wave, setting up security systems, turning on lights, or starting the entertainment system.
The touchscreen WiFi router also makes set-up easier, providing instructions on the device and saving valuable time when first setting up the wireless networks. This is especially welcome when such next-gen routers require you to set up not only wireless network devices, but also home monitoring and automation products on different networks where computer screens are not available to manage the process.
- The Latest Protocols: The Almond+ also demonstrates another bonus to advanced routers — the 802.11ac standard for WiFi. While most modern routers use the 802.11n standard, the “ac” version is the future version that offers increased wireless speeds (Securifi claims up to 4x faster than most current WiFi brands, but speeds depend on many factors). However, it is still easy for such devices to provide backwards compatibility with a/b/g/n standards. The touchscreen feature promises the future ability to look up the current status of connections and judge connection quality for yourself when using the latest standards.
- App Integration: When a company creates an interface for a small touchscreen on the router, it is very easy to port that interface over to other wireless devices — such as smartphones. This means you can use a very similar system to control the automated features in your home at a distance. Bring up the app, and you can set your security system for the office (or disable it.) If you have a smart home with lights and heating connected to the router, you can use the same app to adjust those devices before you even walk in the front door. Most home automation systems require separate hubs and apps to use these functions, but with advanced routers the services are integrated.
- Device Visibility: This is a minor advantage for most, but the Almond+ was designed with the understanding that a touchscreen WiFi router needs to be visible. It is set up to look more like a speaker or picture frame than a WiFi router, making it easy to hide in plain sight and access the touchscreen with minimal effort. For the very router-conscious, this particular brand is even available in multiple colors to match entertainment systems or bookshelves.
While getting a touchscreen WiFi router for your home might not be a major priority right now, it will benefit you as we move toward the age of home automation.