Powerful Soap router surpasses funding goal, headed for production

Fed up with poking around cornball router settings on a laptop? Here’s a router with an evolutionary UI—a full touchscreen—plus it has all the radios and connections you could possibly want.

soap lead image

If you've been pacing the floor, wringing your hands, and generally feeling antsy recently, it may well have been a subconscious concern that the most powerful router that we’ve ever seen might, somehow, not have made its funding goal at crowd-funder Indiegogo.

Well, rest easy, because you’ll be pleased to hear that it has. The Soap all-in-one, tablet-style router with HD touch-screen display, 802.11AC, and four radio bands has hit its loot target and is now on its way towards a December 2014 ship date.

Yahoo!, as we say in dot-com lingo.

To recap, or for those who might have missed the funding campaign, which ended this week, the Soap router is probably the most elaborate and—without getting too bogged-down in the marketing hyperbole—intelligent router we've seen.

The campaign raised a whopping $261,318 by the time it closed on August 10. The goal was $42,500. Perks for funders included a $400 MSRP Soap Quad Special, shipping in December, for $200.

And don’t worry if you've missed the campaign, because Soap will flog you one anyway at its website.

About Soap

Key features include a 7- or 8.4-inch HD display; DDR3 RAM ranging from 1GB to 2GB; up to 32GB of built-in storage; and processors ranging from a puny one-core up to a Freescale IMX6 Quad-Core ARM processor—all depending on price. MSRP starts at $120.

The operating system is Android 4.4 KitKat, and the device can be used for home automation, including with wireless standards X10, Zigbee, Z-wave and Insteon. The manufacturer uses control of garage doors, lights and blinds as examples of the functionality.

Quad band Wi-Fi includes two 2.4 GHz bands and two 5 GHz bands. Wired connections are the expected Gigabit standard. Bluetooth is included, plus USB 3.0, USB 2.0, SATAII, mPCIe, and HDMI inputs, so the rhetoric does appear to match the specification.

SMA connectors exist for external antennas, and there are chipsets for 802.11AC, at wireless Gigabit speeds, and 802.11N

Mesh technology lets you combine devices to create more range. The cluster then shares CPU and storage.

Apps and add-ons

Accessories include the Soap Bar, which is a $45 Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy tracker that can be used to interact with the Soap router. Sensors in it include temperature, accelerometer, vibration, light, and motion. An API is available too.

Other accessories include a scene management Wi-Fi remote control with play/pause, back, up, down, left, right, and select.

Router evolution

Where the thing actually progresses from feature-creep and does become evolutionary, though, is in its touch-screen. And that shift makes a lot of sense, as PCs in the home become less important and we transition to the fiddly smartphone as a do-everything device, and consequently a router interface.

So, the next time your thrifty ISP sends you an 802.11g router with a spindly little plastic antenna and an HTML interface straight out of one of Tim Berners-Lee’s nightmares, you’ll know where to upgrade.

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