AVM Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7390 : easy-to-use router with comprehensive VoIP features (24/10/2010) by itreviews.co.uk
Ask anyone in the UK what a Fritz!Box is and you’re likely to get blank stares, or worse. This is a great shame, as German-based AVM’s quirky VoIP routers are usually stuffed to the gunwales with tech goodies. The Fon WLAN 7390 certainly is, and replaces the 7270 model as the flagship of the range.
The 7390 is an evolutionary improvement over the 7270, in terms of both looks and features. The main obvious external difference is the removal of the external Wi-Fi antennas. These are replaced with a couple of small ‘fins’, giving it a much sleeker (but still very maroon) appearance. Internally, the 7390 adds simultaneous 2.4/5GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi and all four rear-mounted LAN ports are now Gigabit Ethernet.
It can be used with either DSL (including up to 100Mbps VDSL services), ISDN or cable broadband services, although for use with a cable modem the WAN connection is made via the LAN1 port, thus robbing you of a LAN port. A special Y-cable is provided with RJ-11 and UK phone (BT431A) connectors. This connects both the DSL splitter and an analogue phone line to the 7390 for use with its PBX features. A 3G USB dongle is also supported in one of the two USB ports, although annoyingly there’s no automatic failover/fallback capability if the wired connection is lost.
The telephony features of the 7390 are very impressive. Two analogue telephony devices (phones, faxes or answering machines) can be plugged into the RJ-11 ports on the back, and there’s also an ISDN S0 socket. Ten separate VoIP (SIP) accounts can be configured, with five built-in answering machines and a fax machine.
Most of the options needed to turn this into a home or small office PBX are there, including dialling plans, call diversion and internal extension calling. There’s also a built-in DECT base station that supports up to six cordless phones. All calls can be automatically rerouted via the fixed phone line if the Internet connection goes down, but there’s no lifeline passthrough to the analogue phone ports in the event of router power failure.
User interface menus are clear, concise and mostly jargon-free (despite the occasional quirky translation). Built-in wizards take care of initial setup and the telephony features. There’s comprehensive context-sensitive help, plus download links to the manual in the integrated 512MB of NAS storage. This can be expanded using USB drives, and there’s full UPnP media streaming support plus Samba file sharing and FTP access. Alternatively, the USB ports can be used for printer sharing. DECT and Wi-Fi can be turned on or off using the buttons on the top of the router.
Advanced settings are hidden, but can be enabled using the ‘Expert’ mode. This gives you access to static routing, VPN settings, port forwarding rules, plus the QoS priority settings for applications. VoIP and media streaming are automatically prioritised.
We were allowed a sneak peek at the next version of the firmware, which should be shipping by the time you read this. The user interface has been given a makeover, with a more informative home page, and some new features added. Chief of these is the Wi-Fi guest network, which operates on a separate subnet and allows guests to share an Internet connection without compromising LAN security.
In our wireless performance tests in a noisy domestic environment, the unit managed a decent 10Mbps at 25m using the 2.4GHz band, and well over 60Mbps at 1m. Switching to the empty 5GHz band, near-field performance was identical, but it struggled to keep a reliable connection over about 10m.
AVM – Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7390 features – Verdict
If you need an easy-to-use, fully featured home or small office telephony system, there’s little to beat the Fritz!Box 7390. It may be pricey and it’s certainly not pretty, but if you like VoIP routers that just do their job with a minimum of fuss, it’s almost perfect.
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