It might look like it’s been yanked straight out of an episode of The Jetsons, but this retro-styled modem/router packs some seriously high-tech features.
Most impressive of all is the huge variety of devices and standards supported by the Fritz!Box – rather than evaluate what this product can do, it’d be easier to figure out what it can’t do.
Fully armed for VoIP, it’s also a DECT base station and can connect to a maximum of six handsets. Doing so will cost you a pretty penny, with each Fritz!Fon costing an extra $129 a piece (though the first is $100 if you buy it with the Fritz!Box). The audio quality isn’t amazing, but the large LED screen is a nice feature, which can be used to check emails, play internet radio and even control the Fritz!Box remotely.
An interesting Fritz!Fon feature is the baby monitor, which dials a user-configured number when hearing a loud noise. You’re not limited to the Fritz!Fon, though, as any DECT-compatible handset will work. You can even use an existing smartphone. There’s a raft of other telephony features, such as call blocking and call redirecting, but let’s take a look at the stuff you’ll use with your PC.
If and when the NBN ever arrives in a neighbourhood near you, Fritz!Box will be ready to handle the connection via the included LAN/WAN port. There’s 512MB of internal storage, which can be supplemented by plugging in a storage device to either of the two USB ports. These can then be accessed via FTP, as well as serving as NAS devices. Network printing is also offered courtesy of the USB ports, plus they’ll take a 3G USB dongle for those times your ADSL dies.
Unlike certain modem/routers, the UI here offers plenty of information without overloading the user. Everything is organised beautifully and an informative help system helps you make sense of it all. During your first setup, it’ll even do a survey of the local Wi-Fi networks around you and then suggests the least congested channel. Nice.
Wireless LAN performance is exceptional, thanks to its concurrent dual-band Wireless N. In our simple file transfer test, it delivered speeds around 30% faster than our beloved Billion 7800N at just over 11MB/s. Note that testing was done in the same room.
As you can see, there’s not a lot that the Fritz!Box can’t do and we’ve barely scratched the surface. Many of the key features are targeted at VoIP users, so if you’re sticking with your mobile or landline they’ll likely go to waste. It might not be the most affordable modem/router on the market, but you get what you pay for. And with the Fritz!Box, you get everything but the kitchen sink.Available from Fritz, retailing for $299 for AVM Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7390 and $139 for Fritz!Fon MT-F
.APC rating: 9/10 (Editor's Choice)