AVM Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7390 review
It's hard to take the AVM Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7390 seriously. The name sounds like a parody of its German manufacturers and its design is a throwback to 1950's sci-fi, but this router contains a network manager's shopping list of advanced features. As well as an ADSL2+ modem, a four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch and two USB ports, the 7390 has two analogue phone ports and an ISDN port. It can also act as a base station for up to six cordless DECT phones, and includes an integrated PBX, or software phone exchange, with five separate answering machines.
Setting up the 7390 was child's play. The setup guide is a colourful fold-out poster with step-by-step instructions for connecting the router to a phone line, handsets and computers. When using it with AVM's own Fritz!WLAN USB Stick N (£42), simply inserting it into one of the router's USB ports for a few seconds and then into a PC provided an instant connection.
Buying the USB stick is worth it in terms of speed improvements, too: using our Centrino 2 test laptop, we only achieved speeds up to 38Mbit/s, while connections via the USB stick went up to 44Mbit/s. Switching to the 5GHz band, we achieved speeds up to a staggering 74Mbit/s at close range and 44Mbit/s at 10m. The stick also delivered a better signal at long range, reaching 18Mbit/s versus Centrino 2's 8Mbit/s.
The web interface is clear and well organised, with text introductions and tips on each page, and even graphical aids such as a wireless map in the WLAN section that shows you which wireless channels are in use. Regrettably, channel bonding is turned on by default. To turn it off we had to untick a box labelled "Use radio channels optimised for 300Mb/s", which is hidden away in the Expert mode.
The 7390 is undoubtedly impressive, but if you're not planning to use VoIP, it's hard to justify the high price. However, if you were to base your home phone and network around it, you could recoup your money in no time and have access to a host of advanced features.
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