Fritz!box WLAN 3270 review
802.11n dual band, 4x 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet ports
The Fritz!Box WLAN 3270 is a less expensive alternative to the Ultimate award-winning AVM Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7390. Like the 7390, the 3270 is a dual band ADSL and VDSL modem router with a USB2 port to which you can connect USB drives and printers, but it lacks the telephony features of the 7390. It can't transmit on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously, either, so if you have devices that need 2.4GHz, you'll have to do without the performance boost 5GHz can give you.
In terms of wireless performance, the 3270 performed adequately on the 2.4GHz band during testing and very well on the 5GHz band. When using our Centrino laptop’s built-in Wi-Fi adaptor and the 2.4GHz band we saw data transfer speeds of 29.1Mbit/s at one metre, 31.1Mbit/s at 10 metres and 11.7Mbit/s at 25 metres. These speeds are beaten by those of Draytek’s Vigor 2850n (our current performance champion) and the Fritz!Box WLAN 7390, but those routers cost £70 more.
The performance improved when we switched to the 5GHz band. When using our Centrino laptop’s own Wi-Fi adaptor we saw data rates of 58.6Mbit/s at one metre, 52.4Mbit/s at 10 metres and 17.6Mbit/s at 25 metres. When using AVM’s Fritz!WLAN USB Stick N Wi-Fi dongle (£33 from www.conrad-uk.com) and the 5GHz band, we saw a large speed boost to 68.1Mbit/s at one metre, 53.4Mbit/s at 10 metres and 27.4Mbit/s at 25 metres. These speeds are plenty fast enough to stream high-definition video over your home network.
Curiously, the Fritz!Box WLAN 3270 has four Fast Ethernet ports instead of the Gigabit Ethernet ports we expect. This could be because the 3270 is aimed at the home market rather than industry, and Wi-Fi is much more likely to be used in the home than wired Ethernet, but it is disappointing; Gigabit Ethernet is particularly useful when copying large amounts of data to a NAS. Regardless of the 3270’s other features, we expect Gigabit Ethernet on a £125 router.
Something that definitely didn’t disappoint is the 3270’s sophisticated user interface, which provides the perfect mix of information, help and options. The user interface is colourful and friendly without being patronising, and it makes good use of HTML to present the options in a clear and meaningful manner. It even uses bar charts and tables to present information, a good example being the way it shows the effect of other wireless networks and radio interference on your network. This lets you select the best band and channel for your network should the channel on which you’re currently operating become congested. This is a user interface that begs the user to engage with it and enjoy the high-level features it has to offer, which is a rarity when it comes to routers.