AVM Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7390 review
Packed with useful features and it’s a dream to set up and manage. Only performance lets it down
Review Date: 24 Feb 2011
Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray
Price when reviewed: £175 (£210 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
We don’t often get excited by a wireless router, but when German firm AVM brought its Fritz!Box 7390 ADSL2+ router into the office for a demo, we left the room itching to try it for ourselves. This is no ordinary router; it can do everything bar get itself out of the box, plug itself in and make the tea while you relax on the sofa.
A quick perusal of the rear panel and edges hints at what’s to come. There are the usual solitary DSL and four Gigabit Ethernet sockets, but also two USB sockets, two analogue phone ports and an ISDN phone socket.
This router not only connects your wireless and wired devices to the internet, but also sports VoIP features and can act as a base station for up to six DECT phones. AVM sells its own DECT handset – the Fritz!Fon MT-F – for £65 inc VAT, which adds the ability to listen to internet radio streams as well as directly manage the answer machine and telephony features on the Fritz!Box itself.
It’s a clever box of tricks, but the list doesn’t end there. The wireless radio is concurrent dual-band 802.11n, so you can have 2.4GHz and 5GHz devices connected simultaneously. There’s channel bonding – pushing the theoretical maximum speed of the connection to 300Mbits/sec – 512MB of built-in storage, and even fax send and receive facilities. It may be primarily intended for an ADSL line, with support for up to 100Mbits/sec ADSL2+ speeds, but you can also use it for cable connections.
That list of features is pretty remarkable, and it’s by no means an exhaustive description, but what’s most impressive is the ease with which all these features can be accessed, tweaked and set up. The Fritz!Box’s web-based management system is the most straightforward, well-organised and easily understandable we’ve come across in any router. We had it plumbed into our internet connection, landline and Sipgate account, with two handsets registered to the DECT base station, in less than an hour.
If you switch it into Advanced mode, a huge array of powerful features is unveiled. We particularly like the overview page, which provides quick links to all the router’s core features and information about your internet connection, wireless network, analogue phone and functions at a glance.
There are live bandwidth graphs on the internet connection page and, on the page where you select which wireless channel to use, the 7390 displays not only neighbouring networks and their signal strength, but also other sources of potential interference.
If there’s one weakness, it’s raw wireless performance. In our file-transfer tests we found the Fritz!Box 7390 underwhelming, to put it mildly. At close range (2.5m) we achieved average speeds of 65Mbits/sec downstream of the router and 58Mbits/sec upstream over 2.4GHz, while over 5GHz we achieved 73Mbits/sec and 76Mbits/sec respectively. That’s a long way short of the fastest routers we’ve tested, which have hit speeds of up to 122Mbits/sec downstream over 2.4GHz and 135Mbits/sec downstream over 5GHz.
In our long-range tests (40m distant with two walls in the way) it was a similar story, with average speeds of 34Mbits/sec downstream and 30Mbits/sec upstream – well short of the best we’ve seen – and it failed to connect at all over 5GHz. We also tested NAS speeds over the USB socket but it wasn’t much better, achieving an average speed in the same tests (this time over a wired connection) of 29Mbits/sec.
That’s disappointing, but not disastrous, and the sheer quality of the rest of the offering more than compensates. In particular, the channel selection tool will be of far more use than raw speed in achieving a stable, fast wireless network. The Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7390 is expensive, but for a router that does this much it’s actually pretty good value.
Author: Jonathan Bray
Get the 7270
This latest router does the additional interest streaming to the DECT handsets and the spotting of noise, but the older 7270 has the three aerials which when set to three different directions gives far better wireless performance and I think these new aerials are the problem according to forums. The older model is still for sale and comes with almost the same features and I've two DECT handsets together with usb hard drive utilising all the features available and can really commend the older version
By francisedwards on 24 Feb 2011
"It may be primarily intended for an ADSL line...but you can also use it for cable connections."
How exactly, please? There doesn't seem to be an ethernet WAN port on it?
By nichomach0 on 24 Feb 2011
You're quite right nichomach0 - there's no specific WAN port on the 7390.
The Cable connection is in fact achieved by switching the first LAN port into WAN mode using the router's settings pages.
By JonBray on 24 Feb 2011
All is now clear - thanks Jonathan.
By nichomach0 on 25 Feb 2011
Careful with the Cable style connection!
If you are intending to make use of the VOIP features, beware using the Ethernet based connection. Either the VOIP provider, or the Fritz, doesn't always run smoothly when the VOIP traffic has to use all-Ethernet links.
By Steve_Cassidy on 27 Feb 2011
Wow, a router not like every other.
I've always wondered how you guys mustered the enthusiasm to review wireless routers. Like, there are only two paragraphs to write - how fast is it, and what colour is it. Everything else is just the same-old same-old again, and to be honest, who cares about the colour?
So hats off to AVM for something a bit different.
Right now I'm looking at, beside my PC, a dreary belkin wifi router, a Grandstream VoIP ATA, a Philips DECT ansaphone, and a cable modem, each with associated power brick. If AVM could just go the extra mile and make a cable version (or put in an extra ethernet port or two - what's with the industry limit of four ports?) then I'm a customer.
The ADSL thing is a shame, after all its we cable subscribers, free from the tyranny of a landline rental, who are the most likely VoIP takers. I don't get why cable modem users have to loose a scarce ethernet port - for the want of a dedicated ethernet socket to bypass the ADSL circuit.
Maybe you could also review the cable equivalent - Fritz!box 6360. And do a companion interview with Virgin Media to appraise then of the wisdom of letting their customers connect it to the Virgin network...
By martindaler on 28 Feb 2011
try reading further up the page martindaler...
Jon tells you exactly why/how this IS in fact a cable router as well as an ADSL box....
By mrgwhite on 2 Mar 2011
try taking your own advice mrgwhite...
as Jon points out, if you read his post, you sacrifice one of the precious few LAN ethernet ports if you want to configure the device for cable modem use. Which is exactly what I mentioned in my own post, if you try reading that far down the page.
By martindaler on 4 Mar 2011
I am thinking of purchasing one of these - but also noting comments above about 7270 - so would be grateful for advice on some issues.
1: if I connect a DECT-GAP Siemens phone to this box will I be able to access the answerphone functions or will I need a FON phone?
2: can a connected DECT-GAP contact to a VOIP service via the router. I assume that an IQ capable phone is for WLAN connection outwith the DECT
3: has anyone got experience of connecting a Blackberry Bold 9700 to wifi BIS on these types of router? I currently have a Netgear DGN1000 on loan and I can only get a wifi connection without access to BIS. Conversely, whilst a Netgear DGN3300 also on loan gave me full BIS connectivity on a 'G' band but the router had to be returned because of frequent disconnects from the internet.
4. How stable as these routers; ie, are they good at remaining in sync?
By HenGus on 13 Mar 2011
Amazing all in one router and DECT hub
This is an amazing router that does sterling service connected to BT Infinity, either through the Cable Modem or through the VDSL modem which is built in to the router (along with a ADSL modem). I have used it to replace a BT HomeHub, Openreach cable modem and Siemens DECT base station. Contrary to the review I haven't found wireless performance to be poor, in fact it's an improvement over the Home Hub and an Apple Time Capsule I also own.
I have also set it up with 5 DECT Handsets (Siemens SL78H) which can access the built in answer phone. I also have the iPhone app to use it as an additional handset.
The best part about the 7390 is its stability, it almost never needs a reset (I think I have done it once and that was as a result of my playing with the VDSL settings).
To answer 1, 2 and 4 of HenGus' questions, I would say yes. I'm afraid I have no idea about 3.
To add my tuppence to the "debate" between mrgwhite and martindaler, they are both right and wrong. There is only a need to lose an ethernet port if you use the device with a cable modem, which you don't have to do as it has one built in.
All in all, a very good purchase.
By sgoldswo on 11 Sep 2011
Beware, I bought both the Fritz!Box 7390 and the FritzFON.
The audio quality of the FON was so bad that I had to send it back (with much difficulty in being refunded, finally was thanks to Visa's help).
The Fritz!Box in itself works fine for the VDSL (though I had to wait for a firmware update first). The phone number recognition stopped working pretty soon though, and the call list gets polluted with fake numbers, which makes the phone functionality (filter, DECT, ...) pretty much useless.
I would avoid buying from this brand yet, it's just not mature enough quality-wise.
By noahfb on 5 Nov 2011
Don't buy this !
Very bad hardware compared to linksys.
1. Very unstable DSL connection
2. FritzFon MT-F has permanent noise and you can't get rid of that
Don't waste your money with this !
It just looks very good on screenshot and in theory, practically, it is a nightmare.
By FritzBoxFonCustomer on 13 Nov 2011
Don't buy this ! #2
I tried all the different parameter for the DSL connection from "stable" to "fastest", updated everything to latest firmware, call the P&T, they came to my place, replace the plug with their own and told me that was fixed and I had to pay because they've modified my plug.
The result was the same, I had to put back myself the plug and finally exceeded, put back my wrt350n an linksys modem to get the stability of before (and honestly that wasn't the best I ever had, but compared to avm fritzbox, it is very good)
By FritzBoxFonCustomer on 13 Nov 2011
Lots of ports?
There aren't many SOHOs which need more than 4 ports in one place.
If you need more than 4, just cascade to a bigger switch, or distribute using powerline networking (this will keep SWMBO happier than running cables around the place anyway...)
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