The Fritz!Box 7490 is an interesting product to categorise as while it’s primarily a modem/router, it also packs in a full telephone system and smart home control system.
The Fritz!Box 7490 design is one of red and grey plastics and while it’s nice enough it certainly doesn’t ooze the style you might expect from such an expensive bit of kit.
Along the front are status indicator lights. On the top are a couple of buttons, one for WiFi pairing via WPS and one for DECT telephone pairing.
Around the back sits the Ethernet and telephone ports along with a USB port. There is a second USB port on the side. Note unlike competitors there are no status indicator lights on each Ethernet port, meaning you can’t easily visually see which ports/connects are in use.
Setup of the box is very easy, for this review it was used in two modes:
- As the main router plugged into a Virgin Superhub 2 in modem mode
- As a secondary router plug into a master router
As you’d expect everything is configured via a web interface which is called Fritz!OS. At the time of review it was version 6.2 and while it looks a little dated the Fritz!OS does a decent job of presenting a lot of options in an easy to understand manner.
The Fritz!Box performs well as a router, offering duel networks of both 2.4G and 5G and providing good coverage in a 3 bedroom house. Coverage and speed was better than the Virgin Superhub 2 and seemed about the same as an Asus RT-AC68U which is usually the primary router used.
The router element provides you with a lot of tools and options, including the ability to add USB storage to the Fritz!Box to turn it into a NAS drive (with the option page being called Fritz!NAS).
The Fritz!OS also offers a lot of information and functionality around WiFi, for example it gives you information regarding wireless networks in your area and what channel they’re on to help identify interference.
If you are using this in an office it’s worth noting you have the ability to schedule when WiFi is available, handy if you want to disable any potential access to your network out of office hours. You can also see information such as what devices are connected (active and idle) and can setup a guest network which allows guests to access the internet without having access to the rest of your network.
There is an option to add online media sources and this was a bit hit and miss. Unsecured items such as RSS feeds worked without a problem, however when testing the Google Play Music integration Google blocked access and said that to use this settings would need to be changed ‘so that your account is no longer protected by modern security standards.’, which didn’t sound especially appealing!
On top of all the router functions and features the Fritz!Box 7490 is also a full telephone system. This element might be overkill for the average household, but looks ideal for anyone running a small business.
As well as plugging in handsets you can also easily pair any existing DECT handsets with the Fritz!Box and they’ll work with the new system, meaning you don’t need to replace your existing hardware.
Testing with an existing set of Philips DECT phones the system worked brilliantly, adding the two handsets was just a matter of paring them with the Fritz!Box. Interestingly, after pairing the date/time information usually shown on the phone screen wasn’t displayed.
If you need additional handsets you could consider the Fritz!Fon (reviewed separately) which is designed for use with this system and offers greater functionality than you’ll get with other brand handsets. Call quality using the Fritz!Fon was excellent, sounding similar to HD calls on the EE mobile network.
Brilliantly you can also download an app for your mobile which then adds it as a handsets as long as you’re on the same network as the Fritz!Box. This means when someone calls your landline your mobile will also ring and the call can be taken without picking up a traditional handset.
Additionally the app can be used to route certain calls out via the Fritz!Box, so for example you might route all calls to fixed lines or other country numbers via the Fritz!Box, but calls to other mobile numbers out via your mobile connection. It also allows you to synchronize your contacts with the Fritz!Box 7490s internal telephone book.
All handsets, mobile or DECT, are assigned individual extension numbers allowing you to call any phone internally via dialling a short code.
The system has a built in answering machine and this can be configured with your own messages. Being built into the router means you can access your voicemail in a number of ways, via a handset, on your mobile or via a web interface.
There is also the ability to use this as a fax service. This service wasn’t tested, but a look at the menu shows incoming faxes can be automatically sent to an email address, a handy feature for anyone still using fax machines.
As you can probably gather from this and the video review the Fritz!Box 7490 offers a huge range of functionality for the price, even after weeks of use it seems like there is more functionality to discover.
What you’ll use this for depends on your needs. If you just want a router the Fritz!Box 7490 is a very expensive option that is likely overkill in terms of features and functionality. However, if you plan on dipping into the toolbox of features on offer then the Fritz!Box 7490 could well be the all in one system you need, rather than purchasing a router, telephone system and NAS you get all three in a single device.
Available now from Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1LQeR9y