This is the tale of my tragic love affair between me and my FRITZ!Box, and how it all ended in tears.
Introduction: Love at First…
My old Belkin router was getting tired, so I was looking for a more modern, more reliable replacement. Being a proper geek, however, I didn’t want just any old router. I wanted something a bit special.
So, one fine Google, I came across the FRITZ!Box Fon WLAN. Far more than just a simple router, these curiously-named units have an extraordinary range of functionality, stellar reviews, and a reputation of being a hackers dream. Made in Germany by AVM, these units are extremely popular on the continent, but are almost unheard of in the UK.
A little more research revealed that there was a new model of the FRITZ!Box in the pipeline. The 7270 combined all the features of the previous FRITZ!Box with some significant updates and some tasty new features. At around £200, the new model wasn’t cheap, but nevertheless I was proper smitten.
Who wouldn’t want the following:
- 4 Ethernet ports
- WIFI 802.11N (draft 2.0) with MIMI for increased data rates
- ADSL2+ broadband router (annex A or B, so should work anywhere in the world)
- DHCP server
- FTP server
- Connect to ISDN or POTS telephone network
- 2 wired phone ports
- 1 ISDN port for ISDN equipment
- Fax machine support
- Multiple answering machines
- Base unit for up to 6 cordless digital telephone handsets (DECT)
- USB 2.0 Host supporting:
- USB storage (memory key or hard drive)
- Wireless UPnP Media server
- Low power consumption
Back in October 2008 I had a birthday; one of the milestone ones when you can ask for big presents. Now, the German version of the 7270 was already available, but the UK version was not due for release until sometime after my special day. Nevertheless, I was prepared to wait for something with so much promise.
I asked my wife to invest on one on my behalf.
I said I was a proper geek, didn’t I?
Reality with FRITZ!Box: Love Turns Sour
In fairness to AVM, the basic functions generally work well. However, if I had wanted basic functions then I would have invested in a basic device. Several of the features that most appealed to me when I originally looked at the device just don’t work seem to work properly:
- My cordless digital phone works, but the menus on the phone are unusable because they are in German.
- As far as I can tell, it is impossible to play back more than one message from the built-in answering machine. It is impossible to delete messages.
- The built-in media server presents menus on my Internet Radio in German.
- The media-server presents only a small sub-set of the loaded music to my Internet Radio.
- The USB hard-drive I have connected to the box is sometimes not found [Update: Now resolved].
- My ADSL connection drops from time-to-time. Reconnection requires the FRITZ!Box to be reset [Update: Now resolved].
- As suggested on a German support forum, I enabled Telnet on my box so I could inspect various config values on the box. Since then, I have a message on the config screen for the device that states “Changes not supported by manufacturer”. There is a help page associated with this message that suggests resetting this message by running a file on the CD. The file was not supplied on my CD. (Side note: It really doesn’t help that most of the independently published information about AVM products is in German) [Update: Now resolved].
I have contacted AVM technical support about some of these issues, but so far have been greeted with either:
- No response
- A response asking for more information, followed by no further communication when I sent that information
- A suggestion that issues would be resolved with a firmware upgrade at some indeterminate time in the future.
Until I get a proper response on the ones I have already reported, I don’t feel inclined to report the rest.
Conclusion: An Unhappy Relationship
In conclusion then, if you want the tried-and tested basic functionality of the product then you’ll get it (but at a price). If you want the bells and whistles that you pay for, then you’ll be disappointed.