Following our feature overviews of the Fritz!Box 7490, the Fritz!Fon C5 and the Fritz!Wlan Repeater DVB-C in this extended review we want to take a detailed look at the first-mentioned device. After having used the device for several weeks I don’t want to miss it again as it definitely introduced our home – at least to some extend – to the “complete home networking” experience AVM is marketing. To find out just how the Fritz!Box 7490 (in combination with all the great tools and other devices) managed to impress me – and also where I’d like to see some improvements made by AVM – read on.
About this review: Since AVM gave us the device for an extended review period (meaning we can keep the Fritz!Box 7490), you can expect this post to be updated several times with new insides and information regarding our experience with the product.
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Unboxing, Features and Setup
The Fritz!Box 7490 lies in a nicely designed, blue-colored box which already highlights some of the main functions and features of the device on the front. Even more information about the “complete high-speed home networking” device can be found on the back of the box. For those of you who want to have a brief overview on the most important features of this particular Fritz!Box model we’ve published an overview article – so if you’d like to know more about those feel free to check out the article here.
Nevertheless, here’s again a very brief summary of the functionalities:
- Dual-band AC+N wireless with up to 1300 Mbit/s
- VDSL/ADSL/WAN: Up to 100 Mbit/s for every connection
- Phone: Telephone system for IP, ISDN and analog
- DECT Base: For 6 cordless telephones including answering machine
- Network: 4 times gigabit LAN, 2 times USB 3.0/2.0
- Fritz!OS: Media server, NAS, MyFRITZ!, Smart Home, auto update
When opening the box you’ll not only find your Fritz!Box 7490 but also the following contents:
- a power supply unit
- a 4.25-meter DSL-telephone connecting cable
- a 1.5-meter LAN cable
- an Installation Guide
Having unboxed the device and the mentioned cables and paperwork the next thing you want to do is of course set up the Fritz!Box 7490. Here, users have different options from which they can choose from according to their wishes and particular needs. The device can either be set up as an individual and independently functioning router – thus the Fritz!Box 7490 will be your main router – or can be configured for use with another router either functioning as an IP client (which AVM recommends on their website) or as a cascaded router. Depending on the chosen configuration some functions might be limited or not available at all. You can find out more about the set up process in general and possible restrictions of those in AVM’s knowledge base here (DSL router), here (IP client) and here (cascaded router). For practical and personal reasons I chose to go with the Fritz!Box 7490 being my cascaded router, so functioning alongside my already installed router requested by our Internet provider. While I won’t go into details about the other installation processes, I’d like to make some remarks about my installation experience when setting up the device as a second network.
First and foremost, I want to make clear that setting up the Fritz!Box 7490 is – at least in theory – very easy and should be doable also for not so experienced people (frankly, I consider myself to be a part of that group of people) when it comes to configuration of routers thanks to AVM’s detailed and well-structured knowledge base on their website. You can find entries about pretty much all problems you might be facing when setting up or using the Fritz!Box 7490 there. Nevertheless, I had some problems configuring the device due to a misunderstanding. Though once resolved, setting up the router was just as easy (or difficult depending on your point of view) as setting up a smartphone. During the whole process a setup assistance will help you to correctly configure and connect the Fritz!Box with your existing router. Having said that, you still might want to take a look at the printed Installation Guide from time to time to make sure you’re using the right cables.
So here’s a very short overview of what you’ve got to do in order to set up the Fritz!Box 7490 as a cascaded router:
- Connect the Fritz!Box 7490 to the power source using the power supply unit
- Connect the Fritz!Box 7490 with the router
- Connect the device (e.g. your notebook) you want use for the setup process with the network labelled as “Fritz!Box 7490”
- Open the Fritz!Box user interface in your browser of choice by calling up http://fritz.box or 22.214.171.124
- Now follow the instructions given by the setup assistant
- Please make sure that LAN 1 of your Fritz!Box is not occupied until you are asked to plug in the required cable
WiFi – Practical Experience
Probably the most important reason why I was so eagerly waiting for the arrival of the Fritz!Box 7490 at my home was the hope for better and faster WiFi reception in the whole house but especially in my own room. I absolutely expected the device to vastly improve my Internet experience and it really did. I now have an almost twentyfold download speed compared to the one provided by my old, pre-existing router (which now only serves as a so-called bridge, though you could still connect your devices with that network). Regarding uploaded speeds I measured an improvement of almost fifteen times faster download rates. While I definitely don’t take advantage of the AVM Fritz!Box 7490’s full potential (you can theoretically have up to 1300 Mbit/s download speeds), times when YouTube videos would preload in 360p and long loading times when accessing more complex websites are now definitely gone. So the Fritz!Box 7490 was really a relief for me since with the internet speed provided by the old router watching YouTube videos, skyping with camera and screen sharing being turned on and more was really annoying if not impossible at some times.
But I don’t only benefit from faster download and upload rates – the latter being of vital importance for my YouTube channel – in my own room; also in other areas of the house we’ve now got a much better and also more stable connection available.
There’s really not much I’ve got to add here: I’m just really pleased with my practical experience regarding WiFi quality!
Design and Build Quality
Although maybe not the most important aspect of such a device, I’d like to briefly comment on the design and the build quality of the Fritz!Box 7490. As already mentioned in our features overview, the 7490 does come with AVM’s typical red and silver coloring and therefore definitely looks more lively and interesting as your standard black router though some might find it to be a bit too flashy. While I do like AVM’s design language overall, I completely understand people who appreciate a more standard boxy design as well. But at the end of the day – as I’ve already stated above – the design probably does (and in my opinion also should) not belongto the main criteria when thinking about buying a network device.
Regarding build quality, I’m pleased as well. The device – for very obvious reasons – doesn’t feature a metal housing but instead is built using hard plastic. And so are the integrated buttons for turning on or off the Wifi and DECT. Both of them are relatively large and provide a nice feedback making them usable even when the Fritz!Box might not be located in a very accessible area.
By calling up http://fritz.box you can access a password-protected and very user-friendly user interface were you can access all the important information regarding the status of your Fritz!Box model. Furthermore, you’ve got access to various settings in which you can adapt the functions of the device to your likings. But not only does the Fritz!OS appeal with many different options, it also features a very nice and clear user interface making it extraordinarily user-friendly. Comparing this UI with the one of my pre-existing router provided by our Internet provider would just not be fair: The Fritz!Box 7490 one’s is just so much better. Having said that, I do have to admit that while I did take a brief look at every section of the OS, I haven’t yet looked at all sections in detail. Though I certainly intend to do so during Christmas break in order to take advantage of the Fritz!Box’s full potential. Thus this post will of course be updated accordingly as already stated at the top of this review. This being said, I do believe that actually just a very small fraction of all Fritz!Box 7490 users will ever use every single function of this device; there’s just too much being offered in terms functionality – especially in combination with other AVM products such as the Fritz!Wlan repeater DVB-C which we’re also going to review in the following weeks.
Here’s just a very brief look at what exactly you can change/have a look at in the different sections:
- Overview: Access basic information regarding internet and telephony connections, ports, home network, phone calls, answering machine and more
- Internet: Access and manage online monitoring, acces data, filters, sharing and your MyFritz! account
- Telephony: Access and manage calls, answering machine, phone book, alarm calls, fax, telephone devices and more
- Home Network: Access and manage your home network, USB devices, NAS, media server, Fritz!Box name and Smart Home
- WiFi: Access and manage different functions regarding your radio network, e.g security features
- DECT: Access and manage information regarding your wireless phones
- Diagnosis: Check different features of your Fritz!Box
- System: Access event monitoring, update your OS version, change region and language and more
- Assitents: Help you to set up different functions
As you can see from the above list, there really are a lot of functions and settings available to users which is definitely good for experienced customers. Luckily though, both the assistents and AVM’s knowledge base help unexpierenced users to get more out of their Fritz!Box 7490.
By what I’ve seen and used so far I can definitely tell that the Fritz!Box 7490 proves to be the device for “complete high-speed home networking” as AVM boldly states on the packaging of the Fritz!Box. Once sorted out the installation problems (which frankly were not due to the device itself), the experience with the device has been exclusively positive. Not only do I finally have acceptable Internet speed in my room (and the whole house), the Fritz!Box also is packed with features and functions which I partly still have to discover and take advantage of and last but not least it also is well built and designed. Additionally, AVM’s great online knowledge base is a very helpful tool – especially for first-time users like me who might need some assitance during the setup process. Although I want to stress once again that setting up the device (be it as a standalone router or as in my case as a cascaded router) is actually pretty easy given the fact that the setup assistance does always tell you what you’ve got to do.
Having said all this it should be of no surprise that I’m really pleased with my experience with the AVM Fritz!Box 7490 and I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time with device and all its functions and features.
Once again: This post is going to get updated in the future so watch this space!
Thanks to AVM for providing us with the products!