FRITZ!Box 7270: Review


review The range of FRITZ!Box integrated ADSL routers probably represents the most “all in one” type of devices we’ve ever seen. ADSL broadband, ISDN, Wi-Fi, DECT handset support, USB ports, PABX features … the FRITZ!Boxes have it all, and packaged in modest yet functional exteriors — appropriate to the German roots of their manufacturer, AVM.

But is the FRITZ!Box 7270 — one of the first in the range to come to Australia — truly cut out for the gruelling telecommunications work it’s designed for? Is the router the “kitchen sink” device that Internode chief Simon Hackett has been dreaming of? Or is the router just another also-ran?

With its bold red and silver colour theme, the FRITZ!Box 7270 represents a departure from the more toned down colours which router manufacturers seem to prefer … NetComm, NETGEAR, Billion: We’re thinking of you here. Your router designs are typically fairly boring.

And yet, as soon as you pick up the FRITZ!Box you get a feeling that its flashy red exterior doesn’t mean its designers compromised on build quality. These things can be ephemeral and may not always indicate long-term system stability, but the FRITZ!Box feels like more than a cheap Chinese knock-off when you pick the device up. You can feel its sturdy German heritage coming through.

(And yes, these days, cheap and Chinese does not always mean crummy — but too often it still can)

This impression is reinforced by the FRITZ!Box’s three Wi-Fi antennas, reassuring in a world of routers which usually only have one, as well as the little bubble legs on which it sits stably on a flat surface.

On top of the router are status lights representing various functions — indicating whether power, internet, fixed-line telephone and Wi-Fi functions are working correctly. One last light labelled ‘INFO’ can signal a variety of conditions — such as when a telephone connection between two related internet telephony users is live and free of charge (a function which must be supported by your ISP).

On top of the router also are two small buttons, which are used to switch on and off the router’s Wi-Fi function, as well as to either signal lost DECT-based wireless telephone handsets to ring, or to connect them in the first place.

On the back of the router are most of the usual ports — four Ethernet ports, which disappointingly run at only 10/100Mbps, not 1Gbps, a USB port to connect a storage device or printer, a power outlet, an inlet for a standard eight pin telephone connection for ADSL, two four pin analogue telephone ports, and one ISDN telephone port.

On the bottom of the FRITZ!Box is plenty of ventilation (although we weren’t that impressed that the circuit board was exposed), and two hooks so that you could attach the device to a wall.

Get ready — compared to most ADSL routers you’re used to buying, this is going to be a long list, perhaps more akin to the kind of featureset you’d find on a low end Cisco business device.

If you can name it, the FRITZ!Box has the feature you’re looking for. For starters it will connect to your usual ADSL2+ networks, and it has the usual means of routing or blocking traffic — in-built NAT, DHCP and DNS servers, a DDNS client and quality of service, alongside stateful packet inspection and port forwarding. It also supports the TR-069 standard which ISPs like iiNet are requiring for access to their fetchtv IPTV platform, which Internode is also expected to launch shortly.

The device supports 802.11n Wi-Fi — delivering up to 300Mbps theoretical speeds — and comes pre-configured with wireless encryption (WPA and WPA2 on offer) with a unique password key already active upon delivery. You can use a separate FRITZ!Box USB stick to automatically connect your PC to the router if you wish — but we think most people won’t bother.

Most of this is fairly standard, but wait — the FRITZ!Box can also act as a base station for up to six cordless telephones through the DECT standard, as well as supporting ISDN telephones or even ISDN PBX boxes. So if your small business still uses ISDN, you don’t need to give it up just yet.

An answering machine service for up to five users comes included, and you can even set up fax numbers, quick-dial numbers, number blocking, call forwarding and holding, calls between three parties, linkages with your PBX and more … the list goes on. You can place calls via Voice over IP, and then fallback to legacy fixed line if your VoIP drops out, and the SIP standard is supported — you can have up to 20 VoIP/SIP accounts through the device, and up to three phone calls simultaneously.

Even esoteric features such as fax to email and a TAPI interface for integrating telephony and software (for example with Microsoft’s Outlook/Exchange platform) are included. To say the FRITZ!Box comes with a lot of features is an understatement. Everything we can think of is in here.

Except one.

The FRITZ!Box 7270 does not support gigabit Ethernet — being restricted to 10/100 connections. With many PCs and laptops these days shipping with gigabit Ethernet included and even high-speed hard disks using the new solid state hardware, which allows users to push towards realistic gigabit speeds — and the onset of the up to 1Gbps Fibre National Broadband Network only a few years away, it makes sense to have the higher speeds included.

Apparently the higher model FRITZ!Box 7390 does have gigabit Ethernet, but we’d still like to see this as standard.

The best way to describe the performance of the FRITZ!Box 7270 is as being ‘rational’.

We’ve played with plenty of routers in our time that have delivered different levels of Wi-Fi strength depending on what angle you’re sitting from the device, which have obscured their advanced settings behind configuration wizards and which have required reboots to get the simplest configuration setting changed.

None of this was a problem with the FRITZ!Box. We simply plugged the device in to our home iiNet ADSL2+ connection and connected up our analogue telephone handset and Ethernet cables, and away it went. Configuration was a breeze — at first a matter of entering a few details to get the router up and running, and then tinkering with the advanced settings afterwards to get various portions such as Wi-Fi and VoIP working — and everything ‘just worked’.

Moreover, we loved the FRITZ!Box’s web-based user interface. The voicemail and PABX-style features, the Wi-Fi, system logs, advanced networking options — they were all smooth and easy to configure, and to the extent that we were able to test them, worked well.

All of the settings advanced users will want are there and easily accessible, but they’re not thrust in your face if you’re a beginner. The device’s user interface sits beautifully in the middle. And it only took a couple of extremely predictable seconds for any new setting to be applied; no reboots required.

We couldn’t test the DECT telephone support, as we didn’t have a supported handset to hand, but the FRITZ!Box’s internet telephony support was fine, and we placed and received several calls over our iiNet VoIP line without problems, while downloading data from the public internet and transferring around a few gigabytes between servers on our home network. The router synched with iiNet at 14Mbps, our standard ADSL2+ speed.

One note: The FRITZ!Box did get quite hot during this process — not as hot as the iiNet BoB Lite router we recently tested, but hot enough to give us concern if you’re using the device in a location without air conditioning, especially if you’re in rural Australia.

On a security note, we were pleased to note that the FRITZ!Box ships by default with Wi-Fi turned off; and when the user does turn it on, it comes with a pre-configured unique password and WPA encryption turned on. Moreover, the device also requires users to change the password when they log in to the management interface for the first time — no chance of an unauthorised intruder getting in first (unless they already have an Ethernet cable plugged into your router. Not likely!).

So what’s not to like about the FRITZ!Box 7270? Just two things.

Firstly, it doesn’t come with gigabit Ethernet. This means that we can’t in all honesty recommend the 7270 version box for power users or businesses who need the highest level of bandwidth amongst their homes or premises. With the rollout of the NBN and multimedia use within homes and businesses being what it is in 2011, there is really no reason to buy a router without gigabit Ethernet.

Secondly, there’s the price.

The FRITZ!Box 7270 comes with nearly every feature under the sun … and Internode and local distributors PC Range are going to slug you in the arm for it. $299 is a bit much for a high-end home router in 2011 … and most people won’t use most of the FRITZ!Box’s features. Internode itself is selling a low-end Netcomm model with 802.11g Wi-Fi and four Ethernet ports for $119. And there’s also the fact, that for $299, you’d expect to get gigabit Ethernet in a router.

If you absolutely need gigabit Ethernet, the 7390 version of the FRITZ!Box is also available — but the price just keeps on getting steeper — $399 for the stand-alone model, plus another $100 if you want a DECT handset bundled in.

For these prices, the FRITZ!Box can really only be classified as a small business router — not a home offering, unless you have a family of five people or more and need multiple dedicated VoIP lines and so on. But, with most kids in 2011 preferring their mobile over a landline anyway … it’s still hard to justify the cost.

Setting these problems aside, the FRITZ!Box is a perfectly priced and ideally configured device for one category of customers — professionals with a small home office, or companies of only a handful of staff members. For this type of use, the FRITZ!Box 7270 is perfect, and we commend it to them. A marvellous piece piece of engineering, it will serve as a valuable investment that will deliver network stability for many years to come.

Image credits: Delimiter


  1. There is an easy answer to your point about the 7270 not supporting Gigabit Ethernet.

    Thats the 7390, the other device Internode is selling, which does support Gigabit Ethernet, along with simultaneous dual-band WiFi and with a much higher internal performance (so that in NBN-attachment mode, using LAN port 1 as the uplink, it has throughput in the high hundreds of megabits per second range to the Internet, compared to around 50 megabits on the WAN uplink for most consumer routers on the market today).

    The 7390 is $399, and in contrast to your assertion in the review that these things cost too much, I would argue the opposite – for the feature set, there is no way you can acquire all of those features in separate boxes for anywhere near that price. Having them all in one box (providing tight integrated) is the icing on the cake.

    And it turns out that the 7390 (at $399, or at $499 with your first Fritz! DECT handset – the nicest DECT handset I’ve used to date, and again with tight integration to the base unit) are our biggest sellers – far more popular than the 7270.

    That indicates that, in constrast to your ‘too expensive’ framing, the reverse is true – at $399 for the 7390, with its extra features, its excellent value (again when you consider all of the separate devices that it replaces).

    Why don’t you review the 7390 at this point – you’ll see how nice it is – go on, you know you want to :)

    Simon Hackett

    • hey Simon,

      thanks for your comment! And kudos for bringing the FRITZ!Box to Australia, it is a breath of fresh air :)

      You’re right, the 7390 does support Gigabit Ethernet … but there is absolutely no reason why both shouldn’t support it — considering that other routers in their price range do.

      Secondly, I agree that the cost is worth it, if you’re going to use all of the features that the FRITZ!Box offers. Would I personally use all of those features? Yes, of course, because I run exactly the sort of small business that this box would be useful for, and a small business would be able to afford the cost. However, what I’m saying is that for more generalised use — a normal sized family, or individuals, the cost of the FRITZ!Box is likely a little steep — and they won’t use most of its features. So they won’t want to pay the cost.

      Also, I would point out that the fact that the 7390 is the higher seller amongst Internode’s customer base doesn’t necessarily indicate anything :) You typically have a much stronger early technology adopter customer base than other ISPs. I would expect this router series to do well with ‘Node customers. Would it do well with customers at iiNet, TPG or Dodo, though? Maybe not so much — I would expect iiNet’s BoB Lite to outsell it vastly, for example.

      In conclusion, the 7390 particularly is a great fit for many Internode customers — but this review is also looking at the entire market ;)

  2. p.s. my apologies, I appreciate (on a second read) that you’ve already noted that the 7390 (and its price) in the end of the review, and that provides the gigabit ethernet that the 7270 lacks – though you didn’t mention the improved WiFi or higher throughput.

    (I would have edited the original post but I can’t seem to find a button to do so – maybe I’ve just not had enough coffee this morning as yet :) )

  3. Simon – is this device the standard device offered to users? As an advanced user, I’m impressed with it and am sure I’d have no problem setting a device like this up.

    I just wonder how the more “vanilla” users cope with a device with all these bells and whistles?

    • “Simon – is this device the standard device offered to users? (…) I just wonder how the more “vanilla” users cope with a device with all these bells and whistles?”

      Yes, this is the standard device offered to users who want an all in one box. Internode is gearing itself right now to offer three tiers of hardware:

      * Entry level devices for customers with smaller budgets or non-complex needs : Two Netcomm routers that we’re retailing at $99 and $119

      * Mid level devices – we’re transitioning from the Billion 740x series to the two new(ish) Billion 7800N and 7800NL routers, which are great performing, more modern hardware than the 740x series, at mid-level pricing ($199 realm).

      * High end devices – the Fritz!Box 7270 and 7390 – that offer everything you’ll likely want out of a home network gateway, now and for a considerable period into the future – these are ‘kitchen sink’ devices for people who prefer a single ‘do it all’ box to adding boxes incrementally over time as their needs evolve.

      The latter approach (adding stuff incrementally) creates a cupboard full of patch cables, power bricks, other cords, having multiple web interfaces to get the hang of an work with, and its generally a bit of a botch in the end. There comes a point, I find, that you’ve stared at such a dis-integrated pile of stuff long enough, and you wish you had one decent device with a great GUI that did all of it properly, and with the tight integration that is only possible if it *is* all in one box. Thats what the Fritz!Box is for – that market (in my view).

      Its also got the best GUI I’ve ever seen in a device of this sort, so we feel that our support costs (and our customer frustration) will be lower in the long run with this device.

      • oops, I only answered half of the question.

        How do ‘vanilla’ users cope with these devices?

        Far better than with most others.

        Thats because while they’re very very feature rich, there is no need to get the hang of all of those features at once – you can simply grow into what it can do for you, over time.

        The fundamental stuff – set up your DSL connection, set up your VoIP, set up your wireless, set up your DECT cordless phones to talk to it – these are all ‘easy as’ – and you can then explore the extra stuff wrapped around each function later, at your leisure.

        They’re also pre-configured to work with our FetchTV configuration on the Internode ADSL2+ multicast network, meaning that once working for ADSL, they are ‘zero config’ to add IPTV on our services. That was another one of the significant drivers for us – for someone looking at FetchTV as well, this is far and away the simplest box for a ‘Vanilla” customer to use.

        Run a cable from the FetchTV to the Fritz!Box, turn the FetchBox on, and follow your nose. No more config in the Fritz!Box, and its hard to get better than ‘no added config’ in what is (under the hood) a complex service (IP Multicast based TV).

  4. I checked this out; my router ‘table’ is getting messy, my Airport is ageing, and my cordless phone was a piece of shit new.

    Considering $150 for a new Gigaset cordless phone, I thought that the Fritzbox would be something to look at. $150 for the Gigaset, $230 for a new Airport whenever the next model is released… It still doesn’t make sense compared to the $500 for a Fritzbox with handset.

    $500, that’s a base model iPad, a middle range netbook, a Tivo, a 32″ TV, it’s a really nice cookware set – it’s way more than I would want to spend on a router.

    If I really wanted to clean up my router table and start from scratch, I’m more likely to consider the Vividwireless home gateway. For $300 I could throw out everything (except the old analogue phone), disconnect the phone line, and plug my analogue phone into it for VoIP. I could even keep the Airport, and use the Gateway’s wifi network for 802.11g devices, and Airport for 802.11n devices – all with much less mess than the current situation. At $300 it’s a much more achievable target, especially with a starting point of $150 for the Gigaset phone.

  5. “Considering $150 for a new Gigaset cordless phone, I thought that the Fritzbox would be something to look at. $150 for the Gigaset, $230 for a new Airport whenever the next model is released… It still doesn’t make sense compared to the $500 for a Fritzbox with handset.”

    It doesn’t make sense because you aren’t comparing Apples to Apples.

    You’re comparing $150+$230 = $380 with $500 and saying $500 is too much.

    But the $380 you’re contemplating here doesn’t get you the same thing. It gets you VoIP+DECT+WiFi.

    But with no underlying ADSL2+ router! Were you planning to connect to ADSL by whistling at the right frequencies on the wire? :)

    It doesn’t get you:

    * ADSL2+ router
    * Analog voice port integration with the DECT handsets (useful for many – I use both at my house for instance)
    * PABX functions including voicemail
    * USB functions including DLNA and 3G USB stick failover for the Internet link
    * Four available gig-E ports (when you’d plugged the Gigaset into one of the Airport ethernet ports, and used another as the ethernet WAN port to… something you didn’t specify… you have only two ports left).

    Likewise, you suggest the Vividwireless gateway at $300 as being better.

    Thats hard to figure out, given that from your original $500 budget, you had subtracted $380 for DECT+WiFi, leaving $120, but now you think its fine to spend $300 to get an Internet link instead of the $120 difference for a Fritz!Box.

    Its ok if you don’t want to buy one – thats just fine – but I do think that your rationale for calling it (with its feature set) expensive is flawed – again on the basis that its not Apples to Apples.


    • I think the difficulty with the $500 pricetag for the 7390 + handset, Simon, is a psychological one. I know that if many of my friends said to their significant other that they wanted to spend that much on a router, they’d ask why they couldn’t buy a cheaper one. Sure, in six months’ time when they were frustrated about the lack of integration between things, it would make sense.

      But a router is so small, and to a non- or even entry level or medium-technical user, the 7390 looks exactly the same from the outside as a $119 Netcomm box — whereas a $2,000 fridge or TV looks dramatically different from a $1,000 one :)

      It’s just hard to justify spending that much on something that so many people believe, and usually rightly so, has become commoditised.

      I think that’s what Jarrod is trying to get to — not that the FRITZ!Box isn’t worth that amount. It is. But the question is, who can afford to spend that amount, when they can get most of the functionality cheaper ;)

    • It’s very hard to find a situation where you can compare apples to apples with the Fritzbox. It is unique, it has a uniquely large feature set, it is in a class of its own.

      I bothered to detail my situation because I would consider myself a potential buyer. I wasn’t starting from scratch – I have a linksys standalone ADSL2+ modem that I have no need to replace. I have an Airport that is becoming outperformed by newer devices on the market, like gigabit ethernet and dual band WiFi. And, I am in the market for transitioning away from bundled PSTN and ADSL with VoIP, ideally with the purchase of a new phone because the analogue one I have isn’t the best. On top of it all, I’m really anti clutter and, while everything is isolated to a little repurposed bedside table near the phone jack, away from sight, the power bricks and mess of wires is becoming too much to arrange neatly.

      Aside from somebody starting from new, be it as a first time broadband customer, a house fire victim or divorcee, with $3/4/500 to spend on broadband (plus all the other costs of a new ADSL install), my situation should have meant a Fritzbox was a no brainer. But, it just wasnt.

      The other reason why I’m bothering to detail my situation is that I know how Internode approach these things. That Gigaset phone can be had for less than $100 from some retailers, but it’s still the full retail amount of $200 + delivery from Internode. TiVo was never advertised or offered to me, even as a long term customer. Internode have been great with introducing new products to the Australian market lately, but at the same time there’s this kind of take it of leave it approach, like they have no interest or investment in the success of the product.

      It’s not necessarily bad, it’s just kind of bizarre. I’ve been with Foxtel less than 3 years, and every year I get offered something new to renew my contract (or even just to continue paying them out of contract). Yet I’ve been with Internode over 6 years now, and there’s no notion of that. “You want something, you pay full retail for it.” “Why should we absorb any of the costs from our upstream providers?” “There are non-zero costs involved here.”

      A router isn’t a desirable consumer product for most people, so there needs to be an aspirational target behind it. With iiNet’s BoB, there’s the aspiration of naked ADSL, with just one device to make it all happen. With Vividwireless, there’s the aspiration of cutting the copper cord, but still having a decent home WiFI network and a landline VoIP connection. With the Fritzbox, I just see a solution when your setup has too many wires and devices. You have to already care about VoIP, you can have naked ADSL if you want but that’s up to you. And pay full retail for the pleasure, unsubsidised up to $500.

  6. “I think the difficulty with the $500 pricetag for the 7390 + handset, Simon, is a psychological one. ”

    I get that.

    But at $299 for a 7270 (and using, say, your existing GAP compliant DECT handsets for excellent voice outcomes), it doesn’t have to be a $500 proposition if you don’t want it to be.

    And its fine – if you are a customer motivated by sticker price ahead of functionality, and you buy one of our $99 or $199 netcomm boxes, and wind up incrementally spending more than the Fritz!Box over the next few years on all the bits the netcomm box doesn’t do – that isn’t a wrong decision. Its just a different decision.

    People confuse starting cost with total cost of ownership (TCO) all the time. Its a very human thing to do.

    So we offer people the choice. The ones that understand that the TCO on the Fritz!Box will be lower (and I really believe it will be – especially with a five year warranty and the feature set it has), well, I guess they’re the ones buying it from us now :)

  7. I find it interesting that no-one mentioned it does IPv6 :) Oh well…

    The price was right for me, replacing an aging Billion 7401. Setup was a breeze and it syncs faster than my billion did. a bit of recabling required, but overall less cables. I’ll be ordering the DECT Fon in coming weeks – just was out of my price range when the pre-order call came.

    My only gripe is that I need to keep my Airport Extreme Router in order to use my external drives – the Fritz only supports NTFS/FAT for it’s NAS functionality and this was not mentioned anywhere on the box where it boasts OS X compatibility… if fact for something that boasts mac compatibility there is a complete lack of Mac tools, which otherwise exist for Windows – however I hope that will be fixed in time, and at the end of the day I’ll just add an NTFS formatted drive to the NAS which will act as my media server and connect via FTP.

    It really is quite a great product, though it’s even more great if you use a Microsoft OS ;)

    • It definitely ‘does’ IPv6 really nicely. Its been running IPv6 at my house for ages, flawlessly.

      In terms of Mac OS X access, well, I’ve just been using smb to access it, just fine – so I hadn’t seen the lack of AFP as so much of a stop stopper as you had.

      I do take the point, though, that’d be even nicer it spoke AFP as well. But realistically, the gold standard for filesystems on USB sticks tends to be NTFS, so its not a crazy place for AVM to be (and does work on a Mac too – Macs are great at pretending to be Windows PCs on a network when they have to, and this is just another case in point, IMHO)

  8. Internode/Pc range rep:”BUT BUT BUT FOR 299 you get 5 years of support and warranty. Thats what your paying for

    Yeah. In 3-4 years time modems start dying and soon after there a shortage of replacement from the supplier, Customer gets a new modem anyway, But the reseller/wholesalers has to foot the bill of the replacement

    • The point isn’t how the warranty works – its that its five years.

      Show me any other consumer ADSL2+ router with a five year warranty – seriously, I can’t find one.

      Five years is forever, in an industry that thinks 90 days is a long time.

      But its appropriate for a device made to a very high quality standard (and actually made in Germany, not Taiwan), and for which the demonstrated hardware failure rate is so miniscule that the 5 year warranty is a standard feature of sales of this device worldwide.

      Its appropriate when the depth of feature is as great as it is for this device – because of that depth of features, its quite feasible that you really will still be using, and enjoying, the capabilities of this device 5 years from now.

  9. I bought the 7270 and spent 3 hours on the phone with their tech support just to be told that its probably not compatible with the ADSL from my exchange – take it back for a refund??? What a load of rubbish!

  10. At first, I was just like you and thought “Dude, what a great box, easy to configure, all features, all expert settings accessible” etc..

    However, now that after one single week of operation, the WLAN radio is broken, I’m not that entusiastic about this “BreakBox” anymore.

    The WLAN LED is lit, all settings are as usual, I’ve resetted the damn thing 10 times and restored factory settings, yet, no single device in the house (iPhone, 2 notebooks) can see the damn FritzBox anymore.

  11. I rent a fritz7270 from Internode and I love it.

    I can link my existing DECT handset, printer, external HDD and more.

    I also find the people at Internode friendly. From the sales team to the support crew, it’s never a frustrating exercise for me to call them.


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