Since saturday, I'm sick lying in bed and keep trying not to annoy my girlfriend too much ( well, not that successfully i suppose ). Anyhow, I ordered a Fonera 2n last week, and it happened to arrive today. So after some unboxing ( UPS packaging materials can be so turbo-time-consuming ) and several cups of tea, I swapped the old and the new fonera, expecting everything to work.
It didn't. I took a while to figure out that the F2N is a bit picky when it comes to connecting to the router that provides it with a vital ip-address and connectivity. But after some tries, it worked, and it's really working well.
The first convinience is that you can instantly connect to your new Fonera through cable or WiFi using an actual domain name ( fonera.lan ), not some ugly ip. This feature is, of course, nothing substantially new, but it's nice to have.
Next thing: Coooool web-interface. Just the way I want a web-interface to be, clean, well-structured, decent color-scheme ( see the screenshots ) and speedy. The navigation is simple: The so-called dashboard serves as an entry-point, and on top you can find a listing of all applications currently installed on the tinytinytiny internal flash memory. Below that, there is a seperate box featuring built-in features like Settings, File Manager ( later.. ) and UMTS/3G connectivity.
Of course, there are more applications that can be installed easily, also through the web-interface, like a printer-sharing extension, that let's you use a printer that is connected to the external USB-port. Right, there is a USB-port, prominently featured on the front of the device, in fact the only port there. This indicates that USB is more seen as a end-user business rather than belonging to the admin's ( or whoever is doing the job ) domain. This is an interesting point of view, and given the nice administration UI and the easy-to-use applications featured there, it is also reasonable.
But this USB-port is more than just a simple USB-port, because contrary to many other routers out there, the Fonera2n is sold with the remark that any number of USB devices can be connected ( of course via a hub ) to that port and serve you remotely. These devices include webcams, audio-interfaces ( I found a working one for 10€ in a local store ), printers and, of course, mass storage devices. So, if your ambitions are not too sophisticated, this tiny little box could be everything you need, with a power consumption that is assumable way below anything you might have.
It's really simple, once your disks or flash sticks or whatever are connected, you are free to access them using the smb-protocol, a de-facto standard supported on most platforms. There are guides explaining how to use the Fonera as a budget Time Capsule replacement, which is also very handy, and using fast WiFi, chances are your Mac's content will be backed up that century.
But the first impression also features some not-so-cool things, like the random connection losses I experienced over WiFi. This is especially nasty while running huge downloads over night. Of course, once reconnected the download continues, yet I'm not the one that gets up every two hours just to check the connection. Not yet.
Summary? The best you can get, in my opinion. It's not only a full-fledged router, 4-port ethernet switch and 801.11b/g/n access point, it's also perfectly capable of hosting tons of data and acting as a print server. It downloads your torrents and uploads your videos to youtube, so, what do you need more?
And oh yeah, the webcam module features motion detection, which is the most cool and unnecessary feature of all.