I’ve blogged about FON recently, but didn’t go into too much technical detail. The magic box behind it all is the Fonera router.
The latest iteration is the Fonera 2.0n, which unsurprisingly uses the new 802.11n standard for higher speeds and better range wifi. That alone is probably worth the £79 pricetag, but this beastie actually has a lot more tricks up it’s sleeve. Features include:
- A seperate public wifi signal, giving the owner access to all FON hotspots worldwide.
- USB port for adding storage, printers, soundcards, etc. With storage added the router functions like a NAS. With a printer added it works as a print server. Or you can plug in a USB hub and do both.
- Transmission bit torrent client.
- Download tool for file sharing sites (eg: Rapidshare).
- Facebook, Picasa, Youtube and Flickr uploaders.
- Plug in a 3G dongle and it’ll create a wifi hotspot from it. So you don’t even need a landline or ADSL connection to use it.
- An open application framework for extending it’s capabilities.
- As a “self-tweeting router” it has it’s own Twitter account, and will tweet you when your up/downloads are done.
On top of this it has all the usual router functionality such as DDNS, QoS, static and dynamic IP addresses, etc.
Overall it’s an impressive and flexible device, and FON seem committed to keeping it an open platform and encouraging people to play about with it. Personally I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone looking for a simple cheap NAS and torrenting solution. It does have one major drawback though. Bizarrely, it doesn’t include a modem. You will need an ethernet ADSL modem or a modem/router as well. However, I was surprised to find how well it played with my old BT Voyager modem/router. It’s just a pain to have a second box plugged in just to get the Fonera online. For such a feature-packed device it’d be nice if it could handle the ADSL connection as well.
Despite this weird shortcoming, I think it’s a cool device. Access to thousands of wifi hotspots for a one-off payment is a good deal. Chuck in wifi-n and the bucketload of useful features and I can forgive it for not having a modem.
Incidentally, if it’s access to the FON network you want, they also do a stripped-back wifi-g device that’ll start you FONing for only £29, which is a great deal.