Cordless phones aren’t something we normally look at on IT Reviews, but the Fritz!Fon MT-F is far from an ordinary phone. It’s designed primarily to work with AVM’s Fritz!Box range of voice-over-IP (VoIP) routers, more specifically the 7270 or 7390 models. But it’s also a standard GAP-compatible handset that works with any suitable DECT base station.
VoIP with versatility
Fritz!Box VoIP routers have an integrated DECT base station, capable of pairing with up to six phones. These can then make calls using either a fixed phone line (if connected to the Fritz!Box) or any VoIP account that’s configured in the router. The Fritz!Fon adds several novel convenience’ functions such as the ability to read emails, play podcasts and listen to internet radio stations.
As it’s intended to work with the Fritz!Box’s base station, the only thing that comes with the MT-F is a small rectangular charging stand. The phone itself is remarkably slim yet feels very solid, with a glossy black illuminated keyboard and matt black body.
The handset is powered by a replaceable 750mAh Li-ion battery pack, giving a claimed 10 hours of talk time, 180 hours’ standby and a recharge time of 6 hours. The 240×420 pixel, 262,000-colour screen measures 2.25in (diagonal) and is very clear and bright.
Setting it up
On first start-up, the MT-F automatically updated its firmware to the English version, which was a relief. Pairing with the Fritz!Box is simply a matter of starting the handset registration wizard on the Fritz!Box and initiating registration on the phone, selecting one of the four available base station slots.
Once paired, many of the settings, such as ringtones and the answering machine, are controlled by the Fritz!Box. The phone book is also stored on the Fritz!Box, which means that when using it with a third-party base station, no contacts or call history are available. The answering machine, baby monitor, alarm and call diversion features are also only available when connected to a Fritz!Box.
You can configure the display to show either a background image (downloaded from the Fritz!Box), the handset name, or a simple time and date display. At the top of the screen is a status bar, and at the bottom are two function button labels. These can’t be configured in the current version of the firmware, which is a shame. Menu navigation is straightforward using the four-way paddle, and the menu layout is very simple. Non-functioning items are hidden when connected to a third-party base station.
To set up email, RSS feeds, podcasts and web radio services, you have to use the DECT section of the Fritz!Box interface. Email can be read, created, forwarded and replied to, but only POP3 accounts are supported and it integrates with the optional email field in the Fritz!Box’s phone book. There’s no predictive text function or text formatting, however, so it’s a bit tedious for anything more than a short email.
The RSS reader function works fairly well, but again with no images – and posts with page breaks are not displayed in their entirety. A message light flashes on the keypad when new email or RSS posts appear, and an audible alarm can be set too.
Podcasts and internet radio feeds (PLS, M3U or MP3 streams) can be listened to via the built-in loudspeaker or alternatively using a headset or headphones plugged into the 3.5mm jack at the side. Incoming calls automatically mute playback. Audio quality is very good, with support for Cat-IQ HD telephony, and the built-in speaker is surprisingly loud and clear.