My personal , independent Fonera plus review

Yesterday the welcome pack for beta testers gift from Fon for joining the beta test landed on my desk as promised by Fon.

It consists in one Fonera Plus and one Fontenna. Inside no any letter , no fon beta tester T-shirt , nor any program for beta testing , just those two gadgets.

Before I begin , I read the agreement that I signed with Fon when I decided to become an official beta tester , and I didn’t find any restriction on spreading infos on new devices or blogging about.

To be sharp , the disclaimer is only about right use of the routers , concerning power , expose to humidity , damages or loss of data or cases of fire ! So I can begin my review.

I will focus on la Fonera plus , as la fontenna isn’t that much interesting and many other people already talked about.

Package

Here’s the bundle of beta testing. content of the gift package.

la fonera+

The new box of La Fonera Plus is orange and blue . It has some improvements in graphics and quality of the carton . Inside the box of la fonera plus we find :

  • La Fonera Plus
  • The usual flat white ethernet patch wire
  • the power supply
  • the instructions paper
  • two fon stickers , one big to attach outside your site one to attach to your laptop for promotion

At first sight

The new fonera plus is bigger than previous one . That means a better air circulation inside the box .

On first day of usage , I would say that heat is almost half of the previous fonera. The first thing to notice is the presence of a lan port to connect wired devices to it. With this improvement , users can register their hotspot even without a wireless device (we will see this in the control panel section).

In the cover plate , la Fonera Plus has a new logo , FON spot in orange , different from pictures already seen in the internet. Besides there is an additional led for monitoring lan connection.

Here’s the picture

La fonera plus

Inside la Fonera plus

Inside circuit board of la Fonera plus is also interesting for somebody , especially for soldering boys who are ready to mod it ๐Ÿ™‚

fonera+

At first sight we notice that the 10pins serial port disappears , so the access to the shell via serial cable is no longer available . Still we have a 14 pins Jtag connector and perhaps that could be the only way to manage via console.

In upper right corner of the picture , we can see the embedded antenna , which should guarantee the indoor wifi signal in case we use an outdoor rig such as la fontenna.

Compare to the previous fonera , the atheros chip is not anymore shaded by a metal scud and we can easily mount a fan over it or simply an heat dissipator.

The control panel

Like previous fonera , to access the management gui , you have to connect or via ethernet or private wlan signal. It’s enough to point your browser to 192.168.10.1 and get access.

Here some screenshots of new admin panel .

la fonera+la fonera+la fonera+la fonera+

The graphic has changed into orange and navy blue. There aren’t very big differences from previous fonera control panel .

The real news is that you can register your hotspot from the control panel. In the welcome screen of the administrative gui beside informations such as firmware version , ip address , dns server and so on , there’s a link for registering your new fonera.

It’s always possible to make some port forwarding for server behind your nat , performing some basic firewall rules , selecting the wan connection between static ip , dhcp , PPPoE or PPPoA , changing the encryption flavour of private wlan and upgrade firmware via .fon crypted patches.

Performance

I didn’t make tests for wireless performance of new fonera . I guess that since the component are almost the same , the overall performance would be comparable to older fonera . Besides I don’t have lab tools to measure.

The hack side

Surprise ! Port 22 is closed

la fonera+

I tried to change the dns server to perform Kolofonium hack but is no more possible to change dns server in the control panel

la fonera+

The dns of la fonera is fixed at 213.134.45.129 and cannot be changed.

Fon wants to know what do you do , what site you are visiting , no way to change this beahaviour !

Anyway I redirect with iptables on my router dns calls to kolofonium IP , but the fake radius injection is no more working.

Launching tcpdump , I can notice as reported by Lama Bleu a dns request to 213.134.45.88 every minute.

tcpdump

This could be a very sharp heartbeat.

Also according to Lama Bleu the thinclient changed server , port and rsa key .The new thinclient calls fatserver.fon.com on tcp port 1938 as you can see from the screenshot below.

fatserver

The Chillispot daemon seems to be changed in Coova fork as you can see performing a cat /etc/resolv.conf while connected to public Wlan.

resolv

Personal considerations

Once again I’m asking myself why Fon keeps delivering closed devices. La fonera plus costs euros 43.06 plus taxes and handling .

A good Buffalo WHR-G125 , fully flashable with latest dd-wrt V24 costs us$ 49,99 (after mail-in rebate 29,99) at the actual exchange rate is euros 36,80 . It has 4 ethernet ports switch and very good radio performance. It can be Fon compatible and replicate all the features of la fonera and beyond.

So why someone should buy la Fonera ? The only reason that I might find is to have access to Fonero movement without problem just plug ‘n play.

For all the folks who like to have control of their own devices la fonera isn’t a good bargain.

Thanks to Steven Leeman and Lama Blue for providing some good infos about La fonera plus.

I’m waiting your comments to this post , to add or to correct some mistakes I might have done writing this review.

Thanks for reading this long post .

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