View RSS Feed

Sonicxtacy02

Hardware Review: OBDLink MX Bluetooth OBD-II Reader

Rate this Entry
by , 01-03-2012 at 03:10 PM (24789 Views)

What is it?

The OBDLink MX is the smallest & fastest bluetooth capable OBD-II device available today

The Verdict:

The OBDLink MX makes it all too clear that there's a large difference in effectiveness between generic and high-end OBD-II adapters. It's fast, small, and installs in seconds to any OBD-II capable automobile. Fact is, the OBDLink MX is the best OBD-II option to date.



What’s in the box?

The OBDLink MX comes with the OBD-II adapter, start guides for windows and android applications, and a licensed copy of Scantool.net OBDWiz software.


Description:

In 2007, I ventured into the OBD-II adapter market in search of a simple device to read as much data as my car was capable of providing. There were many options, mainly of the USB variety, which did nothing in my opinion to differentiate themselves from a generic "cheap" reader. This idea in mind, I went on good old Ebay and purchased a generic ELM327 OBD-II module. To this day, it still works. It doesn't update any more than 3 sensors per second, is not compatible with my newer secondary vehicle, and isn't anything I'd show off at all, but it works. It wasn't until I got a hands-on demo of the new OBDLink MX that I realized the world of difference a high-quality OBD-II reader is capable of.


The very first thing that jumped out at me is how small this device is. In my cramped Acura RSX cabin, the generic reader does its best job at poking my leg every time I go full throttle. With no heavy gauge wire protruding, and being just a smidgen over the size of the OBD-II connector itself, the OBDLink MX gives me no problems in this arena. I will note that the indicator LEDs (four of them, each a different color) on the device's face do somewhat light up the underside of my dash a bit at night, but the positioning of most OBD-II connectors will mitigate this small issue.


Equally as impressive as the size of the OBDLink MX is just how fast it is. Despite my primary vehicle sporting the ancient ISO protocol, the OBDLink MX provides PID updates at a noticeably faster rate than my generic ELM module. It's not real-time, but the information i want from my OBD-II system comes at a rate that is 5 times greater than the generic device. When you consider that this increase comes over a bluetooth virtual serial port versus the higher bandwidth USB port of the generic unit, that's darn impressive. Connecting the OBDLink to my Android smartphone is equally as easy as installation with a windows PC, and seems to make the PIDs update even faster, though some of that may be software manipulation at work. Either way, the device provides OBD-II data at a far greater interval than the PLX Kiwi Wifi OBD-II device I reviewed some time ago.

To attempt to truly gauge the speed and compatibility of the OBDLink MX, I borrowed a buddy's later model Mazda RX-8. Utilizing it's medium-speed CAN bus protocol, the OBDLink MX provides data in an absolute fury. This is the absolute manner in which I envisioned receiving OBD-II values back in 2007. Using the OBDLink over CAN bus appears real-time, indeed.

On top of these benefits, the OBDLink creates a solution that several other OBD-II devices ignore. When connected, other OBD-II adapters will drain your battery while the car is parked. The OBDLink MX is programmed to automatically shut off if activity is not detected on the bus for 10 minutes. This is feature that should be considered invaluable to a person who wishes to install this device permanently but frequently leaves there car parked for days at a time. The device also has built-in encryption methods which deem it "unhackable" by its creators.


It is hard to find a fault in a device which does what it intends to faster than it's competitors with a smaller footprint. The small quips I've encountered with the OBDLink MX include its current incompatibility with iPod devices, including the iPhone and iPad. I was unable to connect to and poll data from the MX despite using a variety of apps. The only other nitpick I discovered in testing isn't really a fault to the creator at all, but the Bluesoleil bluetooth stack. The device at times will have trouble reestablishing a connection after resume from hibernation. The windows bluetooth stack showed no problem what so ever however. Based on other experiences, I will chalk that up to a Bluesoleil problem.

The Positive:

• Fastest OBD-II device I've encountered, even with outdated protocols
• Smallest bluetooth capable device on the market
• Easy one-touch installation method
• Fully compatible with PCs and android (without root)
• OBD-II software included with visual gauge support and logging
• Can be easily removed and swapped into any OBD-II vehicle
• Battery saving technology built into the device
• Hack-Proof encryption


The Negative:

• Resume issues with Bluesoleil stack
• Not currently compatible with iPod product line
• Bit of a light show in the driver foot well at night when connected



The Verdict:

The OBDLink MX makes it all too clear that there's a large difference in effectiveness between generic and high-end OBD-II adapters. It's fast, small, and installs in seconds to any OBDII capable automobile. Fact is, the OBDLink MX is the best OBD-II option to date.

Submit "Hardware Review: OBDLink MX Bluetooth OBD-II Reader" to Digg Submit "Hardware Review: OBDLink MX Bluetooth OBD-II Reader" to del.icio.us Submit "Hardware Review: OBDLink MX Bluetooth OBD-II Reader" to StumbleUpon Submit "Hardware Review: OBDLink MX Bluetooth OBD-II Reader" to Google

Comments

Leave Comment Leave Comment
View Thread

Last 3 Posts

Quote Originally Posted by chris350 View Post
I guess CES was lame this year cause y'all didn't put anything up as in previous years.
According to many it was a down year on nearly all accounts. There was some fairly big news in terms of the smartphone market with the Galaxy Note and Droid 4 being out in the wild. Nothing really that new in the car audio world that i noticed. The Car PC world is getting some new material with the Parrot Asteroid 2Din and single din android powered systems. There were a few new devices in the vehicle security arena which like the Connect2Car unit I reviewed use cell networks to provide security and vehicle tracking services. But overall, there was nothing that jumped out as "brand new tech".

I can tell you that I was most impressed by the innovations that ford has made to there in car entertainment and telematic systems. The new version of Sync is butter smooth, voice commands are now done via Nuance voice recognition technology, and they continue to add more of the mission critical components to their dash system. They have come a LONG way.
I guess CES was lame this year cause y'all didn't put anything up as in previous years.
If you don't know who Xilinx is, then here's a quick rundown, they are a microchip manufacturer specializing in FPGAs.

There were a few vendors in their meeting space booth showing off some very cool prototypes based upon their chips.

The first was an HDTV, which in and of itself is not that surprising, but its refresh rate of 1200Hz on 1080p video certainly is. (That's 20x that of older LCD TVs, 5x faster than that needed for 3D TVs, and 2x as fast as plasma TVs.)

The second was a setup combining the input video streams from 4 separate cameras around an RC car. In real-time, it seamlessly merged the video streams to make a single video with a perceived bird's eye view completely eliminating blind spots around the car. And wouldn't this be the best way when trying to parallel park (even better than the simple backup camera).

Disclaimer:
I do not work for any of the companies listed or referenced and only attended CES as an 'Industry Affiliate'