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Thread: Hardware Review: OBDLink MX Wi-Fi OBD-II Adapter

  1. #1
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    Hardware Review: OBDLink MX Wi-Fi OBD-II Adapter


    What is it?

    The OBDLink MX Wi-Fi is a professional grade OBD-II adapter that uses wifi to communicate.

    The Verdict:

    The OBDLink MX Wi-Fi is a great OBD-II adapter option... provided you can't make use of the more user-friendly Bluetooth model.



    What's In The Box?


    The OBDLink MX Wi-Fi comes with the OBD-II adapter and a host of platform specific start guides. A link to the included OBDLink application and a copy of the license number for that app are also included.

    Description:

    One of my favorite "high-end" products to review during my time at mp3Car.com was the original OBDLink MX Bluetooth. Prior to using it, I always purchased the cheapest OBD adapter I could find, and it really took getting a high-quality product like the OBDLink to realize just how slow those bargain basement options are. When I heard that a new faster version of the MX line was available, I requested a sneak peek to find out if it was an even better option.


    First things first, the OBDLink MX Wi-Fi is fast. No matter the protocol, the wifi model was faster to communicate with my cars when compared to the Bluetooth model. The MX Wi-Fi also maintains all of the available features of the Bluetooth variant. The dimensions are the same, it works with every protocol including MS CAN, and the battery saver technology still powers the unit down when the vehicle is off. Using wifi means the MX Wi-Fi can take advantage of the super secure WPA2 encryption protocol, leaving little chance that an intruder can steal your signal and interfere with vehicle controls. Using wifi means that the device is compatible with nearly every Android/iPhone/Windows platform out there. Everything you'd expect from a wifi based OBD-II adapter you get with the MX Wi-Fi.


    Then, there are the limitations that one might overlook when choosing this wifi OBD-II adapter. The first issue is found during initial setup. As expected, the WPA2 encryption that the MX Wi-Fi uses requires a key that is only found on the back of the unit. In order for your smartphone or tablet of choice to find the MX Wi-Fi adapter, you must install the device into the OBD-II port commonly found under the dash. After your smartphone finds the device, you just then enter the WPA2 key, and unless you thought ahead and wrote down the key or have a sequence of mirrors just hanging around your car, you'll probably have to take the MX Wi-Fi out of the OBD-II port and take down the key. Rinse and repeat for each new wireless device you want to use to communicate with the MX Wi-Fi.


    Unfortunately, it doesn't really get easier from there. After establishing your wifi connection, you effectively lose internet service to your smartphone. Assuming you're following the start guide thats included with the MX Wi-Fi, you have already installed the included copy of the OBDLink software, and have now completed step 2 through 8 of the guide (summarized in the last paragraph). The first time you run the OBDLink application it requires you to enter your license key and register the software. Here's the catch, while connected through wifi to the MX Wi-Fi, so you have no internet access. You will have to hop off the OBDLink MX access point and grab another wireless source to complete this step. Internet access, or lack thereof, is a common problem to me while using the OBDLink MX Wi-Fi for anything other than on the spot diagnostics. Unlike the Bluetooth model which you can install in a vehicle and basically "forget" once is initially setup, the OBDLink Wi-Fi relegates a smartphone to a "dumb" phone while it's plugged in, and unless you manually take the time to open your smartphone settings and disable wifi while driving, you're automatically going to lose data access while driving. Even the OBDLink software that comes with the MX Wifi has an issue with internet access. One of the functions of the app is mapping diagnostic data over your current position, but without data access, the app cannot draw the map (see below).


    Despite this, the OBDLink application is incredibly powerful. It has most of the features of competing applications like Torque, but is designed to work specifically with OBDLink devices. Its much smaller in terms of install size and seems to be a lot faster between screens than Torque. All that and free support and updates for life make it the ideal companion to the MX Wi-Fi, internet hiccup aside.


    The OBDLink MX Wi-Fi is a great OBD-II adapter for someone who might be looking for a device to swap in and out of cars to do spot diagnostic data, but I wouldn't recommend for someone looking to do long term data-logging or something similar. If you have Bluetooth connection as an option, I'd definitely suggest the original MX Bluetooth as your option.

    The Positive:

    • Super fast connection and wireless communication
    • Secure communication
    • Smallest OBD-II adapter on the market
    • OBDLink app included in purchase is optimized for this device
    • Cross-platform compatibility


    The Negative:

    • Initialization and setup is unavoidably painful
    • Use of wifi communication is a constant inhibitor of overall usability

    The Verdict:

    The OBDLink MX Wi-Fi is a great OBD-II adapter option... provided you can't make use of the more user-friendly Bluetooth model.

  2. #2
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    Is there a way to see a side by side comparison with this model vs a ebay usb model? I never really get how these things can be fast...

  3. #3
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    just got it to, i currently had the bluetooth version

    when using the torque software i see a small speed drop with the wifi adapter

    if i use the obd link software i get better speed that torque with the wifi unit,,,but the blue tooth is slower

    but they are both good device,,,an important feature that cheap one don;t have is the sleep option to save your battery if you stop you car for a long time

  4. #4
    FLAC PhilG's Avatar
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    You call this a "high end" product. Does this mean this unit has bi-directional communication, expansion packs by vehilce manufacturer for air bag, transmission, ABS systems, etc. plus KOEO/KOER tests to allow it to have more capabilities than just a standard code reader? Or are you just referring to it's advanced abilities to connect to the PC?
    My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilG View Post
    You call this a "high end" product. Does this mean this unit has bi-directional communication, expansion packs by vehicle manufacturer for air bag, transmission, ABS systems, etc. plus KOEO/KOER tests to allow it to have more capabilities than just a standard code reader? Or are you just referring to it's advanced abilities to connect to the PC?
    all obd reader are bi-directional, since reading obd port does't just spit all the value all the time...you have to request the value you want and the car give you the result

    and all the expansion pack are irrelevant to the device...this device is just a link between the phone/tablet and the car ....

    what you can read is dependant of what app/software you have in you phone/tablet

    but this one have a sleep option
    can create is own wifi, or connect to it
    and obdlink device have some higher safety to access them
    Last edited by moreause; 11-06-2014 at 02:19 PM.

  6. #6
    FLAC PhilG's Avatar
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    So I can use any OBD device with my Auto Enginuity software and I will be able to command solenoids open and closed, turn injectors on and off etc?
    My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE

  7. #7
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    most obd device share the same lm327 chip or langage so it should work

    i used my odblink with multiple software and even use it with hyperteminal....just sending command to obd or sniffing what is on the obd port in normal operation

    in short that device is like a cable between your computer and the obd port...

    this device as a more complete set of obd language so it can almost talk to everything in the market....and have some neet feature, sleep mode, ad hoc ect, connect to an external wifi

    that last option can be useful if you do some tuning check ...since it can hook to a wifi you don't have to be sitting behind the wheel to do some work, you can be at a bigger range..

  8. #8
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    Phil, depends on what the interface you are using is dependent on. IF it is built on a generic 327 compatible setup then yes.. But you have to check with the maker of your software. It is possible they have a security dongle built into your cable so you have to use that cable to use their software. Also the ELM327 based chips do have some limitations and can not do some things. For instance you won't see a programmer for your vehicle running off an ELM327 compatible chip. Has to do with the handshaking and speed of the device from what I understand.

    Rodney

  9. #9
    FLAC PhilG's Avatar
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    Alright, thanks.

    I guess I will stick with all AutoEnginuity stuff, I need the GM expansion pack now, it's over $200 but I know it will support Bi-directional commands which I need as well as non OBD GM code. I doubt most of the other products match it. From what I understand, buying the proprietary information from the Vehicle Manuf. is very expensiveness and I doubt most of the other companies do it, they just support the OBD standard stuff. I've been very happy with the Ford pack, I guess if it works for me, I should stick with it.
    My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE

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