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Old 10-01-2017, 02:21 PM
mhoward mhoward is offline
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Default TopDon ArtiLink 201 Review

TOPDON ArtiLink 201 OBDII & EOBD Multifunction Scanner (AL201)
MSRP: $59.99 USD / Amazon $34.99 w/free shipping
http://topdon.us/AL201.ahtml
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Disclaimer
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Ella, representing the TopDon company based in China, contacted me offering this free sample in exchange for an honest evaluation of their product. I am in no way affiliated with TopDon, nor do I have any investment in this company, other than my interest in testing this product. I will strive to be as fair as possible in the following review.
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About the Unit
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The scanner arrived in good shape and was well packaged. The clamshell packaging wasn't welded shut, so it was easy to open and not requiring the use of the SawZall. I would have preferred better storage; at least a soft padded zipper case to protect it and keep the USB cable with the unit. The unit itself is of decent craftsmanship; lightweight, yet fairly rugged. The LCD display is recessed slightly to protect it from damage. The OBD connector seems durable, it has a heavy cable and a molded-on strain relief to minimize cable flexing. The buttons have a good feel with a positive click feedback when you press them. Included is a mini USB cable to connect to a computer for updating the firmware, I suppose to add features/codes later. The booklet that comes with it only describes the unit itself, no operating instructions or helpful hints/tips. Even though it is fairly intuitive, some rudimentary operating instructions or explanations would have been good. The feature list claims many functions, and on both OBDII and EOBD (I can only test on OBDII, however). There *ARE* several tests and although my vehicle doesn’t support some of them, they are there for the vehicles that do support them.
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Testing the Unit
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I plugged the unit in to my personal vehicles OBDII port and it powered right up, presenting a color display with 4 selectable squares. The display, though small (2"), was still easy enough to read, even with my poor eyesight. The buttons worked well, and again, felt very positive when pressed providing an audible "click" feedback. I ran the test and it reported no codes. When pressing the I/M button, it shows EVAP as good (green check mark), however, if I perform the EVAP System leak test, it fails. Not sure what to make of that… is it GOOD or BAD? I would imagine a professional mechanic with more experience with test equipment such as this would probably know the answer… that is why a manual would have been helpful.
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I/M Readiness
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I/M readiness (Inspection / Maintenance) in one word… Confusing! There are three ways to access I/M Readiness data:
Through OBDII IM Readiness Since DTCs Cleared
Ready Test
Stand-alone I/M button
These appear to bring you to the same tests, although the OBD option is presented in a different format, so not sure of the value of the extra I/M button (or more correctly, the value of having the option through the other menus). The vehicle info selection reported the VIN code correctly.
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Updating the Unit
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The topdon.us website was down for several days while I was evaluating this unit, so it took a while to test the update function which, when finished, was successful. When it finally came back online, I took the time to try out the update procedure. Just open the website and click on UPDATES at the top of the page, right? Unfortunately, the ArtiLink 201 model was not listed... actually, NONE were listed. There were three model update links listed at the bottom of every page, but these turned out to be non-functional at the time. Later, the update for the AL201 became available and I was able to download and install it. The process isn't hard, but lacks finesse and is quite slow. A person without decent computer skills will have problems updating the AL201. When you update, you are downloading a ZIP file that, when extracted, yields two files. Connect your scanner to your computer with the provided mini USB cable and copy the extracted files to the scanner, overwriting the originals. You can optionally save the originals to an alternate location or rename them if you like. NOTE: The scanner doesn't actually update the firmware UNTIL it is connected to a vehicles OBD port. I was expecting to see the update after reconnecting the device to my laptop (another reason to have a user manual).
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Company Website
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As mentioned earlier, the website was down for at least three days, but finally came back online on 09/28/2017. The website appears to be a work in progress, as many (most) of the title/link items have nothing behind them. The Updates page has nothing there, other than the three offerings at the bottom, like every other page. It is a bit disconcerting that the website is so unfinished, it doesn't speak well for the company’s follow-through. The site shows the copyright as 2004 ~ 2016, so TopDon isn't a new thing.
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Summary
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Although I found the ArtiLink 201 reasonably well built, the lack of a decent storage pouch or sleeve and owners guide disappoints me. The $34.99 Amazon price is fair and reasonable for this tool; however, I would be willing to pay a few dollars more for the aforementioned storage pouch. The functionality is right in line with other scanners of this type and price range. So, at the end of the day, this would be a good scanner for the occasional mechanic or DIY’er.
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End of Review
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5th Gen - 2003 - Ranger Edge / Extended Cab / Flareside / 3.0L FLEX / Auto / 2WD / Sonic Blue Pearl /

So many mods... so little time...

Last edited by mhoward; 10-09-2017 at 08:38 AM.
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