Lemur BlueDriver OBDII Scan Tool Hardware Review

Lemur BlueDriver OBDII Scan Tool Hardware Review

Apr 16, 2015

Another day, another opportunity to allow connected mobility make life easier. We are all for that.

Enter the BlueDriver OBDII Scan Tool, a piece from Lemur that allows folks to really drill down into auto management.

It is irregularly shaped, with a cuboid base at the core, but retains a relatively small profile. On the one end, one finds the plug-in portion with the telltale pins; on the opposite side is an LED light. The review piece is black with white lettering, and looks and feels like a a well-fused item.

The title says is all: this puck looks to give its user the power of OBDII in a handy little tool; to be very accurate, it does so with the help of a companion app that resides on one’s Android device. The app is a comprehensive sidekick; the UI is bathed in an almost purplish hue that backs the clear-cut icons that hint at the the true functionality of app-puck combo.

This two-part solution is fairly intuitive to use; the puck gets plugged into the ODB port in the car, paired to the device/app, and the accumulated data is accessed via the app. When the app is opened, it requests to turn on Bluetooth if that radio is off, and then looks to pair with the plugged in puck. When it gets going, there is quite a lot of stuff that can be accessed: accident reports, code reader, smog check and plenty more, including flashlight functionality. Additionally, one can get to the user manual from the app, order extra pieces, update sensor firmware and connect with the manufacturer via email, phone or social networks.

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In any case, in action, this piece just works. It pulls in the information seamlessly and presents it equally so, with “pro tip” pop-ups that help with deciphering data. I tried several of the tools, and was pleased with each; I didn’t have a control to confirm readings, or a chance to use the “clear codes” functionality at all, though.

As a permanent tool (it can be left installed), it is a nice accessory to have. It is transferable, easy to use and the mobile component is a big plus. At $99.95 on Amazon, it probably isn’t for the overly casual, but even taht can be argued. If anything, nothing beats having a clue what is going on with one’s car — before going to the mechanic.

Automatic Smart Driving Assistant Hardware Review

Automatic Smart Driving Assistant Hardware Review

Oct 13, 2014

Yes, smartphone accessories are big business, and we enjoy using a variety of them. Still, the ways one can expand on “regular” smartphone functionality are ever expanding, and the Automatic Smart Driving Assistant is arguably one of the better ones.

It’s small, rectangular-cuboid, infinitely portable and possessive of the pins in the connected side. Functionality-wise, the Smart Driving Assistant works as an On-Board Diagnostic port plugin; it accumulates data and presents it with the help of the companion. The ODB port is the same one that might be used by one’s mechanic, so the information collected can be valuable.

Setup is relatively easy, and involves plugging in the accessory to the car, running the app and pairing to the unit via smartphone bluetooth. The built-in tutorial helps simplify the process even further, and the app even has a scanner contained to capture the vehicle VIN. The app then creates a car profile.

After pairing is completed, the app can give an idea of how the app can be useful. The vehicle make and model is prominently displayed, and there are numerical points that are mapped to measure mileage, time, fuel costs and mileage-to-gallon rate. The app is easy to manipulate, and also easy on the eyes. There are not a whole lot of frills in the app, and the data is presented in an easy format overall.

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Functionally, the unit does what it says it will do. It gives a periodic driving score which maxes out at 100 for the perfect driver; it rates metrics like highway driving, hard breaking and rapid acceleration, and creates a percentage score; it notes that the higher the score, the more one might save on cash over time. it also analyzes “check engine” codes, and monitors and acts upon crash alerts (where the unit and app react to serious impact). In the latter case scenario, the app can summon help in the event that the user is incapacitated or otherwise unable to get help him/herself. We were not able to actually test the check engine or crash detection uses (with good reason), but these advertised features — which do not require any extra subscription — feel good to have, even if they are heavily dependent on cellular coverage.

Using it in multiple vehicles is possible, but the singular profile makes it a bit harder to use one unit wih a household of drivers. It doesn’t interfere with other use of Bluetooth, though; some features might feel a bit redundant, which might make the $99 price tag a bit harder to swallow.

For an ultra-powerful, connected auto tool that can actually add to one’s life expectancy, this one is hard to sneeze at.