Four important scan tool components

Four important scan tool components

Considering a scan tool should involve a review of the internal and external components that impact the unit's performance and durability.

When someone goes into a computer store to buy a new computer or laptop, they will likely ask questions about the Central Processing Unit (CPU), graphics capabilities, memory, storage and other factors like Bluetooth ability and the quality of a camera.

The same principles should go for you when purchasing scan tools. However, features like that are often overlooked, because you may be solely focused on how the scan tool can benefit you directly, such as vehicle coverage. However, considering a scan tool should also involve a review of the internal and external components that impact the unit’s performance and durability. In this video, let’s dive deep into the interworkings of scan tools and discuss four important scan tool features.

The first feature is the touchscreen. Touch screens come in two varieties – capacitive and resistive. Resistive touch screens consist of two flexible sheets coated with a resistive material, separated by an air gap. While effective, their multiple layers can make the display appear slightly blurry. In contrast, capacitive touch screens are optically flat, providing a clear display with no air gap.

Some scan tools include an additional layer of protection for the screen, similar to the screen protectors used on cell phones. In a shop environment, it’s advisable to look for this type of protection. The resolution of a screen, indicated by the number of pixels (width by height), determines the clarity of the display. Generally, higher resolution means more clarity.

The second feature is the scan tool’s operating system or OS. The OS is quite literally the brain of the scan tool, as it manages the memory, the processes and all the additional software and hardware of the tool itself. Common systems are known for having good support, regular updates and dependable operation.

The third feature is memory and storage. RAM, or random access memory, and storage serve different but equally important roles. Storage is like an electronic filing cabinet; it’s permanent memory. You can never have too much storage – a standard amount is 250 gigabytes (GB), which is more than adequate for a scan tool and the updates it will do.

RAM, on the other hand, acts as short-term memory. Whenever software is launched, data from storage is loaded into RAM for quick access. RAM enables the computer to handle multiple files or programs and run graphic-intensive software smoothly.

The fourth feature is Bluetooth. Bluetooth is a wireless technology that transmits data over short distances, and one of the best advantages of a Bluetooth-equipped scan tool is its ability to communicate with the OBD dongle without being tethered to the car by a short cord.

When shopping for scan tools, think of it like buying a computer. Features like touchscreen, the OS, memory storage and RAM are important considerations to look for for your next scan tool.

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