Smart phones have become part of our everyday lives. People can't go anywhere or do anything without their iPhone or Android in hand. From plain-old cell phones 10 years ago, these hand-held devices have progressed into handheld computers that serve as portals to our entire lives. Facebook, Twitter, email, texting, paying bills, and even getting directions are all done on our smart phones. Well, now you can communicate with your car through yours.
SCT Performance recently released the iTSX. A next-generation iteration of the TSX (Touch Screen Extreme) that was released in 2009, the latest version is designed to be used through your personal handheld device, not a separate handheld tuner. Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod in late 2011, it will also be available for your Android device by the time you read this.
"The iTSX is a natural progression of the evolution of tuning," says Chris Johnson of SCT. "We began flash tuning with a handheld device in 2003, and we've evolved into a wireless dongle that uses your cell phone."
The dongle that Johnson is talking about is a small wireless box, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, which plugs into your vehicle's OBD-II port. You simply go to the App Store and download the free iTSX app to your device, sync the dongle to your device via Bluetooth, and you're ready to tune, datalog, monitor your vehicle's vitals, and even do performance tests; but more on those in a minute. The app also allows you to personalize the view by picking your own theme, or skin, for your device. And not to mention, as SCT develops new features and updates, you get those for free.
Since the app itself is free, you can download it to your device before spending a single penny. There is also an interactive tutorial that demonstrates all of the available features. Then, when you're ready, you can purchase the dongle (PN 4015; $469), and the fun begins.
The four main features of the iTSX are programming, performance tests, virtual gauges, and diagnostics. Programming refers to flashing your car's PCM with one of the included tunes or a custom tune uploaded from your email or computer (from your tuner). Performance tests are built-in and include 0-60 mph test, eighth- and quarter-mile e.t. and mph test, top speed test, and 60-0 mph test, as well as a g-meter. The virtual gauge allows you to pick one or multiple signals on your screen in real time, and provides adjustable warning/alert lights, of which you set the parameters. Lastly, you can read and clear diagnostic trouble codes, directly through your device.
Once you've downloaded the...
Once you've downloaded the free app to your device, you synce the dongle to the device by pushing the reset button on the dongle.
If your car is stock, or if you have minor mods like an aftermarket cold-air kit, you can simply download your stock tune to the dongle through your device and upload one of SCT's "canned" tunes. These are the same tunes already available with other SCT products, and the flash only takes a couple of minutes. There are options for gear ratio, tire size, headers, etc. Later, if you make more performance mods and want to upload a custom tune, you can do so by dragging the tune file to your device from your computer, or by accessing it through your email on your device. It can then be flashed to your PCM the same way--wirelessly through your phone.
Though we can't take anything away from the iTSX and its revolutionary ability, we wanted to see what the performance tests were all about. So we called Johnson and had him meet us at Gainesville Raceway to test out, specifically, the accuracy of the quarter-mile calculator. We also called our MMFF video guru Brad Adler to borrow his '11 GT for the test, and he agreed. Brad's GT is a stock Brembo-upgrade, six-speed coupe with only the Steeda shocks, struts, springs, and sway bars; it's never been down the dragstrip. We did, however, borrow a pair of Nitto NT05R drag radials from Tony Gonyon, who was there at the track with us.
Chris Johnson of SCT showed...
Chris Johnson of SCT showed us how to use the product on Brad's Adler's iPhone
Your author's nephew,...
Your author's nephew, garrett Christ, served as our one-man crew, maintaining tire pressures on our borrowed Nitto NT05R drag radials at 26 psi for every run. Special thanks to Tony Gonyon of Tunersinc and his customer Josh Kelly for the Wheels and tires.