AutoTap for Palm review: AutoTap for Palm

Roadshow Editors' Rating

7.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Support 8

The Good AutoTap for Palm features multiple ways to display data, can clear car error codes, and comes with a long cord that can reach from cabin to engine.

The Bad The AutoTap for Palm scanner doesn't have a Pocket PC version and is limited to power train codes.

The Bottom Line AutoTap for Palm is very practical in its form factor and with its long cord, but the fact that it shows only power train codes may limit its usefulness.

AutoTap for Palm

B & B Electronics' AutoTap line of OBD-II scanners comes in laptop or PDA versions. While we like that problem codes and a variety of operational parameters can be presented in a slew of different formats, AutoTap displays a limited number of items.

AutoTap works with 19 different Palm handhelds that use Palm OS 3.1 or newer, but there is no Pocket PC version. Setup is difficult because you'll need to enter a software code and the vehicle identification number with the PDA's stylus, which is tedious and error prone. The program takes up 1.3MB of the PDA's scarce memory, and AutoTap can slow the handheld's synchronization routine to a crawl.

Unlike many scanners, AutoTap comes with a 16-foot cable that's long enough to bring around to work under the hood of all but the biggest vehicles. In fact, it's so long that it can get in the way. Once connected, the device shows any of 21 operational parameters, but it's limited to the car's power train codes; it doesn't display networking, chassis, or body codes. It also shows only 12 text items or four graphs at a time. After reading trouble codes, you can clear the Check Engine light. For those tracking down pesky problems, AutoTap can record the car's operation over a period of time in a log file that can be transferred to a desktop computer for later analysis.

In addition to lifetime support and a five-year warranty, the company's Web site is a cornucopia with FAQs, specs, and lists of OBD codes. For an extra $100, the company will provide proprietary codes for Chrysler, Ford, or GM vehicles; all three can be ordered for $250. You can call between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. central time with questions, but the support line is a toll call.