Take my opinion and input as biased if you wish,
I have now had quite a bit of experience with these Chinese clones of the VCM, sadly not all good.
I have an origional which we have always used most happily, and it provides us with some reference.
I think the IDS software sucks big style, but thats only a personal opinion and i know that dealers who have never had anything better are quite happy to use it.
Lets face it, it is what LR dealers have been using world wide to maintain and repair all LR vehicles, so despite my opinion as to its software usability aspect, it obvious can do what is needed and it is likely you can get quite used to it.
For a business user, its a real contender to fully consider.
Anyway moving on to the hardware. The origional LR Red Brick VCM is connected to the PC with a cable that connects to the ethernet port. If you are lucky enough to own a Cisco Aironet PC4500 wireless card you can whip of the clear cover slap it in and get wireless comms. Anyone who has one please let me know
The Ford equivilent was provided under the Rotunda equipment suppliers name, (really Snap on, hence the red) was provided with a USB cable that has a bubble in the cable housing a realtek USB to ethernet chip along with associated components was more common and was also adopted by LR to go along with its re IDS badged panasonic CF18/19 tough book. The other side is just an OBDII cable.
Anyway, a year or so ago when the Chinese clones first appeared we purchased one and put it throught its paces. We were well impressed that it updated as per OEM to the latest firmware / software which we always use, now 118.5 patched to P11 ish. A few months ago we ordered 2 more, we supplied 1 to a freind who had already had one he got elsewhere that had blown up big style and we supplied another elsewhere. We also sold our origional test unit. Before the week was out we encded up sending 2 back to our supplier who eventually exchanged them both, we also ordered 4 more spurred on by their willingness to deal with our previous problems. However when they turned up 2 were faulty on arrival, smelling and smoking etc. one of the exchange units did not work right and we had another come back with a blown up problem, hence now 4 are returned for repair / replacement.
Even today i am writing argumentative mails to state that we really do know how to connect and test these to our supplier, i hope all will go well and we get working exchange units that will be ok, however i just know that for some reason these units are not as robust as they should be that i can't quite put my finger on the whys and where fors. i have the one my freind bought elsewhere and one our Ford dealer fried and i have OEM ones i can take to bits to compare against, i can see which chips go big style, i can post pictures of them, and i can obviously see the build quality difference.
For anyone that has a good one, fair play and well done, its a bargain, try to keep it that way, I however will certainly not be buying any more until i am sure that the quality and reliability matches that of the OEM one.
just my 2c's worth
regards software version, we find that after V118 the IDS software / system does want periodic on line updates which we are fortunatley able to provide.