Originally Posted by Warrtalon
Actually, he does "flash" his ECU. That's what the AP does...it reprograms the ECU when you push the button for the tune you want to use. However, before he was able to use the AP, he had to get it custom tuned by someone (unless he's using generic base tunes), which is the same thing we do, except we use a laptop instead of a hand-held device. We also don't have to buy anything.
The vast majority of the WRX community use the basic flashes that come pre-loaded on the Cobb AccessPort that are designed to work with specific modifications, so unless he has an "non-standard" set of modification he did not need a custom tune befor using the AccessPort.
What the Cobb system does is an initial "base" flash of the system that re-organizes the entire ECU program, and allows you to program "real time" flashes into the volatile (temporary) memory of the ECU. With this sytem if you re-set the ECU it keeps the "base" flash, but the "real time" flash would be lost and need to be reloaded. The great part about the Cobb system is the speed of changing the real time maps, (10 seconds) and the fact that you can do real time tunning with the car running.
I personally found that to be too restrictive and payed a boat load of extra money to get the StreetTunner software for my laptop to interface with the AccessPort and make my own maps.... latter on they dropped the price of the StreetTunner package way down... ticked me off real bad.
My personal opinion is that if you live in an area with a good flash tuner available you can't go wrong with a flash. If you are good at tuning yourself, the tactrix cable and free flashing software are the way to go. If you plan on eventually switching over to a speed density air metering system, that is when you want to go with a stand alone. The only time to use and AFC is if you traded in your DSM and had the AFC sitting there staring you in the face on a shelf in your garage