OpenFlash Tablet | Stage 1 Tune

MPmoto Review

Without strapping a turbo or supercharger to the FR-S/BRZ/86, there aren’t a lot of modifications out there that will make a significant difference in power creation, which is unfortunate- particularly because power is the single biggest downfall of the car. After doing quite a bit of research on worthwhile modifications that WILL actually make some power, I decided to take the plunge and pick up the OpenFlash Tablet by OpenFlash Performance.

OpenFlash Tuning Tablet |

  • Automatic tuning file generation. No Laptop Required!
  • Free Off-The-Shelf (OTS) maps available for various vehicle modifications
  • Free tuning software
  • Full open ROM editing with no encryptions or locks
  • Trouble code reading/clearing
  • Enhanced data-logging/data-graphing
  • Digital gauge displays
  • Wideband o2 sensor support
  • Multiple tuning file storage
  • No software licensing
  • 100% Reversible to original factory tune in minutes
  • True plug-and-play functionality

Considerations |

When looking at tuning options for the FR-S or really any other car, there are two main types of platforms (excluding standalone systems because they’re crazy expensive and overkill for most users) – Programmers/tuners or piggyback-style chips. Programmers/tuners plug into the onboard OBDII port and re-write the factory tune completely. Piggyback chips don’t overwrite the factory ECU. Instead, they are physically wired into the factory ECU where parameters are manipulated. Programmers require no physical wiring or hardware installation and typically offer greater control and flexibility of your system. Another benefit is that since there’s no physical hardware that’s installed in the car, it’s a piece of cake to restore the factory tune leaving no evidence should you need to take the car to the dealer. I strongly prefer programmers/tuners, so my choice was easy given the popularity of the OFT tuner and the lack of other options. 

Installation |

Simple but complicated is probably the best way to describe my experience. The way the OpenFlash Tablet is advertised is that it comes preprogrammed with off-the-shelf (OTS) tunes, which mine didn’t. I was initially pretty frustrated because I backed up my factory tune on the tablet, but had no options to write a new tune without any explanation of why. 

I plugged the tablet into my laptop and downloaded the tune editing software that is available for free from OFT only to find that my tablet was completely blank (aside from the backup of my factory tune). I downloaded the OTS tunes from OpenFlash’s website and uploaded them to the tablet, which wasn’t a difficult process, but can be a little nerve-wracking if you’re not experienced with this sort of thing (knowing that if you did this wrong your car might not work anymore). 

Once the OTS tunes were uploaded and ready to go, the install was a breeze. You plug in the tablet to the OBDII port, then follow the prompts on the tablet’s screen. The whole process takes about 5 minutes. Once you’re notified that the new tune is complete, you unplug the tablet and you’re good to go.  

Good to know post-install |

Once the tune is installed, the car is ready to go. However, what many people don’t know, is that your car still needs to learn itself with the new tune. Since there are so many sensors and variables that your car’s computer is constantly reading and adjusting for, it takes some time before the car has learned itself with its’ new tune, so don’t be discouraged if the car doesn’t feel too great right after you fire it up and go for a drive- it’s too early to pass judgement on the true performance that the new tune has given you. 

In my case, throttle response was pretty terrible right off the bat (similar to how the car felt right after installing my front pipe and cat back before the car could learn and adjust itself for the new modifications). The idle was a little bit erratic, and it almost turned itself off when I arrived at my first stoplight. After the car cycled through a few off and ons and covered 40-50 miles the car felt COMPLETELY different than it had immediately after installing the tune. 

Results |

There is a pretty dramatic difference between the feel of the car with the factory tune and the OFT tune. I went with the Stage 1 tune for 91 octane because of my car’s modification level (Stage 2 isn’t necessary until you replace the factory header). Throttle response is definitely sharper, and the overall feel is more solid – it feels like you get more for how much you’re pressing the throttle. A good analogy for the throttle input difference is like when you drive an older car and push the brake pedal- it stops fine, but there’s a lot of pedal travel in the process. The OFT tune is like hopping out of that old car into a new one where the pedal is firm and as soon as you start to press it, things start to happen.

Another noticeable difference is in the sound of the engine. It sounds more mechanical in the 4-6,000 rpm range (in a good way). It’s not a totally unfamiliar sound, and passengers probably won’t notice the difference, but you will. 

One very welcomed difference with the OFT Stage 1 tune is the way the engine builds power through the rev range. With the factory tune, power delivery doesn’t feel very linear. Instead, it feels like the power starts pretty low and ramps up as the revs increase- almost like it’s got turbo lag… except the boost never arrives. With the OFT tune, it feels much more linear, like the engine is beefier, and you don’t have to wring it out as much in order to make something happen.

Verdict |

Since I only have the Stage 1 tune installed, and since I went with the 91 octane Stage 1 tune instead of 93 octane (I’d rather play it safe in case I get a bad batch of fuel), I can’t speak to the FULL potential of this product. I can say, however, that I’m very pleased with it.

I don’t think the biggest benefit of this programmer is an increase in peak power. Buying the OFT will not suddenly transform the FR-S into a 10-second car looking to take down Dominic Toretto and his DVD-player stealing/secret government agency crew. The single biggest benefit to the OFT is how it makes the car feel. Over the entire rev range, it feels more robust and more pleasurable to drive. The torque dip at 4k rpm is gone. The smoothness and response of the engine is much better- which makes the car nicer to drive. 

If your goal with tuning software is to pick up 100 horsepower, this isn’t the purchase for you. You’ll need forced induction for that (although you can use the OFT to tune with forced induction). If your goal is to make your FR-S/BRZ/86 nicer to drive and overcome the factory tuning shortcomings, then the OpenFlash Tablet is fantastic. I would absolutely buy it again. 

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