Nexiq USB Link (Original) Discontinued
In early 2015, Nexiq Technologies discontinued the “tried and true” original Nexiq USB Link. This adapter had been around for around 7 years, and was wildly popular. One of the main reasons that the Nexuq USB Link became so popular was because of their distribution. Nexiq is 100% owned by Snap On, so between the large marketing spends, industry trade shows, and Snap On tool trucks, Nexiq has an unmatched distribution network. The other large source of their distribution comes from formal truck dealerships, as Nexiq is the recommended product for various truck manufacturers such as International, Freightliner, and many others.
Nexiq USB Link 2 Changes
We’ve literally sold over 1,000 of the original Nexiq USB Link, so to say we are familiar with them is an understatement. Lets talk about some of the changes that we’ve noticed with this new and improved USB Link 2.
The first thing we’ve noticed is that Nexiq is no longer packaging their adapter in the “Nexiq Box” that they’ve frequently used for not only the USB Link, but other products as well. Here is what the original box looked like:
Nexiq has decided not to provide this packaging with the new USB Link 2, but I guess who really cares about packaging?
For all its popularity, the original Nexiq USB Link had some serious design issues. The main issue was with the USB connector at the bottom. The original design was very poor, and lets face it, these devices are being used by diesel and auto technicians. To say they are rough on tools would be an understatement. The main problem is that due to the bending of the USB cord and constant plugging/unplugging of it, the USB port would break off the motherboard inside the device. When this happened, you would have to send it to Nexiq to be repaired. Although the cost wasn’t bad (Around $150), the downtime of 3-4 weeks is what made it difficult for people. Nexiq did go through a couple “fixes” for this, such as creating a USB Link restrainer (shown below) and upgrading the USB port to the heavy duty “orange” style. By using both of these options, it did tend to help the issue. I only bring this up, because the new USB Link 2 appears to have solved that issue. The design they’ve come up with made it so that the USB cable really can’t be pushed around, and it gets “socketed” into the adapter.
Beyond the USB port redesign, the shape is obviously different as well. The new USB Link 2 has the black plastic grabbers on the side, and is a more “boxy” shape that all the vehicle interfaces seem to be going towards. The adapter also has indicator lights for power, traffic, Bluetooth, and faults.
Perhaps the largest design change is where the cables attach to the USB Link 2. The original USB Link used a standard 15-pin connector, and life was good. There were a ton of aftermarket cables available, all of which sold for under $40. This included replacement 6/9 pin cables, OBDII cables, Volvo 8-pin & 14-pin, Cummins 3-pin, and many more. With the new adapter, Nexiq has changed to a 26-pin connector as shown below. While we can’t find a reason for this on the Nexiq website, we can only assume that this is to handle the new CAN2 protocol standard. Since there are no aftermarket cables available for this, it means the “extra” cables got very expensive — Over $200 for most of them! Until there is a good aftermarket solution, there won’t be much that can be done.
Nexiq has also changed the contents of the package. The USB Link 2 no longer comes with any installation media, but this actually makes sense. Since Nexiq appears to update drivers every 60 days or so, the CDs that used to come with the original unit were often outdated by the time the customer received the unit. To force the customer to download the latest versions from their website isn’t a horrible thing, and it also makes sure that customers will always install the most recent version.
As with the late model original USB Links, Nexiq is now supplying a very long 6/9 pin connector. It is roughly 3′ long. Our assumption for this design change is that on the previous models with the short connector, it would sometimes cause the adapter to hang in a location that could cause it to be damaged if the door of the cab was closed on it. This new model also includes the standard 15′ USB cable.
Since there is no media included with the USB Link 2, you will need to download it from Nexiq’s website. As of this posting, the most current version is v1.0.16. This download will also install the most recent version of Device Tester, so that you are able to troubleshoot connection problems. Remember: The adapter does not come with any diagnostic software. All of that must be purchased separately.
Faster & More Powerful
According to Nexiq, the largest changes have occurred inside the adapter itself. Here are the spec upgrades:
~ Fives time faster than its predecessor (125032)
~ Sixteen times more RAM (random access memory)
~ Supports heavier bus loads on simultaneous channels
~ New Bluetooth module with enhanced data rate to support wireless communication (500K b/s on J1939)
~ USB connector is a more robust, automotive grade quality connector with latching mechanism
The Nexiq USB Link 2 is much improved design, and we are sure that it will sell very well for a long time given its history and distribution network. We are constantly lurking in message boards and forums, and there have been reports of it not working with various equipment, but these are usually unfounded. We have yet to run across an application that would NOT work with the USB Link 2. If you do have one, please leave a comment below and let us know!
Once some aftermarket cables are available for this communication adapter, it will make the pain much easier for people to switch. If you are upgrading from the original the new model, you will have to install the new drivers, along with changing all your software programs to work with it.
If you are looking to purchase one, you can head over to our online store. Shameless plug: We carry these in stock, ship quickly, and help support them after! We will soon be releasing a video on this product, along with a Companion Guide as well.