Please do not think I'm biased even though we produce a box, nor am I on here to advertise! It just really grates me when customers are told a load of old bull just to get a sale...
Developers who spend a lot of time producing either a box or sofware for ECU will reflect this in price, so a cheap product being either flash tune or box obviously took less development, manufacturing and testing time. There are even guys selling kits on ebay so people can flash there own cars, good idea... I think NOT
(no offence to any individual but the cost of consquences if things go wrong could be very high)
My philosophy is you get what you pay for and its usually right in every part of life, I did say usually so I dont need proving wrong!.
Most flash tunes are generic the developer produces a piece of software with certain data exagerated/changed and then this is put in every car and this is the same with a box. Please do not believe it is tailored to a car because its not. I have dealt with many flash tuners that have the software on there laptop, plug it into OBD or equivalent and flash the original ECU. Most (hopefully) will save your original settings first as if they dont and your car doesnt run with the flash tuners software then they are in deep sh**. So my advise is always go to a reputable company prefereably not someone who will do it in a layby.
Sometimes the car doesnt produce what the flash tuner/box manufacturers states mainly because of tolerance levels but many different factors can alter this. In this case the flash tuner will install another generic map that is of higher settings again only produced by the developer they dont generally change the existing one as this would take hours and hours. For a prefessional set-up with rolling road then for the time taken, an technical engineer to change existing software would cost much much more than £300/400 we are talking four figure sums!
The difference with our module is that we can tailor the map in the software of the module to give power/torque at diffferent RPM's where the customers wants it. We can install the box then the customer takes it for a drive so they can get a feel for it then we can record data whilst its being driven and change data on the move. As we have software engineers to design/produce the software on the laptop to be able to do this quickly and efficently but we dont do this for free as this does takes time and unfortunately time is money (we're not a registered charity just yet).
Unlike most of the tuning boxes we dont increase common rail fuel pressure.
But anyway I could ramble on about this subject all day and the methods of tuning etc.
The MiTo, I havent seen one yet what is the switchable part or is it just like the older BMW M3 and Astra with spoarts switch ???
What I mean by this is that they only shorting the lentgh of the throttle. i.e at half throttle (on the pedal) the car thinks its full throttle. Very easy to do we can produce a module to do this (infact we have). This makes the car sportier to drive but through town is nightmare (hence why they switch it).
think I have gone off on tangent now.. I'll try to re-read the posts and answer the other questions.
P.s sorry for typing errors!! and the above is only my humble opinion.
I agree with you that there are a lot of so called tuners that have no idea what they do to the cars....worse case scenario is someone using software like ECM to tune cars....BUT
By real remap I mean good remaps, made by people who spend a lot of time developing their work!
On both of my Alfa's I have spend more then 1 year of making different setups for different conditions...I am talking extreme remaps..not standard ones...for track days for daily driving, for highways and so on.....my latest fun project is switchable remaps....similar to the switch in the MiTo.
But in the end like you said, it is down to the individual...