Need input on Diagnostic Code Readers (97 4.6)

I see there are a number of pocket scans that are fairly cheap. My check engine light seems like its been on forever but I always manage to get it smogged. I get a pass this year but I would just like to be
/know/ and be ready next time.
And experience? Advice?
TIA, Frank
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I use a $35 model [from eBay] works fine and is CAN compliant for future cars. Does not explain codes - you need to look at the book - like the more expensive models. Not a big issue.
I also have an interface device that works with software on my laptop for live data. $30 from DealExtreme [Hong Kong].
The handheld model is quick/easy and resets the CEL. If the issue is more compelx, the software version takes more time to set up but gives you much more information so you don't end up changing parts without a good idea of what is really wrong.
Both have their uses.

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I bought the least expensive hand held I could find at Advanced Auto Parts. It is an "Acton." It came with a book for the codes and a cd to get the codes on your computer. I have since installed a programmer which also gives me all the codes. The Acton I just lend to friends when they need it..... Ron....
John Keiser wrote:

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