There is a reason why they cost up to about 2,000 EUR per piece. They need to have enough processing abilities to access the latest ECU tricore technology and to be constantly updated, which is definitely something you will not get with cracked, or cloned tuning tools that are manufactured by some usually Chinese companies. They can only give you someof the functionality of the tuning tool they cloned and no updates whatsoever. If you want to have a respected tuning business, you should most definitely acquire good tuning tools that will help you feel safe with what you are doing, but also provide insight into the latest models. Moreover, their quality, reliability and updates will easily make them cheaper in the long run.
This is where the two ways of accessing ECUs start to differ significantly. While the OBDs only read maps on the EPROMs, thus sometimes missing some of the info, the bootmode access allows for the complete backup of the ECU, reaching all of its nuances.
Master vs Slave
Most of the mentioned manufacturers offer tools on two levels – master and slave. The master tool allows you to get a readout from the ECU and to edit it, so it is the only good way to develop good tuning files yourself, which is, in turn, the only way to become a tuning files supplier.
However, master tools are far more expensive than slave tools. What you get with slave tools is the ability to use files which you have received from tuning files developers. Even though this may seem far less that what the master tools give, it is actually more than enough for most tuners. Developing files takes lots of expertise, experience and, most importantly, constant education about current trends and technical developments and changes in the industry. Moreover, aside from the tools, you will also need testing equipment and a dynamometer, the choice of which is a whole new and pretty expensive matter.
This is why slave tools should be enough for vast majority of tuners who can source tuning files from respectable tuning companies with an additional perk of aiding marketing efforts by connecting oneself with a high-end tuner.