Well an unexpected opportunity to air my view on Digitrax. First a bit of history and why I choose Digitrax.
I started with ZTC and following up on an advert and article in 1994 Railway Toddler I visited Robin Palmer in Safon Waldon and bought a 511, 30 odd decoders a transformer. I then returned to South Africa and started to install decoders in my N gauge stock. It was a battle, with little documentation, and there was not much on the internet either. My inital batch of decoders would just fit inside a Farish tender. I had a lovely railway room and a large N gauge layout, but no one I knew used DCC. I was something of a novelty, folks visited my layout, but I'm sure they thought me insane.
Things moved on, my business expanded at a rapid rate, it demanded a lot committment, there was little time for railways. Finally a house move resulted in me establishing a complex n gauge layout in new railway room. I went back to DC control for a while, as the problems with new smaller decoders just compounded my frustation. A failure of one batch of new decoders to store progaming details meant hours of modifications of Farish chassises were put on hold. it was a frustating time.
I then decided to change to 00 with the change of century to make things easier on the eye sight. Initally I has a simple loop around the room. I started using Hornby tender drives with my ZTC 511 and the decoders I had. I had the ZTC511 catch fire one night. I replaced a bridge recifier, but a few weeks later I had a repeat performance. Rather than return my 511 to a then defunct ZTC (before they were bought out) I looked around for a replacement DCC unit. I had long been attracted to a fast clock and this brought me into contact with the local Digitrax agent in South Africa. Lenz had an agent who charged according to your appearance, with the more affluient being charged more. The was no local agent for Easy DCC or NCE at the time, so the choice was Lenz or Digitrax. I chose Digitrax especially as the agent was only 10 mins drive from me, and for the first time I actually got a fair amount of support and advice.
Initally I bought the Chef set, a DCS100 and two DT100 radio hand controllers. I hated these, the function keys were difficult to get used to, so I continued to used my 511 for programming. Digitrax documentation was a bit overwelming at first, I heard that Lenz is similar. I now feel at easy with Digitrax documentation.
Things changed for me when Digitrax introduced the DT300 and then the DT400 trottle. Thats when I started to love my Digitrax system. The handset is easy to use for all features. It can control two loco's and recall upto another 24. Features all functions, you program with it in a choice of four modes, including 'on the main', and it's easy to use. I now have four of these trottles, and as I have a radio reciever UR91 it's great for walk round control. I sold my old DT100 trottles and bought a couple of UT4 trottles just for visitors, their simple, and they keep fingers off of critical functions. As my layout grew, I added a DB150 booster to power a reverse loop and a seperate power zone. Expansion was simple. Digitrax use Loconet for a control bus, this has been 100% reliable. in fact the only failure I've has was when UP3 (the unit you plug a trottle) into failed and this caused me to have to trouble shoot this failure, this took me 10 odd hours.
I feel at home with Digitrax it does what it's supposed to do. There's never been a software up grade for my DCS100 it's not necessary. With other systems frequent changes to software have necesitated changes to EMPOMs and upgrades, not with Digitrax they got it right first time. When I need to add to my system all the bit and pieces needed are available. Price of the unit was not one of my considerations. First and foremost the system must be able to handle what I want from it. I've seen Digitrax in action on some huge layouts, operation has been flawless. The handset concept is far more at home on the large layout rather than the central control unit. With the handset you can be there right at the centre of the action, perhaps shunting, organising a locoshed, or running a busy station. Loconet functions well and is seemless.
What system would I buy today, well living as I now do in the UK Lenz probably springs to the fore. I don't think it would be my system of choice. But I acknowledge that it's a good alternative, and they have an excellent agent in Mackays. Digitrax from my experience would be my system of choice. I'm fortunate for me cost isn't the issue, function is. As a second choice perhaps NCE or even Zimo. I'm firmly convinced that Handsets rather than control centres is the way to go with DCC.