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Hi,

Have been serching for a DCC system to get started on my layout with. I phoned a hobby shop to enquire about prices for the Lenz set 90 and transformer which came to over £200, then the chap said that the Lenz system was dated and had not been changed in ages. Then he reccomended the Gaugemaster Prodigy Advance which was £190 ish. It's odd that he is trying to sell us a cheaper system so I get the feeling that he has some serious reservations about the Lenz system.

I have read the Lenz Set 100 review which says it is good but has out of date software but I have yet to find a review on the Gaugemaster Prodigy Advance system which I thought was a popular system?

Anyway, I was just wondering what people thought I should do. Go for Lenz or Gaugemaster?

Thanks,

Andrew.
 

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QUOTE (Sir Galahad @ 8 Feb 2008, 22:33) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi,

I have read the Lenz Set 100 review which says it is good but has out of date software but I have yet to find a review on the Gaugemaster Prodigy Advance system which I thought was a popular system?

Anyway, I was just wondering what people thought I should do. Go for Lenz or Gaugemaster?

Thanks,

Andrew.


Hi Andrew, compared to other systems eg Gaugemaster, NCE, digitrax the Lenz sets 100/90 are a little outdated but are still a very good reliable system and easy to use and will do all that many people want.
Ok Lenz may not have some of the updated features of the other systems but I know a number of people that have the Lenz and are very happy with them.
I suggest, research as many systems as possible, work out exactly what you want from a system and go from there.
If not Lenz I would look seriously at NCE,either Powercab or PowerPro. If you want to really go high tech look at the Ecos from ESU.
Happy DCCing
Ian sa
 

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When you buy a more expensive system there are several things you should demand. One of them is a stable platform that does not require constant upgrades and revisions. Lenz, NCE, (Digitrax which wasn't mentioned and which is the biggest seller world wide), do not require so many revisions and upgrades as for instance the ECoS which has recently been introduced.
The next thing to look for are the features, make a list and compair systems capabilities, to some extent this has been done for you if you look at Liza's DCC
systems chart on this forum.
Finally try out those systems you have short listed, it might be you have a particular liking for one make of handset, or even a central console. Put some effort into your selection and keep reading as much as you can from various sites, that way you will make you own informed decision, and not depend on others for judgement.
 

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QUOTE (Sir Galahad @ 8 Feb 2008, 22:33) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>then the chap said that the Lenz system was dated and had not been changed in ages.

The Lenz LH100 is a very reliable bit of kit. Just because it's not been upgraded for ages does not mean you should not consider it - remember, all NRMA systems are based on Lenz.

Having said that, the GM Prodigy is also good.

Both systems do exactly what is said on the box & we have had no complaints about either. About the only thing the GM will not do is interface with a PC. Otherwise it's really down to personal choice - try & have a play with both or attend some shows & talk to operators.

Have a trawl through the DCC posts as well, unless you have narrowed down to these two. Digitrax & NCE also make some good kit with good support.

If you want any further info' on the Lenz or GM please send me a PM.

Hope this helps.
 

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QUOTE (Makemineadouble @ 9 Feb 2008, 08:25) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>When you buy a more expensive system there are several things you should demand. One of them is a stable platform that does not require constant upgrades and revisions. Lenz, NCE, (Digitrax which wasn't mentioned and which is the biggest seller world wide), do not require so many revisions and upgrades as for instance the ECoS which has recently been introduced.

Personally, I tend to agree with this, maybe old fashioned but I prefer to use something "as bought" during it's service life be it a DCC set or a PC.

It's this issue (plus the attitude of the UK importers) that put me off the ECoS.
 

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I think we are not truly comparing apples for apples:

I'd also point out that yes, lenz kicked it off but they have totally dropped the ball technology and progress wise. Digitrax is largest in USA but not outside USA - and it was biggest early but has slower growth than NCE by a very long way, with many lenz and digitrax users crossing to NCE in the last several years.

As of last year ESU were the worlds largest producer of DCC products. - not controllers, but all inclusive. So - stats as to size really are immaterial and irrelevant. Is the worlds biggest of anything always the best - NO.

Given that everyone is an evangelist for their own choice, I'll decolare my position and give you a perspective from one who uses and sells them all, and has a choice of anything at all for his own layout.

I use NCE and ECOS together (NCE either on its own or via the ECOS sniffer port). At my workbench is an NCE PowerCab which is the ONLY one I'll use there, as it can handle every sound loco and do anything a huge system can do, and I need to be able to test everything easily.

If I had to choose one and stay with it it'd be no contest - I'd not decide on features or frills, but ergonomics - NCE would win hands down as the best one to use and hold. PowerCab at the workbench, PowerHouse Pro at the layout. I love my ECOS, but I prefer a handset that fits my hand so well I don't need to look to operate it.

NCE, Digitrax, Lenz all work fine but the difference is in three things.

(1) The "up to date or not" nature of ther product: Lenz is really 5 years old sotware and things have moved forwards, but Lenz are NOT responding to what WAS a loyal customer base - they are truly dying in the marketplace. Digitrax is very competent but not overly up to date in reality, NCE is in fact the only truly "user upgradeable" of the three, and has the latest software revisions of the three. NCE is also the only one of those three with a built in computer port!

(2) Ergonomics. Lenz is a nice bit of design as far as the LH100 is concerned but even that is not at all instinctive for the new user - once mastered its fine and works well, but can be extremely hard to get on with. The set 90 handset is a dog of a product if you want to use functions regularly or do much programming. Lenz manuals really suck. Digitrax is confusing as its a lot of identical buttons without any real layout attempted to make it easier.Manuals are also in dire need of a re-write. NCE has a much nicer feel to it and is instinctive - the real eye opener is that those who want a "knob" get the choice of both, but almost universally gravitate to the buttons without thinking about it within a few days or weeks. Manuals are better, but still not perfect.

(3) The reliability of the product: Lenz has frequent handset problems due to poor quality cable in their handsets, and bad design of cable entry into the LH100. Lenz decoders run hot and in my experience have a high failure rate after installation compared to others. Digitrax and NCE are both good, but I have a probably 3:1 failure rate digitrax to NCE - Digi problems are 3x higher than NCE's, which are about zero on control systems. I do not use decoders from either Digi or NCE - there are better out there easily available.

As to ECOS needing more upgrades: Not really apples for apples. Its not need, but ease of offering that makes upgrades available

NCE, Digi, Lenz, MRC (gaugemaster) and most others you are used to use a very good processor - but it is a derivative of the Z80 processor which is common in computer controlled machinery - its intelligence is fed to it via changeable PROM processors (Chips) so upgrades cannot except for NCE be user installed - so they do NOT offer them as its inconvenient.

ECOS uses an active onboard computer system (Its sort of a dedicated portable computer really) that can have its software upgraded dimply via the web, making it easy. This flexibility allows ESU to offer new (at no charge) features often so increasing the value of their product and keeping it up to date.

They can do this almost for free - where every other brand mentioned has to buy and programme thousands of chips, distribute them etc etc - as I said NOT apples for apples!

So - How to choose... compare performance at the rails and the FEEL of them in your hand but do not be blinded by the BS thats in the feature lists - they will all do many many things. The importance is do they do the several things you REALLY want them to do.

Re gaugemaster: Its not bad, but its a re-badged MRC - which had problems when gaugemaster put their brand on it and bought their stock. unless its the NEW MRC (called prodigy Advance squared) then stay away from it - its functionality looks good but its approach to some things is NOT NMRA compatible, especially for functions above F10.

Regards

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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I have recently changed my ZTC 511 for an NCE Powercab and find it much superior to ZTC (outdated).
Ease of use is excellent, so I would seriously consider this item and at under £100 is well worth the money.
Incidently I purchased this from Digitrains, who provided me with excellent service.

Derek
 

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The gauge master unit was reveiwed by Nigel Burkin in the Jan BRM so if you want an unbiased veiw I would recomened this reveiw. As I have an older Prodigy unit that I like, it has a knob that can be bi-directional, the others are mainly buttons only, lenz and digitrax, which I found difficult to use when I tried them.

regards

mike g
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 9 Feb 2008, 23:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Given that everyone is an evangelist for their own choice, I'll decolare my position and give you a perspective from one who uses and sells them all, and has a choice of anything at all for his own layout.

I use NCE and ECOS together (NCE either on its own or via the ECOS sniffer port). At my workbench is an NCE PowerCab which is the ONLY one I'll use there, as it can handle every sound loco and do anything a huge system can do, and I need to be able to test everything easily.

If I had to choose one and stay with it it'd be no contest - I'd not decide on features or frills, but ergonomics - NCE would win hands down as the best one to use and hold. PowerCab at the workbench, PowerHouse Pro at the layout. I love my ECOS, but I prefer a handset that fits my hand so well I don't need to look to operate it.

Regards

Richard
DCCconcepts

Richard the solution to this is to use the ECoS with the Mobile Control for ECoS. I got mine last week and have put a review under the DCC controllers section. It makes a huge difference and gives you the hand held control you are talking about.

It goes without saying that everyone will speak up on behalf of their chosen controller but one of the reasons I chose the ECoS was that it was future proofed by being able to have downloadable upgrades. This enables new features and technology to be added after purchase. I am surprised that anyone would see this as a negative.
 

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QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 10 Feb 2008, 06:57) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Richard the solution to this is to use the ECoS with the Mobile Control for ECoS. I got mine last week and have put a review under the DCC controllers section. It makes a huge difference and gives you the hand held control you are talking about.

It goes without saying that everyone will speak up on behalf of their chosen controller but one of the reasons I chose the ECoS was that it was future proofed by being able to have downloadable upgrades. This enables new features and technology to be added after purchase. I am surprised that anyone would see this as a negative.

**Neil - I agree re the positive nature of easy upgradeability - but re mobile control, thats not the real answer to my comment.

I forgot to mention but I have also used mobile control with ECOS and it is very, very nice - and I also have always had good stock of them :)... including spare handsets.

The issue of choice for me having used all the better brands is not that its a mobile control but that the NCE control has a much wider functionality than the ESU mobile control. 100% of control and programming options are in my hand 100% of the time.

As to "mobile" handsets, NCE wins here for me as it doesn't take a long time for NCE to aquire its handsets - ECOS is incredibly slow to acquire a handset on turn on (especially if U have two of them - it takes an age!!!) and as you said, range is good BUT it has a button lag - NCE is instant and has no button lag on wireless at all as its a full duplex controller.... in its current software variant it is as good as being plugged in!

Richard
 

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I use the lenz system and am very happy with it because it does what i need it to do. the thing is with lenz is that they seem to be too busy building stuff for other manufacturers to be doing much of their own stuff lenz decoders at the moment are like hens teeth although i'm sure that will change and who knows some updated lenz equipment might be round the corner I can't believe theyve done no development at all for the last couple of years

The best advice I was given was to go and try the systems out either at a shop or at a bigger exhibition such as warley the best person to judge what is the right sytem for you is yourself
 

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QUOTE (mikeg @ 10 Feb 2008, 01:49) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>it has a knob that can be bi-directional, the others are mainly buttons only, lenz and digitrax, which I found difficult to use when I tried them.

??? Curious as to why you should ascribe Nigel Burkin with an "unbiased review" - he does articles for magazines but also runs a hobby business... His opinion is as valid as everyones but not more or less biased.

I agree with the Lenz and Digitrax "harder to use" comment, but not the detail of it.

Only the Lenz 100 is buttons only - Lenz 90 is knob, Digitrax actually has 2 knobs which are actually not bad for train driving.

MRC / (rebadged in UK as Gaugemaster) actually seems to have copied the general style of the NCE handset (to try to cash in on the high growth/level of success of the NCE system perhaps) - but they missed the point and put the knob where it can't be used one handed... The original NCE is much nicer to handle physically and has rotary + buttons (and can be bi-directional if set that way), ECOS has 2 dead easy and very cool to use motorised knobs.

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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Buttons and knobs, knobs and buttons.

It takes 5 minutes to get used to using one or the other. I often have my old Arnold controllers (knobs) set up as remote Cabs on my Lenz system (buttons). I run a train from one controller to another without any problem at all.

The buttons and the LCD display give a very fine control, but a good rotary encoder does just as well. If all fails, you can press the stop button, but I never use it so even that is something that has to be learnt.
 

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QUOTE Digitrax actually has 2 knobs which are actually not bad for train driving.
well actually with the DT400 you have a choice of knobs or using the plus and minus keys.
 
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