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· Just another modeller
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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
 

· Just another modeller
Joined
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9,967 Posts
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
 

· Just another modeller
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9,967 Posts
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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