We were expecting to see something new from Lenz at the Nürnberg Toy Fair. We know that the DCC market is changing rapidly and that the middle-ground is being redefined. Features and specs are rising and prices are falling.
Lenz who have been instrumental in defining the shape of DCC as we know it are well known as producing very good, reliable and full-featured products. They have been producing new items every year and releasing them at the Nürnberg show. We expected Lenz to announce some sort of new controller, perhaps a new decoder or two and some advances on their ageing controller software.
This year... Nothing.
I spoke to Peter Rapp, the Vice President of Lenz and he told me that there was a new controller on the drawing board, but it was still not decided what features it would have - even what input control it would have: Pot dial, rotary encoder or buttons... He also said that they were working on an update to their command station software.
As the architecture of the command stations is quite old (over 10 years) the system can't be updated by the user downloading a firmware update over the internet and installing it himself. The units have to be returned directly to Lenz in Germany for a factory update.
There are advances to RailCom. The RailCom steering comitee made up of Lenz, Zimo, Tams Elektronik and Kuehn is due to meet this week to move ahead with the next phase of RailCom - basically getting things out to market. They were going to meet at the Toy Fair, but they didn't expect much to be done due to the heavy work load of the show. They will be pushing the technology forward this year. Zimo do have some interesting RailCom developments. More on that a little later.
Lenz realises that the software upgrade is vital to this RailCom project so they are striving on. Expect to hear about the upgrade later this year.
Lenz are also working on a new decoder. It will hopefully come out this year. It will be highly-featured like the Silver, but it will be cheap. Hopefully costing just a little more than the LE1000. It will be missing some features, but it will have all the right options to ensure good quality running of the loco like speed control and back EMF.
Lenz have released some O-Gauge items. A couple of locos with DCC control and uncoupling and some scenic items. When I asked why Lenz was producing these items, they say that there was a gap in the market. I mentioned that I knew that Bernd Lenz was a fan of O-Gauge, were these new products made just because he wanted a new loco, they just smiled...
There is a re-release ot the Set 90 for O-Gauge
It is just like the normal Set 90, but can now handle 4-digit addresses, and controls more decoder functions. Two ABC BM1 block controller units are supplied with the set.