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It all depends what you are trying to do, and what sort of layout you have got.

If you are trying to run a huge US basement empire 60' x 30' with an operating team of 15 , your requirements are going to be very different from someone who's got an L-shaped GW branch line terminus in one room at home, which they operate on their own

And a large exhibition layout based on Southern 3rd rail EMUs will have different requirements again

Most of the major brands offer several different systems pitched at different levels


- how big is the layout (if small you may not need a system that supports dozens of cabs , or delivers large amounts of amps. You won't want computer control on a small layout)
- Steam or diesel? (Lights are largely irrelevant on British steam)
- Are you interested in DCC sound ? (sound decoders are expensive, and they require lots of functions to support them)
- Do you want to double head, or have multiple unit working (if so you'll need consisting)
- How far do you want to play about with decoder settings? (some cheap systems offer minimal programming)

- Do you want your system to be compatible with some other DCC layout (eg in a club)? This may affect which manufacturer you choose (though anyone's decoders should work with anyone's systems...)

One factor may be accessibility. Most decent model shops have a Gaugemaster agency anyway , so the Gaugemaster [MRC]Prodigy Advance is widely available in shops . So, for obvious reasons, is Bachmann's basic EZ DCC (and presumably their Dynamis system when it arrives). Clearly lots of shops will stock the Hornby Select (and presumably the Hornby Elite when that arrives). Lenz, traditionally the leading brand in Britain, is available from quite a number of advertisers in the magazines.

Some of the other systems are more difficult to source and may be available from a few specialist retailers,or just the UK agent, or might even have to be bought from the US or Germany or even over eBay.

There's a very good argument that if you're not confident exactly what you want , you should sit tight for a couple of months and do a bit of research before buying. Several new systems seem to be on the brink of release. Hornby's better-spec system, the Elite, and quite possibly the new Bachmann Dynamis about which little is known. Someone seemed to think Lenz might make some kind of move at the Nuremburg Toy Fair in the spring

There is still limited users feedback about several recently released systems like the Select and the ESU ECoS (one of the systems you might have to source from Germany)

Give it 3 months and some of the smoke might have cleared
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