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Ian Wigglesworth
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm a service engineer and have to work away a fair bit. The other week I was in another hotel surfing the net as you do and took a look at the ZTC web site I was bored, so I sent an E-mail to ZTC to ask why their 505 and 511 controllers are so expensive, comparing the price to that of the ESU ECoS and Veissmann commander.
I also asked if they had plans to reduce the price to a sensible level

I know it's a bit cheeky but I just cant see the price justification just because it has a gimmicky looking console, surely a good LCD display giving important operator data(or the layout schematic on the Viesmann) is worth more?
To me the Hornby Elite/ Bachmann Dynamis will be better value than the ZTC offerings.
Or is it me missing something?

I have just got the reply, I still can't see how they can justify the price, this email is just complete waffle.
Just to make it clear on their web site the ZTC 505 mid range controller is £199+ £39 for the power supply.
The ZTC 511 master controller is £399+ £39 for the power supply.

Dear Sir,

We feel the ZTC 505 and ZTC 511 controllers are well priced within the market place. The ZTC 505 is a very high quality controller and is very competitively priced, it is cheaper than the gaugemaster system, same price as the Lenz 90 set and we feel the quality and the user interface is far superior.
The controllers are also future upgradeable which other systems are not, so as future systems/equipment comes out with our system you are able to upgrade our controller rather than have to throw your old system away and buy a new one.
The ZTC 511 is an outstanding controller, not only on quality and build but one of it's most outstanding features is the ZTC Reelfeel Control which is why the price is more comparable with other manufactures top of the range systems.
The ZTC 511 is the Rolls Royce of controllers.
This is unique to ZTC Controls no other manufacturer can offer this in the world, this allows you to completely simulate driving a real locomotive. This is so much so that Network rail have actually adopted the ZTC 511 for the initial training of the drivers before they get on to the real thing.
I would strongly urge you to try and control a layout with the ESU controller and then try operating another layout with the ZTC 511.
To date we have had very few people who have not found the ZTC 505 or 511 controller to be very intuitive and great ease to use.
Customers have found other manufacturers controllers that even the most basic operating session requires extensive usage of manuals to navigate through basic control.

What we have mentioned above are the largest key features of the controllers not all the intricate control features which make driving ZTC a complete pleasure.

Ultimately it is your choice of the controller which best suits your needs.

We can tell you that to date we have already had one customer trade in his ESU controller for a ZTC 511.

Yours Sincerely

ZTC Controls LTD
 

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Chief mouser
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Wiggy,

Having read the above I can only conclude that the author used to work for the Civil Service. It's a superb example of a non answer.

Regards

John
 

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Well, if ZTC's controllers are as good as their maths then that may explain why the 511 has a few quirks then !

The RRP for the Gaugemaster Prodigy is £225 & that includes the power supply so that make the ZTC 505 £23 more when you include the power supply, bearing in mind the GM unit is available for around £180 that then makes the 505 £58 more !

Also ZTC keep banging on about the panel layout on the 511 being very like the controls of a diesel or electric locomotive & that it is the only one of it's kind made - what they should say is that it is the only UK style one made. Uhlenbrook have made a unit like the controls of a DB locomotive for years !

One of our customers is an avid ZTC fan, but he still has to use it as a slave to his Lenz based system to get the best out of it !

Maybe the real reason(s) could be the costs of relativly low production & devolopement costs as opposed to the larger volume manufacturers & surely no one would have argued with that, if indeed the real reason. Far better than the non-answer we have from ZTC as BRITHO said (& he would know !
).
 

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QUOTE (dbclass50 @ 15 Feb 2007, 17:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Maybe the real reason(s) could be the costs of relativly low production & devolopement costs as opposed to the larger volume manufacturers & surely no one would have argued with that, if indeed the real reason. Far better than the non-answer we have from ZTC as BRITHO said (& he would know !
).

OK, 19 years of pen pushing plus 10 years swearing at computer systems provided by EDS!!

Regards

John
 

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QUOTE (Makemineadouble @ 16 Feb 2007, 05:13) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I wonder what they be a smokin down therr in Glastonbury. Must be some strong stuff.

I think you got that right on the button.

I honestly do not beleive that anyone in their right mind is going to trade in an Ecos for this overpriced system. The 505 system has the spec's of a starter set and some beginner systems like the Roco, MultiMaus, Hornby Elite and Bachmann Dynamis have better specs for half the price. While they think the 511 has life like controls I have heard that in practice they are a problem. You also only have one cab. The screen is tiny and conveys very little info. As said the high costs are because it's a cottage industry with little research and development money.

It might be a speculation point as to what would have happened if Hornby had asked ZTC to make their system rather than those guys from Cambridge? Then again maybe cost is why that never happened.
 

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Once apon a time a very long time ago before they had tooth paste, ZTC filled a place in the DCC market at one time but that time has now passed unless they can compete with the other DCC systems on Quality, features & Price they will probably got out of business quite soon, I mean they still make all of there control units out of metal which is far to expensive they could cut half there price by changing to a plastic moulded case and it would be more presentable.

Pete
 

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They have their followers - those attracted by the train type controls - which I feel are a disadvantage.
As a former user of the system in the 1990's I think I can add a few comments:

Plastic casing is a great idea, it certainly would make it easier to kick a 511 across the floor without damage to ones feet.
The system appears to be in a Cul-de-sac compared to recent developments else where.
 

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Metal casings do cost however who would argue that metal casings do not give a product substance.

If the ZTC product has a feel and a control style that appeals then it will continue to sell. ZTC attend a lot of exhibitions, have a good show demo set up and offer a product that is totally intuitive that you can walk up to and operate without any instructions from anybody. I know. I have been there, tried it, done it, had the exhibition experience. For somebody who wants to get up and running fast without reading pages of instructions ZTC seems to be where it is at!

How many other systems are as intuitive?

Not everybody wants or needs a mega spec system and there may be more around than we think who want a system that is intuitive with a casing that is substantial.

Think of DC. How many of us are going to ever get rid of our Hammant and Morgan Duette controllers?


ZTC are probably the Hammant and Morgan of the DCC world or likened to Arga in the cooker world.

There will always be a market for such a product. It is not all about cutting edge technology.

For those appreciative of the type of qualities I am talking about the ZTC 505 represents a pretty good deal in todays plastic everything looks the same marketplace!

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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Ian Wigglesworth
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Mmm,

I'm not saying the ZTC controller is no good, I've tried one, and yes it was nice to use.
My point was the value for money.
IMHO it is way over priced for what it is.

Yes it is a nice controller, but the programming side isn't as easy as my Powercab.

Value for money in my opinion is out of the window, with ZTC.

The 505 is limited and the comment about their systems being the Rolls Royce of controllers is pushing it a bit far me thinks.

Lucky for me I live near Digitrains and have tried most of the DCC systems, and to be honest the ZTC wasn't anything special.(tried the ZTC somewhere else, digitrains dont have the ZTC)

If they sold the 511 for 505 price then maybe it would be slightly better value for money.

I dont think they can just keep going on about the 'real feel' as a justification for charging so much money for a controller when there are much more user friendly systems out there, that can do alot more for less money.

Ian
 

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Although i actually quite like the control lever. even that seemed a little flimsy. i wondered what it would be like in a club environment. one of the reasons (the other being cost) for me not going DCC is that there were no controllers that can compare to the Duette.
The ZTC isnt up to that.

i could drop my duette on the floor and not only would it still work but the floor would come off worse!

The moment someone comes up with a controller that really feels like 200 nicker i will have another look at going DCC.

I am reminded of an electronics manufacturer that got rave reviews for its build quality but if you took the lid off it had a brick fastened into the chassis!

Peter
 

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QUOTE (Gary @ 16 Feb 2007, 09:13) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Think of DC. How many of us are going to ever get rid of our Hammant and Morgan Duette controllers?


ZTC are probably the Hammant and Morgan of the DCC world or likened to Arga in the cooker world.
Just look at the HiFi market. Some people are prepared to pay ernormous amounts of money for what is really very ordinary product, wrapped in mystique.

Maybe a Russ Andrews http://www.russandrews.com/ Ultra PurifierBlock (8 way mains adapter, only £550)will make your trains run better.

Or how about oxygen free copper "interconnect" between your sound decoder and the speaker?

OH MY GOD, What have I started?

Andrew Crosland
 

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I really dont think its nostalga or mystique. its just that the H&M's were built like battle ships. I am sure many of them would easily survive thermonuclear war.

(BTW oxygen free cables make no difference to the sound what so ever. the things that make a difference are the cross sectional area of the cable and the way its turned but they do look really cool!
The best thing to do is get some mains wire and twist it buy sticking one end in a vice and the other in a black and decker and giving it a twist. this turns a simple cable into a twisted pair and should cut out alot of hiss)

Peter
 

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Hi

I operate a ZTC system and I find it a great piece of kit and very good value when you compare operating parameters compared to other makes,especially the plastic gnomes from the likes of Guagemaster,Hornby and Bachman.

Wiggy you have hit the nail on the head it is you, a sad o sitting in a hotel playing with your laptop(what make is it,good value,are you happy with it)

I have no connection with ZTC.,but I thought their reply explained everything very well.

I would suggest that instead of sitting in your hotel sending out brain dead e-mails to relieve your boredom you enlist on line for a Business studies course with a leaning towards production and financial control,this will help you to understand business in a global market.
 

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QUOTE Customers have found other manufacturers controllers that even the most basic operating session requires extensive usage of manuals to navigate through basic control.

Warley MRC were running one of their layouts at their open weekend just gone with a Digitrax Zephyr. Something kept shorting and the operators kept loosing the addresses as things seemed to reset. Sadly the manual was left at home and nobody could work out how to reset things. Fortunately with trial and error after about 30 minutes things got going again.

This would not have happened had control being more intuitive and you do have to hand it to ZTC for possibly offering the most intuitive piece of kit out their.

Good intuitive design sometimes comes at a price as there has to be additional electronics that have nothing to do with DCC but have everything to do with translation of control devices that are human friendly into something that is computer friendly!

Why are folk prepared to pay £££ for voice operation software when a good old keyboard will do the same job?


Because it is more human and much easier to talk to a computer and tell it what to write than to tap its keyboard.

YEOVIL above has made a very good point about the international market. Anybody in any country speaking any language around the world including Chinese, Japanese, French, Swahili and so on can walk up to a ZTC console and immediately play DCC without asking anybody anything!

Its that obvious what things do!

ZTC could have an unmanned stand and folk would still buy the system!


How many other DCC manufacturers could say that!


Happy modelling
Gary
 

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>Metal casings do cost however who would argue that metal casings do not give a product substance.
If you have a limited production run, the cost of tooling a plastic case is prohibitively expensive. It is also easier to pass RFI regulations with a metal case than a plastic one. I would think this is the reason for the metal case on ZTC kit.

David
 

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Ian Wigglesworth
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QUOTE (YEOVIL @ 16 Feb 2007, 15:40) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hi
I operate a ZTC system and I find it a great piece of kit and very good value when you compare operating parameters compared to other makes,especially the plastic gnomes from the likes of Guagemaster,Hornby and Bachman.

Wiggy you have hit the nail on the head it is you, a sad o sitting in a hotel playing with your laptop(what make is it,good value,are you happy with it)

I have no connection with ZTC.,but I thought their reply explained everything very well.

I would suggest that instead of sitting in your hotel sending out brain dead e-mails to relieve your boredom you enlist on line for a Business studies course with a leaning towards production and financial control,this will help you to understand business in a global market.

Very nice Yeovil,

Personal insults are not very big or clever, I have not insulted you at all, and I would thank you not to do the same to me.
(Yes the laptop is good value as it is a company laptop, and yes I'm very happy with it.
Using Siemens S7 software and Protool I can upload the software and the operating screen mask programs, to our thermoforming machines, it also monitors the PLC program very well for fault finding.
Very good bit of kit.)

Sad.....Wife and daughter dont think so........
Sometimes only when some people take a simple question as a personal insult of their own equipment.

I'm pleased you think the ZTC is great, I just wanted to know how they can charge so much, brain dead E-mail I think not looking at the replies so far.

I have not said the ZTC system is rubbish I have tried it and I just dont think it's good value for money when you see the latest designs that are now being launched, with the features available.

If you want to contribute then feel free, but dont attack me personally, that just kills forums like this from having a decent disscussion.

Ian
 

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I bought a ZTC 505 when they were launched at Warley in December 2005. Prior to that I had an Intellibox which I used for both Marklin 3 Rail and DCC, and have also used a Roco Lokmaus, Bachmann EZ Command, and, more recently Hornby Select. Of those only the ZTC and Bachmann provided faultless operation.

I have to say I am still delighted with the ZTC system. For me at the time I compared it directly with the Gaugemaster Prodigy Advance, but I was whooed by the build quality, backlit blue LCD display, and the unique control method of the ZTC. I accept that it does not have all the functionality of systems such as the ESU Ecos, but then it is about half the price of that system.

I also have the Marklin Central Station, which is effectively an Ecos, but I find the ZTC easier and more fun to use. Perhaps it is the metal contruction and the positive buttons. It reminds me a lot of the H&M 5000 from many years ago (Remember those anyone?).

I also like dealing with ZTC as a company, I bought the long-awaited PC interface at Warley this year, and they always make the time to talk, and are genuinly interested in what you are doing with your system. Old fashioned service if you like, but that counts for a lot with me.

At Warley, ZTC announced a new DCC Decoder that was a direct plug in, little bigger than an 8 pin plug, but had Back EMF etc. So they are still investing in new developments. Importantly, I have had no issues with programming or using quite a large variety of decoders with the ZTC 505, not something that can be said about all DCC systems.

Another feature I particularly like is that when you switch direction, the system brings the loco to a gradual hault first, which is good practice for preserving motors and gear boxes, as well as providing more realistic operation.

So if you like metal construction and nice controls, ZTC could be for you, but any DCC system is down to personal needs and choice. The only way to really decide is to get hands on experience of a few different systems at a good dealer, or go to one of the many DCC open days or training sessions run by several dealers, including ZTC themselves.

Hope this helps
Ashley
 

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I must have been dreaming, because for the last two years I've been reading web forums full of complaints from disgruntled ZTC users.


The biggest complaints are about software bugs, features of the system which are apparently incurable, poor product and customer support and late delivery on promised add ons.
On RMWeb2 there are at least 2 "esteemed modellers" who only use their 511's as slave controllers on a Lenz system, because of their frustration at the ZTC's limitations and problems.

Similarly various DCC groups have had endless postings about ZTC "issues".

Recent complaints include those about the PC interface.

Obviously some people are very happy, as voiced here, but I've read and heard personally, enough tales of woe to lead me to conclude that I shall be giving ZTC a wide berth.

Rolls Royce.....Mmmmm, I don't know about that?


Someone recently described it as a "Basic system in a posh tin box".
 

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I would like to add my voice in support of ZTC. True, they are not necessarily the cheapest, particularly for decoders and other items that you tend to need several of, but interchangeability with ZTC is not a problem I have heard of. As others have said, the system is intuitive and a pleasure to use, and I like the idea of supporting British entrepreneurs. How many other companies enable you to pick up the phone and have a problem solved immediately by the guys who designed the system?! For a non-techie like me, that is invaluable. Sometimes it's the 'invisible' elements that contribute to a pleasant, and ultimately 'value for money' consumer experience. The important thing is that, whatever system we choose, it does what we require of it. I for one hope that ZTC thrives and develops in the years to come.
 
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