I've just returned from the train show in West Springfield - It was my first time there and I think I'm suffering from major model train overload. There was so much to see and to spend money on. Figuring this would be the case, we brought a big wad of cash, opting to leave the cards at home. Something about handing cash to someone gives me anyway, a bit more self control than just swiping a card. Also, I went with a purpose - to secure a new DCC system for the layout. I figured there would be show specials that would offset the cost of driving to Mass. a bit. Going to the show I would say I was 99% committed to buying the Digitrax Super Chief - In reality, I ended up with the NCE system.
- At least 50% of the layouts at the show were using NCE - didn't see one using Digitrax
- The NCE handheld throttle was much easier to use and it's fit and finish was generally nicer. I had never actually used either and picking both up for the first time and operating trains I was able to pretty much figure out the NCE right off the bat - I had to ask for a lot of help with the Digitrax - it seemed a bit complicated for no good reason. To be sure, we would have mastered the Digitrax and since we aren't really going to be handing throttles to people and expecting them to learn them this isn't that big of deal, however, it goes to the overall design in my opinion - why make things overly complicated when there is an easier way? Also, again it partially boiled down to the controller was just nicer for lack of a better word - both the display and the housing.
- Cost - The NCE was more expensive than the Digitrax system was, however, the NCE has a built in serial port for computer interfacing, which we plan to do using JMRI software. So when you factor in purchasing the Digitrax computer interface separately the difference in costs was only around $30 or so.
- I had recently heard quality control issues surrounding Digitrax related to a move - may or may not have been true
- The NCE system can be updated - the Digitrax cannot.