We do get lots of calls from customers trying to decide which digital track set to buy. Here are the questions we ask you and info we always cover:
Most important... do you have lots of space? Do you have a basement room or a ping pong table area? If you say... "I have lots of space"... then great! So far you are still good for any of the digital track sets. If however, you are more of the table size variety, then honestly, you need to eliminate Carrera. This is a great system; but it is like putting a St. Bernard in an apartment. Yikes! All of our track sets give you space required, so, before you get too carried away with our custom designed layouts, figure out how much room you have and make sure you have allocated walk space!
Let's rule out the space issue and see what the other big differences are between these 4 brands. (If you need to eliminate Carrera, then just focus on the other three.) The big differences right now are:
Carrera, Scalextric and SCX digital sets come complete with everything you need to start racing including digital cars. Ninco NDigital sets on the other hand do not come with cars . We state this clearly on our website. Ninco's train of thought on this, is that you can pick out any cars you would like to go with their sets. We will give you some recommendations in the related products of our combo's; just look for them there. Ok, let's get brand specific for you.
Scalextric Digital Track Sets only have digital cars in their sets, as their digital philosophy is that Scalextric makes chips so that you can install them in any brand of car. Most of the
Scalextric Analog car line
are what they call
Scalextric Digital Plug Ready Cars.
These analog cars can be fitted with the digital plug in less than a minute, and then if you decide you want to do some analog racing, you can take out the 'digital plug' just as fast. (No need for the extra weight.)
With a small number of Scalextric analog cars, you will need to solder in a digital chip. This of course takes more time, but for most adults, it isn't that bad. Take a look at the video we produced on
How to put a Scalextric Digital Chip in another brand of analog car to see how to solder a chip into cars that require C7005 or C7006 chips.
Scalextric Digital offers a pit lane, but it doesn't have the fuel function that the other 3 brands do. It does offer a
Scalextric Pit Lane Game
which is pretty fun, but not the same sophistication as the other 3 brands. If you like everything else about Scalextric Digital, there are aftermarket companies that can get you set up for the more realistic fuel consumption features you see in the other sets. Plus aftermarket companies offer wireless adapters so that you can unplug your digital Scalextric controller and have the luxury of spreading out around your race track.
The basic Scalextric digital set has a 4 car powerbase in it. This means you can only race up to 4 cars. However, if you decide later, that you want to race up to 6 cars/drivers, you can. To do this, you will need to purchase the Scalextric C7042 6 car powerbase and one more transformer. With this powerbase, you can race 6 cars, and you also have lots of special race features.. Check out the
Scalextric Digital Powerbase for more information plus a video that demonstrates this system.
For those of you who purchase a Scalextric Digital Track set
from us, we have produced a
Scalextric Digital Track Set DVD with Info Sheets showing you how to put in digital chips, how to maintain your cars, and other helpful tips to get you off to a great start with this system!
Scalextric also has a
Scalextric Platinum 6 Car Digital Track Set complete with the 6 car powerbase, 6 digital cars, and 6 controllers, plus of course the track you need for a complete layout.
We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to work this powerbase.
We produced a
Scalextric Digital Platinum 6 car Set DVD & Info Booklet
booklet for you, so that you won't have to! If you are interested in this set, please see what is in our DVD, no fun being frustrated! You want to get racing!
Carrera Digital132 Track Sets
are designed for
Carrera Digital132 Slot Cars
The basic sets allow you to race up to four wired controllers with cars. If you want to race 6 wired controllers with cars, then all you need to do is purchase a digital controller extension box for about $25. This gives you two more ports for controllers 5 and 6. A cool thing about Carrera Digital is that you can race wireless controllers if you like. Great thing about this is of course is you can spread out more, and for kids this can be a great feature, as they sometimes get excited when they wreck their car, and want to run over to it so they don't lose time.. and they forget to put the controller down first! This can be pretty hard on the cords and connectors of course. However, some customers have had some interference issues with them, and some customers rave about them. It depends a lot on your surroundings. If you set is in tv/computer room, could be more of an issue. These wireless controllers do take batteries, but they generally last quite awhile, (this depends on usage) but of course, if they start performing erratically, batteries are normally the issue. This
Carrera Digital132 Track Set with Wireless Controllers is a great set if you like the wireless idea.
The Carrera digital sets include what they call a 'black box' for the brain. This black box allows you to use a lap counter and a pit lane as digital accessories with it. In late 2010, Carrera came up with a digital upgrade. You can now purchase a 'control unit' which hooks up to a Start Light and individual Driver Displays that work with the pit lane. At this time, all the Carrera Digital132 sets come with the black box. Carrera tells us that their philosphy is for the control unit to be an upgrade, not available in a track set. We'll see. Here is our catalog page for
Carrera Digital Track Accessories
SCX Digital also designed their systems for their own brand of digital slot cars. Their track is 100% digital with an extra line in the track for the digital accessories, so we have never heard of anyone having power loss/drop issues. Their lap counter, chronometer, and pit lane, have excellent vertical towers, easily seen from almost anywhere on the track. They also have great borders, and their track is flexible and easy to assemble and take apart.
SCX Digital Track Sets
have about 3-4 different sets, the
SCX Pit Box 3 car Set
(which gives you the fuel functions, and race features) and the other sets are the
SCX GT Basic 3 car Set which is a great companion for the pit box set, and the
SCX NASCAR Basic 3 car Set.
These three basic sets include the basic control unit, instead of the more advanced pit box. One track set (either a pit box set or a basic set) will allow you to race up to 3 cars. To race up to 6 cars, you need to add another control unit (with a cable that connects the two 'brain's together). If you look at our larger layouts that we have designed, you will see that we often put a pit box set and a basic set together. This is a great value, and sets you up to race 6 cars.
We have also produced SCX Pit Box Set Hotslots132 Exclusive: Instructional DVD and Info Sheets
free for our new SCX Digital Track Set customers. The DVD and Info sheets will explain how to program all the digital track accessories, plus tips on how to do a simple 'Pre-Race' check on your digital cars, routine car maintenance, (super simple but necessary!), chipping analog cars and more info. The SCX digital system is great, but like any sophisticated system, it has a learning curve that can be tough for some of us 'low tech' 'low patience' kind of people. This info will add a lot of fun to your purchase and be there for you to reference any time you need it. (We have also produced a DVD for the SCX Basic Set
with similar information to help you get off to a great start!).
Check out the
SCX Digital Track Accessories, catalog page as
we have made little video clips which you can find in the 'More Info' of each major accessory showing their features to you. We really like the vertical displays that SCX developed for digital racing, so be sure to check out the chronometer, and lap counter. Finally, check out the
SCX Digital Slot cars catalog page and see if you like the selection of the SCX Digital Cars. You can easily chip the SCX analog cars to digital, but there is a lot of duplication between both as generally speaking SCX (and Carrera for that matter) tend to bring out the same car in both digital and analog.
This hobby is full of handy guys who have figured out how to chip other brands of cars for both SCX and Carrera digital. Plus if you decide to buy Scalextric or Ninco, you will want to check out the forums to learn the ins and outs of chipping other brands of cars. You need to know that the digital companies have no control over how other brands of cars are manufactured, so some are simply easier to chip than others. We recommend you take a look at the slot car forums we have in our
when you get some time. Also, we suggest you check out some Digital slot car videos we have put together for you. They show the features of each of the digital systems. But remember you heard it here, this hobby can become an addiction!
(One other difference between Carrera and SCX is that Carrera digital cars have a 'switch' on the bottom of their cars, so you can race analog also. With SCX, you do not have this option. However, for most people, they will race either digital or analog, not both. With Scalextric you can actually take their digital cars and race them on non-digital track.)
Ninco NDigital Track Sets are the only sets where you can race up to 8 digital cars at one time. It is a great set, and it comes with a pit lane feature as well. But their cars are more expensive. As mentioned above, you can chip other brands of analog cars, but Ninco says in their literature that they designed their chips for Ninco cars. However, like Carrera and Scalextric, lots of slot car guys are out there chipping different brands to Ninco Digital. (Ninco has a smaller selection of Ninco N Digital slot cars than either Carrera or SCX. The track is a rougher service track, and is a favorite in Europe where Rally racing is a major sport. You can see from our track set page, that we haven't done any custom layouts for NDigital. Simple reason, is that we haven't had customers ask us to.
Track differences: The big one here is that SCX digital track has a 3rd line that runs through it, dedicated to the accessories. This makes their track more expensive, but honestly, we have never heard of anyone who has experienced power drop off issues, or 'dead' spots in SCX digital tracks. If we hear someone wants a really large complicated layout, we normally start talking about SCX digital first to see if this will suit them, as we feel very comfortable, that they will be happy with the performance of their cars and accessories. Carrera, Scalextric, Ninco all use analog track as the basis for their systems, then you add the digital track sections as needed for passing etc.. Expansion with these systems is easier on the budget.
Here is a link to our Digital Slot Car Track Set Catalog. You'll see we have them divided by general size and that we have many custom designed ones already completed. Just click on the 'More Info' link on any set you are interested in and you will see everything that comes in that track set 'combo'.
These are the biggest differences as we see them. After reading this article, and checking out the videos and website, if you need some help, please give us a call! (217-355-2277) We love to help!