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 know there are very few options for a Carrera layout that will fit into this space. (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!
For 2014 some of the digital brands are in transition. SCX Digital was recently purchased by a new company, and this company decided to review and test out their SCX digital system before releasing any more product. The latest word is that there won't be any SCX Digital track sets until some time in 2015. So for those of us wanting something for this winter, we would advise that you eliminate this brand. Ninco Digital is also in transition. We are not 100% sure if their upgraded Ninco digital sets will make it for the holiday season 2014. If we find that we will be able to have these for the holiday season, we will certainly update this information page. So, as of fall 2014 we have two solid options for digital: Scalextric Digital and Carrera Digital.
Let's rule out the space issue and see what the other big differences are between Carrera and Scalextric (If you need to eliminate Carrera, then just learn more about Scalextric digital.) The big differences right now are:
Scalextric Digital Track Sets only have digital cars in their sets, as their digital philosophy is that Scalextric makes digital chips so that you can install them in any brand of car. (So, you won't see a 'Scalextric Digital Slot Car' category anywhere; you pick out your analog car and put a digital chip into it.) Most of the
Scalextric Analog car line
is what they call
Scalextric 'Digital Plug Ready' Cars' (or DPR cars).
These analog cars can be fitted with the DPR chip that you just plug in; super simple to do. Also very simple to remove, if you decide you want to put the chip into another Scalextric analog (DPR ready) car. 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 chips. (Scalextric used to make a larger C7006, but they decided that the smaller chip would fit every size car; so might as well just make the one.)
This C7005 digital chip is the one you would use to race another brand of analog car on the Scalextric digital track set. Again, they designed their chip and system so it would allow racers to purchase other brands of cars, do a little soldering and race them on the Scalextric digital track set. So, if you are the kind of guy that really loves cars, wants to be able to race the widest assortment including other brands; and have time to do some soldering, then Scalextric is a great choice!
Scalextric Digital offers a pit lane, but it doesn't have the fuel function. It does offer a
Scalextric Pit Lane Game
which is pretty fun, but not the same sophistication as Carrera. 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, adjust the power to any of the controllers, 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 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 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. You can also purchase a Carrera digital chip for about any Carrera analog car and race it on the Carrera Digital set, if Carrera is out of the digital version of the car you want. However the Carrera digital cars generally come with headlights/taillights, which is a cool feature! (General rule on headlights: if the real car had headlights; so with the slot car version.)
The basic wired controller 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 also 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.
The Carrera digital sets include what they call a 'control unit' for the brain. This control unit allows you to hook up your control unit to a Start Light, Position Tower, and individual Driver Fuel Displays that work with the pit lane. Here is our catalog page for
Carrera Digital Track Accessories
This hobby is full of handy guys who have figured out how to chip other brands of cars for Carrera digital. Plus if you decide to buy Scalextric, you may 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!
(Couple of other differences between Carrera and Scalextric is that Carrera digital cars have a 'switch' on the bottom of their cars, so you can race analog also. With Scalextric you can actually take their digital cars and race them on non-digital track; leaving in the digital chip if you like.)
Plus, any Carrera digital set lets you race a car autonomously. With Scalextric, this option is only available with their 6 car powerbase set up. This can be a nice feature if you have only a few drivers, or maybe would like to practice by yourself; and would like to cars to maneuver around while driving.
Carrera also makes Digital 143 track sets. If you have kids who are interested in digital racing; this might be a good idea. It is much more basic than the big set of course; and you can only race three digital cars at a time on this set. However you get to experience lane changing as well as some of the cool Carrera 143 analog track accessories. The main drawback as we see it; is that Carrera makes very few Digital143 cars; however, you don't need a lot of them to have fun!
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!