Well, the digital age reached our beloved hobby in 2005, and for many of our customers this is a huge win in slot car racing, but lots of guys have given this new technology a pass, and are sticking with analog. So, let's give you a little up front info, and help you decide which works best for you!
For the first 40 years or so the world of 1/32 slot cars didn't change much. The concept had been simple, one slot car per lane with one person controlling that car and you race with another guy in a totally separate lane. Well, with the introduction of digital slot cars, the whole concept has been blown out of the water! Each brand is somewhat different, but in general the concept is that you can race up to 8 slot cars on a two lane track (depending on the brand you select), making for a more real world racing scenario. Digital track sets have special digital lanes that allow you to pass a car by moving out of your lane into their lane.
So, it's all good right? Well, maybe not. Let's take a closer look and see what you need to think about in order to decide which is better for you: analog slot car sets or digital slot car track sets.
Digital solves the biggest problem that people have: lack of space! If you would like to have four people racing, and you have a regular size room, then setting up a four lane analog track set will probably take up more room than you have available. You generally need at least 14 feet by 8 feet for the table, plus room to walk around it, to enjoy four lane analog racing (and if you look at our track pics page, you can see the sky is the limit!) But with digital, you can have up to 8 people (depending on the brand) racing on only a two lane track set, which can be done on something as small as a 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of plywood. So, if you tell us, you have several people wanting to race and need a small layout, we would recommend you consider digital slot car sets.
Okay, you have lots of room, so now what should you think about? Our next question to you would focus on the cars. We carry a tremendous assortment of analog cars, a much smaller assortment of digital cars. Digital slot cars can not be "hopped up" like analog slot cars. So, if you enjoying tinkering with cars, then analog will be more fun for you. If you are not the tinkering type, but really enjoy looking at all the slot cars and selecting great looking ones, then again analog makes this the easiest and cheapest way to go. Scalextric Digital is designed so you can choose analog slot cars from any analog brand and put in a Scalextric digital chip. (Ninco N-Digital designed their system more for Ninco cars, however many people chip other brands of cars with Ninco chips.) So, if you are up for that, then you can still enjoy the tremendous selection of analog slot cars and enjoy digital racing.
While you are thinking about that, we would ask: "Who will be racing? Adults only? Kids only? Combination?" Digital is more complicated, so we recommend an adult be involved if you have younger children. It is also more expensive, and as you can probably imagine has a higher collision rate! (Lots of fun, but hard on the cars.) You can always start with an analog slot car set, and then upgrade to digital in that same brand if your racers really enjoy this new hobby. This is an option many of our customers choose.
One last concern for some of our customers is that digital is more expensive. Cars and track sets will be approximately 20 to 30% higher in cost. Servicing cars will be more difficult and there is just plain more to go wrong with them. Sensitive electronics inside the car could be hurt in the unavoidable (you are trying to avoid them right?) crashes and possible kiddo/pet mishandling. Part of the attraction of the 1/32 slot car hobby for many slot car fans is the simplicity. Kids from ages 8 to 80 can enjoy the hobby almost from the very moment they put finger to trigger.
That said, I think the digital concept is extremely exciting! We have been hearing that kids totally love digital...hmmm kids, cars, crashes...I can't see the connection myself! Adults? It has been mixed...Lots of guys are calling and telling us they are having a blast with the digital; but some guys are diehard analog guys, and digital isn't for them. So, it depends on what you are looking for there.
To help you decide a little better, check out our track set videos! We have several great Analog Videos to look at and some also some cool Digital Videos of all brands!
Here is a link to our Slot Car Track Set Catalog. You'll see we specialize in custom track set design for our customers.
Hope this helps you decide which type of slot car set is best for your needs.
If you are still confused, give us a call at 217-355-2277 we will be glad to help you over the phone (it is hard to help via email, so just pick up the phone during our normal business hours ok?)