I'm sure this question has been asked before but I wanted to get your feedback on my situation. Earlier this year I swapped out my Z4000's for Z1000 bricks with the IR remote. I'm running a total of 5 engines each on their own separate track. I have the IR receivers strategically placed in different areas on my layout so they don't interfere with each other. This works but it's a pain and I wouldn't mind doing an upgrade to the full blown DCS system. Now my layout is very simple, I run all MTH tinplate style conventional trains. So everything looks 80 years old but they are all equipped with PS2 and PS3 guts. I don't have any accessories that I control with the remote. No switch tracks and nothing that would get tied back to an AIU, so I don't need one of those. What I do need is a way to control all 5 trains and all of their features like whistles, bells, yard talk, etc. With that being said, what does the group suggest I look at, the original DCS handheld Remote or is it worth it to go with the newer WiFi system and app? I don't have a TIU as it is so either way I would need to purchase one. I know with the wifi app, I need a newer version of the TIU, but is one overkill for my layout, or does it come down to a matter of opinion?
Since you were asking for suggestions, I'll offer mine. Certainly not to the discredit of all these incredibly experienced and knowledgeable forum participants. Just from my perspective and looking forward.
If I were you, I would purchase the TIU and WIU and start with the $5 app. Your total investment at street price would be around $350 and you would be able to do much more than the DCS Remote Commander and, much more conveniently. Then, you are poised to expand into full DCS with small incremental steps.
In comparison, you will spend around $325 for the DCS system which includes the TIU and remote. So, while there are a couple of features in the remote we haven't covered in the app, there are also a couple of features in the app not available in the remote. Also, the remote is essentially stagnant. We cannot practically move forward with it due to its age and code structure, etc. Stated simply, future expansion in DCS is in Wi-Fi and the app. And yes, we'll add most of the few missing remote features into the app going forward.
And to clear up questions about the 3 engine limitation in the explorer, yes, this is app based. So, using multiple Explorers in your situation is not a practical option. To sum that up, the Explorer is an entry level product. Running 5 DCS engines simultaneously on 5 different tracks is definitely beyond the intent for the Explorer. Get yourself a DCS system and run multiple engines on the same track, keep it the way it is, control accessories and switches, whatever. I think you're enjoyment and new found access to many, many, more DCS features in those engines will be well worth the investment.
And, I'm not even a salesmen.....