I just got one of the new SD50's from Athearn, and to my surprise, it wasn't as "DCC-ready" as I felt the advertisment and the slogan on the box is trying to impress. As it turns out, there is a plug which fits directly into any Digitrax decoder with 9 wires, and some cloudy instructions regarding the soldering of 8 wired decoders (Lenz, Uhlenbrock and others).
I feel that Athearn should have stated the these locos are optimized for easy use with Digitrax, but have provisions for fitting other decoders through soldering. This would of course be unfair trade, but sooner or later someone (like me) will blow the whistle on this.
I'm hoping someone could correct my view on this, or provide additional input on this matter.
Apart from the decoder issue, all I can say is.....Wow! Great looking locomotives, nice, crisp coloring, and nicely installed details. But still lacking a bit in running quality, although Athearn are getting a lot better quite fast.
Nicholas Lier, Norway