I have no experience with them (or, for that matter, anything...waiting for my press in the mail right now!), but from all of the reviews I've read, and folks I've talked with...it seems like they're full of problems. Everything from the scale not measuring fast enough (resulting in an overcharge), to keypads going kaput in months. But, as I say...never used them! I'm sure somebody here has (or had) one and will chime in with their opinion on them.
My old powder scale/dispenser was a Lyman DPS 1200 II, which got passed down to my brother. It complained a lot about wanting to be recalibrated, with some powders if threw a heavy charge more often than not, and cleaning the powder out of it was unnecessarily complicated. I bought the III upgrade, which made it faster, but worsened the problem of throwing heavy charges.
I now use the RCBS ChargeMaster Combo, and I love it. It dispenses faster, but throws a heavy charge much less frequently. Much easier to clean. No hassles about recalibrating.
For precise target loadings, I would say yes, the beam or standard electronic scale will give you the best consistency in weighing. I've been using a Lyman electronic scale since they first came out and find it very reliable. So much so that I gave my beam scale away to a fellow member that lost all his equipment in the Katrina flood. All my reloads are measured individually, except some handgun and Hornet loads that are thrown by the RCBS 55 measure. Even then, these thrown charges are scale weighed every 10th load to assure basic adherence after the initial charge is proven.
I've used the RCBS dispenser and scale since back when they were separate units; they've since been combined into one unit. I do occasionally have to recalibrate in a loading session, but not that often. I rarely load more than 40 rounds in one session. I don't shoot in competition, so it works for me. Whenever I check a charge weight, it's typically within a few 10th's of a grain of the set charge. They are a bit 'slow' but there always seems to be other activities to do while dispensing, like seating bullets and wiping lube off of loaded cartridges.
I still have the balance bar scale, for when we loose electricity at the end of the world.
Noise and temperature drift are the two biggest complaints with electronic scales and dispensers. Some scales do better than others of the same brand. You can minimize problems by using a filtered powder supply. You want surge suppression anyway, to protect your investment, so buy a surge protecting powder strip and either buy one with an EMI filter or get an EMI Filter to wire in between the outlet and a strip with surge supressor. Then plug your scale or powder dispenser into the strip. Wheee!
I have a PACT digital scale that is pretty accurate and I use my RCBS Uniflow quite a bit. I really have no need for the electronic dispenser, but I'd like one. I keep my 505 RCBS scale handy for the end of the world, but my scale works with a 9V battery too.
Digital dumpsters do one thing; keep YOU from measuring and weighing the charges. The value of doing it yourself or paying to get it done depends on your work methods (time) and attention to detail (accuracy), not so much the tools themselves.
Digitals do fine only so long as they do fine. When they don't do fine, they ain't worth spit. It seems most are made in China. They are vastly over priced so the profit margin for the importer "makers" has to be tremendous.
I think Nick meant what he said. Few people realize how much not only the level (voltage) of the power lines can degrade cheap electronic things, the QUALITY of the power also matters a lot. People who get good power do better, those who don't get good power do worse. I'm a long way from my electric power supplier so if I DID have one of those flaky digial dumpsters I would for sure put it on a UPS power supply/surge suppressor (extra cost) like what many of us have for our computers.
I was an electronics measurement instruments tech in the space/defence industries. There is nothing digital in my loading room but a clock/radio and phone. Even they fail, get tossed and replaced occasionally but the cost is low enough to justify using crummy digitals for that!
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