We don't say one controller is better than another, especially when they take a different approach. To be more specific, we don't consider a key-banger a controller, we consider it a sequencer. The difference is a bit subtle; a controller can make decisions on the fly; a sequencer does the same thing every single time -- this can get monotonous, especially in a haunt where the prop runs a lot.
To give you an example of where a controller can be very flexible, we're building a mini electric chair prop with a Chuckie doll. Of course we'll use our own AP-8 to provide audio. By using a Prop-1 and the RANDOM function I can randomly select one-of-three pre-electrocution quips, and one of three post-electrocution quips -- there will be just one, 20-second, electrocution cycle. RANDOM will also be used to control the thrashing motion as in this test video:
With three pre-shock quips and three post-shock quips it looks like the prop does nine different things -- and the order is never the same because of RANDOM. You can only get this functionality with a controller, a sequencer will never do it. If you don't need that, no problem, use a sequencer because they are in fact butt-easy to program. That said, a controller can be made to act like a sequencer; the difference is that the timing is exact (because you set it) and the controller-based sequence can be edited and fine-tuned, something you can't do with a key-banger type sequencer.
And it's really hard to beat the price of a Prop-1 controller. The down-side? Yes, you have to learn to program it but that is WAY easier than any of the other prop-building activities that anyone in this (or similar) forum does routinely. And as our customers have found, if you'll tell us what you need your program to do we'll write code for you to get you going. With a bit of help and a tiny bit of effort on your own you can make those Prop-1 controllers do just about anything you want, and make your props stand out from the rest.
I agree with everything stated above...Right tool for right job!!! On the keybangers type microcontrollers plus side...Real time programming abilty and some of these devices can record up 11 minutes of animation.
The Prop 1 and 2 can also do things like dim or fade lighting...this is something a key banger can't do. I am interested in the new EFX SX controllers abilties!!!
I also use Brookshire VSA with the Parallax Servo Card which can control PWM relays, and DMX lighting. This setup requires a PC to be connected at all times.