Screenshot 2013-10-27 12.41.41

Made by: Lego Mindstorms
Price: $349.99

Hardware/iOS Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
Useability Rating: ★★★★½
Reuse Value Rating: ★★★★★
Build Quality Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Bottom Line: The Lego Mindstorms EV3 set took me back to my childhood obsession for Legos. These legos are updated for the current device-centric world we live in and successfully bridge the gap between the virtual and real world, allowing creating of toys that can be controlled from an iOS device. Amazingly well done, educational, and just plain fun!

Very Highly Recommended

I’m guessing there are very few people reading this that have not, at one time in their life, been a fan a Legos. I remember advancing from the simple blocks to the much more complex Technic sets when I was a kid. Legos usually dominated my Christmas list to Santa every year. Initially I was overwhelmed with the complexity of the Technics, but quickly grew to love the gears and linkages and created some amazing things. The spacial and problem solving skills I learned with Legos serve me to this day.

commander_screenshot_606x362Jump forward many, many years and Lego announced the Mindstorms EV3; a computer controlled super-Mindstorms set that allowed programming and control from an iOS device. I was in heaven! Both instantly taken back to the point when I was a kid and saw my first Technics set and excited to take my current obsession of iOS apps and see how they merge.

The Mindstorms EV3 set starts at a seemingly steep $350, but when one realizes what’s inside it starts to make a little more sense. The heart of the set is the EV3 brick: an ARM processor-based computer with a simple LCD display, buttons, and most importantly Bluetooth connectivity. This Bluetooth connectivity allows the computer to be controlled and programmed from either a computer or an iOS device via the Mindstorms Robot Commander app. Also included in the set are various controllable motors and gear to allow creation of at least three major controllable robots, and of course infinite variations!

Screenshot 2013-10-27 12.42.01Digging into the Legos was amazingly fun. It took me back 20+ years. The old skills came right back and I was soon controlling a dual-tread robot and driving it around with the included controller. Linking the computer to the iOS device and the app was a snap – just a couple extra steps beyond what is normally required for Bluetooth connections, but should only need to be done once. From there, control was a breeze with an on-screen display customized based on the creation built.

I hate to give up these Legos, but they must go back to be enjoyed by another ex-kid reviewer. I will, of course, be asking Santa for a set this Christmas, though.

Very Highly Recommended

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