The new LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 goes on sale August 5, 2009. Hard to believe, but back when I was growing up, building forts and other objects with tiny plastic bricks fro LEGO was all I needed to be happy.
But times have changed, and so have today’s youth. That same little plastic brick company now works on robotics and three years ago, the first Lego Mindstorms NXT was released. With the success of the past Mindstorms, all that is left to figure out is whether or not this new 2.0 version is enough of an improvement to be worth buying.
In a nutshell, this new Mindstorm product is the culmination of the robotics projects before it and is essentially an updated kit that allows people to build their own robots that can react to touch, light, and other senses.
What’s new with the Mindstorm 2.0
First, for those that are unfamiliar with the NXT series, let’s take a closer look at what makes up the new Mindstorms robot kit. The main component is the NXT Brick, which has three motor ports to allow for movement and four sensor ports to attach the sensors. Essentially, the brick is the “brain” of the robot.
It also has a USB port to allow it to connect to one’s computer, while the corresponding software allows the inventor to program the robot in any way he or she pleases. New to this version is the color sensor, which, as its name suggests, can detect and distinguish between several colors.
The older Lego Mindstorms also have the aforementioned light sensors and touch sensors. But what’s new is the ultrasonic sensor, which serves as the “eyes” of the robot. The various servo motors can be placed in the various ports, allowing for a wide array of movements.
The sound editor and image editor are also welcome additions. When connected to one’s computer, pictures can be uploaded to the brick and be displayed on the robot. Likewise, voice samples and other sound effects can be recorded and played back through the brick’s speakers.
While the various motors and sensors allow the persona’s creativity to come to life, these extra aesthetic touches give a sense of personality to each robot, as well as a connection between the robot and its creator.
Building a LEGO Mindstorm Robot
The robots you build can be humanoid or animal-like. They can pick up objects and throw objects. The possibilities are seemingly endless, allowing the robot’s creator to let his or her imagination run wild. Even if you are familiar with the Lego Mindstorms, it is hard to deny how fun and incredible it is to build your own robot.
Toys have come a long way. But advancements in technology come with a price, literally. The only question that is left is whether or not Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 is worth its $280 price tag.
After seeing everything that the toy is capable of, I think the answer is yes, but only if this is the buyer’s first experience with the Mindstorms series. Honestly, there is not enough of an improvement over the original NXT to justify shelling out another 280 bucks if you already have the older model at home.
But if you late to the party, the LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 is the leading edge of toy robot electronics.