I’m not sure about all of you parents out there, but until this past Christmas, we had no idea whatsoever that the Lego Mindstorms EV3 Robot existed. I imagine it’s because we do it on purpose to ignore all the Lego sets that are over 150-200$ when we shop online or in the store. Call it a “survival mechanism” if you will. Then one day, our son decides to sign up for the Lego quarterly magazine and lo and behold, they had a full page dedicated to the Mindstorms EV3. Of course, that set the wheels in motion and we decided to dive in full speed. Now that we’ve had a chance to play around with it for 2-3 months, we thought it was high time to come up with our Lego MindStorms EV3 Review.
Lego MindStorms EV3 Review
We’re going to start off with going through the neat features that we believe made this a great purchase. The first thing we are going to mention is the fact that, not only are you building a robot, there are actually 5 different robots to choose from. When your kid gets bored with one, they just have to take it apart and build a different one, so there is no chance of being bored anytime soon. Here are a few of the robots that you can build. For more ideas on what’s possible with the EV3, click here.
The greatest feature however, for us at least, came down to the programming. Being able to program your Lego creation to move, turn, play music, attack when the infrared sensor is triggered (and a whole lot more), takes the Lego experience to a whole new level. All you have to do is attach your robot to the USB port on your computer (MAC and PC supported, USB cable provided), then download the EV3 software. Once you install the software and launch it, you can program your robot with one of the 6 pre-defined missions which are great to learn the basics when you are just starting out. Then, once you understand the basics, forget the pre-defined missions and program your own.
(Note: The robot can also be programmed via Wi-Fi but you’ll need to get an external USB WI-FI adapter and connect it to the control brick. We haven’t tried that yet.)
Word to the wise – watch the starter videos before you even attempt to program the EV3. Not all kids are the same, however my son is very technical for a ten year old and he found it a little bit confusing when he first started, but once he watched the videos there was no stopping him. The program works in a “drag and drop” way. Just drag the functions that you want it to do in the order that you want, then configure them (i.e.: set the speed when moving forward, set the number of rotations when turning, etc.).
Once you are done, use the software to upload the program to the robot and let ‘er rip. What’s great about the software is that your kids can make it as simple as they want (walk, turn, shoot, etc.) or they can challenge themselves with intermediate functions (IR sensor, touch sensor, etc.) and then the more complicated functions like read and write variables, compare variables, etc.
It was very hard to come up with something wrong with this set because we’re still in the “honeymoon” phase, however one thing does come to mind, the hefty price tag. 350$ to be exact. Why do Legos have to be so expensive?!!! It would be nice if there was a cheaper kit that you could buy as an introduction to the programming world. Also, the kit only comes with instructions for the Track3r model and you have to download the instructions for the rest. It would have been nice if everything (including a copy of the videos) was included in the kit. Speaking of videos, we would also recommend that they include an “Intermediate” and “Expert” section to their video library where they would explain the more complicated features. It’s all explained on their Web site, but videos make it so much easier in our opinion.
We’re not going to lie, it’s a lot of money to spend on Legos. No doubt about it. So before you jump in like we did (with no regrets by the way), we highly recommend that you go through the videos and information on the Lego Mindstorm EV3 web site to see whether it’s for you or not. We hope you enjoyed our Lego MindStorms EV3 Review and we leave you with a quote from our son: “Best…. Lego…. Ever!”