What Is It?
LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 8527 is a great BIG BOY toy. Don't be foul by it's suitability for 10+ years. 10-14 years is too young to handle such a gadget.
What's In The Box?
Mindstorms comes with it's brain called NXT, 4 sensors and 3 powerful servo motors. NXT has 3 output ports for motors and 5 input ports, 4 for it's sensors and 1 for usb port. There are around 577 small and big pieces all together in the box. First robot can be made in 25-35 minutes out of box. All parts needed for this first robot are packed in a small box with START HERE label.
Following is a summary of major parts etc.
NXT is the mind of this gadget. It has usb and bluetooth connectivity functionality. Although Lego has not yet (as of 30 September 2006) released any software for mobile devices to control NXT but they are working on it. NXT has a little memory to save programms and sounds. Still it is quite enough but it could be better if there was more memory to store programms and sounds etc. There are loud speakers fitted on NXT but i don't know why Lego has called them loud speaks as it is very hard to hear any thing from them.
Servo Motors are powerful motors. There are 3 in the box. These are the outputs from NXT. All programs are made to perform some actions by these servo motors. For example walking of robot, grabbing objects.
Ultrasonic Sensor as the name suggests works like a radar. It measures to distance from itself to any object at front. This enable it it to SEE.
Touch Sensor feels if something is touched. Basically there is a button at the front of sensor which can be programmed to react if it is pressed or once released after being pressed.
Light Sensor can differentiate between colors, light and darkness.
Sound Sensor can react if it listen to any sound at a level of noise set by programmer.
Software is provided on a CD in the box. You can connect your NXT using a USB cable (provided) or Bluetooth. If you decide to use Bluetooth you need to make sure your operating system is Windows XP Home or Professional edition with Service Pack 2 installed. You can use USB connection without Service Pack 2 installed on your machine. There is some introduction to this software available in manuals but it is not enough. Although help is available through the software itself once installed. It is not a complicated software but it offers to go beyond basic programming.
Overall it's a great toy. It is a time consuming practice to build tiny bits into a shap which performs some actions. There is no limit of what can be made of these tiny pieces and what it can be programmed to do, but it needs practice and time. More robots you make more you are able to design your own. If you are planning to buy it for a under 15 years old child make sure there is some one to help the child for building and programming.
Tip For Storage
There are about 70 different kinds of tiny bits and pieces in this box. The best way to sort them out is using some small boxes with different size compartments. I am using the same boxes used for DIY bits and pieces. You can buy them for around a couple of pounds from Tesco. Make sure you don't buy boxes which has compartments on both sides as you'll have to shut one side to open other, it is always hassel to do so when you are concentrating on your robot.