Customer Review

56 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars slight facelift, slow software, glaring difference(s), October 30, 2013
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
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This review is from: LEGO Mindstorms EV3 31313 (Toy)
********UPDATE 5 December 2013************
So after a reviewer pointed out that import from brick works for programs built on the brick itself, I updated my words to reflect the fact that it was user error on my part. I'd still like to be able to use that function on programs written in the software that were sent to the brick though, although a PC-less brock to brick send with bluetooth is a neat feature and I'll have to see if that might be a workaround, although the teams robots are just different enough that a code written for one won't instantly work for the other; they would definitely need the ability to pull it into the software to make minor tweaks
********UPDATE 30 November 2013***********
I've changed my writeup below to reflect that you CAN easily download a module from the EV3 website that lets you use the gyro sensor for the home edition software. After giving it some thought, I'll stick with 3-stars for now due to the other reasons listed. If I could give this a 3.4, I would
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Original Writeup:

I purchased this kit because I regularly mentor a First Lego League (FLL) team (well 2 teams, from the same school) and wanted to be able to work on things from home without having to borrow their equipment (they have 2 new EV3 Education kits). Not being an educator (in the formal sense) I purchased this version (i.e. not the education version) and figured that the biggest difference would be the data logging portion of the software not being part of the home edition. I realize that with a little research, I might/should have known what I was getting (or not getting as it were) but at the end of the day some of the `deltas' between the Education version and this version are just so glaring, that I can't be satisfied with my purchase.

To start off positive, First, the things I like about EV3:

1 - I like the look of the new software, and some of the changes. (see below)

A - One good example is how less brain power is involved in connecting data wires between certain types of blocks. The effort it took to convert a number to text, although minor, seemed unnecessary to me in NXT; its much easier now in EV3 (although ironically I had to look up some info to make a basic motor test code because I was expecting to have to do extra steps)

B - I like that there are arrows on the sides and top/bottom of the screen so that you can scroll left, right, up, down without having to change to the `hand' cursor and click and drag the screen over (or zoom out/in, or do a click drag sort of deal which isn't possible on all peripherals).

C - I like that you now have a project, and then tabbed programs as part of one overall project. This makes organizing the codes we have for each task much easier. (on the brick menu, you open a project folder, then the programs are listed underneath).

2 - I like the new look of the brick display(s) - the tabbed browsing and way that everything is displayed is much more intuitive, and space efficient

3 - I love the motor control, and port view functions on the EV3 - I was able to do a lot of good teaching about how the sensors work to the kids just by using a brick, wire and sensor (assembled robot not required)

4 - Its great that there are now 4 motor control ports (versus 3 on the NXT). This opened up the possibility of 4 motors in an FLL match, which increased the kids options in bots and assemblies that they build.

5 - SD card slot and USB - good, common sense add-ons

Now, my issues with it:

1 - The Software

A - Its super bloated and slow! I have a dual, dual core Xeon server board, velociraptor hard drive, nVidia GTX 265 with 1GB memory, 8 GB of RAM, and windows 7 64 bit ultimate, and it still lags for me! I realize that my Xeon 5200 series CPU isn't quite `with the times' but that should be more than enough computing power to run this thing effortlessly. I suppose Lego only has LabView to blame in this case. . . .

*******UPDATE*******
Part B below is no longer true - you can download a module from the Ev3 website that lets you control a gyro sensor using the home edition software. I'll leave what I originally wrote below
**********************
B - Even if I buy a gyro sensor, the home edition software can't control it! I can see not including this sensor in the kit, but I would think that's a bad business practice limiting the sale of a gyro sensor to ONLY the education kits?

C - you can't open NXT programs in the EV3 software, and to my knowledge, there is no conversion available. This is a problem, because the NXT community is well defined with lots of codes available to help the kids learn, and work their game board. Having to transpose codes over, when you consider the differences mentioned above (data wires and such) won't necessarily be a drag and drop situation.

*********UPDATE**********
I've tweaked part D below after becoming aware that import from brick didn't do what I assumed it did(user error)
*************************
D - "Import from Brick" only works for programs that you wrote on the brick itself (as opposed to on the PC using the software). I had high hopes for this so that we could easily share programs between our 2 teams, but when I tried it the only program that was available to import was the demo. Although sending from brick to brick by bluetooth might be a workaround or sorts, the teams really need to be able to make a minor tweaks to the code to adjust for minor differences between their robots, so simply moving the program over to the other robot won't quite get the job done.

2 - You can't build the basic 'tribot' with the parts included. The biggest part missing is the ball bearing (referred to as the 'ball pivot' on legoeducation.us). Other parts are some basic angled connectors (seriously standard parts here), some basic axles of specific sizes (again. . . these are COMMON parts that aren't included) and some bigger wheels. This is probably the MOST glaring difference between the kit, because these are parts that probably cost pennies.

3- LEGO's promises of the brick not acting up when the battery gets low were false. I had 6 double A's in, brand new out of the box, and after a couple hours occasional use (we were working on and troubleshooting a line following bot) the brick FLIPPED OUT, during the line follower competition (yes, the competition). The two robots the 2 teams built have had the same issue (although theirs is rechargeable - I have to take my robot apart to change the batteries, which is a real pain)

In conclusion, I think this product line is great. There is a ton you can do to educate, compete, challenge yourself, or just plain have fun. The problems I have with it are the price tag considering how little has changed from the previous kit, and the glaring differences between the regular version and the education kit. It made it uniquely hard, and required extra spending on my part, for me to most effectively help my team(s).
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 6, 2013 4:00:10 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 6, 2013 4:00:38 PM PST
hdtvguy says:
Regarding the gyro block (or the other blocks not included in the package, like the ultrasonic sensor), you can download the blocks add-ons for free from the Lego Mindstorms EV3 official website in the downloads -> EV3 Blocks section. You can then even use the freely downloadable EV3 software to program your old NXT kit.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2013 6:28:17 PM PST
MahaRex says:
Hey, thanks! That's great news, and makes sense. I'll take a look and update my review accordingly

Posted on Dec 2, 2013 2:31:08 AM PST
Laurens Valk says:
I would like to add a note to clarify "Issue 2", in which the reviewer says that you cannot build the basic 'tribot' with the parts included. There exist two versions of the EV3 set, which is something that not everyone knows.

You can in fact build all of the 5 robots featured on the packaging and 12 more bonus robots with the parts included in this set. This includes a 'basic starter robot'. This set here on Amazon is the EV3 Home Edition set (LEGO #31313).

The reviewer says that you cannot build the vehicle from Education EV3 set (LEGO #45544) using the elements of EV3 Home Edition (#31313). This statement is correct, but it won't be an issue for most customers.

I wrote an article to clarify the difference between the two versions of the set. I can't post links here on Amazon, but just search for: the Difference Between EV3 Home Edition 31313 and Education EV3 45544

---

And in response to your note about sharing programs between two robots / teams:
- The 'Import From Brick' feature is meant to import programs created on the brick itself using the Brick Program app. The idea is that you can start on the brick, and fine tune the program on the computer. The Demo program is just such a program, so that's the reason why this one will work. I'm not personally a fan of creating programs on the tiny EV3 screen, though, so I simply create programs using the LEGO software on a computer.
- You can save a (normal) program to a micro SD card and give it to the other team (No PC required)
- You can send a (normal) program from one EV3 to another EV3 with (built-in) Bluetooth (No PC required)
- If you're near a computer, you can send the complete project file to another team member via email, but you can also export separate programs (and My Block) from your project file.

Posted on Dec 2, 2013 8:00:25 PM PST
teds says:
You don't like the price? Please show me a kit that has more value. If you price out the parts from the Arduino world you will pay more and get less.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2013 8:05:29 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 5, 2013 8:49:50 PM PST
MahaRex says:
Laurens,
Thanks for the info on import from brick. I definitely made a poor assumption on what its function was when I saw that demo was available for import before I had other programs on the brick. I agree; I'm not a huge fan of writing the programs on the brick either.

Also, thanks for the reminder about the SD card on the brick. The 2 school teams almost exclusively use the USB cables to send their programs (no bluetooth on their laptops) so that would have been a simple, "equipment already available" way to share between teams. I think one of the teachers has a flash drive, although I admit it didn't occur to me to share files that way (brick to brick). I'll definitely have to try the Bluetooth trick - good tip - although what the teams really need to be able to do is to make fine tweaks in the code they would get from the other brick after the fact, so simply moving the code to the other robot wouldn't quite get it done. Email or flash drive like you said would be the way to go

Agree, most folks will probably not have an issue not being able to build the education set tribot, however as I was trying to build it, the parts that were missing were very basic parts. When I see the exact parts I need for sale as part of a parts pack on legoeducation.us for like $15 and $20 a pop, thats just seems like it was intentional. I was able to improvise without too much issue, but its the principle. Again, thanks for your insight; I'll adjust my review accordingly

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2013 8:27:49 PM PST
MahaRex says:
Teds,
Its not that I don't like the price in a vacuum; Its the fact that relative to what the NXT 2.0 kits were selling for over the last couple years and the fact that a lot of the changes were cosmetic (perfect example the large motors are essentially identical, as are most of the other "peripherals") I thought that a ~30% MSRP increase was a little much. I don't dispute this as an improvement over the previous, but to be realistic, most of the updates were natural progression (I'm using the logic of how every new version of an iPhone has cost the essentially the same; $200 (w/contract) for the smallest size internal capacity)

I couldn't tell you about the Arduino world. . . I bought this to help out 2 FLL teams
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