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Lego to Open Mindstorms NXT Firmware 138

ajdlinux writes "LEGO has officially announced that the firmware for the Mindstorms NXT will be open source. They will be releasing several developer kits and the firmware source during August, the kits containing the NXT driver specs, the schematics for the hardware connection and the Bluetooth protocol used by the NXT. The NXT will be only US$250, which is only slightly more expensive than the Mindstorms RIS2 kit. I certainly can't wait. " We had covered the earlier announcement of this kit.
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Lego to Open Mindstorms NXT Firmware

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  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:00AM (#15244201) Homepage Journal
    The link is incorrect.

    You have trimmed the spaces from the name.

    correct one is: e%20Announcement.aspx []

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is robotics such a tiny market that only Legoi is in here? What about mechano ? Or similar type companies .. i guess because the mindstorms wasn't super successful we have this lack of players in the amateur robotics market.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. What about the cool kits from fischertechnik [] (or from their US branch [])? They have many nice toys in their "computing" series.

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:35AM (#15244361) Homepage
      They are not the only one. Radio Shack is one of the current vendors of the VEX product line of robotics and beginning robotics.

      I find the VEX line a bit more fun as it's easier to toss the controller after you get to the more advanced stages and use a 68hc11 or other processor on a dev board for more fun and real brobot action... but then that is a small step away from building one from scratch which makes the VEX a really nice way to ease a child into the world of real robotics wher you fabricate and build most of the machine from parts.

      Because the VEX uses standard aircraft servo connectors it's easy to get their sensors and parts to a homebrew processor.
    • >i guess because the mindstorms wasn't super successful we have this lack of players
      >in the amateur robotics market.

      Your kidding right? Mindstorms !IS! SUPER successful! It was so successfull that it created a hacking community that also was so successful that LEGO involved them in the development of updates, as well as this NXT kit. To give the OP some credit, I too had no idea of the success of this kit until I got involved. I hadn't heard about FLL. I didn't know that there are 2 versions of t
    • If you are more of a hardware hacker (and less of a kid), check out the handyboard [], which is a robotics platform used in may robotics classes at the tertiary level. It is super flexible and fun.
  • by DaHat (247651) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:11AM (#15244239) Homepage
    Getting to play with all of these these new fangled toys at such a young age... robotic lego sets, the internet, cell phones, instant messaging... boy am I feeling old... and yet I'm only 25!
  • Bluetooth? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:14AM (#15244254) Journal
    The Bluetooth Developer Kit will detail the Bluetooth protocol embedded in the NXT microprocessor, allowing users to create applications for any Bluetooth device that [????] them to communicate with MINDSTORMS robots.
    So does this mean LEGO is or isn't using 'normal' Bluetooth commands?

    By default, would I be able to control the sucker from my cellphone? Or is that something they have to specifically program into the control software?
    • I would think that Bluetooth HID is a bit limited to be used for the purpose of controlling a robot. Most likely you'd need to create a Java app (or whatever your phone can run) to interface with it using a custom command set over the Bluetooth connection.
    • Re:Bluetooth? (Score:3, Insightful)

      That's so pedestrian. Better to get a bluetooth dongle for your computer, and then control it from anywhere the world.
    • Re:Bluetooth? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rob the Bold (788862)
      Obviously there is a copy-editing problem with that press release.

      I think that the Bluetooth HID profile would be a good choice. It is intended for:

      Computer keyboards and keypads

      Trackballs, mice, and other pointing devices

      Game controllers (gamepads, joysticks, steering wheels, etc.)

      Battery operated sensors (temperature, pressure, security, etc.)

      Simple alphanumeric remote displays

      Universal remote controls

      Bar code scanners


      Unfortunately, most cellphones aren't g

    • What it really means is any robot you build will be able to waste all your cellular minutes making phonecalls to his friends.
    • Re:Bluetooth? (Score:3, Informative)

      by MeBadMagic (619592)
      There are several ways you can use
      Bluetooth with the NXT. It can be used to send commands the NXT directly. It functions as a Bluetooth Serial port. The commands are well documented. One of the MDP's has already started / developed a java app for cell phones that can function like a remote control for the robot. The NXT programming software can use the Bluetooth to communcicate with the NXT(s) so you don't have to have a USB cable attached to it the whole time. So far, the Bluetooth stack that is suppo
  • What license? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <> on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:18AM (#15244274) Homepage Journal
    I can see no mention of the actual license in the press release (or anywhere on the mindstorm site for that matter).

    Lego saying its Open Source is all well & good, but that means nothing. It may not be an OSI approved license - but even if it is, the differences between BSD - style "open source" licenses and gpl style "open source" licenses is huge.

    Anyone know what the license actually is?
    • They probably haven't decided. Here's a likely senario.

      1. Some of the techies that were working on the code thought it would be really cool if it they open sourced it. So they bugged their superiours about it.
      2. Then a while later after enough bugging, someone up above heard the plea, although he probably barely knows what open source means, much less what it entailes, or the various different kinds of 'openness'.
      3. Eventually after enough mind-numbing banter among the executives the idea of free code monkey-sla
    • Re:What license? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FrankDrebin (238464) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:42AM (#15244398) Homepage

      saying its Open Source ... means nothing

      I take your point about reserving opinion until we see the actual license. But so long as hobbyists get sources, who much cares? Lego is at least appears to be learning from the previous Mindstorms go-around and the Sony Aibo debacle. Vast majority of us just want to play with Mindstorms, so opening up the sources in any planned sense cannot be a bad thing, can it? What am I missing?

      • "What am I missing?"

        I can see 2 possibilites that will make it useless, the need of an NDA, and a license that forbids you from modifying the programs. Also, forbiding the exchange of paths (and the ideal exchange of all the code) will make it much less usefull.

        • Neither the need for an NDA nor a license prohibiting modification will prevent people from distributing patches to official Lego software releases, just as Qmail enhancements are distributed as patchsets due to Qmail's stupid license.
    • I'm not familiar with the different kind of open source licenses.

      If we're talking about legos, what would the difference licenses mean to the end user.

      If someone made modifications to the firmware to make the thing change channels on TV could he release it as a binary without source and charge people money depending on which license the original firmware was released under?

      Could someone come up with different scenerios for what would be allowed / not allowed under these different types of OS licenses....

    • the differences between BSD - style "open source" licenses and gpl style "open source" licenses is huge.

      (insert opinion here)

      So very true. Personally, as much as I love the GPL, I think it should be released under a BSD or MIT style license and let someone fork it to GPL. The GPL people win from the BSD code that is released and the BSD coders win since they can sell limited amounts of their finished product.

      Using both licenses can benefit all.

    • by Trejkaz (615352)
      Support the CPL, for maximum incompatibility.
  • If only... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VorpalRodent (964940) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:18AM (#15244275)
    I haven't played with legos for years, but I've heard of these things.

    Just look at that robot on that homepage. Imagine all the things that it can do. Why, if Lego scaled up all its parts, I bet it could take on ASIMO easily.

    But seriously, if more work were put into developing things like this - toys such that everyday people with some ingenuity and some creativity could program their own robots, I believe that we would have a lot more ideas as far as where to take robots.

    Right now, major robotic undertakings seem to be limited to those with the research capital and funding to make them happen. If this were the thing that was researched, I would think that we would be seeing a lot more cool stuff developed as a result.

    Especially with the release of the firmware as open source. Lego is just inviting people of all capabilities to work with it.

    • This is awesome. I saw heavily customised lego robots at Robocup [] four years ago. Now anyone with a minimal budget can join in on the fun.

    • >Just look at that robot on that homepage. Imagine all the things that it can do.
      >Why, if Lego scaled up all its parts, I bet it could take on ASIMO easily.

      There is nothing stopping you from building ASIMO already. There is a "walker" robot that is buildable in the kit when it comes. It is an amazing robot and by simply building it, I have learned more about robotics that I thought I could in a year. Really. I've always wanted to get involved with robotics from watching things like robot wars, and
  • Ok, who'll be the first to construct a Lego Beowulf? And I'm sure NTX overclockers have already started!
  • For all those software parents who were left in anguish by the mechanical engineer parents: your time has come! The next season of Lego League competition promises your children (and you) boundless opportunities for the super-hacked LegoBot.... Kudos to Lego for going open source on this.
  • Perfect! (Score:4, Funny)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:26AM (#15244320)
    All these years wondering where those robot armies to enslave the human race will come from, and now we know they started as a bunch of LEGO models.
    • All these years wondering where those robot armies to enslave the human race will come from, and now we know they started as a bunch of LEGO models.

      Given a supply of lego it should be possible to build a lego robot which can build new lego robots. I wonder if I should give it a go...

      • And now we know why the Repilicators on SG1 get smashed into little bricks when hit by automatic wepons fire...

        (I saw some NXT bots at the LEGO demo table at FIRST this year, and the resemblance to the Replicators is uncanny.)
  • Does Nintendos new controller use bluetooth. Imagine getting that to work to controll your robot.
    • That would be the ps3 and where they get rediculed for having an odd number of controllers. What those people dont get is that just because bluetooth supports up to 7 controllers, it doesnt mean that is the only input it will take or they all have to be controllers. (some could be cameras, dancemats, arcade sticks etc..)
      • by Trejkaz (615352) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @08:45AM (#15244744) Homepage

        Strictly speaking the limitation is 8 devices per network, so it doesn't matter what kind of devices they are. The limit is 8 for a net, and one of those is the master. Of course, nothing stops you having five Bluetooth devices in a single device, for a total of 28 peripherals.

        That being said, I have a hard enough time finding three players to play a four player game. Can you really imagine trying to find seven players for an eight player game? Not to mention some sucker with a lounge room spacious enough to seat them all.

  • Great news (Score:4, Informative)

    by LarsWestergren (9033) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:28AM (#15244330) Homepage Journal
    I think I'm going to have to get one of these soon. I haven't seen any of these nifty Lego toys for adults in any shops in Sweden (for instance) but there are many shops in Europe you can order from online.

    If you are heading for Java One this year, there is this interesting seminar:

    BOF-0503: Java(TM) Technology in an Intelligent Swarm of Heterogeneous Lego Robots :This session reports on continuing work on developing Java(TM) technology for use in university-level robotics. It focuses on the issue of creating cost-effective and easily programmed intelligent robot swarms (n>10). Interesting swarms are composed of heterogeneous robots, but this quickly complicates programming. The presenters previously simplified the heterogeneous programming problem by using I/O tagging and reported on this at the 2005 JavaOneSM conference, in TS-1464. This presentation describes how they have successfully created a swarm of heterogeneous robots, based on Lego mechanical components, sharing a common code base, with a variety of non-Lego sensors.
  • They're either trying to win over the geek population or maybe hope their LEGO models will help the progress of human kind.

    I vote for the former, in which case I suspect the next in line will be the sex slave LEGO-bots.
    • You are correct sir (Score:5, Informative)

      by technoextreme (885694) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @08:02AM (#15244506)
      They're either trying to win over the geek population or maybe hope their LEGO models will help the progress of human kind.

      Actually, this was Lego's plan all along. They obtained the help of the most crazed Mindstorms hobbyists to help them design the product line. This wired article is probably the best one that involved the process behind creating the line.,69946-0.html []
      • woot. and indeed i hope they succeed.
        i am thinking about getting a bunch of lego products (i didn't have them when i was a child ;) ), and was very intrigued by robotic branch - but as a linux user (and with basically no coding skills) i was turned away by the windows-only software.

        hopefully open stuff (if concerns raised above regarding license are resolved) will result in nice apps for linux platform, too.

        and if it all goes well in that direction, i know i'll be getting heavy beating if somebody discovers
      • Thank you for the link to a very interesting article.
      • by pimpimpim (811140)
        I really like how LEGO changed its strategy a few years ago and moved from making a lot of crappy stuff noone was waiting for (harry potter lego, huge single parts that have few connectability options, etc), to making things that their fans are really into: more use of versatile, standard, blocks, and bringing new life to the mindstorms project. I don't know the exact figures but I read somewhere (very vague, I know) that they're actually doing financially better now!

        I hope they go on with this, and be an

    • I vote for the former, in which case I suspect the next in line will be the sex slave LEGO-bots.
      Ouch. Then again, they do make every other kind of special purpose piece...
    • I'm sorry but sex slave LEGO-bots do not sound pleasurable to me... Think of all of the edges and pieces that could easily crunch together and catch something. Ouch! Maybe if they were Duplos!
  • by adolfojp (730818) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:48AM (#15244430)
    You can already program these toys with the free editions of the Visual Studio software. .html []

    Why, oh why didn't we get to have toys like these in out childhood. :-(
    • Why, oh why didn't we get to have toys like these in out childhood. :-(
      One of the advantages of having a kid... you have an excuse to buy them now. My son will be getting one of these. :)
      • The NXT has something for everyone. I have been testing the NXT for the last month. My 12 year old son and I have had a blast with this kit. He loves to do the building / modifying, and I like more of the programming challenges. Together we make a great team. I never knew about the FLL until I started in the MDP program. Now I plan on not only getting my son involved in FLL, (if we even have it here) but am willing to participate myself or start one if need be. If there was ever a tool (ok, toy) that
      • One of the advantages of having a kid... you have an excuse to buy them now. My son will be getting one of these. :)

        One of the advantages of not much caring what people think of me is that I don't need excuses to buy myself toys. I'm 29 and I still buy the occasional action figure, although what I consider to be worth buying is definitely much different than what it was when I was a kid (the bar has been raised, but then, I have more money and even less space available now.)

        Don't shortchange your i

    • because they cost too much.
    • AFAIK, the code you write in Visual Studio runs on your computer, not the lego RCX. Your RCX has to remain pointed at the IR transmitter attached to your computer at all times so it can be controlled, which is pretty lame. If you really want to do something interesting with an RCX, you'd be better off with "Not Quite C" [] which allows you to write high-level code that runs on the RCX brick autonomously.
  • Is it just me? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thebdj (768618) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @08:00AM (#15244492) Journal
    Or does the "Head" of the NXT remind others of Johnny 5 from Short Circuit?

    In any event, this sort of toy just makes me warm and fuzzy inside. Nothing like some Legos and a microcontroller to make the electrical engineer in me happy.
    • Short Circuit, that's it! I've been wondering what that movie's called, but just couldn't remember anything except for how that robot looked. God, it's been close to 15 years since I saw that movie. And yes, the head does remind me of Johnny 5.
      As for the article, this'll hopefully make for a fast release of leJOS for the NXT. Well, and other 3rd party firmwares and too ofcourse. Wise choice, Lego.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Forth for Mindstorms [] was created by Ralph Hempel, one of the select few superusers invited by Lego to participate in the NXT design.

    Robot AI Mind.Forth [] specifically lists the Lego NXT as a candidate platform for installation of the robot AI Mind.

    Standards in Artificial Intelligence [] officially lists the Lego NXT as an accepted standard platform in view of robot AI.

  • "When we launched the legacy MINDSTORMS platform in 1998, the community found ways to do these things on their own, and we were faced with the question of whether to allow it, which we decided to embrace and encourage."

    No, you weren't faced with that question. You had no legal, ethical, or moral basis (emphasis on "legal") to "disallow" people from doing whatever they wanted to their own piece of hardware.

    What, exactly, is so difficult to grasp about this situation? I'm glad that sane people prevailed

    • by SMQ (241278)

      You are correct that they had no leagl basis to hinder individual experimentation, but there were many avenues open to TLG (The Lego Group) to stifle the disemination of experimenters' information. There can be little doubt that much of the hobbiest effort infringes many of TLG's copyrights (firmware source code, circuit schematics, etc.) or, more importantly, that implementing many of the hobbiest projects infringes on patents held by TLG, and I'm not talking "IP" or software patents, but honest how-senso

    • No they could have tried to lock down the controller and make it harder to modify. They could have gone after small companies that where selling improved sensors . They could have done lots of things to keep control.
      Yes they made the smart choice. However they still had a choice to make. You should praise them for choosing correctly instead of whinning that they didn't see it as a "no brainer".
    • Look, LEGO even allowed programs written in NQC, Java and so on to be uploaded to their own website. They distributed details about their copyrighted designs and so on. The only thing that they did which could even possibly be considered bad was to ask a project to rename (legOS) because of their trademarks. They made an effort to make it possible for third-party developers to create these tools. There is a difference between allowing something and embracing something.
  • It's a good thing they are opening the firmware, because one thing about LEGO NXT that bothered me was the incorporation of Labview as the programming interface.

    It's bad enough that Labview turns electrical engineers into flesh-eating they are unleashing it on children!

    At least, by opening the firmware and driver details, there should be C-like or BASIC-like alternatives appearing relatively quickly.
    • Labview AI Language (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Labview for artificial intelligence [] is based on the Lego Mindstorms connection.

      Standards in Artificial Intelligence [] treat Labview as just as good for AI as any other language.

      The Singularity Timeline [] counts on AI development in Labview, LISP, Prolog, Java and all other programming languages.

    • LEGO has embrased the hacking community and actively sought, promoted, and aided in the development (or added support) of the aready available 3rd party (C-like) programming lanuguages for develpment of NXT programs, firmware, and communication. I don't have the links, but these are already working and available. I have not used graphical programming tools like LabView, and wasn't sure I wanted to start my son out with such software. Then, after actually working with him I saw it as a benifit. I didn'
    • I haven't used the LV version used by Lego and I haven't used previous versions of Lego software, but I have been using LV as a programming language for some time and it's much more easy and fun (for our purposes) than C, for example.

      It also happens that my company teaches a simple mechatronics-style course in a local school to 13 year olds which are not into computers and we use LV as the tool for that. These kids, which are now free from the need to know that "If I don't put a semicolon there it won't

    • there actualy is a c like alternative for the OLD mindstorms system called NQC or not quite c. It is very simiar to C with specific commands developed specificly for the mindstorms system. [] is the homepage and 88931-3277469?v=glance&n=283155 [] is a great guide book written by the creator of the language that comes with all the software and a couple of different compilers.
    • by MicroBerto (91055) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @02:21PM (#15248070)
      Whoa there, cowboys. Before anyone starts trashing LabVIEW or defending it too harshly, I'd highly recommend doing things the right way.

      First off, you can demo LabVIEW online at this link [] or download an evaluation version at this link [] (pretty big download).

      Next, check out the LabVIEW Introduction Course - 3 Hours Long [] or preferably the LabVIEW Introduction course - 6 Hours Long []. I believe these were written for LabVIEW 7 (latest version is 8.0.1), but you can still get the idea.

      Graphical and dataflow-based programming is much different, and it's not going to be a seamless transition. However, after working with it heavily for as little as 4 months, I am HOOKED. If you sent me your C code, I'd be lost and frustrated. Now, if someone sends me their LabVIEW code, I can "just see it" -- like Neo at the end of the Matrix. It's hard to explain, but it just makes sense at a glance now.

      Another cool thing that Slashdotters would like is that there is a LabVIEW forum that is supported by both National Instruments employees and LabVIEW enthusiasts. Some guys in there just love helping you out, just as you've seen in the Linux community. []. Very friendly community (although if you are a flamer, NI employees won't say anything, but other customers sure will!)

      So try to understand it before bashing it, or just ignore it. But LabVIEW *IS* a programming language -- just something much different than anything you're used to.

      PS: No, LabVIEW is not open source. But it's "open enough" for most people.

      Oh, and if you check the job listings, you'll see that knowing LabVIEW can get you a very nice salary in some industries. It's the defacto standard for anything in test and measurement, and is branching out to other things now.
    • FYI, the original mindstorms actually used a C-like language called MindScript internally - you can see it by opening an RIS program with a text editor. I think LEGO did this because it makes it easier for programmers that are used to C and so on and allows a text programming language.
  • "LEGO has officially announced that the firmware for the Mindstorms NXT will be open source."

    So, a Lego Vista release is now out of the question? : p
  • I, for one, welcome our easily assembled, reprogrammable overlords...
  • AI research? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bcmm (768152) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @10:15AM (#15245571)
    Cheap, remotely controllable, and now programmable in real languages. Could these be used for cheap research into AI navigation?
    • I was lucky enough to be allowed to participate in the MDP. (Mindstorms Developer Program) It was my first experience with LEGO robotics, actuall, ANY robotics. I have done lots of programming, but never robotics. Some of the more senior members of the group suggested buildin a 'line follower' bot. This was my first AI project and was allot of fun because the goal was speed within a very defined task. It was VERY interesting to start to think about giving the NXT some autonomous intellegence to naviga
  • When i was younger I grew up programming my Sinclair ZX81 and playing with Lego Technic. This sort of stuff set me on the path to a degree in EEE at university and now a job as an Electronics Engineer.

    What do kids have today, the XBox 360 and Playstation, where are the engineers of the future going to come from? But wait there's hope, thank you Lego, thank you for still having the guts to create a great educational 'toy'* that will not only entertain the masses but also teach them as well.

    * a 'toy' I might
  • This is the same Lego that tries to abuse the trademark system [] for profit, right?

    Oh, but it's a shiney new toy, sorry, I forgot.
    • Sometimes, I'm jealous of people who see the world in terms of absolutes. If I could just see everything as black or white, with no space for gray areas, I'd have to do a lot less thinking.

      How's it working out for you?
      • Sometimes you have to make moral compromises. It usually revolves around food shelter and clothing.

        Sometimes, though, you get to not be a blind consumer and you get to not support companies who are thrashing society.

        My, God, it's a *toy*. Nobody needs Mindstorms. Lots of people would be better off building their own robots, if they want a challenge. Or going for a walk in the woods.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx . b> on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @12:18PM (#15246826) Journal
    I think that LEGO going with USB instead of IR or some other wireless technique for programming was a mistake.

    I've seen I don't know how many USB ports get broken, the plastic bit that guides the connector breaking off, simply by repetitive plugging and unplugging of the connector from the port on the computer. USB drives, digital cameras, and other devices that are generally intended for being plugged in only temporarily... all of them break the port you plug them into eventually. I've seen it happen with many different USB ports on different computers too, so I don't think it's the manufacturer. It seems to me that the port is simply not designed for frequent hardware changes, which of course would happen with this sort of device. (Not to mention that in general it would be handled by kids, which I'm thinking makes it only that much more likely things will break).

    For devices who are frequently connecting and disconnecting, wireless is the only way to go. It's a pity that LEGO didn't realize this.

    • The Bluetooth functionality of the NXT I think falls under wireless connectivity, doesn't it?

      As a MDP'er, who didn't play with the previous IR RCX version, I can only tell you that the other MDP'ers who have, have said the BT in the NXT by comparison is a dream. From first hand experience, I only use the BT because your right, I'd hate to actually use a cable. The NXT connects with anything BT that I have. Laptop, phone, PDA, etc. There has also been development of java BT remote control for cell phones
      • Yes, but afaik, it doesn't use the wireless facility for actually programming it. You plug it in, upload the software, then unplug it and go. If you already have bluetooth hardware on your computer you could probably program it wirelessly too, but that's another piece of hardware you have to buy.

        If they included a USB connected bluetooth transmitter/receiver with the unit, it would probably be much better. But I don't think that's part of the package. Out of the box, unless you already have bluetooth

        • Yes, as far as I know, LEGO is NOT planning on including a BT adapter with the kit. However, at an average price of $25, and a list of hundreds of compatible adapters per regeion, it don't see that as an issue.

          As far as programming goes, I don't think the NXT has enough resouces itself to use the NXT as a programming environment. There is a program that comes on it that lets you create simple little test type programs, (more a list of simple commands) without even needing a PC. When you want to use more
          • Yes, as far as I know, LEGO is NOT planning on including a BT adapter with the kit. However, at an average price of $25, and a list of hundreds of compatible adapters per regeion, it don't see that as an issue.
            Possibly.... but how many people are going to think of getting one of these up front, before they realize that their USB port actually can't handle frequent hardware swaps without the plastic nib eventually getting loose and breaking off?
    • NXT has USB vs RCX with IR and the IR is better?

      One of the major hurdles on the RCX was running it the first time. The firmware had to be downloaded. All downloads went from PC/Mac across a cable (USB/Serial) to an IR Tower and then from that IR Tower to the RCX -- the yellow brick that was the brains of the old Lego robot.

      The number of ways to goof up that linkage was too much for a lot of kids. Not to mention that it took 5 minutes to download the firmware when it did work.

      With the new NXT sys

      • I have no problem with USB connectivity. What I have a problem with is that out of the box there is no way to wirelessly program it, which is going to happen a heck of a lot more frequently than uploading the firmware. The NXT can be programmed wirelessly, but unless one already has bluetooth on their PC (and unless they have a laptop, their PC probably didn't come with bluetooth already on it), people have to buy more hardware. Seriously, how many consumers are going to actually think of doing that up f
        • Ok, we agree that wireless is cool. Most/many consumers will end up buying a bluetooth adapter for their PC/Mac. Of course, if Lego supplied it, many would complain that they already had Bluetooth, or that Lego picked an inferior Bluetooth adapter. How many will want a 10 foot range when a 100 foot range is available?

          Actually, I think more consumers are going to trip up over using Alkaline AA batteries, when they probably should start with rechargeable NiMHs. It's not that the NXT eats batteries, but

          • Most/many consumers will end up buying a bluetooth adapter for their PC/Mac

            I don't think this will occur to most people right away... and depending on how much they use it, by the time it does occur to them, they may have already broken one of their USB ports. Or worse, broken the USB port on the NXT itself (although my experience with broken USB ports has always been at the PC end, I imagine it could happen on the device end as well).

            Of course, if Lego supplied it, many would complain that they alrea

Mommy, what happens to your files when you die?