But Lego evolves with the times. In the 1990s, the line of Lego products gained a new top-end: the Mindstorms sets. The Technic line is still thriving, but Mindstorms go beyond Technic and include that most irresistible variety of geek candy: sensors and programmable controllers. This is way past anything I ever got my hands on when I was a wee lad.
The newest generation of Mindstorms, the EV3, has capabilities that would have blown my mind back in the mid-'80s (if a set could have been sent back in time, my reaction would have looked a lot like ). First demoed at CES back in January, the EV3 set features a new controller with an ARM9 CPU with 64MB of RAM, 16MB of NAND flash storage, a USB 2.0 interface for expansion modules (like Wi-Fi), and Bluetooth. The brick runs an ARM version of Linux and is capable of driving four separate motors and receiving input from four separate sensors. It can also be linked to other Mindstorms bricks (including previous-generation Mindstorms NXT controllers) for truly large creations.
This is the educational version of the NXT set from Lego Education, which is made for school use. Software is sold separately, and the Education Resource Set for the best use. It includes a light sensor, an ultrasonic sensor, a sound sensor, three lamps and a pair of touch sensors. The first set consists of about 400 pieces, and the extra set consists of about 600 pieces. The Education Version is most suited for those who have older versions of Mindstorms sets around, mostly thanks to its three converter cables. It costs about US$410.00 with the Bluetooth Dongle.