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Missing the point...

I've had fun with the Clustrmaps widget that we've recently popped into the blog - it's kind of fun (and now I want to know who the uber-user is on the edge of the Hudson Bay that hits the blog so many times :) ). But recently one of the ads caught my attention - for having robots built for you. Clicking through to the JFRobot site, at first I thought I had hit a spoof ad. These nice people will build any of the four stock robots for you, and ship it to you complete... for a hefty price jump ($299 for Alpha-Rex, for instance). Is it just me, or has this company completely missed the point of the NXT, MINDSTORMS, and LEGO? If these were kits for robotic lawnmowers and I just wanted to get my lawn mowed, I'd understand - but the whole point of kits (& especially LEGO) is to build it yourself - or am I missing something very fundamental here? Some of the text on their webpage is more than a bit misleading as well. For instance, they mention:

...but you also find out that 100 hours of research and assembly work is unafordable.

(yes, that's their mis-spelling this time, not mine - I love Leopard). "100 hours"?!? What are they building, a general-purpose Turing machine? I've watched a 10-year-old build some of the stock models in 30 minutes, including programming.

So somebody tell me - should I be upset at this, or just sad that perhaps there's actually a market for such a misdirected market demand? I'd be curious if anyone has bought one of these, or knows someone who has. Perhaps I just have a very unusual viewpoint - that the reason you get something like the NXT is so you can do it yourself, and learn something, If I want a coffee-table display, there are plenty of inflexible slick-looking options.

Brian Davis

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