Truly, the humble reviewer of gadgets must suffer for his craft. Imagine being forced to spend time playing with Lego?
The excuse for this review? Lego Boost is programmable, powered Lego. If that’s not a gadget, what is?
Before getting to details, an overview. This is a large Lego set in which the instructions for the five main projects are provided by an app – iOS and Android supported. Then you can use the app to program movements by your constructions. Three of the parts contain sensors, so they can provide information which can be acted upon by your program. The Lego logo for the Boost is BUILD | CODE | PLAY.
Anything that introduces coding to young people scores a vote from me.
Lego doesn’t require much description. Most of what’s in the largish box is Lego bits. But these are more the bits one uses for vehicles and machinery, rather than the bricks for building houses and walls. That’s because it’s intended for making those moving things.
Lego says there are 843 Lego “elements” in the box. I didn’t count them but I have no reason to quibble. In addition there are three “Boost Bricks”. These are active parts.
The “Move Hub” is the largest. It’s 127mm long. No, that’s silly! This is Lego we’re talking about. Millimetres don’t matter. So, it’s 16 Lego studs long and 6 studs wide and four bricks tall. Although it’s not just one solid block. It’s shaped for use within various constructions. This contains the battery pack – you provide the six AAA batteries that are required – a motor, a tilt sensor, sockets for the other two electronic bits, and a control button.
The Sensor is a 2 by 4 double height brick (with various cut outs) with electric eyes at one end for determining distance and colour, and a ribbon cable at the other for plugging into the Hub.
The Interactive Motor is three bricks high and 4 by 6 studs, with a ribbon cable on one end and a motor to rotate a shaft at the other.
From these parts one can construct “Vernie the Robot”, “M.T.R 4”, “Guitar 4000”, “Auto Builder” or, most ambitiously, “Frankie the Cat”. Or things of one’s own choosing.
Finally, also included in the box is a board for your construction to navigate. It folds out to 950 by 470mm. There are some sixty activities available within the app. The whole thing is intended for children aged between seven and twelve years old (but I decided to pretend).
The first step was, of course, to install the Lego Boost app. Although the instructions mentioned only use with tablets, I did check the Play Store with my phone and it appeared to be available there. According to the Lego website, they’ve checked compatibility with the iPad Pro and iPad Air 2, both with iOS 10.3, and for Android, on a number of tablets. No phones mentioned, so I didn’t proceed. The other reason I didn’t proceed: the version I installed on the iPad Mini 4 I used for this review was a massive 929.2MB in size. In other words, nearly a gigabyte. Or 2.9% of the total storage available on my phone. One device is enough.
Of course, at that size it took a while to download. Probably not a good idea to install it using your 4G data plan. The app worked on the iPad Mini 4, which was running iOS 11.0.2.