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Lego Boost is your robot coding superkit

We built cats, rolling robots, electric guitars and more: Here's how Lego Boost works.

Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott_Stein.jpg

Scott Stein

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1 of 39 Sarah Tew/CNET

Welcome to Lego Boost! Lego's new robotics kit has been CNET's hands for a week.

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Lego Boost comes in a big box. It includes 840 pieces for $160 (roughly £122 or AU$200).

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It's a programmable robotics kit, and pairs with iOS or Android phones or tablets to do things, control your toys, program them, or play games.

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A look inside the box and its many many bags of bricks.

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Pieces are a mix of traditional Lego and Technics-style bricks.

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A large folded board comes inside, too.

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Some of Boost's forms on one side...

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And a play mat on the other to put your creations on.

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And a poster.

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The central unit is packed with 6AAA batteries and connects via Bluetooth to your phone or tablet.

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Lego Boost uses a block-based programming system to set up actions. They can get pretty complicated.

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Pressing the green button pairs the robot and wakes it up.

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Boost comes with a separate motor module and a sensor eye that can measure distance and color. Boost robots can also react to motion or noise (via your phone/tablet's microphone).

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There are five forms you can make out of the box: one is Vernie, seen here (on the right).

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Vernie's your basic '80s movie robot, treads and all.

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It's adorable. Those eyebrows move, by the way.

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Two cables connect the extra modules to the base.

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Vernie can also be outfitted with a shoulder missile launcher for close-quarters firing (it's rubber-tipped).

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Extra in-app controls can operate it like an RC vehicle.

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One more, because it's our favorite.

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Instructions are all kept on the app: no losing paper manuals!

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Form 2: an electric guitar.

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It really plays (but outputs sound through the app).

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There's a strummer and a whammy bar.

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Putting each major project together took me at least two hours.

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The Lego guitar next to a real guitar.

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It recognizes notes by using the sensor eye to read how far away the sliding brick is.

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I played a bit.

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Maybe more than a bit.

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Notes can be customized and styles changed in the app. You could strum or replace the notes with bird noises or farts. (By the way, there are many farts to choose from.)

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Form 3: a half-completed kitten. I ran out of time.

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The kitten's pretty impressive and weird: It has moving ears and eyes. But it still needs its moving tail and its limbs (next week!)

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One thing you'll need to get used to: taking your creations apart.

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To make a new project, you have to dismantle the old one.

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It can be overwhelming. Change is hard.

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I miss Vernie.

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By the way, buy a bunch of ziplock bags.

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Lego should really make its brick bags resealable... but my 8-year-old son says I should just dump the bricks out and sort them. 

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Lego Boost is a great kit. And for me, it was a bit of personal therapy.

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