Programming Software (Cont. {And End} User Comparison)

/ 30 September 2006

In a way, the software is no different, both can use the newest version of Robolab (2.9). But my comparison is between Robolab 2.5.4 and Mindstorms NXT 1.0. To start, Robolab has a start window,m and then a few windows for the main programming space (Inventor 4), while the Mindstorms NXT software has a single, full-screen window to do all it’s work in. Robolab has a separate window for it’s RCX admin/ setup, but the reason that the Mindstorms NXT software doesn’t is because the NXT OS does. The Robolab blocks are many more mainly due to the “Modifiers” that you need to add to control the specific data/ info, while the Mindstorms NXT has a configuration panel for each block to make the physical look a lot easier. The Robolab software can only download/ use as a driver one firmware version per version of software, but the Mindstorms NXT software can download as many NXT firmware files as it can find on your hard disk (only one can be on the brick at once though) and download whichever one you want (currently either 1.01 or 1.03). Robolab lacks a really important feature that Mindstorms NXT has, the “NXT panel”, a window you can pull up to see the vital NXT statistics (KB left, Voltage left, firmware version, NXT name), as well as two tabs, one for communication, to pick which brick you want and which com form you want (USB or Bluetooth). The second tab is the memory tab, consisting of a neat diagram of the current NXT’s memory usage (with categories like sound, programs, other), as well as to the right of the diagram a neat, color-coded list of all the files in the selected category, you can then choose to upload the file to your hard disk, delete the file, or download a new file directly. To activate that window you click the NXT icon on the “control panel” in the programming area, which has five icons on it, one you already know as the NXT panel, the others are (below that button) a down arrow for download, next to that a square for stop current program, above that a triangle in parentheses which stands for download just the currently selected code and run it, and in the center a triangle which stands for download full program and run. You only get the download command in Robolab. Now, I’d hope that Robolab 2.9 has much of the same function built-in for the NXT at least, and possibly also the RCX. That ends my direct user comparison, later I may post some more indirect comparasins.