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I'm looking into getting started with LEGO.
Can you briefly describe the difference between Technic and Mindstorms? I've read that the parts and compatible, so I suppose it's the functions that differ. Am I correct to assume that Mindstorms is more about using sensors and programming your robot so it can act on its own, while Technic needs to be (remotely) controlled?
I'm on a tight budget so I can't just buy anything I want. Assume I can afford around €50-100 a month and I am starting with €150. Also assume I have equal interest in the above mentioned principles about Technic and Mindstorms (if correct). Can you recommend how to get started with either or both?
I see the latest Mindstorms set - EV3 - is around €250. Would it be better to wait a bit and get it, or just get some Technic sets now, and get it later (once my collection is bigger)? Is it viable to just get the control parts and not the whole Mindstorms set? I suppose getting a bigger set is better than getting several small ones.
I'm open to specific sets recommendations, or just general advice - I don't mind spending time browsing and reading on sets.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

In my opinion, Mindstorms is a subset of the Technic line up (Like how Police is a subset of Lego City). So most of the parts are interchangeable. The only part incompatibility issue you will come across is the electronics.

I would say go with Technic first. Learning how to build studless and basic Lego mechanisms will be more useful than robotics (initially). Buy the bigger sets as they have more parts and lower price per part (typically).

50-100 quid a month is quite healthy. Once established, Lego has a pretty low maintenance cost (If you don't want every set). You will find Brick Owl and Brick Link a good source of specific parts.

I suggest a browse of http://sariel.pl/ and http://www.technicbricks.com/ to get some ideas on what is possible.

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Thanks for your answer, makes sense. I came across Sariel at YouTube and was instantly impressed. I'm most likely getting his book at some point. Thanks for the other reference. I'm now considering getting the LEGO 4x4 Crawler Set 9398. –  Vik Nov 25 '13 at 5:32
    
Sariel's book is great. Great examples and a good reference. –  tl8 Nov 25 '13 at 5:49
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