Wow, Adafruit’s Lady Ada named Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur Magazine! Great news and recognition for her hard work over the years… my first couple of kits were from there, regardless of the extra tax to be paid to ship over from the US. The implementations are a bit quirky, such as the Xbee implementation etc (see other articles on this blog about that one).
But, you could put the kit together with some time spent perusing her images and detailed steps/hints on the website, you had basic software provided that actually did the job out of the box without detailed knowledge of chips, signals and electronical engineering, and the units themselves were pretty much sturdy and worked! FAQs were there, useful and responsive forums, goods generally delivered fast unless stuck in customs (nothing much that can be done there).
Now that I’m working on more complex systems, I feel I have reached close to the limit of what Adafruit can offer me, but I have lost count of how many parts I have bought and run successfully for Uchusen prototypes on Arduino. For example the (fish-eye-lensed) TTL Serial JPEG Camera was a great one, with virtually no-one else offering the same with such usability, although soldering wiring direct to the PCB and not being able to break out of the one-pic-only config was not ideal.
To sum it up, quirky but solid. A boon to all those of us who are not born electronics geniuses, but still want to spend the time to learn and hack together something cool that could be useful in other fields of industry outside the hobbyist community.