It comes with hardware, software and manuals with several hundred pages. The target audience are schools and people wanting to get into AVR mcu development using assembler / c++ / bascom. The programmer is “AVR911” compatible and is plug & play on linux. Avrdude supports it. It can be set to 3.3V/5V and be configured as an SPI/I²C/Serial to USB bridge as well. The programmer can be plugged into the development board and into a breakout board for the most common 8bit AVR chips starting from ATtiny13 at going up to ATmega32.
From a hardware point of view it’s all plug and play, just like using an Arduino or a home-brew project with a BUB adapter or USBtinyISP. I haven’t tested the software yet (it’s all windoze), but from what I can see by looking at the manuals it seems to be more like AVRStudio. It is definitely more _low level_ than the Arduino environment, but that is the idea anyway.
So I’ll be learning assembler (a bit).
… a few hours later …
Well, I’ve read the docs and I now know AVR assembler in and out. Haha, just kidding. As far as I remember, the examples cover these areas: basic assembler file structure (irq table, stack pointer setup, main loop), using the serial interface, PORT I/O, interfacing to a 4bit LCD, ADC, timer for PWM, EEPROM read/write, reading data stored in FLASH (assembler only, nothing about PROGMEM in C++). Some examples also show equivalent C++ code. The code is meant to be used with the supplied “SiSyAVR” IDE and I haven’t checked if this runs with avr-gcc or not. It is centered on assembler and unfortunately also doesn’t talk about makefiles, GUI only.
All examples (and code) are easy to follow and understand, even for absolute beginners. Of course reading existing code is still very different from doing it yourself. Right now I feel I might use assembler on small devices with little RAM/FLASH like the ATtiny13 that came with it, but I’ve come to like C++ and the Arduino boards so much that I doubt I’d use anything else on the bigger chips. As the tutorial is assembler centered, it also doesn’t cover the process of creating hex files (compiling, linking …) by hand or more advanced things like “inline assembler”. This is still confusing me a lot, especially naming of the variables and all the flags for registers. I think this KIT can be a good starting point, but more reading of other literature is necessary to get the complete picture. Other than that: only learning by doing helps.
If you’re more interested in getting in touch with “physical computing” and want quick results and don’t care much about the inner workings yet, I’d start with an Arduino board first, which is also much cheaper. The programming adapter on the other hand is definitely a good thing, it even has an integrated clock source so you won’t have problems with wrong clock source fuses. It can’t do high voltage programming though, but we have MightyOhm’s HV rescue for that. It can restore fuse settings of “bricked” ATmega48/88/168/328 series and the ATtiny2313.