Cover for Tech Box Review post showing a boy working at tablet programming the light matrix sitting next to him on the table.

Subscription Box Review | Tech Box

*We received one Tech Box: Laser Stem Matrix in exchange for this review of the product.  However, the opinions expressed are solely our own.*

I have found it harder to engage my teenagers in hands-on activities as they have gotten older.  We tried some different subscription boxes made for teenagers, but my guys felt the projects were kind of boring and tedious.

When I learned about Tech Boxes, I was immediately intrigued.  I knew my son would like video tutorials instead of reading through detailed instructions.  And I liked that the projects were electronics-based and had a coding component…much more interesting to him that making a mechanical project like a pinball machine or musical instrument.

And I was right!  He did like it a lot better!

Here are my quick pros and cons of the Tech Box and then check out below for the details:

Pros:

  • Easy to get started building.
  • Video instructions.
  • We learned about each of the parts, how they function and even some history behind them.
  • More electronics-based that other subscription boxes.
  • Helps kids connect programming with the mechanical objects they encounter in daily life.

Cons:

  • To start programming the Laser Stem Matrix three different apps needed to be downloaded and installed first so getting started on the programming part took a little while.
  • May be cost-prohibitive for some.  Tech Boxes are more expensive than some other subscription boxes for teens, but we did like it better.

Pinnable cover for the Tech Box Review post showing the finished Laser Stem Matrix with the lights glowing a variety of colors.

What is a Tech Box?

A Tech Box is delivered to you with all the pieces you need to make a small electronics project along with a QR code to access all of the instructions online. Each box is different, but the main things in each box are: a microcontroller, which is like a small pocket-sized computer, a variety of electronic components, and sturdy wooden pieces for building the project.  The wooden pieces all fit together without the need for any additional tools.

Open Tech Box showing how it looks when opened with paperwork and pieces.

We received a Laser Stem Matrix, which reminded us of the programmable lights on our Christmas tree.  It is also the basic idea behind how a TV works just on a much different scale.  Other projects from Tech Box include a Piano Memory Game, Do Nothing Bot, BattleBox Arcade Game, and seven more.

Once you access the online instructions, they lead you step-by-step through the build with videos to show you what to do and additional information about each of the parts. For example, the Laser Stem Matrix contains a bread board, which is great for building temporary circuits and through the video instruction, my son learned about when and how it was invented.

Tablet showing a video of how to build the laser stem matrix.

As you work through the project, the instruction platform requires the user to check off each step before they can go onto another screen.  This is great to make sure no steps are missed. However, my son also found it to be a bit tedious.

He spent about an hour building the Laser Stem Matrix and programming it using the code that was given to him.  Then, he spent another hour playing around with the Coding Challenge.  He decide to program the Matrix to flash out the letters of his name.  He could also come back to the project in the future and reprogram it.

Close-up of laser stem matrix with the lights glowing different colors.

Who are Tech Boxes for?

The Tech Boxes are created for anyone ages 12 and up.  Children will need to be comfortable using a computer to learn.  All projects come pre-programmed and snippets of code are provided for users to cut and paste to change the code so no prior programming experience is needed.

The Coding Challenge section helps kids learn some more in-depth programming.  All of the projects use the Arduino Language (C/C++), with a few kits using additional languages such as HTML.

We Will Be Trying More Tech Boxes

After completing this project, we decided to sign-up for a three month subscription so my guy can do the next few projects.  If you are interested, you can sign-up for monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual subscription plans.  The monthly plan can be cancelled at any time so if you just want one Tech Box, this is the way to go.  However, the boxes are sent in a particular order so that each one builds upon what was learned with the previous one.