A great beginner's robot platform is included among Robots.net's top ten robot gift ideas for hobbyists and aspiring roboticists.
In keeping with the holiday season, I recently came across Robots.net's listing of their 2008 Top 10 Robot Christmas Gift Ideas - perfect for robot hobbyists and young aspiring roboticists. The gift ideas include various robotics construction kits, some inexpensive wind-up robots, an open-source programmable controller, a book on robotics history, and - in the number one spot - an inexpensive high-performance mobile robotics platform.
The mobile platform - the Pololu 3pi robot - seems well deserving of top choice and Robots.net's description as "one of the best beginner robots." Designed to excel in maze-solving competitions, it features two micro gearmotors, five reflectance sensors, an 8 x 2-character LCD, a buzzer, three user pushbuttons and a C-programmable ATmega168 microcontroller running at 20 MHz. It's available for $99.95 ($119 with a USB programmer and cable).
A short (3:28) video introducing the basic features and operation of the 3pi robot is available here: