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Which solution should we go for?
Standard parallel LCD is fine (must use soldering kit)
 25%  [ 2 ]
Use a shift register to cut down on the # of used I/O pins (+$1.50)
 12%  [ 1 ]
Use a serial LCD to further cut down on the # of used I/O pins (+$15)
 37%  [ 3 ]
Build the serial interface yourself (+$5)
 25%  [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 8

As you all may know, the LCD that is currently in the kit is a parallel LCD that must have wires soldered to it to be used. Also, this LCD requires 13 I/O pins to be used on the Arduino/Freeduino, which is a pretty hefty burden considering the Arduino Duemilanove only has 14 I/O pins. Here are the solutions I see:

1. Use the LCD as it is in the kit (must have a soldering iron & solder to use) and sacrifice 13 I/O pins

2. Buy a shift register and use only 8 I/O pins on the Arduino (still requires the soldering kit, but $1.50 shift register will get you 5 more I/O pins to play with)

3. Buy a serial LCD and use only 2 I/O pins on the Arduino (saves you the most I/O pins for use, does not require the soldering kit but is $15 more than the cost of the parallel LCD)

4. Build the serial backpack for the LCD yourself (same setup as #3, except you build the serial interface yourself and you still need to get the soldering kit, along with an ATmega168 and 16MHz resonator for $5).


EDIT: here's the ranking of solutions from "easiest" to "hardest" to perform (IMO):

3
1
2
4
It seems the majority is okay with a parallel LCD, so the "solder kit" gets to keep the parallel LCD, while the "solder-free kit" now has a serial LCD that doesn't require soldering (of course you can always upgrade to the serial LCD regardless).
  
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