Some weeks ago I read this Article on Hackaday. Microchip did gave away some MPLAB Xpress Evaluations Boards. Here are some thoughts about this and the MPLAB Xpress browser based IDE. This page does not claim to be a full review just some thoughts (and I did not get paid for it).
First as also written in the Hackaday article it is possible to get nearly set-up time free entrance to Microntroller development. It is possible to use this this board just with the online IDE and no need to download anything.
The online IDE does work similar to the offline MPLAB X IDE. It also looks similar. But for me there is code completion missing (or at least not findable). After writing your code. You can compile it and download the hex file. But if you like to use the Xpress Code configurator you need to download some software. This should be included in the web application. Something else I did noticed is that you have the board connected if switching between two projects when using the code configurator and the online IDE.
The code configuarator is a really nice tool for fast results. This tool was also new to me (I did work with PICs before). Because I did used PICs before, there was MPLAB X installed on my PC. The code configuarator is there also available as much smoother working plugin.
Now to the Hardware. If there is a compiled hex file created by one of the IDEs, the programming of the board is very easy. The board is recognized as external flash drive. After copying the hex file onto it the PIC gets programmed and resets when ready. Very simple and easy to use. On the Hardware side it is very handy to have the potentiometer and four user leds onboard. Thesre is also a switch wich I did not used so far.
I do like this board and this is a good way to learn more about PICs. So far did only use smaller PICs mostly for basic IO stuff. So this board is a good platform for further experimenting. But I will use the offline IDE the most time. The online IDE is useful if you do not use your own computer (or some small netbook) and want to change something quick.
So faar my first expierencer with this board.