We all know about STMicroelectronics. Recently they have released a surprisingly cheap (only 10 Euros) evaluation kit for their ever popular 8-bit controllers. It has an on-board micron roller, clocked at 16MHz and having a memory of 32KB with 2KB of RAM and 1KB of EEPROM data. As compared to AVR/PIC, it has 4sets of TIMERS along with additional on-board peripherals such as SPI, I2C, UART, and ADC. Surprisingly it also features an on-board integrated ST-LINK for programming and debugging over USB. Therefore you don’t need to buy any type of converters or even a separate programmer.
The circuit board has been designed so that you can simply snap off the ST-LINK part if you’d like to use the microcontroller on its own and it also has dedicated jumpers based on the power-supply you want to use. An interesting addition to the board is a touch-sensitive key which is a totally new and advanced concept. In my opinion, if you are just beginning to learn programming and don’t want to begin with ARDUINO, go with this as it’s cheap and has the basic peripherals on-board.