We were lucky enough to be at the global launch of this branded AR headset in IFA Berlin back at the end of summer and now we’ve had some proper hands-on time with the it. So what’s the verdict of the Star Wars™: Jedi Challenges AR Headset?
Mixed if we’re honest. It’s boiling down to three C’s. charge, compatibility and calibration. There was lots of excitement when the review box landed into the office with plenty of oohs and aahs but I was actually surprised that some Star Wars fans stills hadn’t heard about it.
The price has now dropped to €249 in some stores and online. A price drop before Christmas is never a good sign. Don’t get me wrong, we like the concept, Disney and Lenovo are definitely on the right track and the Star Wars™ franchise is the perfect fit for an AR (Augmented Reality) headset.
The difference between this and VR (Virtual Reality) is that this uses your phone screen and bounces it around the headset on mirrors so that you can see your living room but the images appear to float right in front of you. VR is more set up (console or PC and attachments needed), more immersive and more expensive. VR does have a library of games and applications whereas this headset has currently just 3 games.
You can practice your Jedi skills with your lightsaber and work your way through different levels of difficulty. This is what most fans will be buying this for. Enjoyable for the more part but we are struggling to see how long will it be hanging around once you’ve completed it a few times.
Next, you can play Holochess and this looks to be the least interesting for fans unless you enjoy chess and board games but again the novelty factor would wear thin in our opinion.
My favourite was the strategy game where you command your forces on your living room floor. We mentioned above that this headset has just 3 games currently and this may be its saving grace. We are sure that the possibilities are endless with this headset and franchise. The box contains the Lenovo Mirage AR headset that you slide your phone into. It also contains a fairly realistic lightsabre handle with soft glowing tip and a ground tracking beacon. The ground tracking beacon is set in Mode 1 and we are intrigued with what will come with Mode 2.
OK, we mentioned the three C’s at the start of this review.
Compatibility – If you are thinking about buying this as a gift, please remember that this is a smartphone powered AR headset. It is optimised for a number of phones, so you need to check if the recipient has a compatible phone. We can see on the box that LG, Samsung, Apple, Pixel and Motorola seem to be the ones supported. See the current list here and we are being told that this will be updated. Of the three reviewers around at the time we received the review unit, 2 of us have HTC smartphones (not compatible) and luckily one of us had an iPhone. We hope this won’t cause too many tears on Christmas morning.
Charging – The lightsabre needs to be charged so this needs to be taken into consideration. The tracking beacon needs batteries and then the headset is powered by your smartphone. Keeping on top of this will need a course in power management but another tip is setting your phone to maximum brightness, maximum volume and “Do not disturb” mode to stop any annoying interruptions.
Calibration – For whatever reason, we could not center our lightsabre with the AR blade in-game. It was really annoying. There is an option to recenter but we just couldn’t get it spot on. For €249 to €299 we would hope for a better experience.
Overall, we enjoyed our time with the headset but we feel it’s target audience is only going to be die-hard Star Wars fans who must have everything Disney spins out from the franchise. It’s definitely a nice proof of concept and we’re intrigued to see where this partnership between Disney and Lenovo goes next.
The Lenovo Star Wars: Jedi Challenges AR headset can be bought from Lenovo Ireland’s official website here.