Confession: We were embarrassingly excited about testing this product and getting the chance to live out some childhood fantasies. While it is undoubtedly quite fun, we found the novelty to wear off after a bit. This, coupled with this product's price tag and relatively limited functionality make it a great novelty toy for the Star Wars aficionado, but you get a lot more bang for the buck with other VR systems.
Lenovo Star Wars: Jedi Challenges Review
Pros: Lightsaber battles, lightsaber battles, lightsaber battles
Cons: Pricey, limited functionality
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Lenovo Star Wars headset finished behind the Google Daydream View, being a lot less comfortable and less visually immersive. However, it is much more interactive than the Daydream. We did find that the Star Wars headset is better than the Merge VR, but costs almost three times as much.
To determine which VR headset is truly the best out there, we bought the top products available today and pitted them against each other in a series of head-to-head challenges. We scored the performance of each piece of wearable tech on a scale of 0-100, based on its showing in each of our five weighted rating metrics: Interactiveness, Visual Immersiveness, Comfort, Ease of Setup, and User Friendliness, with the results of the Star Wars: Jedi Challenges explained below.
The most important of our rating metrics, Interactiveness accounts for 35% of the total score for each product. We rated each product on how easy it is to input commands and interact with each headset and the quality and accuracy of the motion tracking, as well as if there are any limitations imposed by its sensors. The Star Wars headset performed reasonably well.
Foregoing a more typical hand controller, this model uses a lightsaber as a controller. The lightsaber has two button for activating and Bluetooth control, as well as tracking your motion.
The headset also has three buttons to allow you to select an option, cancel a selection, or return to the menu. We found the tracking to be about average, though it did feel a little sluggish and laggy when it came to the lightsaber fights.
There weren't really any limitations in terms of where you could go, but the VR experiences are structured in a way that they occur between your location and the sensor ball.
All in all, the motion tracking and interface methods are solid for this product, though it can get a little crazy in those high-intensity saber duels.
For this metric, worth 20% of the total score, we assessed how well each product blocked ambient light, the overall viewing experience, sharpness of image, and the field of view. The Jedi Challenges headset again scored in the middle of the pack.
This headset is actually augmented reality (AR) rather than virtual reality (VR). This means that you actually want ambient light to come in, as it superimposes the virtual Star Wars content over the physical environment you are in.
Unfortunately, we found this headset to have one of the narrowest field of views out of any of the models that we looked at. This felt a little crippling in lightsaber duels and left us vulnerable to attacks from the Sith.
However, the overall viewing quality is decent, with the image looking remarkably similar to the holograms from the movies. The image is quite sharp, though it is dependent on which smartphone you use. We tested with a Galaxy S8 and found it to be more than adequate.
Ranking on par with the previous metric, our Comfort metric also accounts for 20% of the total score. We based the scores on how comfortable it is to wear for long periods of time, how sweaty your face got while wearing it, and if there is sufficient room for glasses. The Jedi Challenges headset fell a little short, earning a 4 out of 10 for its relatively lackluster showing, with plenty of other products greatly outperforming it.
While a true Jedi may have the fortitude to overcome the rather uncomfortable nature of this headset, we found that we did not. This product is a little on the heavy side and the included straps don't feel like they hold the headset very securely to your face. This product does have adequate padding, but overall it still feels quite awkward to wear.
This model did earn some points by having plenty of room for glasses and plenty of ventilation to keep your face from getting sweaty. This allows you to remain calm, cool, and collected as your command your forces against Imperial Walkers in Strategic Combat Mode.
This next metric, responsible for 15% of the overall score, evaluated each VR headset on the amount of effort it took to use it after the initial install, the ease of connecting headphones, whether or not you need to take the case off of your phone, and if there is a tendency to inadvertently press buttons. The performance of the Jedi Challenges headset improved, with this product receiving a score of 6 out of 10, comparing quite well with the other headsets in the pack, as highlighted below.
Immediately, this headset earned some points by not forcing us to remove the case from our phone. There is plenty of room for most cases, though you may have to remove some of the bulkiest, waterproof cases. The headset connects to your phone by a short cord that plugs into the charging port, with the bundle including a few different cords to accommodate which ever flavor of charging port your phone has.
We also appreciated that it wasn't very easy to accidentally press buttons on the phone when using this product, at least with the Samsung phone that we tested with. This entire setup process only takes minimal effort once you have done it a few times. Finally, for the majority of phones it is usually very easy to plug in a pair of headphones, but it can be a little more difficult, depending on which phone you use and the location of the port.
Ease of Setup
Accounting for the remaining 10% of the overall score, we judged how much work it took to complete the initial setup process, as well as the hardware requirements to run the device. This headset is one of the easiest to set up.
The hardware setup is a breeze, only really requiring you to install the batteries and calibrate the lightsaber. This, and properly getting the phone aligned can be a bit tedious depending on the phone, but usually doesn't take more than 5-10 minutes.
The only required software is installing an app from wherever you usually download apps, following the on-screen instructions to install. Most modern phones are compatible with this headset, but you should check the list of compatible phones on Lenovo's website before you purchase it.
While this headset is a ton of fun and a great option for the Star Wars enthusiast, it can be a little pricey for a mobile VR headset. You are definitely paying for the Star Wars content and should look elsewhere if you are shopping on a tight budget.
All in all, we did thoroughly enjoy this headset. It's ton of fun, with new content released as subsequent Star Wars movies come out. If you don't mind paying a little extra for Star Wars and having a much more limited library of available content, then it's a great choice. However, if you are only looking for a mobile VR headset and the Star Wars content isn't a huge draw, then you would be much better served by the Google Daydream View or the Samsung Gear VR.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer