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Lenovo's AR phone can show you what isn't really there

The Phab 2 Pro's Google Tango software uses special cameras to help create augmented reality in cool ways.

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Jessica Dolcourt

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1 of 25 Sarah Tew/CNET

The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is the first phone to use Google's Tango software.

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Tango gives the phone the ability to apply augmented reality over the real world, in really cool ways. In this demo, the office area around me transforms into a fantastical landscape.

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Right now, you need a lot of hardware to be able to scan, measure and track a room so that AR can accurately put virtual things in it. That requires some additional cameras and an infrared sensor.

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The phone also needs a large battery and processing power. This makes it heavy and big.

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With AR, you can interact with items on the screen that occupy the space in front of you.

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For example, I laid out a long range of dominoes on the concrete hallway in front of me.

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And then watched them fall down. The hallway's empty, but the effect is convincing enough.

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It stops being convincing when dominoes in this game suspended in midair, rather than clattering to the "floor." I feel like a more sophisticated game would scan the room and identify the edge of a table.

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This pouty pup is from another game, a virtual pet I can feed and raise. You have to get up and walk around to feed it. Sticking your hand in the scene can ruin the illusion.

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Lowe's Vision is a more practical app you can use to place furniture, like this lamp, on the table. Walking around it help you envision it in the room.

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One problem I had was getting smudges all over the wide-angle scanning camera.

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Lenovo put the fingerprint reader in the middle of the phone, so it's easier to reach...

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...but I often overshot it and accidentally touched the camera lens instead.

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Here are some more shots of the phone's particulars.

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Interesting as it is, the phone does have its limitations. Make sure you see all the pros and cons in my full Lenovo Phab 2 Pro review.

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