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Star Wars: Jedi Challenges AR headset dares you to fight like a Jedi

The augmented reality headset lets Star Wars fans fight Darth Vader in a lightsaber battle, play Holochess and more.

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Xiomara Blanco
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Xiomara Blanco

Associate Editor / Reviews - Tablets and monitors

Xiomara Blanco is an associate editor for CNET Reviews. She's a Bay Area native with a knack for tech that makes life easier and more enjoyable. So, don't expect her to review printers anytime soon.

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3 min read

I bet you'd make a great Jedi. So do Disney and Lenovo.

The two companies are teaming up to bring you Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, the coolest AR game system you haven't played -- yet.

Starting at $199 and available to preorder now, Star Wars: Jedi Challenges consists of a Lenovo Mirage AR headset, a lightsaber controller, and a tracking beacon. It's scheduled to ship in November. It doesn't require a separate PC to run, but it does need a reasonably up-to-date smartphone.

International pricing has yet to be announced and may vary depending on the country. Pricing for the UK and AU converts to £153 and AU$267, respectively.

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The game system consists of a headset, controller and tracking beacon.

James Martin/CNET

Modeled after the lightsaber used by Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker and Rey, the lightsaber controller is one of the coolest features about the whole "app-enabled VR experience."

Both the headset and lightsaber use a tracking beacon -- a small sphere that sits on your floor -- to track location, while the lightsaber controller is used for actions and commands. It has two buttons and also works as a pointer to help navigate the UI.

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This lightsaber should look familiar to Star Wars fans.

James Martin/CNET

Compatible with Android and iOS phones that can run the Jedi Challenges app, the AR headset needs a smartphone to work. The phone simply slides into the top of the headset and connects to an adapter that keeps it charged. (It ships with Micro-USB, USB-C and Lighting adapters.) The image is reflected onto the transparent front screen by way of a mirror, combining the app's images with the real world.

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The phone slides into the headset.

James Martin/CNET

We got a chance to play a sneak peek of Star Wars: Jedi Challenges and faced Kylo Ren in a lightsaber battle. The headset was comfortably snug, with velcro straps for adjusting how the sides and top fit. With the headset on I could easily see everything around me; it just looked like I was wearing tinted sunglasses.

With a decorative silicon tip that kind of looks like a glowing, neon lipstick when lit up, the lightsaber controller has a solid feel -- not too heavy and not too thin. The impressive attention to detail in its design makes it worthy of adding to any Halloween or cosplay costume, if that's your thing.

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The Lenovo Mirage VR headset has two built-in fisheye cameras.

James Martin/CNET

In addition to the lightsaber battles, the Jedi Challenges app has two other games: a strategic combat game (think Battle of Hoth meets simple StarCraft) and HoloChess. Unfortunately, we were only able to play a lightsaber battle against Kylo Ren.

The experience felt a bit like HoloLens -- interesting, but the field of view was too narrow to really be immersive. The AR elements felt like they were floating around, probably because it's not true room tracking, and the laser show-esque graphics were underwhelming.

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To be fair, it was still pretty cool. Though I have no experience in wielding a lightsaber like a pro, the short battle I fought (and won) against Kylo Ren immediately had me thinking about how I improve my stance and wrist technique for next time.

Star Wars: Jedi Challenges is available for preorder now at Best Buy and Lenovo's online store. 

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