Star Wars: Jedi Challenges review: The must-have Christmas gift for the Star Wars obsessed

Any Star Wars fan who says they haven’t dreamed of being a Jedi or Sith is lying to you. Flat out lying. Being able to wield a lightsaber has such a strong allure it’s become a sport in its own right. Aside from buying one of those big expensive real-effects lightsabers, though, there’s never really been a way to realise that dream – until now.
Thanks to a partnership between Disney and Lenovo, Lenovo has released Star Wars: Jedi Challenges. This is no simple game, however, it’s a complete be-your-own-Jedi kit that comes with Lenovo’s ingenious Mirage augmented-reality headset and replica lightsaber. It may seem ridiculous at first, but for any avid Star Wars fan, it’s a dream come true.
With anything like this, there’s always the danger that it winds up being little more than a child’s plaything. But, rest assured, there’s an awful lot more to Lenovo’s £250 Star Wars: Jedi Challenges than meets the eye and it’s likely this will be one of the hottest gifts this Christmas.

Buy Star Wars: Jedi Challenges now from Argos

Star Wars: Jedi Challenges review – Hardware specs
Lenovo’s Star Wars: Jedi Challenges bundle is so much more than just a toy; it’s a technical marvel. It takes some incredibly simple technologies and combines them to make a device that works incredibly well, even though it really shouldn’t.
Lenovo’s Mirage AR headset makes up the bulk of the Star Wars: Jedi Challenges bundle, (and before I go any further, it’s worth noting this isn’t the same as its Windows mixed-reality headset, the Lenovo Explorer). As headsets go, it’s rather chunky and plasticky but it’s meant to be. It’s made to be worn comfortably and to survive bumps and scrapes. Its front is a huge piece of curved plastic, allowing you to look through and see your environment clearly around you, and there’s plenty of ventilation so it feels less claustrophobic and uncomfortable than the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. It’s on par with the PlayStation VR, but isn’t as heavy on the head.
What makes the Mirage headset so interesting isn’t its design, it’s the technology that makes it work. As Star Wars: Jedi Challenges runs solely on a mobile app, Mirage only requires the addition of a compatible smartphone to work. The headset’s twin fish-eye inside-out tracking cameras work out spacial positioning by tracking the lightsaber’s blue tip and a node light you drop on the floor in front of you. Your phone does all the processing and handles motion via its gyroscope and it’s amazing how well it works.
The way it creates an AR “mixed reality image”, combining the real-world environment around you with images created by your phone is even more clever. Again, there’s no wizardry involved, it’s just simple physics but it’s surprising just how well it all comes together.
The headset uses your phone’s display and a two-way mirror to reflect an image onto two transparent lenses placed in front of your eyes. This gives the illusion of a projected image floating in mid-air, and it looks fantastic, particularly in this context. With Jedi Challenges, Lenovo has played to the Mirage’s strengths, making the projections look like holograms from Star Wars, meaning it doesn’t really matter that image is slightly washed out, nor that image quality and brightness will change depending on the phone you’re using to play with and the environment you’re playing in.
The lightsaber, which is included in the package, is also meticulously put together. Its fingerprint-prone chrome finish is gorgeous and, while it’s a little light, it feels sturdy enough to survive the odd battle or two. When Lenovo and Disney announced Star Wars: Jedi Challenges they said the lightsaber would be of collector-grade quality and I have to say it does look and feel like that’s the case.

Buy Star Wars: Jedi Challenges now from Currys PC World

Star Wars: Jedi Challenges review – Gameplay
The real joy of Star Wars: Jedi Challenges comes from actually playing with the thing. Sliding headset over your head and seeing all the challenges unfurl from a mechanical box on the floor in front of you is amazing. You quickly forget it’s just your phone running the whole experience as you see your lightsaber’s blue blade erupt from its hilt right before your eyes.
Taking on Sith in Jedi battles really does feel tense, watching their holograms dance around you in your living room. The basic controls are relatively straightforward, with on-screen prompts helping you line up where you need to block incoming blows and highlighting opportunities to strike. This isn’t frantic slashing; it’s the art of a Jedi battle, and it’s exhilarating even if you’re really just waving a plastic lightsaber around in an empty room.
Star Wars: Jedi Challenges won’t let you dive right into facing off against a Sith Lord, that would be foolhardy. Before you can go up against the likes of Darth Maul or Vader himself, you need to take on two combat trials against increasingly difficult foes. These trials usually take the form of waves of enemies approaching your position. You can employ your lightsaber to deflect bullet fire (this is very, very satisfying) and make use of The Force to throw enemies around your virtual battlefield.
If you’d like a slower pace of play there’s an interesting Strategic Combat mode to delve into. Here you lead an army of rebel forces in a bid to crush the Empire in RTS-style play. Think of it as a mix of tower defence and a watered-down Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds.
Finally, there’s an even more relaxed mode to get to grips with: Holochess. It’s wonderful fun, if not accidentally impossibly hard if you’re not very good at tabletop strategy games, and an interesting take on an AR game, although I’m not convinced by its the control method. To pick and move pieces, you use the lightsaber a bit like a wand.
If these three different game variants sound a bit short on depth, don’t worry too much because there’s loads to do. Star Wars: Jedi Challenges takes place across five planets and one final level at the galaxy’s core. Each planet ups the difficulty of the games contained within and each planet also contains three levels in each of the three modes to complete. Doing the maths reveals that you’re left with 54 levels to work your way through if you want to totally complete everything.
Thankfully, Star Wars Jedi Challenges doesn’t punish you if you don’t fancy playing any Holochess or Strategic Combat. If all you want to do is work your way through lightsaber battles, you can do just that.

Buy Star Wars: Jedi Challenges now from GAME

Star Wars: Jedi Challenges review – Verdict
Now comes the tough question, is it worth it? It’s undeniable that Star Wars: Jedi Challenges is a lot of fun, but asking £250 for the privilege is a bit much. If Disney and Lenovo had managed to bring the price down to £100, or even £150, it would be a definitive yes without hesitation. As it is, £250 is quite the leap of faith for a product that – so far – is geared towards just one game.
If Lenovo can work with other partners, or Disney once more, to create new experiences using the Mirage AR headset, it will be a different matter. I hope that will be the case, especially if they can think of other uses for the lightsaber, too. For £250, Lenovo has built the best AR headset I’ve ever used. Its field of vision is fantastic, it’s incredibly lightweight and it works perfectly as an entertainment tool. Heck, I could even see it working well as an educational tool given the right applications.
Despite my concerns about price, it’s obvious that many Star Wars fans will pay up, simply for the opportunity to be a Jedi. But if you’re simply curious about AR, I’d advise waiting until Lenovo or Disney make it clear they’re going to support the Mirage AR headset with more titles.

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Rainbow Six Siege Getting Zombie Mode?

Ubisoft has just made some major announcements for its third year of Rainbow Six Siege content, confirming one rumor that many gamers had regarded as being too far-fetched. During the Pro League livestream today, studio officials have now confirmed a brand new in-game co-op event called Mission Outbreak. The event will last at least a week, and from its initial description, the upcoming Rainbow Six Siege event sounds an awful lot like Call of Duty‘s zombie mode.

The event will take place in Season One of the just-announced Year 3 content, which introduces two new biohazard specialist operators in Operation Chimera. Instead of getting a new map that ties in with the operators, Ubisoft is diverting from its traditional content schedule and adding a 3-player co-op event called Mission Outbreak. The studio officials remained mum on further details but implied that the biohazard specialists had a large role to play in the PVE event – and given that it takes place during something called Operation Chimera, we expect some suitably monster-ish enemies to feature.

Ubisoft had thought about adding new game modes in the past but struck these ideas down in favor of focusing on its brand of 5-on-5 multiplayer combat. None of the game’s post-launch content has ever toyed with this formula, so a 3 player co-operative experience against some kind of biohazardous enemies is quite a change of pace. The event is only slated to run at least a week, but should it prove popular, there’s no telling if it will come back as a more permanent fixture.

Players who delve into Mission Outbreak will be able to unlock exclusive collectibles for doing so, which will reportedly fit in with the setting of the in-game event. This means gamers who miss out on Mission Outbreak during its week-long run simply won’t be able to utilize whatever uniforms, headgear, charms, or weapon skins become unlocked for those who participate. This is a structure that has used by the studio via its Ubisoft Club challenges, which keep players coming back to unlock exclusive charms and in-game currency.

Ubisoft will reveal more about Operation Chimera and Mission Outbreak during the Six Invitational, an eSports competition that got off its feet earlier this year. The second iteration of the tournament is due to take place in Montreal from February 13-18 in 2018, with more information about the supposed zombie mode likely to drop near the finals of the invitational.
Rainbow Six Siege is available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

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Google Pixel 2 XL Sample Images

Ahead of our full review, here are some sample images taken with the new Google Pixel 2 XL flagship smartphone at the recent England vs Brazil international football match, played at Wembley Stadium, London on 14th November.
Google Pixel 2 XL is available on EE from the 15th November. EE is the exclusive direct UK network partner for Google Pixel 2 XL in the UK – www.ee.co.uk/pixel2xl
A gallery of sample images taken with the Google Pixel 2 XL smartphone.
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Top tips and tricks for the Samsung Galaxy J3, J5 and J7 (2017)

All smartphones have a range of hidden features, or at least features that would be hard to find for an untrained eye. While the knowledgeable, the ever curious and the DIY enthusiasts like to delve into the device’s innards to find them, others don’t have the patience and prefer to search for a list online. Here’s ours: our tips for the Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) and its brothers, the J5 (2017) and J3 (2017).

Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
Deactivate the Always On Display mode
This trick is a real classic for Samsung devices. By default, the manufacturer activates the Always On Display mode, a feature which always displays the date, time, battery percentage and notification icons. This display mode can be annoying but, we promise, it can be configured. To do this, just go to Settings and select Always On Display in the menu at the top of the screen. You can then change the appearance (for example, change the clock to analog) or deactivate the feature completely.

Not interested in this feature? Deactivate it! © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy J3 (2017), J5 (2017) & J7 (2017)
Use the screen with just one hand thanks to the Home button
The Galaxy J7 is far from a compact smartphone. It measures 5.5-inches diagonally, so using it with just one hand is quite difficult, perhaps even impossible. Fortunately, Samsung kept this in mind and offers a way to use the smartphone with one hand. What’s even better is that you can configure the Home button to adapt to the screen size.
Go to Settings and search for Advanced Features. Select “One-handed use mode”. Select “Touch”. However, by tapping the Home button three times successively, you’ll be able to place it on either side of the screen.
Activate the easy mode
This feature has existed on Samsung smartphones for a while now but, while it’s practical for some, it is quite overlooked. Most users want to use their phone in this mode, but some who are reluctant to use technology (you could call them technophobes) simply want a screen displaying the basic functions without the screen getting cluttered up with files and the (too) many annoying shortcuts.
To activate the easy mode, go to Display Settings. Then, you just have to activate Easy mode and that’s all there is to it!

Easy mode to the right, one-handed mode to the left. © ANDROIDPIT

Test out the hardware
It’s easy to tell if your device is working well or not, but often, after a fall or being drenched in a cup of tea, you might have to run some tests. Just enter the code *#0*# into the phone to access several types of tests, ranging from the color display to touch recognition.

Does the touch screen work? © ANDROIDPIT

Take photos without touching the screen
It has happened to us all. When you have to take a photo quickly and by the time you unlock your smartphone, open the camera app and press the camera button to take the photo, the object that you wanted to capture has disappeared. Luckily, the manufacturers have taken this into consideration and have provided more simple ways of opening the camera and taking a photo. On the J7, and on all Samsung smartphones, you just have to double tap on the Home button to open the camera and use either of the volume buttons as a shutter button to take the photo. Simple, right?
Activate the multi-window mode
This mode is well known among Android fans, but rookies don’t really know much about it. It’s a shame because it can be very handy. You can display two applications at the same time (one on the left-hand side of the screen and one on the right-hand side, when the smartphone is held horizontally, of course). Just go to Settings, Advanced Features, Multi-screen and activate the Activate split screen display option. Then, go to an app and press the multi-tasking button (to the left of the Home button). Your screen will then be divided into two sections. You’ll be able to load the other application that you want to open in the blank section.

You can send an email while watching a YouTube video. © ANDROIDPIT

Do you know any other interesting features on these devices? Which trick is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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17 STEM-focused gifts to inspire kids to learn coding and love robotics

This is the third year we’ve run a STEM-focused gift guide — and if you’re intending to buy a child something fun and quasi-educational in holiday season 2017 it’s fair to say there has never been so many programmable bots and kits to choose from, all pledging to spark or sustain an interest in coding and electronics.
This year’s guide reflects this boom in ‘educational’ techie toys — featuring programmable and controllable robots of all stripes and shapes, as well as some fully fledged learn-to-code computers and a few lower tech alternatives for variety (and those not wanting to give yet another gadget).
Gadget makers are piling into this space because of the ability to charge top dollar for toys that can claim a few STEM smarts. And it’s clear the line between connected devices and learn to code tools is being increasingly blurred — although the jury’s still out on how much lasting educational value any of these gizmos can offer vs more structured learning and guidance.
The impact of a STEM toy will obviously vary from child to child. But the theory at least is that if kids are having fun with technology they’re more likely to be inspired by the topic and want to learn more.
Click that right arrow key to view the gallery (or, if you’re on mobile, just scroll) to see our round up of 2017 gift ideas for budding coders and would-be roboticists. We’ve aimed to cover a full spectrum of age ranges, as well as including options to suit different budgets. Expect robots, lots and lots of robots…

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Germany bans smartwatches for kids and asks parents to destroy them

Germany’s telecommunication agency, the Bundesnetzagentur, has banned smartwatches for kids, and is asking parents to destroy them. According to Bleeping Computer, (via Gizmodo) the regulators have deemed smartwatches targeted at kids “prohibitive listening devices” and are asking parents to destroy any smartwatches their kids have and advising schools to pay closer attention to kids with them.
Germany is targeting the listening capabilities of smartwatches but strangely didn’t say anything about the European Consumer Organization’s (BEUC) announcement that smartwatches pose a security threat to kids’ privacy. The BEUC warned that GPS-tracking smartwatches could be hacked and attackers could track or spoof the GPS location of kids’ smartwatches.
If Europe’s crackdown on smartwatches continues, it will force manufacturers to step up their security protocols and improve the smartwatch market — which isn’t that great right now — for everyone.
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Fantasy football start/sit, Week 11: Is Jaguars QB Blake Bortles worthy starting vs. Browns?

The Browns are ripe for Blake Bortles to have a big game against.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season. While the defense deserves much of the credit, Blake Bortles has been a big part of it as well.
The enigmatic passer has thrown for an average of 287 yards per game over the last three games, all being wins for Jacksonville. He’s now set to face a Cleveland Browns team that is very weak throughout the roster. Their defense is in a world of hurt after losing star linebacker Jamie Collins to a season-ending knee injury.
That’s great news for Bortles, who looks like one of the top sleeper quarterbacks of Week 12. It also helps that Leonard Fournette is banged up and may not play this week, putting a bigger workload on Bortles’ shoulders.
Fantasy Advice: Bortles will face a Browns defense allowing the eighth-most points to quarterbacks. Get him into your starting lineup for Week 11.
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Leeds United v Middlesbrough: Championship – live! | Football

9.05am EST09:05

Half-time: Leeds 1-0 Middlesbrough

The whistle peeps, and Leeds trudge off deservedly in front. They’ve looked the neater, more confident side and a Monk signing, Hernandez, has given them their reward. Not quite what might have been expected in a firm and physical game, all things considered. See you in a bit.

Updated
at 9.11am EST

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9.04am EST09:04

45+2 mins: The free-kick on the left is hooked clear by Assombalonga, back in his six-yard box, and within half a minute the Boro striker is driving into the Leeds area on the right. He thinks he’s won a corner after it bobbles out of play but the referee gives a goalkick.

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9.02am EST09:02

45 mins: Leeds are snapping into their tackles well, and winning free-kicks when doing so. Alioski wins another on the right, which is worked out well to Jansson on the left, who wins another free-kick after Ayala tugs him back. Three minutes to be added.

Updated
at 9.08am EST

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9.00am EST09:00

43 mins: Another neat move ends with Hernandez, who’s grown into the game, feeding Alioski on the right-hand edge of the area and his left-foot curling shot is deflected over for a corner, from which Boro clear.

Updated
at 9.00am EST

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8.59am EST08:59

42 mins: Friend, already booked, gets another talking to after Alioski goes down clutching his lefg after an aeriel challenge with the Boro left-back. It looked unintentional but it’s a Leeds free-kick 50 yards or so out. And it delivers a Leeds chance, Cooper meeting Hernandez’s tantalising outswinging delivery with a lunging header that’s only fractionally wide of the right-hand post.

Updated
at 9.09am EST

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8.56am EST08:56

39 mins: Downing tries to go longer with a diagonal ball towards Tavernier on the left by-line but it’s overhit. Boro look a little short of ideas at the moment.

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8.55am EST08:55

38 mins: Ayling’s definitely winning the battle of the marauding full-backs against Friend on Leeds’ right and his tenacity and interplay with Alioski initiates another long spell of Leeds possession. It ends when Hernandez’s attempted threaded ball forward to Saiz on the edge of the area is cleared. But Leeds are definitely looking the more assured side now.

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8.52am EST08:52

36 mins: Boro win a corner after Braithwaite’s crafty backheel plays in Downing before his cross is blocked. A teasing corner is punched clear.

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8.51am EST08:51

35 mins: Another booking: Leeds’s Jansson barges Braithwaite out of the away off the ball and gets a yellow card. All getting a little tasty.

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8.50am EST08:50

34 mins: The free-kick is headed tamely at Lonergan by Ayala and Boro again do little with a possible opening.

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8.49am EST08:49

33 mins: Leeds booking. Berardi clatters Roberts right in front of the assistant referee and immediately sees yellow.

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8.48am EST08:48

31 mins: The resultant free-kick is delayed amid more kerfuffling in the penalty area and is eventually flicked to Saiz on the left but the ball takes too long to come down and his attempted lob finds only the roof of the net.

Updated
at 8.52am EST

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8.46am EST08:46

30 mins: Boro need to start being more productive with their possession now, but Leeds are now looking hungrier and a raking long ball finds Sainz by the right by-line who tricks and tussles with Friend, eventually inducing the Boro full-back into a foul for which he is booked.

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8.44am EST08:44

26 mins: Just as the game was meandering a little, Leeds have their tails up. It wasn’t exactly coming but they’ve played with reasonable amount of confidence. And Saiz, Alioski and Hernandez are beginning to combine to neat effect.

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8.41am EST08:41

Goal! Leeds 1-0 Middlesbrough (Hernandez, 24)

Leeds lead. Alioski crosses from the right, Roberts flicks on and Hernandez steals in at the far post on the left to poke a left-foot shot in the roof of the net.

Fantasy football start/sit Week 11: What to do with Doug Martin

Tampa Bay’s top running back is struggling. We break down the fantasy implications.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin faces the Miami Dolphins in Week 11. The Dolphins have given up the seventh fewest number of rushing yards to running backs this season.
With Martin struggling it may be time to sit him down for the long term.
Fantasy impact: In his early years, The Muscle Hamster was a first-round draft pick in fantasy leagues. Those days appear to be long gone. In six games this season, Martin has yet to rush for more than 74 yards. He’s also been held out of the end zone in four straight games.
Although he only rushed for 51 yards last week, Martin did receive 20 carries in the game. The offensive coordinator is committed to rushing the ball. That’s good news for fantasy owners but for right now based on production, Martin can’t be trusted.
If you own him you can certainly hope that he’ll bounce back just before playoff time, but if you’re trying to make the playoffs right now it might be best to go with another option in your backfield.
Recommendation: Sit
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Samsung Galaxy A5 2018 & Galaxy A7 2018 Get Wi-Fi Certified

Paul Briden

17/11/2017 – 3:31pm

The Galaxy A7 and Galaxy A5 are being rebooted in early 2018

We’ve been seeing a trickle of rumours and leaks surrounding Samsung’s 2018 crop of Galaxy A-Series phones, which most recently has manifested in Samsung itself confirming the existence of the in-development Galaxy A7 2018 and Galaxy A5 2018 on several of its official support webpages. The Galaxy A3 2018 is still elusive, but it’s believed the series will return once again as a trio very early next year.
The latest bit of info regarding the new models comes via the official Wi-Fi certification documents for both Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 models, courtesy of the Wi-Fi Alliance. The SM-A530F (Galaxy A5 2018) and SM-A730F (Galaxy A7 2018) each have their own certification listed on the WFA site – both are shown to be running Android 7.1.1 Nougat, but it seems likely they’ll get an update to Oreo sometime after launch.
Both phones are expected to feature Samsung’s Super AMOLED Infinity Display; the edge-to-edge 18:9 aspect ratio display implementation we’ve seen on the Galaxy S8 series and Galaxy Note 8; this year’s flagships. This will also mean the fingerprint scanner moves to the back panel.

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