Thursday 18 May 2023

FEATURE: Damiensaber Xenopixel Xeno3.0 Lightsaber Review - Use the Force with Bluetooth control!

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As I much suspected to be the case with high-end lightsabers, it's impossible to just stop at one. After being so impressed with their "Luke Saber Force FX Heavy Duelling" Lightsaber earlier in the year, I absolutely jumped at the chance to take a look at what else Damiensaber had to offer in the way of replica RGB lightsabers. This time we're looking at the cream of the crop when it comes to duelling sabers, with a Damiensaber Xenopixel Xeno3.0 Lightsaber review! This is the very latest in their run of impressive Xenopixel lightsabers, which now combines the fully LED blade with both bluetooth and mobile app functionality - letting you use the Force to control your lightsaber like never before.

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First up is a quick look and the hilt, and this time around we're reviewing the Metal Hilt Force FX Heavy XRGB3.0 Custom Dueling Lightsabers Infinite Color Changing with 16 Sound Fonts Sensitive Smooth Swing model, which is part of their "Sabers for Padawan" range. Just to very quickly recap - there are "Character Collection" sabers which are hilts based on your favourite characters from the franchise, as well as the "Custom Sabers" and Padawan ranges which are custom designs that fit in with the Star Wars aesthetic. As the parts for the hilts are modular, Damiensaber also offer a variety of individual parts (emitters, grips, pommels etc.) so you are able to either further customise your saber or build one from scratch. This particular hilt is a sleek silver and black model that could easily work for Jedi or Sith alike, although the Imperial insignia on the button suggests it might be best suited for the latter. Despite the Xenopixel Xeno3.0 being the absolute top of the range the custom sabers are incredibly affordable - with this particular model priced at just $149. The Character Collection hilts will cost you a fair bit more than that, so if you're looking for a reasonably priced lightsaber for either display or duelling purposes then this is definitely the range you want to check out.

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Since a big appeal on the Xenopixel sabers is the ability to edit the sounds yourself, it's important that the electronics are easily accessible. All you need to do is screw off the hilt's pommel, and then the bottom half of the grip once that's been removed. Doing so will reveal the carefully housed chip board, with a micro SD card facing out at the front and the saber battery at the back. To get at the sounds on the saber all you need to do is carefully remove the micro SD card, plug it into a USB adapter (one should be provided with the saber itself), and then plug it into a computer to get at the sounds board. As someone not particularly tech savvy I haven't had a go at this myself just yet, but it's reassuring to know taking the necessary parts out of the hilt (as well as getting them back in afterward) isn't all that difficult.

Charging the lightsaber is done via USB C connection, with the port on this hilt located just above the activation button. Depending on your hilt of choice the port might be hidden somewhere on the inside rather than freely exposed, but either way it's again a simple case of unscrewing one of the modular pieces and plugging it in. Once you've done so the lightsaber will announce that it has entered "charging mode" and continue on functioning as normal.

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Above is the hilt alongside both the previously-reviewed Baselit 12sound Luke Skywalker lightsaber, and my hand-built lightsaber from Savi's Workshop at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge in Walt Disney World. As you can see both Damiensaber models are incredibly sleek compared to the chunky Galaxy's Edge saber, which may house a very cool Kyber Crystal gimmick but is otherwise more limited when it comes to sound and colour options. The sleeker look and light-weight feel of these lightsabers makes them far more suited to duelling, and in the case of the Xenopixel I was particularly impressed at how light the saber felt in my hands. Not only is it just far more comfortable in general, but also much better for swordplay, tricks and all the other amazing feats we saw the Jedi of the prequel era perform onscreen.

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Blades are again available in a variety of lengths and thicknesses, and on first glance may seem identical to that of the baselit sabers. However on closer inspection you'll notice that the Pixel Saber blades aren't hollow (which makes sense as there's an LED strip running down it) and sport a connective plate where they connect to the hilt. Though the presence of electronics in the blade naturally makes them a little more fragile than the hollow ones, rest assured that these are still designed for heavy duelling so can certainly take a hit. Though the plate at the bottom of the blade needs to come into contact with the bottom of the hilt in order for the electronics to work, it doesn't lock into the hilt as such. So instead it's held into a place by a number of tiny socket head screws, which once fastened to the hilt will hold it in place firmly. A corresponding tool is also provided with the lightsaber to ensure you're able to do this.

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Bluetooth functionality of the Xenopixel Xeno3.0 Lightsaber can be accessed through the Xeno Configurator app, which is available on both the Apple and Google Play stores. Once downloaded and entered, the app will ask permission to use your phone's bluetooth functionality and from there it's a simple case of selecting the saber when it appears on the radar. You'll know when it has been successfully connected as the saber will announce "App connected". Now not only will you be able to ignite the lightsaber without even touching it, but you'll have access to the whole host of other features the Xenopixel Xeno3.0 has on offer - a full colour palette for the blade, 34 different sound fonts, saber control effects, volume control and more. Playing around with the app even reveals a music track function - which doesn't have a whole lot programmed into it but can play the Sailor Moon theme when you select the "Guardian Princess" font (which comes complete with a rainbow blade). While the bonus Sailor Moon sounds might not be to everyone's tastes, it definitely gives you a good idea of how the sounds are laid out within the saber - which is ideal for when you finally get to taking that SD card out and having a play with adding things yourself.

That said, the app is still fairly new and one of the screens shows there are still plenty more features to come - all of which look to assist in customising your lightsaber even further. Options include Custom Functions, Custom Light Effects and Custom Fonts - I look forward to have a play with those when the time comes! Check out the video below for a full demonstration on the Xenopixel Xeno3.0's full bluetooth functionality and what the app has to offer;

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To turn on the lightsaber simply press down on the illuminated button, and the blade will ignite gradually just like the real thing. And this, to quote Anakin Skywalker, is when the fun begins. Much like the baselit ones the Xenopixel lightsabers can cycle through a number of different blade colours and sound fonts. But whereas the upgraded baselit version has 16 fonts to choose from (compared to the previous version's 12), this model has a massive 34 to choose from. Each one has been given a clever title that corresponds to that character's specific lightsaber (some examples include "The Chosen", "The Assassin", "The Protector" and my personal favourite, "The Senate), and part of the fun is working out just who is who. But on top of the additional fonts, the Xenopixel lightsabers also have a lot more to offer when it comes to the type of blade you're wielding. "Steady" will give you the usual consistent beam of light, whereas the "cracked" blade will see flashes of white light run through it every so often. "Pulse" will give you a blade that steadily flashes just as its name suggests, while the "Flash" does the same at a much more rapid pace. "Fire" gives you a blade that light streams upward like a flame, and then if that's not enough there's also "Rainbow" and "Candy" blade options for a pure explosion of colour.

Once again, the smooth swing technology makes it feel like you're holding onto the real thing, with even the slightest hand gesture resulting in those familiar hums and crackles. Choosing between the various modes involves holding down the activation button for a set amount of time, which is signalled by the illuminated ring around the button flashing. The flashes of the button make it much easier to get the timing down than it does on those that lack the ring, so its a good lightsaber for those that aren't so good at counting down the seconds. Like the baselit sabers, the Xenopixels also have motion controls - however it's worth noting that they are slightly different to that of the Baselit ones. For example, whereas igniting the saber on the baselit involves a flick of the wrist, on the Xenopixel it's a short stab forwards. A full list of the functions, timings and motion controls can be found in the included instruction manual.

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While admittedly there isn't a huge difference between them (which is honestly a testament to how good the baselit sabers are), the Xenopixel does give off a stronger and more consistent beam of light in comparison with the Baselit 12sound lightsaber. Of course this is to be expected given that the LEDs are running down the whole blade rather than just emitting from the top of the hilt. But even with the numerous font and colour options the baselit sabers have, you just can't beat the sheer number of functions the Xenopixel ones have. From the classic lightsaber hum in an array of different colours to cracked and unstable blades (which see flashes of white light periodically run down the blade) these models really are top of the range when it comes to functionality. You won't see this many options on a Black Series or Galaxy's Edge/Legacy lightsaber that's for sure.

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As much as I was already won over by the Baselit 12sound version the Damiensaber Xenopixel Xeno3.0 lightsaber is just on a whole other level. Between the sheer range of sound fonts, colour options and blade options on offer you're spoiled for choice even before you get into more technical things like the modular build of the hilts and bluetooth/app functionality. As someone who's thinking about wall-mounting my lightsabers for display, I really like the idea of being able to turn it on for a bit of sufficiently Star Wars mood-lighting with just a tap of my phone. But for those thinking a little more actively, these lightsabers are top tier when it comes to both cosplay props and duelling to the death on the fiery planet of Mustafar.

Thank you again to Damiensaber for the opportunity to check out this fantastic lightsaber! Be sure to check them out and complete your Jedi training...or path to the Dark Side!

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