Neopixel lightsabers continue to increase in popularity in the custom saber community. The lightsabers feature brightly illuminated blades and boast some of the most technologically advanced and customizable lightsaber blade effects, ranging from tip drag and saber scroll to specialized visual effects concentrated in specific segments of the blade.
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Despite the popularity and advanced functionality of neopixel lightsabers, the cutting edge saber technology is not without a few drawbacks. Let’s examine the top five problems with neopixel lightsabers.
NOTE: The intent of the article is to explore some of the potential weaknesses of neopixel lightsaber technology in its current state. The list is not intended to discourage the purchase of a neopixel lightsaber over any other lightsaber type.
1. Lack of Durability
Although neopixel lightsabers are more durable than lightsabers that use similar, basic string blades (e.g. Star Wars: The Black Series Force FX Lightsabers), lightsaber enthusiasts, including members of the lightsaber dueling organization The Saber Legion, have damaged or outright broken neopixel lightsaber blades during dueling. If the blade is damaged or destroyed during dueling, repairing or replacing the technology-laden neopixel blade is much more costly than replacing a basic, hollow heavy grade blade for an in-hilt LED lightsaber.
UPDATE 2/7/2020: Depending on the manufacturer, some neopixel lightsaber blades using thick walled blade stock, may be durable enough for medium dueling. Check with the manufacturer and the lightsaber community before buying.
2. Expensive to Purchase and to Repair
Neopixel lightsabers are generally more expensive than lightsabers equipped with an in-hilt LED. Neopixel lightsabers commonly cost at least about $100 more than an equivalent lightsaber configured with an in-hilt LED. Since the neopixel blade itself contains expensive and potentially breakable technology, replacing a neopixel lightsaber blade is more expensive than replacing a simple, hollow blade for lightsaber with an in-hilt LED.
3. Shorter Battery Life
Neopixel lightsabers drain their batteries at a rapid pace. All of those cool and fancy neopixel blade effects and customizations burn through the lightsaber battery much faster than in-hilt LED lightsabers.
4. Lack of Lightsaber Blade Variety
Since in-hilt LED lightsabers use a simple, non-component blade (i.e. a basic blade without technology on the inside), lightsaber enthusiasts can easily and quickly change from a standard blade, to a day blade, to a flat acrylic blade, to a photon blade, etc. Neopixel blade style selection is much more limited in variety and scope. Each blade also requires its own neopixel strip(s).
5. Increased Complexity
The more technologically complex the lightsaber, the more challenging and expensive it can be to diagnose and repair it. Sometimes a simpler piece of hardware is easier deal with, even if the simplicity mean sacrificing a few of the cool features and benefits of a more technologically advanced lightsaber.
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Neopixel lightsaber technology continues to evolve, advance and gain popularity. Some of the problems with neopixel lightsabers will likely dissipate in the coming years. Advances in technology may help decrease neopixel lightsaber production costs and increase battery capacity, for example. The neopixel lightsaber is not a passing fad. The technology is likely here to stay.