Nanoleaf’s Hexagons made me like being at home a little more

In 2016, I tested out Nanoleaf’s clever, colour-modifying LED wall panels at the CNET Smart

In 2016, I tested out Nanoleaf’s clever, colour-modifying LED wall panels at the CNET Smart Property. That was the primary, triangular variation, initially named Nanoleaf Aurora — two decades later on, I was screening out the square-formed, touch-enabled Nanoleaf Canvas panels that followed them, this time at the CNET Smart Condominium in downtown Louisville.

Like

  • Terrific-seeking structure
  • Removable mounting plates
  • Limitless choices for animated effects
  • Smart lighting’s greatest audio-syncing manner
  • Supports display mirroring influence through Razer Synapse
  • Seamless integration with Apple HomeKit, supports Google Assistant, much too

Will not Like

  • Overcomplicated app
  • Unreliable integration with Alexa

Now, Nanoleaf has another new established of wall panels established to start on-line in early September, with retail availability anticipated by October. They’re 6-sided this time — rebranded as “Nanoleaf Shapes – Hexagons” — and they market in a 7-panel starter kit that expenses $199. Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, I am lastly screening them out in my personal property. 

I say “lastly” mainly because, as significantly as I’ve occur to take pleasure in the bold novelty of Nanoleaf’s lights, I’ve never rather been tempted to purchase in myself. The Toronto-primarily based firm’s plucky panels make loads of perception as a significant-tech decoration for a little ones room or a dorm room, or as a backdrop for a budding Twitch streamer most likely — but outdoors of that, bringing them into your property feels like a Jetsons-esque dedication to a stage of modernism that is just not rather mainstream but.

But with vivid, good-seeking hues, a lot easier mounting, and the exact impressive checklist of functions and integrations as ahead of — which includes the excellent, audio-syncing rhythm manner, touch sensitivity, and voice regulate through Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant — the Hexagons make the pitch superior than any panels Nanoleaf has at any time generated. A few of sudden kinks in all those connections give me pause, significantly for Alexa users, but if you have spent the earlier 5 months or so staring at your partitions and you might be itching to combine points up, then probably these wonderful-seeking light panels in good shape the invoice.

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Every single Hexagon panel is a little greater than an adult hand with fingers outstretched.


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Let’s listen to it for hexagons

With cameo appearances in science and nature ranging from snowflakes to Saturn’s north pole to the molecular makeup of graphene, the 6-sided common polygon is an correctly geeky option for Nanoleaf. In architecture, hexagonal grids are about as successful and structurally audio as it will get, which is why you see them switch up in every little thing from beehives to blast shielding. Grids like all those are common board video game fodder, much too, thanks to the a number of factors of get in touch with readily available from just about every space. At any charge, it truly is late and I am obtaining fun seeking up hexagon facts. 

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Every single Hexagon has connector sockets on all 6 sides, and just about every has its personal, detachable mounting plate on the back. That helps make it a whole lot a lot easier to get your panels — and a lot more importantly, their sticky tabs — off of your partitions.


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Irrespective of whether you choose hexagons about triangles and squares is absolutely up to you, as Nanoleaf ideas to keep on offering the earlier panels alongside the new types. Apart from the actuality that the triangles usually are not touch delicate and call for a independent include-on accessory in get to permit the audio-syncing Rhythm manner, the 3 are functionally identical. Even now, there are a few of refined alterations with the Hexagons that make them the greatest choose of the 3.

The greatest alter is the way you mount them. Nanoleaf utilised to talk to you to utilize sticky tabs to the back of just about every panel and stick them straight to your partitions, which helps make it a agony to rearrange them. With the Hexagons, just about every panel now pops in and out of its personal little sticky-tab-geared up mounting plate. That usually means you can acquire a panel off the wall independent from the mounting plate from there, the sticky tab is significantly a lot easier to take out with the panel by itself out of the way.

The connectors that url just about every panel alongside one another are distinct now, much too. Just before, they looked like dual-sided Lightning plugs that would slide straight into little slots on the edge of just about every panel, type of like the pegs that maintain Ikea home furnishings alongside one another. With the Hexagons, you get new, plug-type connectors that snap into the backs of the two panels they’re joining. 

The end result is that set up feels sturdier. It can be nevertheless of course a lot more of a arms-on system than merely swapping a light bulb, but it truly is leaps and bounds superior than ahead of, and much less most likely to rip up your partitions when the panels occur down. I am going to also include that the Nanoleaf app’s Layout Creator, which allows you prepare your panels in the app and then see how they’ll glimpse on your wall employing augmented actuality, is a great, useful touch during set up.

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Nanoleaf’s new connectors snap into the back of just about every panel.


Ry Crist/CNET

The other stage of be aware with all those new connectors is that they’re the new typical. Moving forward, Nanoleaf ideas to include other “Shapes” to the selection, with ideas to let you combine and match distinct styles on your wall. The aged triangles and squares do not get to occur alongside on that ride, since they just about every use the aged, slot-type connectors.

The Hexagons are also Nanoleaf’s greatest-designed light panel but. Every single a person is great and significant, plenty of so to in good shape your total hand with fingers outstretched. That helps make it a lot easier to tessellate the points throughout your partitions than it was with the smaller sized, square-formed Canvas panels — and not like all those Canvas panels, the light is just not sectioned off into odd-seeking quadrants (even though the corners are admittedly a little bit rounded). 

Speaking of all those square-formed predecessors, the Hexagons ditch the unpleasant touch buttons that marred the thoroughly clean structure and usability of the Canvas panels. Rather, you hook up a tiny, unobtrusive regulate bar with physical buttons on to any aspect of any of the panels you like. That controller also homes the system’s Wi-Fi radio and the microphone it makes use of to sync the lights with whatever you might be listening to. It can guidance up to five hundred panels at when.

In the meantime, you hook up a independent, 42W energy supply into another aspect of the panels to keep up to 21 of them driven. At 2W for each panel, the Hexagons maintain to Nanoleaf’s custom for performance, which dates back to its times offering 3D-printed, tremendous-successful LED light bulbs. In actuality, if you ran all 7 panels in the Hexagon starter kit at full blast for a full calendar year, 24/7/365, it would only include about $thirteen.forty five to your power invoice. For comparison, a single 60W incandescent light bulb would include a little beneath $sixty to your invoice about the exact span.

Just one previous be aware on energy utilization: Operating the points at 100% is complete overkill. Every single panel offers an impressive blast of brightness at top rated settings, plenty of so that I have a hard time imagining numerous instances wherever you would truly want that significantly light radiating out from your partitions. In my assessments, the ambient sweet location was a whole lot closer to 25% brightness — vivid plenty of that the hues nevertheless glimpse good, but dim plenty of that the panels usually are not distracting or uncomfortable to glimpse at.

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You will find a whole lot to play with in Nanoleaf’s app, but it truly is overcrowded with choices and unintuitive to use.


Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Killer functions and a clumsy app

The very first matter I did following sticking a complete of 10 hexagonal panels on to my bed room wall was to make absolutely sure that Rhythm manner, my beloved Nanoleaf function, nevertheless labored as effectively as ahead of. The function makes use of a microphone designed into the controller bar to translate audio into light patterns that dance throughout the panels in distinct means based on what preset scene you might be employing. The processing all takes place ideal there at the wall, with no need to have to deliver audio to the cloud — that keeps latency great and minimal, and it truly is good for your privacy, much too.

Guaranteed plenty of, the function nevertheless functions like a charm, significantly if you have acquired a stereo or a clever speaker parked close by. Question for your beloved playlist with a person of all those Rhythm presets jogging, and presto, you have acquired your personal little disco heading. I cranked some Bowie and had a subject day attempting out distinct presets to locate the types I liked greatest — and if you want, you can produce your personal presets with the precise hues and animations you choose.

You’ll do all of that employing the Nanoleaf app on your Android or iOS gadget. The app’s property display offers essential controls for energy and brightness, alongside with a number of lists of scenes to check out out, which includes a large wide range of animated scenes, Rhythm scenes that use the microphone, and makeshift video game modes that make use of the actuality that just about every panel is touch delicate. If you head to the Find tab, you will locate an considerable catalog of person-made scenes that you can faucet to check out. If you locate a person you like, you can down load it for cost-free, rename it, and even tweak its settings. Want to produce your personal scene from scratch? The app allows you do that, much too.

Nanoleaf hides some of its greatest functions in the gadget settings, which includes vehicle-brightness, Touch Gestures and Apple HomeKit Touch Actions.


Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Tap the 3 dots in the upper ideal corner of the property display to navigate to the gadget settings for your panels, and you will locate some a lot more good functions to play with, which includes an vehicle-brightness manner that makes use of an ambient light sensor in the regulate bar to mechanically regulate the brightness of the panels in a personalized selection primarily based on how vivid the room is to get started with. I established mine to mechanically regulate concerning 10 and fifty% brightness, and it labored flawlessly. You can also customize touch controls on the panel — e.g., swiping up on a panel to improve the brightness, double-tapping to energy it on and off, or swiping ideal to go to a new scene.

If you might be an Apple HomeKit person, you can also activate “Touch Actions,” which let you trigger other HomeKit-appropriate devices with a faucet, a double faucet, or a long press. Which is up to 3 automations for each panel, something clever property geeks can have a whole lot of fun with. The only rub is that you will need to have a HomeKit hub (an Apple Tv, an Apple HomePod, or a dedicated, generally-on iPad) in get to use them.

All of that can help to keep the panels feeling refreshing and really customizable, but it is just not almost as intuitive as I might like. Every single display in the Nanoleaf app seems to cram a lot more details into body than is vital, and prevalent responsibilities like changing the combine of hues in a scene feel needlessly laborous. Simplified, phase-by-phase resources for uncomplicated scene development would be a significant assistance.

Thankfully, Nanoleaf’s integrations with voice assistants and 3rd-get together clever property platforms mean that you do not need to have to be absolutely reliant on the app to regulate these points. A quick voice command to Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant will do the job, and it truly is uncomplicated to routine them to switch on and off or swap concerning scenes at precise situations.

I encountered a number of hiccups with Nanoleaf’s 3rd-get together integrations, which includes a number of unresponsive times in the Google Property app and an whole day with a wonky Alexa link.


Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

But all those connections weren’t generally seamless. At a person stage, the panels stopped responding in the Google Property app, and I had to wait around a number of minutes ahead of the link started performing all over again. Then, there was Alexa. Not long following setting up the link, Amazon’s assistant seemed to overlook how to regulate the panels completely. I might talk to to alter the brightness or soar to a new scene, and I might listen to that my command was not supported. A comparable information showed up in the Alexa app, wherever controls for the Hexagons failed as effectively. 

Soon after about a day, points just started performing all over again, but it was undoubtedly bizarre presented that the panels (and my property Wi-Fi network) were performing perfectly in any other case. By the stop of my assessments, the link with Apple HomeKit and with Siri was the only a person that never gave me any challenges.

Probably all those challenges were merely a end result of the actuality that the Hexagons are nevertheless in prelaunch for another month or so. There are generally plenty of little bugs to iron out with integrations like these. But the Hexagons are functionally identical to other Nanoleaf panels that have supported these integrations for decades now, so I was undoubtedly astonished that points failed to go a lot more easily here. A hiccup, most likely, but a person really worth noting.

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Ry Crist/CNET

The verdict

I cannot inform you how numerous situations I walked into my bed room obtaining forgotten that I might put these panels up, found them shining on the wall, and believed, “Huh. Those glimpse actually great.” Irrespective of whether I established them to a mild colour cycle even though typing in mattress (do not judge), established them to gradually wake me up in the early morning with an artificial sunrise or just established them to a new and random scene as I went about my day, I was generally glad that they were there.

In other words and phrases, I am bought. Between the improved structure and the excellent brightness, colour top quality and performance, Nanoleaf’s Shapes are a significant-top quality clever property novelty that you will use and take pleasure in each individual day. Even with a number of kinks in the Alexa controls, they designed me like remaining in my property a little a lot more — and these times, that’s really worth something. Irrespective of whether or not it truly is really worth $two hundred is up to you, but if you like the way these points glimpse, then I say go for it.