In 2016, I tested out Nanoleaf’s wise, colour-modifying LED wall panels at the CNET Good Household. That was the authentic, triangular version, at first identified as Nanoleaf Aurora — two several years later, I was tests out the sq.-shaped, touch-enabled Nanoleaf Canvas panels that followed them, this time at the CNET Good Apartment in downtown Louisville.

Like

  • Fantastic-wanting layout
  • Detachable mounting plates
  • Countless options for animated consequences
  • Good lighting’s best music-syncing manner
  • Supports monitor mirroring effect by means of Razer Synapse
  • Seamless integration with Apple HomeKit, supports Google Assistant, much too

Really don’t Like

  • Overcomplicated application
  • Unreliable integration with Alexa

Now, Nanoleaf has one more new set of wall panels set to start on the internet in early September, with retail availability envisioned by Oct. They’re six-sided this time — rebranded as “Nanoleaf Designs – Hexagons” — and they market in a seven-panel starter package that charges $199. Many thanks to the ongoing pandemic, I am eventually tests them out in my very own home. 

I say “eventually” since, as substantially as I’ve come to recognize the bold novelty of Nanoleaf’s lights, I’ve never quite been tempted to buy in myself. The Toronto-centered firm’s plucky panels make loads of feeling as a significant-tech decoration for a young children home or a dorm home, or as a backdrop for a budding Twitch streamer possibly — but exterior of that, bringing them into your home feels like a Jetsons-esque commitment to a degree of modernism that just isn’t quite mainstream yet.

But with vivid, excellent-wanting hues, less complicated mounting, and the same impressive checklist of attributes and integrations as ahead of — together with the great, music-syncing rhythm manner, touch sensitivity, and voice manage by means of Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant — the Hexagons make the pitch improved than any panels Nanoleaf has ever generated. A couple of sudden kinks in those connections give me pause, particularly for Alexa users, but if you’ve used the earlier five months or so staring at your walls and you might be itching to combine points up, then perhaps these amazing-wanting mild panels match the monthly bill.

Each Hexagon panel is a minor more substantial than an grownup hand with fingers outstretched.


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Let us hear it for hexagons

With cameo appearances in science and mother nature ranging from snowflakes to Saturn’s north pole to the molecular make-up of graphene, the six-sided standard polygon is an properly geeky option for Nanoleaf. In architecture, hexagonal grids are about as effective and structurally audio as it gets, which is why you see them change up in every thing from beehives to blast shielding. Grids like those are well known board video game fodder, much too, many thanks to the many details of call available from each individual space. At any level, it is really late and I am possessing enjoyable wanting up hexagon details. 

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Each Hexagon has connector sockets on all six sides, and each individual has its very own, detachable mounting plate on the again. That can make it a whole lot less complicated to get your panels — and additional importantly, their sticky tabs — off of your walls.


Ry Crist/CNET

Whether or not you like hexagons more than triangles and squares is thoroughly up to you, as Nanoleaf programs to continue to keep on providing the earlier panels along with the new types. Apart from the actuality that the triangles are not touch sensitive and have to have a individual include-on accent in buy to help the music-syncing Rhythm manner, the a few are functionally similar. Continue to, there are a couple of subtle improvements with the Hexagons that make them the best select of the a few.

The greatest change is the way you mount them. Nanoleaf used to inquire you to implement sticky tabs to the again of each individual panel and adhere them straight to your walls, which can make it a ache to rearrange them. With the Hexagons, each individual panel now pops in and out of its very own minor sticky-tab-geared up mounting plate. That means you can choose a panel off the wall individual from the mounting plate from there, the sticky tab is substantially less complicated to eliminate with the panel alone out of the way.

The connectors that url each individual panel together are different now, much too. Ahead of, they looked like dual-sided Lightning plugs that would slide straight into minor slots on the edge of each individual panel, form of like the pegs that keep Ikea home furniture together. With the Hexagons, you get new, plug-design connectors that snap into the backs of the two panels they’re joining. 

The end result is that set up feels sturdier. It truly is nevertheless definitely additional of a arms-on procedure than simply just swapping a mild bulb, but it is really leaps and bounds improved than ahead of, and fewer very likely to rip up your walls when the panels come down. I’ll also include that the Nanoleaf app’s Structure Creator, which lets you arrange your panels in the application and then see how they’ll glimpse on your wall using augmented truth, is a great, practical touch through set up.

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Nanoleaf’s new connectors snap into the again of each individual panel.


Ry Crist/CNET

The other place of note with those new connectors is that they’re the new typical. Going forward, Nanoleaf programs to include other “Designs” to the selection, with programs to allow you combine and match different styles on your wall. The outdated triangles and squares really don’t get to come along on that experience, considering the fact that they each individual use the outdated, slot-design connectors.

The Hexagons are also Nanoleaf’s best-intended mild panel yet. Each one is great and significant, adequate so to match your entire hand with fingers outstretched. That can make it less complicated to tessellate the points across your walls than it was with the lesser, sq.-shaped Canvas panels — and in contrast to those Canvas panels, the mild just isn’t sectioned off into odd-wanting quadrants (whilst the corners are admittedly a minor little bit rounded). 

Talking of those sq.-shaped predecessors, the Hexagons ditch the hideous touch buttons that marred the clean up layout and usability of the Canvas panels. In its place, you join a very small, unobtrusive manage bar with physical buttons on to any facet of any of the panels you like. That controller also residences the system’s Wi-Fi radio and the microphone it uses to sync the lights with whatsoever you might be listening to. It can help up to five hundred panels at as soon as.

In the meantime, you join a individual, 42W electric power offer into one more facet of the panels to continue to keep up to 21 of them driven. At 2W for each panel, the Hexagons keep to Nanoleaf’s tradition for effectiveness, which dates again to its days providing 3D-printed, tremendous-effective LED mild bulbs. In actuality, if you ran all 7 panels in the Hexagon starter package at full blast for a full yr, 24/7/365, it would only include about $13.forty five to your vitality monthly bill. For comparison, a solitary 60W incandescent mild bulb would include a minor below $60 to your monthly bill more than the same span.

A person very last note on electric power use: Operating the points at one hundred% is absolute overkill. Each panel delivers an impressive blast of brightness at prime configurations, adequate so that I have a hard time imagining a lot of instances where by you’d in fact want that substantially mild radiating out from your walls. In my assessments, the ambient sweet place was a whole lot nearer to twenty five% brightness — vibrant adequate that the hues nevertheless glimpse excellent, but dim adequate that the panels are not distracting or awkward to glimpse at.

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There is certainly a whole lot to participate in with in Nanoleaf’s application, but it is really overcrowded with options and unintuitive to use.


Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Killer attributes and a clumsy application

The very first issue I did soon after sticking a full of 10 hexagonal panels on to my bedroom wall was to make positive that Rhythm manner, my favourite Nanoleaf element, nevertheless labored as nicely as ahead of. The element uses a microphone crafted into the controller bar to translate audio into mild patterns that dance across the panels in different strategies depending on what preset scene you might be using. The processing all happens suitable there at the wall, with no require to send audio to the cloud — that keeps latency great and low, and it is really good for your privateness, much too.

Certain adequate, the element nevertheless works like a charm, particularly if you’ve received a stereo or a wise speaker parked nearby. Check with for your favourite playlist with one of those Rhythm presets managing, and presto, you’ve received your very own minor disco going. I cranked some Bowie and experienced a subject working day hoping out different presets to locate the types I appreciated best — and if you want, you can develop your very own presets with the exact hues and animations you like.

You may do all of that using the Nanoleaf application on your Android or iOS system. The app’s home monitor delivers standard controls for electric power and brightness, along with many lists of scenes to consider out, together with a broad wide range of animated scenes, Rhythm scenes that use the microphone, and makeshift video game modes that make use of the actuality that each individual panel is touch sensitive. If you head to the Explore tab, you’ll locate an intensive catalog of consumer-produced scenes that you can faucet to consider. If you locate one you like, you can down load it for cost-free, rename it, and even tweak its configurations. Want to develop your very own scene from scratch? The application lets you do that, much too.

Nanoleaf hides some of its best attributes in the system configurations, together with automobile-brightness, Contact Gestures and Apple HomeKit Contact Actions.


Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Tap the a few dots in the higher suitable corner of the home monitor to navigate to the system configurations for your panels, and you’ll locate some additional good attributes to participate in with, together with an automobile-brightness manner that uses an ambient mild sensor in the manage bar to routinely change the brightness of the panels inside a tailor made selection centered on how vibrant the home is to begin with. I set mine to routinely change involving 10 and 50% brightness, and it labored flawlessly. You can also customise touch controls on the panel — e.g., swiping up on a panel to improve the brightness, double-tapping to electric power it on and off, or swiping suitable to shift to a new scene.

If you might be an Apple HomeKit consumer, you can also activate “Contact Actions,” which allow you bring about other HomeKit-compatible devices with a faucet, a double faucet, or a prolonged push. That’s up to a few automations for each panel, a little something wise home geeks can have a whole lot of enjoyable with. The only rub is that you’ll require a HomeKit hub (an Apple Television, an Apple HomePod, or a dedicated, usually-on iPad) in buy to use them.

All of that assists to continue to keep the panels sensation fresh new and remarkably customizable, but it just isn’t nearly as intuitive as I’d like. Each monitor in the Nanoleaf application seems to cram additional info into body than is needed, and frequent tasks like modifying the combine of hues in a scene truly feel needlessly tiresome. Simplified, move-by-move resources for simple scene creation would be a significant enable.

Fortuitously, Nanoleaf’s integrations with voice assistants and 3rd-celebration wise home platforms necessarily mean that you really don’t require to be thoroughly reliant on the application to manage these points. A swift voice command to Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant will work, and it is really simple to routine them to change on and off or switch involving scenes at particular times.

I encountered a several hiccups with Nanoleaf’s 3rd-celebration integrations, together with a several unresponsive times in the Google Household application and an whole working day with a wonky Alexa connection.


Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

But those connections were not usually seamless. At one place, the panels stopped responding in the Google Household application, and I experienced to wait around a several minutes ahead of the connection started functioning once again. Then, there was Alexa. Not prolonged soon after establishing the connection, Amazon’s assistant seemed to fail to remember how to manage the panels entirely. I’d inquire to change the brightness or soar to a new scene, and I’d hear that my command was not supported. A very similar message confirmed up in the Alexa application, where by controls for the Hexagons failed as nicely. 

Following about a working day, points just started functioning once again, but it was absolutely bizarre offered that the panels (and my home Wi-Fi community) ended up functioning properly normally. By the close of my assessments, the connection with Apple HomeKit and with Siri was the only one that never gave me any concerns.

Possibly those concerns ended up simply just a end result of the actuality that the Hexagons are nevertheless in prelaunch for one more month or so. There are usually heaps of minor bugs to iron out with integrations like these. But the Hexagons are functionally similar to other Nanoleaf panels that have supported these integrations for several years now, so I was absolutely astonished that points did not go additional effortlessly right here. A hiccup, possibly, but one worth noting.

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Ry Crist/CNET

The verdict

I are not able to inform you how a lot of times I walked into my bedroom possessing overlooked that I’d put these panels up, observed them shining on the wall, and considered, “Huh. Individuals glimpse definitely great.” Whether or not I set them to a mild colour cycle whilst typing in mattress (really don’t choose), set them to gradually wake me up in the early morning with an artificial dawn or just set them to a new and random scene as I went about my working day, I was usually happy that they ended up there.

In other words and phrases, I am bought. In between the enhanced layout and the great brightness, colour top quality and effectiveness, Nanoleaf’s Designs are a significant-top quality wise home novelty that you’ll use and recognize each working day. Even with a several kinks in the Alexa controls, they designed me like being in my home a minor additional — and these days, that is worth a little something. Whether or not or not it is really worth $two hundred is up to you, but if you like the way these points glimpse, then I say go for it.