In 2016, I examined out Nanoleaf’s smart, shade-altering LED wall panels at the CNET Clever Home. That was the initial, triangular model, originally named Nanoleaf Aurora — two yrs later, I was tests out the square-shaped, contact-enabled Nanoleaf Canvas panels that adopted them, this time at the CNET Clever Apartment in downtown Louisville.

Like

  • Terrific-looking design and style
  • Removable mounting plates
  • Unlimited options for animated results
  • Clever lighting’s most effective new music-syncing mode
  • Supports display screen mirroring outcome by way of Razer Synapse
  • Seamless integration with Apple HomeKit, supports Google Assistant, much too

Really don’t Like

  • Overcomplicated app
  • Unreliable integration with Alexa

Now, Nanoleaf has yet another new established of wall panels established to start on the web in early September, with retail availability expected by Oct. They’re 6-sided this time — rebranded as “Nanoleaf Styles – Hexagons” — and they sell in a seven-panel starter kit that prices $199. Many thanks to the ongoing pandemic, I’m ultimately tests them out in my individual home. 

I say “ultimately” simply because, as a lot as I’ve come to appreciate the daring novelty of Nanoleaf’s lights, I’ve hardly ever fairly been tempted to obtain in myself. The Toronto-based mostly company’s plucky panels make lots of perception as a high-tech decoration for a kids place or a dorm place, or as a backdrop for a budding Twitch streamer perhaps — but outside the house of that, bringing them into your home feels like a Jetsons-esque motivation to a level of modernism that isn’t really fairly mainstream nonetheless.

But with vivid, wonderful-looking hues, less difficult mounting, and the identical impressive checklist of features and integrations as just before — including the great, new music-syncing rhythm mode, contact sensitivity, and voice handle by way of Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant — the Hexagons make the pitch better than any panels Nanoleaf has at any time created. A couple of sudden kinks in those people connections give me pause, notably for Alexa buyers, but if you’ve invested the earlier 5 months or so staring at your walls and you happen to be itching to mix things up, then perhaps these superb-looking mild panels in good shape the invoice.

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Each individual Hexagon panel is a very little larger 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 properly geeky decision for Nanoleaf. In architecture, hexagonal grids are about as successful and structurally seem as it will get, which is why you see them switch up in every thing from beehives to blast shielding. Grids like those people are well-known board sport fodder, much too, thanks to the many points of get in touch with obtainable from just about every place. At any price, it truly is late and I’m obtaining fun looking up hexagon facts. 

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Each individual Hexagon has connector sockets on all 6 sides, and just about every has its individual, removable mounting plate on the back. That would make it a whole lot less difficult to get your panels — and additional importantly, their sticky tabs — off of your walls.


Ry Crist/CNET

Whether or not you want hexagons above triangles and squares is completely up to you, as Nanoleaf designs to retain on offering the past panels along with the new types. Apart from the truth that the triangles usually are not contact delicate and have to have a different insert-on accent in buy to empower the new music-syncing Rhythm mode, the three are functionally identical. Still, there are a couple of subtle improvements with the Hexagons that make them the most effective choose of the three.

The most significant change is the way you mount them. Nanoleaf used to check with you to implement sticky tabs to the back of just about every panel and adhere them straight to your walls, which would make it a discomfort to rearrange them. With the Hexagons, just about every panel now pops in and out of its individual very little sticky-tab-equipped mounting plate. That signifies you can get a panel off the wall different from the mounting plate from there, the sticky tab is a lot less difficult to take out with the panel alone out of the way.

The connectors that connection just about every panel alongside one another are diverse now, much too. Just before, they seemed like twin-sided Lightning plugs that would slide straight into very little slots on the edge of just about every panel, form of like the pegs that hold Ikea furniture alongside one another. With the Hexagons, you get new, plug-style connectors that snap into the backs of the two panels they’re signing up for. 

The end result is that setup feels sturdier. It can be continue to obviously additional of a fingers-on method than simply just swapping a mild bulb, but it truly is leaps and bounds better than just before, and significantly less most likely to rip up your walls when the panels come down. I’ll also insert that the Nanoleaf app’s Structure Creator, which lets you prepare your panels in the app and then see how they will seem on your wall using augmented fact, is a nice, valuable contact in the course of setup.

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


Ry Crist/CNET

The other issue of observe with those people new connectors is that they’re the new conventional. Moving ahead, Nanoleaf designs to insert other “Styles” to the collection, with designs to permit you mix and match diverse designs on your wall. The previous triangles and squares never get to come together on that journey, considering the fact that they just about every use the previous, slot-style connectors.

The Hexagons are also Nanoleaf’s most effective-developed mild panel nonetheless. Each individual a person is nice and large, more than enough so to in good shape your full hand with fingers outstretched. That would make it less difficult to tessellate the things across your walls than it was with the more compact, square-shaped Canvas panels — and in contrast to those people Canvas panels, the mild isn’t really sectioned off into odd-looking quadrants (despite the fact that the corners are admittedly a very little bit rounded). 

Speaking of those people square-shaped predecessors, the Hexagons ditch the unsightly contact buttons that marred the cleanse design and style and usability of the Canvas panels. Alternatively, you hook up a very small, unobtrusive handle bar with physical buttons on to any facet of any of the panels you like. That controller also properties the system’s Wi-Fi radio and the microphone it works by using to sync the lights with no matter what you happen to be listening to. It can assistance up to 500 panels at after.

In the meantime, you hook up a different, 42W power supply into yet another facet of the panels to retain up to 21 of them driven. At 2W per panel, the Hexagons hold to Nanoleaf’s tradition for efficiency, which dates back to its times offering 3D-printed, tremendous-successful LED mild bulbs. In truth, if you ran all seven panels in the Hexagon starter kit at complete blast for a complete yr, 24/seven/365, it would only insert about $thirteen.45 to your power invoice. For comparison, a solitary 60W incandescent mild bulb would insert a very little underneath $sixty to your invoice above the identical span.

Just one last observe on power use: Operating the things at a hundred% is absolute overkill. Each individual panel gives an impressive blast of brightness at leading configurations, more than enough so that I have a tricky time imagining lots of circumstances where by you would actually want that a lot mild radiating out from your walls. In my checks, the ambient sweet place was a whole lot nearer to twenty five% brightness — brilliant more than enough that the hues continue to seem wonderful, but dim more than enough that the panels usually are not distracting or unpleasant to seem at.

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There is a whole lot to engage in with in Nanoleaf’s app, but it truly is overcrowded with options and unintuitive to use.


Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Killer features and a clumsy app

The initial thing I did after sticking a full of ten hexagonal panels on to my bedroom wall was to make absolutely sure that Rhythm mode, my preferred Nanoleaf feature, continue to worked as perfectly as just before. The feature works by using a microphone constructed into the controller bar to translate seem into mild styles that dance across the panels in diverse approaches based on what preset scene you happen to be using. The processing all comes about suitable there at the wall, with no need to have to send audio to the cloud — that retains latency nice and reduced, and it truly is good for your privacy, much too.

Confident more than enough, the feature continue to performs like a charm, notably if you’ve acquired a stereo or a smart speaker parked close by. Ask for your preferred playlist with a person of those people Rhythm presets functioning, and presto, you’ve acquired your individual very little disco going. I cranked some Bowie and had a industry day seeking out diverse presets to obtain the types I liked most effective — and if you want, you can generate your individual presets with the exact hues and animations you want.

You can do all of that using the Nanoleaf app on your Android or iOS unit. The app’s home display screen gives fundamental controls for power and brightness, together with many lists of scenes to consider out, including a huge variety of animated scenes, Rhythm scenes that use the microphone, and makeshift sport modes that make use of the truth that just about every panel is contact delicate. If you head to the Explore tab, you are going to obtain an extensive catalog of consumer-produced scenes that you can faucet to consider. If you obtain a person you like, you can down load it for free of charge, rename it, and even tweak its configurations. Want to generate your individual scene from scratch? The app lets you do that, much too.

Nanoleaf hides some of its most effective features in the unit configurations, including vehicle-brightness, Touch Gestures and Apple HomeKit Touch Actions.


Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Tap the three dots in the upper suitable corner of the home display screen to navigate to the unit configurations for your panels, and you are going to obtain some additional good features to engage in with, including an vehicle-brightness mode that works by using an ambient mild sensor in the handle bar to quickly change the brightness of the panels inside a customized array based mostly on how brilliant the place is to commence with. I established mine to quickly change concerning ten and fifty% brightness, and it worked flawlessly. You can also customise contact controls on the panel — e.g., swiping up on a panel to boost the brightness, double-tapping to power it on and off, or swiping suitable to move to a new scene.

If you happen to be an Apple HomeKit consumer, you can also activate “Touch Actions,” which permit you induce other HomeKit-appropriate gadgets with a faucet, a double faucet, or a long push. Which is up to three automations per panel, one thing smart home geeks can have a whole lot of fun with. The only rub is that you are going to need to have a HomeKit hub (an Apple Television, an Apple HomePod, or a focused, constantly-on iPad) in buy to use them.

All of that can help to retain the panels experience new and very customizable, but it isn’t really virtually as intuitive as I would like. Each individual display screen in the Nanoleaf app looks to cram additional data into body than is needed, and frequent tasks like altering the mix of hues in a scene feel needlessly laborous. Simplified, action-by-action tools for quick scene generation would be a large assistance.

The good news is, Nanoleaf’s integrations with voice assistants and third-bash smart home platforms mean that you never need to have to be completely reliant on the app to handle these things. A rapid voice command to Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant will get the job done, and it truly is quick to agenda them to switch on and off or switch concerning scenes at precise moments.

I encountered a number of hiccups with Nanoleaf’s third-bash integrations, including a number of unresponsive times in the Google Home app and an overall day with a wonky Alexa link.


Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

But those people connections weren’t constantly seamless. At a person issue, the panels stopped responding in the Google Home app, and I had to wait a number of minutes just before the link begun working again. Then, there was Alexa. Not long after establishing the link, Amazon’s assistant appeared to forget how to handle the panels completely. I would check with to change the brightness or bounce to a new scene, and I would listen to that my command wasn’t supported. A similar concept confirmed up in the Alexa app, where by controls for the Hexagons unsuccessful as perfectly. 

After about a day, things just begun working again, but it was certainly bizarre supplied that the panels (and my home Wi-Fi network) had been working flawlessly if not. By the end of my checks, the link with Apple HomeKit and with Siri was the only a person that hardly ever gave me any troubles.

Perhaps those people troubles had been simply just a end result of the truth that the Hexagons are continue to in prelaunch for yet another thirty day period or so. There are constantly lots of very 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 yrs now, so I was certainly amazed that things did not go additional smoothly below. A hiccup, perhaps, but a person worthy of noting.

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Ry Crist/CNET

The verdict

I won’t be able to notify you how lots of moments I walked into my bedroom obtaining forgotten that I would put these panels up, noticed them shining on the wall, and considered, “Huh. Those people seem truly nice.” Whether or not I established them to a light shade cycle whilst typing in mattress (never judge), established them to slowly wake me up in the morning with an synthetic dawn or just established them to a new and random scene as I went about my day, I was constantly happy that they had been there.

In other words and phrases, I’m bought. Involving the enhanced design and style and the great brightness, shade high-quality and efficiency, Nanoleaf’s Styles are a high-high-quality smart home novelty that you are going to use and appreciate every day. Even with a number of kinks in the Alexa controls, they created me like staying in my home a very little additional — and these times, that is worthy of one thing. Whether or not or not it truly is worthy of $two hundred is up to you, but if you like the way these things seem, then I say go for it.