TechLife Australia

Nanoleaf Light Panels + Rhythm



YOUR HUMBLE REVIEWER was let out of the cupboard recently to accept a review kit for the Nanoleaf Light Panels with accompanyi­ng Rhythm attachment. Being familiar with smart lights already — as we have three LIFX bulbs at home — the concept of customisab­le mood lighting was something we were eager to compare, especially as the Light Panels are physically so different to regular light bulbs.

The Nanoleafs are equilatera­l triangles measuring 24cm on each side and a nicely slim 8mm thick. They slot together using the included linkers, which are strong enough to keep them sitting flush next to each other when horizontal, but you will want to secure each panel to the wall individual­ly when mounting (which you can do using the included adhesive strips or grab yourself an additional screw mount kit for ceilings). The trapezoida­l controller can slot into any of the panels, meaning it offers great flexibilit­y in terms of creating your desired shape. While our review kit came with the basic nine panels, you can grab alternativ­e kits with either 18 or 30 panels in each — or just buy packs of additional panels to add to the basic Smarter Kit. We also had the Rhythm Edition attachment bundled in — more on that in a moment.

Once you’ve set up your panel design and grabbed the Nanoleaf app, you need to pair your device before you can get the party started. We had a minor hiccough with establishi­ng a connection, but that could’ve been due to our home’s poor Wi-Fi — and, true, after we were all set up, we had no further issues. There is a bunch of preloaded moods in the app that you can play around with first — including a forest theme of greens, bright flashing disco lights, an amusing white-and-orange Nemo theme (which works perfectly if you’ve got a fish-like layout, which we coincident­ally did), and many more. Selecting one will get the lights working, and you can alter the brightness, as well as tweak the theme to your liking or just go with a single, unchanging hue. There’s a huge selection of additional user-created themes to download

via the app, too, if none of the default ones take your fancy.

Having these panels up on the wall of your house really does set the scene, lending your abode a distinct modern feel, making us wish instantly that we had more panels to get adventurou­s with. While, of course, the early stages of testing were experiment­ing with the wacky themes and trying to make our living room look like a fish tank, we moved on to testing the ambient hues on offer. These panels are capable of spreading the light evenly through a room, regardless of your chosen design, and we found that using our customised orangewhit­e ‘reading light’ theme was perfect for a good book.

But the Nanoleaf Light Panels really come into their own when you attach the Rhythm (right). Like the controller, you can also slot this small trapezium into any of the panels. Crank up your sound system or TV, select a rhythm theme and watch the lights react! (Selecting the Fireworks theme and then watching Dunkirk was eerily atmospheri­c, we have to say...) Music, however, is definitely preferable — something with a strong beat will get you the best results. We tried Ride of the Valkyries, since that was the most epic piece of music that came to mind, but the strings at their crescendo didn’t quite produce the desired effect. Switching to the opposite of the musical spectrum with Marilyn Manson’s I Don’t Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me), however, got the light show blazing happily. Amusingly, as the Rhythm simply listens to its environmen­t and reacts, we managed to get it working when our cat was insistentl­y asking for her dinner!

Both the Nanoleaf App and the Apple Home app (with which the panels are compatible) offer automation services, such as waking up to a gradual sunrise mimicked by the lights or to turn on at a certain time of the day for security reasons. We especially liked the ability to get the Light Panels to turn off once the last person leaves the house and to turn back on to welcome the first person home. And we’re pleased to report that the panels stay cool to the touch after hours of being on.

The only caveat we found was that, while mounted, there was nowhere for the power cable to hide running down the wall. We’d seen photos online of the cable being artfully fixed into rigid lines, continuing the shape of the lights, so we attempted to copy it and it definitely helped to reduce it as an eyesore. Of course, your own home or office setting could find a way to eliminate this minor niggle.

And as a side note, we’d have liked the ability to customise the colours of each panel in a static theme, much like you can do with gaming keyboards these days. As a final little niggle, we do find the add-on three-panel packs a little expensive at $100 each, but if you know how many panels you’re going to use in your design, buying the bigger kits will save you some dollarydoo­s. It’s also worth mentioning that single bulbs from the likes of Philips Hue cost almost as much as these three-panel packs if you’re looking for special mood lighting.

All up, we like these a lot, and with the recent announceme­nt at CES 2018 of a square version of the panels, we foresee greater versatilit­y of design on the horizon. We’ll just have to start making room on our walls to fit them!


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