Lighting is often overlooked as part of a living or workspace, as most of us are content to have options limited to a brightness/blueness level, simply by figuring out where the light bulbs should go. Enter the Nanoleaf Shapes, the latest product in Nanoleaf’s decade-long mission to rethink what’s possible in the realm of lighting and the smart home.
Instead of merely asking users to plug in more bulbs or lay down multiple strips of LED, the lighting company specialises in lighting solutions that offer the highest degree of customization available, using extensive RGB colour options and modularization. Think shapes that can be added to expand a lighting scene, and these Nanoleaf Shapes are adaptable to any room or context. Their product lines comprise the original “Triangle”, “Mini-Triangle”, and “Hexagon”, with multiple bundles and kits offering a multitude of options for purchase. There are also the square Canvas line, and the Lines LED light bars.
Our review unit is the “Limited Edition Ultra Black” Triangles Smarter Kit that includes 9 panels, and a 3-panel Expansion Kit. The standard Triangles reviewed measure 20cm x 23cm, and come in at only 10mm thick once mounted.
In each Shapes package you will find the corresponding number of light panels, mounting plates pre-attached to the rear of each panel, mounting tape for each mounting plate, and “Linkers” to connect the panels together. The Smarter Kit comes with the Power Supply Unit and the remote Controller, so you cannot skimp and only order the Expansion Kits, as those do not include these essential components.
Installing the panels is a relatively straightforward process with a small amount of planning necessary. This is where the Nanoleaf App and Layout Assistant feature on the app comes in handy. Aside from pairing your phone with the lights, it also provides a VR preview of your space, overlaying the different configurations of the Shapes you assemble onto your wall, so that you can get a look of how the lights will look in your space, prior to assembly.
Mounting the panels is a relatively fun task once you get the hang of it. Pick your first panel, attach the mounting tape to the mount, and then press the panel to the wall in your desired location. As you can see, the tape is a small piece that fits into a mount behind each Shape, and it is recommended that you adhere the panels to a smooth surface, as a textured wall surface won’t offer the grip needed to hold the fully assembled kit in place. The mounting plate allows the first panel to rotate freely so you don’t have to worry about making the first plate perfect and level. The second panel is where you can either break out your toolbox or smartphone levelling app to ensure the end-result is level and flush to the corners of the wall.
Luckily the second panel is the only one where you need to use a level, as all subsequent panels are simply a matter of peeling tape and attaching Linkers until you have the desired result.
Some foresight will be necessary as the Linkers have to be planned out prior to the application of each panel, such that when each panel is applied, the exposed half of the Linker that is ready to connect to the next panel needs to be properly placed, to complete the next circuit of the panel. The positive clicking of the Linkers popping into place makes it feel almost like assembling a toy, and provides the peripheral benefit of teaching your kids how electrical currents work. On that note, the lights work great as ambient lighting for children’s rooms too.
The Power Supply Unit attachment can be flipped inward, allowing you to conceal the wire if you are feeling the need to hide the unsightly cable leading to your panels. The remote control allows you to manually adjust the colours and patterns of the shapes, however the App is more effective if you wish to customise it further. Rhythm allows you to have the panels respond and sync to ambient noise and music, functioning much like the old Winamp and WMP equaliser visualizers, for those of you who remember the cascading lights of those classic applications.
The app integration is excellent, providing countless colour combinations (it reportedly offers 16 million colour profiles), with Scenes that are colour combinations created for download by users and Nanoleaf. “Blooming Sakura”, “Blinding Lights”, and “Netflix and Chill” are examples of the thousands of Scenes available for any mood or setting, shooting hues of sunset orange, breezy blue and open fields green across your room, as you see fit. Some of the more aggressive patterns prompt an appropriate warning for seizures, and almost all of the integrated features remain free, including many of the available Scenes.
True to Nanoleaf’s goal of furthering smart home integration, the Shapes family of panels are compatible with Apple Home, Google Home, Alexa, IFTTT, Razer Chroma, and SmartThings, which makes the lights perfect for running in conjunction with a home theatre system, PC gaming rigs, and even your kitchen appliances.
Given the flexibility of design, adaptability in mounting options, and compatibility with a number of smart-home options, the Nanoleaf Shapes seem like an obvious choice for anyone looking for a higher degree of customization for their home or office space.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Despite the hefty US$219.99 price tag, Shapes provide a long-term lighting solution that can change with every renovation, new coat of paint, feature furniture decision, special occasion or even change in season. Of course, it can get pricey if you were to do this for every room in your house.
Aesthetics - 8/10
Build Quality - 8/10
Performance - 8/10
Value - 7/10
Geek Satisfaction - 8/10