Review: Nanoleaf Lines

    Smart Home lighting has come a long way in the last few years. We’re no longer talking about the odd lightbulb replacement here or there, instead smart lighting has really become a statement piece, a work of art that you display proudly on your walls.

    The latest from Nanoleaf is a product called Nanoleaf lines and similar to their other products, asks customers to stick these to the walls, but do so using easily removable tape that avoids any damage to your paint.

    These smart lights work on a system of hexagonal connectors, allowing you to spawn lines in almost any direction you like, making the number of potential designs, almost limitless. Thankfully the app provides some assistance if you need some inspiration.

    From each connector, you connect a line that contains a multi-coloured LED light strip that illuminates the wall behind it. This really is a neat design, with the lights sitting about a finger width off the wall, it allows for the light to flood as much as 10cm on either side of the line.

    Once you settle on a design, you can then get started playing with colours and animations that bring a space to life and what I wasn’t prepared for, was just how bright these are.

    After living with the Nanoleaf Lines in my home office for a few weeks now, it’s time to detail if they should be on your Christmas list.


    Connecting in every direction

    The design of this lighting system is really smart, providing an almost endless number of configurations to create a unique light, every time.

    Our setup includes a starter pack, which is 9 lines, with an additional 3 pack, so the design I settled on contains 12 lines and 12 connectors. These can easily be expanded later if I choose and that’s also an excellent attribute of the design. There’s no question that the more impressive designs you may see online, include far more lines, which obviously comes with a decent financial investment, but this may be worth it if you think of this as smart art.

    What’s great about the way these are designed is that there’s no direct light staring you in the face, all of the light emitted is reflected light, which comes to you already diffused. I also enjoy the design of the light components, all-white plastic with just a subtle Nanoleaf logo on one of the lines.

    The hexagon connectors allow each line to snap into place and get both power and data to become part of the system, controlled by the mobile app. Each of the connectors features a cover to hide the unused connection points, which provides a much cleaner design.

    There is also 1 special controller connector, that features a simple on/off button, as well as brightness controls and the ability to move through lighting effects and switch to music / audio-power animations. I placed this control module in-reach which works well if I choose to turn them off with a physical touch at the end of the night.

    In the current world where so many people are into live streaming online, be it YouTube or Twitch, RGB lighting has really become a staple in the background of streams.

    Not only do these look cool in photos or video, but smart lighting can actually help illuminate you. I have these positioned in front of me and have often turned them on ahead of a teams call, set them to white or a daylight theme and noticed a dramatic improvement to my lighting during calls.

    Other times, like now, as I write later at night, I prefer to have them set to a slower, more subtle animation, but more elaborate colour combinations. Typically I land on something that includes blues and purples, but may animate through greens as well.

    Finally, the most difficult part of setting up the Nanoleaf lines is finding a way to hide the power cable. This can also take some creativity to ensure it doesn’t become a focus point and detract from the overall look. Ideally, you’d route the power into the wall to give the whole thing a magical look and make visitors question how that’s possible, but clearly most are not going to be keen on committing to this level.


    Stand out features of this device.

    When it comes to features, there is lots to talk about. Firstly there’s the fact these can lights can be set for any mood, with access to more than 16 million colours. Unlike some lighting solutions, each line can be set to 2 vibrant colour zones per line, rather than just a single colour selection.

    Using the mobile app, you can choose from 19 built-in scenes, create your own RGB animations and even download more options from the community of Nanoleaf users.

    It wasn’t long ago that lighting providers were selling music integration as a separate optional component. Thankfully we’re now seeing many just integrate this feature and we find that here with the Nanoleaf Lines. In this mode, you can turn your favourite songs into a show of colour and light with the Rhythm Music Visualiser and feel every beat like never before. If you’re having a party, this will definitely be a talking point.

    While the mobile app is great, you can also download an app for Windows and Mac to control the lights from your desktop. This enables you to immerse yourself in an all-new gaming and movie night experience with a Screen Mirror feature that syncs the colours from the screen to Lines.

    If that’s not enough for you, then you can even leverage Razer’s Chroma lighting to have the lights also sync with other RBG peripherals. This cross-company integration really is great to see and very consumer-positive.

    This integration continues with voice control support. The Nanoleaf lines can be controlled by Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. If you already have a Smart Speaker in your home, particularly in range of the location you mount the Lines, then you can command it through voice commands.

    Those Apple users can also integrate and control the lights through the single interface of HomeKit. The fun doesn’t stop there, also offering support for IFTTT for event-based coloured alerts and even SmartThings.


    Not everything’s perfect

    Generally, I’d use this section to detail issues, or areas for improvements, but realistically, I don’t have any for the Nanoleaf Lines. They are a product that works as advertised, offers great mobile and desktop apps, as well as integrations with 3rd party smart home products.

    The design may not be for everyone, but if you see the designs made with Lines and like it, then buy the product and get creative.

    While I had no intention of doing so, there are some designs that include mounting these on your roof, so potentially a 90-degree connector would be hand to run it from a wall, up and onto your roof.

    Of course, I wish the cost was a little lower, so more people could afford to add them to their setup, but this is a seriously well thought out product and shows great engineering from Nanoleaf.



    How much and when can you get one ?

    The Nanoleaf Lines Starter Kit (9 Pack) costs A$348 and is available now from retailers like JB HiFi. For that price, you get a pack that includes 9x Lines, 9x mounting connectors & caps, 10x mounting plates with tape, 1x controller, 1x processor & power Connector, 1x power supply and 1x quick start guide.

    There is also a 15 pack starter kit which costs A$549. If you’re chasing a more comprehensive design, or just want more options, then this is something you should consider.

    If you find you need a few more, there is also the option of grabbing a 3 Pack for A$119. At close to $40 per line, these aren’t exactly cheap, but they are unique, so it’s difficult to find a great comparison.


    Final thoughts

    There are a lot of companies fighting for your smart lighting dollar these days, but Nanoleaf continues to garner attention as they roll out product after product that is unique in design and incredibly functional leaving you with something that ticks both form and function boxes.

    Before committing to the lout I chose, I tried many different ideas on the floor first, as well as leveraging the lighting designer in the app to get more ideas. After settling on one that features a diamond in the center, then extends horizontally in a symmetrical design, I committed and have really been happy with my decision since.

    Ultimately the layout and choice of lighting colours and animations are really down to your creativity and the product is flexible enough and expandable enough to really support that creativeness.

    If you’re looking to enhance your bedroom, office, or living room spaces, then you should definitely consider the Nanoleaf Lines they are a brilliant addition to smart lighting and the smart home category.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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