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Review: Nanoleaf's $200 HomeKit-Enabled Hexagons Paint Your Walls With Color

MvdM

macrumors 6502
Apr 27, 2005
326
536
Matching Bang & Olufsen sound system.



 
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Piggie

macrumors G3
Feb 23, 2010
8,571
3,022
Software looks great.
Actual product hardware needs to stop being made, and sort out the design.
The lighting (for a expensive lighting product) should be even across the entire face.
Having bright/dark areas in the corners etc, just shows a poor rushed design that should never have made it out to the public for sale.
Anyone, making these and testing them could see they are not of acceptable quality.
Go back, sort the design out, and re-release them.
 
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name99

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2004
855
540
If you want to experiment with this sort of thing, but don't want to pay that nanoleaf entry price, do an Amazon search for cololight. Their entry system (three hexagons) is $45. Their hexagons are quite a bit smaller (about the size of a palm) and light all the way to the edge.

I'm glad I bought the cheaper solution because doing so made it clear to me that I can't use these the way I hoped.
They are fine as "light art", and the most recent cololight app update has them working fairly well in the dynamic light patterns (the app six months ago was, uh, problematic). BUT the big problem is that you can't really program them.
Sure, you can do something trivial like power them on/off in response to an event, but you can't do things like set the blueness of one of the hexagons to how much rain is expected to fall tomorrow --- ie you can't usefully use them as status lights.

For cololight this is really obvious, they provide no API.
For nanoleaf there is an API but it looks utterly unhelpful if you just want to script, as opposed to writing a full-blooded app. And of course we have a chicken-and-egg situation. HomeKit and Shortcuts are both such awful, limited, brain dead scripting environments that they don't provide great entry points for this sort of programmable lighting.

So my advice is
- if you want small "light art" get cololight
- if you want big bright "light art" get nanoleaf
- either way, don't expect you are getting anything more than art. You are absolutely NOT getting anything scriptable that can be used to convey some sort of status. Hopefully at some point we'll get functionality like that, but for now that road goes through Apple HomeKit/Shortcuts, and they've decided it would be a great idea to tear up a highway, replace it with a bike path, mine the bike path every few feet, then explode half those mines...
IMG_6917.jpg
 
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name99

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2004
855
540
Deja vu MR?

Ok I’m willing to accept this isn’t a lengthy advertorial but it’s still overkill on what is essentially gimmicky lighting, and not exactly innovative (Philips owns the market).

As someone above said, if only Macs were reviewed as extensively.
[automerge]1596828727[/automerge]

What if they go down the dodecahedron route?

(a) Phillips may own the advanced lighting market, but they are a lousy owner. They don't really get "smart", so their pace of innovation is glacial. Anything that shakes them up is a good thing.

(b) What's wrong with trying to make your home as perfect as possible? I, for one, am very glad that so many people have put so much effort into writing reviews, how-to guides, photos, etc for different home/room ideas on the web -- it made my job immeasurably easier (and the results so much better) when we got round to upgrading the house this year.

Fancy lighting may not be what you think your house needs, but I've made a principle of spending maybe $100 or so on average every month on "experimental" things to improve the house. And you'd be amazed at what the payoff for that experimenting is. Sure, maybe $20 of every $100 is a disappointment, but the value of the other $80 swamps that disappointment!

(c) Nanoleaf HAVE a dodecahedron that lights up! So joke's on you!

(I think it's generally conceded to be a failed experiment. But I am glad that companies like nanoleaf ARE experimenting with different aspects of home control. Personally I think they should try again,
- with a tetrahedron or a cube [dodecahedron looks lovely, but is too much for the user to remember]
- with a way to color light each face separately
)
 
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Onelifenofear

macrumors 6502
Feb 20, 2019
295
457
London
Wow they are horrible. If they actually went edge to Edge I’d be tempted, but they weird rounded Hexagons are stupid.

Also the light scattering is terrible. They look so patchy. It might be the photos but I doubt it.
 
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zackkitzmiller

macrumors member
Jun 1, 2007
48
39
or nanoleaf there is an API but it looks utterly unhelpful if you just want to script, as opposed to writing a full-blooded app. And of course we have a chicken-and-egg situation. HomeKit and Shortcuts are both such awful, limited, brain dead scripting environments that they don't provide great entry points for this sort of programmable lighting.

So my advice is
- if you want small "light art" get cololight
- if you want big bright "light art" get nanoleaf
- either way, don't expect you are getting anything more than art. You are absolutely NOT getting anything scriptable that can be used to convey some sort of status. Hopefully at some point we'll get functionality like that, but for now that road goes through Apple HomeKit/Shortcuts, and they've decided it would be a great idea to tear up a highway, replace it with a bike path, mine the bike path every few feet, then explode half those mines...

This is absolutely, 100%, untrue. The nanoleaf API provides anything you could possibly want to code against, and there are even open source wrapper libraries in a bunch of languages. But even if it didn't, communication is just done over UDP and isn't protected or encrypted, you just start writing the packets against it.
 
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name99

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2004
855
540
This is absolutely, 100%, untrue. The nanoleaf API provides anything you could possibly want to code against, and there are even open source wrapper libraries in a bunch of languages. But even if it didn't, communication is just done over UDP and isn't protected or encrypted, you just start writing the packets against it.

And that fits easily into scripting on iOS?
If I just want a simple "set the blue saturation of panel 3 to probability of rain tomorrow" type script?
 
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kesennnnn

macrumors regular
Jul 15, 2020
126
118
Taipei
Hmmm not a fan of the honeycomb design love the Lifx bar but way too expensive and has been nothing but a headache. Currently stuck to the wall not even plugged in lol.
 
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ericwn

macrumors 603
Apr 24, 2016
5,897
3,807
Pretty cool in detail review, thanks much, looks like another interesting product from Nanoleaf. I have multiple of the original sets and they work great all day long. While I wasn’t a fan of the looks of the canvas, this hexagon shape is interesting enough for some bigger builds.
 
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ericwn

macrumors 603
Apr 24, 2016
5,897
3,807
This is just plain stupid. What I need to Apple to come up with a doorbell, outdoor and indoor video cameras.

Yeah, asking Apple (who are not the topic here)to build surveillance cameras or the like as a company all about privacy doesn’t strike me as well thought through either.
 
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tyelrx

macrumors newbie
Oct 3, 2019
2
2
Chicago
I like a good review but good GOD............ scrolling... keep ups the UX of the site and add the click to expand button like every other article. Otherwise it’s just annoying and comes off like a paid article.
 
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S1004

macrumors newbie
Jan 13, 2020
19
12
Rounded corners aside, I can't get over how the light isn't uniformly lit. We can all see where each light is (lighter or more white splotches on various points).. Not a fan! :( Looks great on photos though.

I enjoyed reading your review and appreciate close-ups, unedited shots of these. It's really helpful to see how the lights appear in different lighting situations, close-up, etc.
 
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occam

macrumors member
Jan 18, 2003
38
1
I like the “organic“ rounded corners, though more even lighting would be nice.

These need Siri Shortcuts support. Can you press one of them as a light switch, for instance? Kick off a Siri Shortcut? That would be very useful with open-ended usefulness.

Even if these don’t work for a Living Room, I can trivially see these as great desk (and videocast, color tuneable, dynamic) lighting for the office, as well as (see Siri Shortcuts) automation, lighting, and switches for workflows.

+1 on article and product!
 
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zackkitzmiller

macrumors member
Jun 1, 2007
48
39
And that fits easily into scripting on iOS?
If I just want a simple "set the blue saturation of panel 3 to probability of rain tomorrow" type script?

Definitely. You can script up whatever you'd like in whatever scripting language you want. Even javascript, if your heart desired -- anything that can write UDP packets.

Once you have a little server running or whatever if you can use shortcuts to just hit a URL on your homenetwork. I think a PoC could probably be done in a couple hours if not less.
 
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zackkitzmiller

macrumors member
Jun 1, 2007
48
39
Even if these don’t work for a Living Room, I can trivially see these as great desk (and videocast, color tuneable, dynamic) lighting for the office, as well as (see Siri Shortcuts) automation, lighting, and switches for workflows.

You can definitely do this with a couple hours worth of work. THey communicate over UDP according to the API source. Anything you can add a URL to has Shortcuts support.
 
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