JUST recently, I’ve taken an interest in Smart Lighting, both as something to use throughout the home at large, but more importantly to enhance the visual aesthetic of my office/stream room.
The first port of call was to replace my regular lightbulb with a smart one that I could easily adjust the colour of on the fly, while I also wanted to attach some lights to the back of my desk in order to make the focal point of my room really pop.
This is exactly what I was able to achieve with the Nanoleaf Essentials Bulb and Light Strip Starter Kit, two simple and easy to use smart lighting products that not only look great, but have some welcome features such adaptive lighting and custom scheduling to name a few.
The Nanoleaf Essentials Bulb is the more simplistic product in regard to its contents and set up, with the box containing the bulb, trusty instruction manual, and a QR code that can be scanned to configure the device within the Nanoleaf smart phone app. In regard to physical setup, you simply screw it in as you would any other lightbulb in your home, with Bayonet and screw fitting options available.
As a novice to smart lighting, I’m not well across the brightness of its direct competitors and how exactly the Nanoleaf Essentials Bulb stacks up against them, but from a purely visual standpoint, they are a noticeably bright and vibrant bulb. Their ability to light up a whole room is understandably lessened when you’re cycling through colours that aren’t your traditional warm white and the like, but what they lose in those moments are more than made up for by the over 16 million colours at your disposal.
I for one love the combination of purple and green (it’s how my RGB fans have been presented since I set them up), so I immediately programmed my bulb to envelop me in alternating purple and green lighting. The Nanoleaf app has countless colour cycling scenes available to attach to Nanoleaf Essentials devices, and you can also just set the lighting to a single basic colour if you wish.
You also can control your lights with Google Assistant or Siri through Apple HomeKit, with voice commands allowing you to do things such as turn lights and off, or change their colour and brightness.
The Nanoleaf Essentials Light Strip Starter Kit on the other hand contains a 2 metre light strip, a power brick, ye olde instruction manual and QR code, as well as a manual controller that can be used to easily turn the lights on and off or adjust brightness and cycle through colours. The rear side of the physical controller and light strip itself have adhesive that allows you to stick them to surfaces such as furniture or walls.
As I stated before, I stuck my lightstrip to the back of my desk, which now only results in a beautiful glow beneath my monitors, but also an overwhelming burst of colour against the wall it’s facing. If 2 metres isn’t enough, you can buy up to 8 1 metre extensions if you so desire, with 10 metres being the max available on a controller. From a lighting standpoint, the lightstrips are substantially brighter than the bulbs, which sees them pop more visually when cycling through colours.
While connecting each device via Bluetooth in the application seems the best choice, it actually isn’t, as all Nanoleaf Essentials products are Thread enabled, meaning they are actually capable of a faster and noticeably more reliable connection.
The one caveat though is that you need a Thread border router to make use of this feature, however devices that you may be using at home already such as an Apple TV 4K (Second Generation) or Apple HomePod Mini have this functionality built in. Nanoleaf Line, Elements, and Shapes products also serve as Thread border routers, not only granting your Nanoleaf Essentials products with a more responsive connection, but also access to nifty features such as Screen Mirroring, which is available via the Nanoleaf Desktop software on PC and Mac.
My experience trying to get the Screen Mirroring was a frustrating affair, largely due to the subpar performance of the Nanoleaf Desktop application, as it struggled for whatever reason to establish a connection to the Thread network being created by my Nanoleaf Shapes. In the moments where it did work however, it was absolutely brilliant, as the lighting on my light strip constantly changed to match the dominant colour present on my monitor. I messed about with a couple matches of Fortnite and Rocket League while screen mirroring, and it definitely enhanced the experience as result.
If you don’t have access to a Thread border router don’t fret, as the Nanoleaf Essential line of lighting still has plenty of features available. The Circadian Lighting option automatically alters the colour of your connected lights throughout the day, which is a welcome option if you want your lights to lessen throughout the bright hours of the day. You can also manually adjust this setting to your liking if you wish.
Scheduling mode allows you to set your lighting to a particular colour or style at a particular time of day. You can set which devices you want to participate, as well as when you want things to start and finish. Neither of these are features I’ve found a particular need for yet, but I feel as I grow accustomed to my smart lighting, that I’ll come to use both these features.
Even though both the Nanoleaf smartphone and desktop applications aren’t the most reliable and intuitive, and features such as screen mirroring and a swifter response from each light is require a Thread enabled device, both the Nanoleaf Essentials Bulb and Light Strip are still beautifully bright smart lighting products that are easy to set up and control, at least when the aforementioned apps decide they want to play nice.
They’re also more affordable than competing Smart Lighting brands such as LIFX and Philips Hue, which is a welcome pro for those keen on saving some money, or perhaps making use of the cheaper pricing to grab an extra bulb or expansion strip. With millions of colours to choose from (including countless lighting effects in the Nanoleaf app) alongside other features such as circadian lighting, and customised scheduling, the Nanoleaf Essentials line are both great pickups if you’re in the market for some smart lighting to spruce up your living space.
Written by: @GrumpyGoron