Nanoleaf Shapes – Triangles review: Variety is the spice of light

With its eye-popping, touch-sensitive Hexagons, Nanoleaf’s new line of Shapes light panels got off to a great start, and the innovative smart lighting manufacturer keeps a good thing going with its new Triangles and smaller Mini Triangles counterpart.

Easy to install and designed for mixing and matching, the HomeKit-compatible Triangles and Mini Triangles share the groovy lighting scenes and functionality of the Hexagons, and you can even tap or swipe them to control other smart devices in your home. Like the Hexagons, though, the Triangles and Mini Triangles are expensive, and while they can put on an impressive show, they’re not made with utility in mind.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart light bulbs, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping this category.

Configurations

The Triangles and Mini Triangles are the second and third variants in Nanoleaf’s Shapes series, which itself is the successor to Nanoleaf’s earlier, triangular Light Panels (formerly known as Aurora) and Canvas Light Squares.

The Shapes series comes with a few key differences compared to the Light Panels and Canvas Light Squares. For starters, the small “links” that allow Shapes panels to communicate with each other are now snap-on rather than slide-in, which makes for a far sturdier connection between the panels. Secondly, the Shapes panels now come with a detachable mounting plate for sticking (with the included double-sided adhesive tape) or screwing the panels on a wall, whereas the older Light Panels and Canvas Light Squares had to be mounted directly to a wall. Last but not least, Hexagons, Triangles, and Mini Triangles can be mixed and matched in a single Shapes installation, while the Light Panels and Canvas Light Squares are incompatible with each other.

Ben Patterson/IDG

The new snap-on links for the Nanoleaf Shapes series is far more secure than the previous slide-in links.

As with the Hexagons, the Triangles and Mini Triangles aren’t cheap. The Triangle “Smarter” Kit, which comes with seven Triangles, a touch-enabled controller, a power supply, and a mounting kit, goes for a cool $200, while the similar, five-piece Mini Triangles Smarter Kit costs $120. You can also buy a three-piece Triangles “expansion” pack for $70, while a 10-piece Mini Triangles expansion pack fetches $120.

Measuring 0.24-inches thick, the 9 x 7.75-inch and 4.5 x 3.8-inch Triangles and Mini Triangles feel light (0.31 and 0.09 pounds respectively) yet reassuringly sturdy. Each Triangle panel can emit up to 80 lumens of brightness, or up to 20 lumens for the Mini Triangles. Individually, that’s not a lot of light, but you could illuminate a room by connecting enough panels together.

Like the Hexagons, the Triangles and Mini Triangles can be tuned from a warm 1,200 Kelvin to a cool 6,500K, and they can emit up to 16 million colors. All of the Shapes panels are rated to last 25,000 hours, and they connect only to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks (a common limitation for Wi-Fi-enabled smart lights).

Installation and setup

Mounting the Triangles and Mini Triangles to a wall is surprisingly easy, although you should spend time on a design before you start. If you don’t want to wing it, you can use the Layout Assistant in the Nanoleaf app, which lets you pick the number of Shapes panels you have and then arrange them in different combinations; you can also tap a button to randomly shuffle them until you happen upon a pleasing arrangement. When you’ve come up with a good design, an AR-aided view lets you preview how the panels will look on your wall. In the end, I opted for a vertical design using a combination of Triangles, Mini Triangles, and a leftover Hexagon from a previous Nanoleaf installation.

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