Assessment: Nanoleaf’s ‘Aurora Smarter Equipment’ Affords Superior HomeKit-Enabled Temper Lighting for $200

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Nanoleaf began out in 2013 as small firm providing a Kickstarter venture for an vitality environment friendly mild bulb, which led to the launch of the HomeKit-enabled Nanoleaf Smarter Equipment, a set of three standard-style bulbs linked by a hub.

Nanoleaf’s first HomeKit accent labored effectively however was fairly bizarre, one thing that may’t be mentioned about its latest product, the Aurora Smarter Equipment. Impressed by the aurora borealis phenomena, the Aurora is like no different HomeKit product — or lighting product — in the marketplace.

Priced at $199, the Aurora Smarter Equipment is a set of modular temper lights that may be organized in lots of of how. Every triangle-shaped mild might be set to a distinct shade utilizing the Aurora app, and motion patterns are used to create a dynamic lighting setup that is primarily interactive artwork.

Design and Setup

The Aurora Smarter Equipment contains 9 plastic triangles with LEDs in every nook, a predominant connector that plugs into one of many triangles and into an ordinary wall socket, adhesive strips, and connectors to attach and energy every triangle.


Whereas one triangle must be connected to the facility supply (which might energy as much as 30 triangles), the others triangles draw energy by means of the primary triangle utilizing small plastic connector tabs that may be positioned on any facet of every particular person triangle. Meaning the triangles might be organized in an countless variety of patterns, and triangles past the extra 9 might be added to the design.


Triangles should be linked to at least one one other for energy, so there is not any method to break up the triangles up until you have got two kits with two energy panels. A few of Nanoleaf’s imagery reveals the Aurora break up throughout two partitions or linked at a 90 diploma angle — this isn’t doable on the present time. Nanoleaf tells me that versatile connectors that may enable the triangles to be positioned round corners are within the works and shall be launched within the summertime.


Every triangle measures in at about 9.5 inches lengthy and eight inches on the edges, so a set of 9 takes up an excellent quantity of area on the wall relying on the association. A single wire might want to snake up the wall, connecting the facility panel to an outlet.

Nanoleaf recommends organising the entire panels and testing them earlier than attaching them to the wall, so mine went on the ground first whereas I picked a format. With the Aurora, you are going to need to make investments a while in arranging the triangles into an acceptable form, as a result of these go up on the wall utilizing 3M adhesive strips. As soon as up, they don’t seem to be shifting with out some severe effort.

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Testing the panels on the ground

I made a design on the ground and used paper information triangles, included within the packaging, to mock it up on the wall so I may get the correct alignment. Once more, with that adhesive, it is a measure twice stick as soon as operation.

Every panel attaches to the wall utilizing three 3M adhesive strips, one in every nook of the triangle. Hanging them on the wall took a few half hour from arranging the paper triangles to the completed product. The panels snap collectively as described above with the connectors, so it is only a matter of lining all the things up and urgent down to verify it is adequately adhered to the wall.


The triangles are product of a light-weight opaque plastic, so with three adhesive strips, they’re effectively and actually caught. The triangles aren’t going to slide off the wall or come down in an earthquake, and whereas mine have solely been up for 2 weeks, I believe if one strip begins to fail, the opposite two strips will maintain it connected.

aurorapapermockupPaper mockup
All of this adhesive makes it a problem to rearrange the panels, which is a disgrace. I’d love to have the ability to change my design frequently to maintain it from getting stale, however unsticking the panels from the wall is a big ache (to not point out the 3M strips can harm some paint).

On the plus facet, utilizing adhesive for attachment makes for a clear, futuristic look with only a single wire connecting the complete setup to an influence supply.

I began out with 12 triangles (the primary equipment and an additional equipment Nanoleaf despatched) however as soon as I set them up on the ground, I liked the look sufficient that I went to Greatest Purchase and purchased one other enlargement equipment. Per week later, I purchased one other, so now I’ve 18 triangles.

Growth kits are priced at $60 for 3 panels, and whereas that is removed from low cost, it is on par with different lighting kits like Philips Hue. I feel most individuals will need to purchase not less than one enlargement equipment for the Nanoleaf Aurora — 9 panels appears like too few.

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On the primary energy piece that connects to one of many triangles, there is a energy button and a further button that means that you can manually swap by means of completely different pre-set scenes which have been established within the app. This permits the Aurora to be managed sans iPhone, nevertheless it’s the one handbook management accessible.

Mild Output

The bottom Aurora module does not fairly put out sufficient mild for use as a predominant mild supply in a room (until the room is pretty small), nevertheless it works effectively as a nightlight, and it does get vibrant sufficient that it may be paired with an ordinary lamp or two for enough room lighting. It is also the right quantity of sunshine for watching films or enjoying video video games.

As a result of I used to be solely anticipating the Aurora to offer temper lighting, I used to be shocked at how vibrant it could get. The colours are tremendous wealthy and vibrant with the brightness cranked up, or extra muted and comfortable with the brightness turned down. I maintain the brightness at about 25 p.c, which is comfy sufficient to offer a bit mild with out being obtrusive.


Mild output will change with the variety of panels. 9 is not sufficient to mild a room, however 18 goes rather a lot additional at most brightness relying on the colour it is set to. I’ve a reasonably large workplace and I would examine the 18-panel Aurora setup to an ordinary lamp primarily based on the quantity of sunshine output. It will not mild my workplace by itself, however paired with one or two lamps, it is a good quantity of sunshine.

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Most brightness at prime, 50% brightness at heart, 25% brightness at backside

You may see the three LEDs in every nook of the Aurora panels, with the sunshine very clearly radiating from these areas. At dimmer settings and with some shade rotation patterns there’s additionally a noticeable flickering because the lights shift colours, most obvious when the Aurora is dimmed. It is a bit distracting, however not a deal breaker. It does not seem to flicker the identical manner at most brightness, or if it does, it could’t be seen as a result of it is so vibrant.

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A number of occasions, I’ve seen vibrant flashes of sunshine coming from the Aurora, virtually like one of many LEDs is flaring. That is undoubtedly a bug and an irritating one — it occurs not less than as soon as a day, nevertheless it does not appear to affect the performance of the sunshine.

I depart my Aurora panels turned on on a regular basis apart from at evening. They’re LED so they do not use lots of vitality and they do not get heat. When off, it simply seems to be like a bunch of white plastic triangles on the wall, which is not as interesting as the intense colours. That is one thing to remember for those who do not plan to have the Aurora turned on completely.

App and HomeKit Options

During the last two years, Apple’s HomeKit has improved fairly a bit. Including new gadgets to HomeKit is nearly at all times easy and error free, and the Aurora Smarter Equipment was no exception. Setting it up consisted of powering it on, connecting to it instantly through WiFi, inputting the password for my WiFi community, and scanning the HomeKit code utilizing the Nanoleaf Aurora app (the Residence app – or some other HomeKit app – may also be used for this course of).

It needs to be famous that the Aurora solely works with a 2.4GHz WiFi community, so you will want to be sure you have that choice arrange in your router. Although the Aurora wants to hook up with the two.4GHz community, I can nonetheless management it with my iPhone linked to the 5GHz community. It really works when away from house too, due to the HomeKit integration and an Apple TV hub.

Within the early days of HomeKit, I used to have lots of points with new equipment inflicting issues with my setup, leading to lots of resets or inexplicable connection points, however I have not had that occur within the final yr. HomeKit is not excellent, particularly in the case of getting Siri to acknowledge voice instructions, nevertheless it’s higher than it was.

Siri’s interplay with the Aurora is just like some other HomeKit-enabled mild. You should use Siri to vary the lights on, off, to a selected shade, or to a pre-defined scene created within the Nanoleaf Aurora app.

auroraredSiri can solely flip the Nanoleaf a selected shade, until you are utilizing scenes
Sadly, there is not any method to create mild reveals or multi-colored mild setups with the Aurora exterior of scenes, so you will want to make use of the devoted app lots of the time fairly than Siri or Apple’s Residence app.

Third-party app makers do not at all times do an excellent job with their apps, and whereas Nanoleaf’s app is not horrible, it may use some enchancment. A whole lot of the time after I open the Nanoleaf app I get a connection error that claims the Aurora cannot be reached. This appears to be an app downside fairly than an web downside as a result of 5 seconds later, the connection is ok.

The Nanoleaf app’s interface is neat. It shows a real-time view of the Aurora lights within the association you’ve got created and with the colours you’ve got set.

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Controlling the Aurora revolves round selecting a pre-existing shade palette or creating a brand new one. Any shade might be picked and added to a palette, after which that palette is used to assign a shade to every triangle.

Faucet a shade, faucet a triangle, and it reveals up proper on the wall. When a shade palette is ready, there’s an choice so as to add a number of mild results to change between the colours of your palette in varied patterns.

Choices embrace Random (randomly adjustments the colours of the triangles), Stream (slowly transitions between colours), Wheel (a steady shifting gradient of colours), Spotlight (like random, however with a concentrate on the left facet of the palette), Fade (all of the triangles shift between every shade), and Burst (triangles shift colours from the center out).

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Brightness, motion velocity, transition smoothing, and path are additionally choices that may be set.

All palettes might be saved as scenes that may be activated through Siri or by means of the Scenes part of the app. Like different HomeKit apps, the Nanoleaf app can management different HomeKit-enabled equipment, however it’s restricted to lights. To have the lights flip to particular scenes at pre-set occasions, a Schedules characteristic can be utilized.

Siri and Apple’s Residence app can be utilized to show the Aurora on and off, dim it, set a single stable shade, or activate a scene. Particular person triangles cannot be managed through Siri or within the Residence app.

Backside Line

At $200, the Aurora Smarter Equipment is not low cost, however its uniqueness, vibrant colours, HomeKit assist, and customizable design make it well worth the worth. It is virtually extra artwork than mild, and whereas it will not mild up a whole room, it is an ideal accent mild or evening mild. It may be the centerpiece of a room or a delicate background accent relying on the colours and the brightness.

Not everybody goes to really feel like a $200 mild is a worthwhile buy, however for those who’re the sort of one that does not thoughts shelling out a pair hundred for a futuristic tech toy or a neat lighting answer, I can assure you are not going to be disenchanted with the Aurora.

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I do want adhesive wasn’t the answer for mounting the Aurora as a result of it makes it tough to rearrange panels at will (and this type of adhesive at all times has the potential to break partitions), however there does not appear to be an alternate choice so it is a shortcoming that must be lived with. And it is a draw back I do not thoughts tolerating for the advantages of the Aurora.

There are additionally some bugs and connection points with the Nanoleaf Aurora that potential patrons ought to concentrate on, however not one of the bugs I bumped into severely impacted performance.

The Aurora is pricy, however Nanoleaf has some additions within the works like sound integration and new panel shapes, so this appears to be a system that is going to final for very long time and supply years price of worth. I would fortunately use the Aurora with out HomeKit integration, in order that it really works with Siri and the remainder of my good house merchandise is a bonus.

Professionals:

  • Modular
  • Expandable
  • Tremendous vibrant
  • Can management every triangle
  • HomeKit suitable

Cons:

  • Requires 2.4GHz community
  • Connectivity issues
  • Odd LED flashes
  • Flickering shade transitions at low brightness

Purchase

The Aurora Smarter Equipment might be bought from the Nanoleaf web site for $199. It is also accessible from Greatest Purchase’s web site and retail shops for a similar worth.

Nanoleaf offered MacRumors with a Nanoleaf Starter Equipment and one enlargement set for the needs of this evaluation. The creator additionally bought extra enlargement units.



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