A little while ago, Nanoleaf offered to set me up with some of its products for testing. The offer came while I was (and still kind of am) swamped in a mountain of products for review, so it has taken me longer than I wanted to finally get around to putting my thoughts on paper. If you've read any of my reviews, though, you've seen Nanoleaf in action. A few lights have made my office more personalized, my TV more interesting to look at, and my photography lighting more effective.
Nanoleaf isn't perfect, but the experience has been just consistent and pleasant enough that I can recommend these products to anyone looking to give their home a literal glow-up, as long as you're willing to pay the rather high price. If that's not enough information for you to make a decision, though, read on.
Disclaimer: This editorial was made possible by review units provided by Nanoleaf. The company did not see the contents of this article before publishing.
Time consuming setup, but simple to understand
Smart lights are something that can appeal to anyone looking to spruce up their home, so the setup process for those lights needs to be straightforward, reliable, and long-lasting. Nanoleaf only truly nails one of those facets, but it has made improvements in other areas. Setup can be time-consuming and even frustrating, but the overall process was easy-to-understand (and pairing was pretty smooth).
For reference, here are the four products Nanoleaf sent to me to test. Out of the four, the Light Bulbs and Lightstrips are easiest to recommend, and they're also the most affordable entryway into the world of smart lighting.
- Nanoleaf Essentials Matter A19 Smart LED Light Bulb | $19.99 at Best Buy (1-pack) | $49.99 at Best Buy (3-pack)
- Nanoleaf Essentials Matter Smart LED Lightstrip | $49.99 at Best Buy (80-inches) | $89.99 at Best Buy (200-inches) | $19.99 at Best Buy (40-inch Extension)
- Nanoleaf Lines 90-degrees Smart Kit | $99.99 at Best Buy (4-pack) | $69.99 at Best Buy (3-pack Extension)
- Nanoleaf 4D Screen Mirror + Lightstrip Kit | $99.99 at Best Buy (Up to 65-inches) | $119.99 at Best Buy (Up to 85-inches)
The light bulb is the easiest to install, as expected. Simply screw it into your average light fixture, scan the accompanying QR code to set it up in the app via Bluetooth, and you're good to go! This is an RGB LED smart light, so you have a ton of different options for control in the app. I find that the bulb does usually take a few seconds to connect after opening the app, though, despite being powered all the time. It's a minor frustration, but one to note nonetheless.
The lightstrip was also easy to install, using a ton of adhesive to stick to your surface of choice and controlled via a simple white hub that plugs into an outlet. Pairing follows the same formula: scan QR code, connect via Bluetooth. Fortunately, I never experienced any of the initial connection frustrations with the lightstrip that I did the light bulb. I'm concerned about how strong this adhesive is, though, with the lightstrip already peeling at either end and the hub having fallen once. It's a similar complaint I have with the 4D lightstrip, which feels barely adhered to the back of my TV.
Speaking of the 4D Screen Mirror kit, both it and the lines kit are connected via Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth. Nanoleaf has massively improved its connectivity issues of the past with its "Thread" technology that links Wi-Fi connected products together, but both the Lines and the 4D Screen Mirror kit were the most frustrating to set up. It took me multiple attempts to get the Wi-Fi connection to work, with the setup process requiring you to disconnect and reconnect to your home network and directly to the products themselves. Once connected, though, the Lines have been rock solid. The 4D kit... not so much.
Connection issues (mostly) in the past, but it's still not perfect
The Screen Mirror kit for my TV works most of the time, but it's definitely the most finicky and compromised Nanoleaf product I tested — Unfortunate, since it looks amazing when it does function as intended. The initial setup saw the camera failing to connect for multiple attempts, and the first day saw me recalibrating the camera multiple times. After that, though, things stabilized a lot. However, I still have intermittent issues with this product, specifically. Sometimes I'll open the app, and it'll fail to properly connect (an app restart normally resolves this).
Sometimes, the lights will simply stop responding to my TV entirely, usually after sitting on one screen (like the Xbox Dashboard) for an extended period of time. In those cases, using the app to switch the lights from "4D" to "3D" modes and then back to "4D" typically fixes it. Another issue was how it would simply get colors wrong, regardless of calibration, which is likely related to how awkward it is to position the camera juuuuust right to actually be able to see the TV. If you have any other lights in the room, too, the camera might pick those up and affect the lights.
The majority of my issues were squarely with the 4D Screen Mirror kit, but there are other, more minor flaws in Nanoleaf's ecosystem. The cloud sync to connect your devices to a new phone simply did not work for me, for example (fortunately, re-pairing each device to my new phone was incredibly easy and took very little time). The light bulb, as mentioned before, often takes a few seconds before it'll connect and respond. I wish there was a more definitive way to sync my Lines and Lightstrip together, too, to ensure they're always displaying the same color even in scenes.
For the most part, though, these issues are either small or infrequent. 99% of the time, my office looks great and is easy to control when I need to (the TV... probably closer to 75% of the time). The smart light bulb, especially, has been an excellent addition to my setup, aiding me in providing proper lighting for my photos. I'm super pleased with how my office looks now, and I could absolutely see myself expanding in the future... But I'd always have to be conscious of that price tag.
A great (but expensive) way to light up your home
It may seem like I have a lot of complaints, but I do love my Nanoleaf products. It's unfortunate that we still seemingly can't expect seamless perfection from smart home products, even from one of the largest smart home ecosystems in the world, but Nanoleaf is investing in continually improving these issues. Each of my products regularly received firmware updates, for one, and the Thread network does aim to massively increase the reliability and consistency of multiple Nanoleaf products being used in tangent.
When it comes to ecosystems, Nanoleaf is still the top dog. Integration with Matter and with various voice assistants, a huge assortment of different lighting products, and a top-notch companion app make Nanoleaf a no-brainer for larger smart home setups. However, Nanoleaf doesn't come cheap, and those prices may especially sting when you're considering products that are more-or-less just cosmetic (and still aren't entirely perfect).
Govee is often considered Nanoleaf's biggest competitor, and both provides more product options and regularly undercuts Nanoleaf's prices. Nanoleaf differentiates itself with more features and better smart home integration, but those looking to just add a few lights to a non-smart home may be better off with Govee. Nanoleaf comes out on top in overall quality, but costs quickly pile up if you want the full setup. I suggest starting small with smart light bulbs or lightstrips (both of which worked great for me), and waiting for Nanoleaf's frequent sales and bundle opportunities. I'd also suggest maybe avoiding the 4D Screen Mirror kit until Nanoleaf releases a few more firmware updates for it, because it's genuinely the only product here I didn't totally love.
Nanoleaf is here to stay in my home. Despite the minor issues I've experienced (especially with the TV lightstrip), these lights look so good and offer so much control that they're easily forgiven. Costs are my only real concern with Nanoleaf's ecosystem, but beyond that, this is still one of the best ways to give your home a glow-up.
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.