In the World of Smart Lights, Nanoleaf’s Affordable Bulbs Shine Pretty Bright

In the World of Smart Lights, Nanoleaf’s Affordable Bulbs Shine Pretty Bright
Image: Gizmodo Australia
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When used correctly, smart lights can be a fantastic addition to any home. It’s an incredibly easy way to completely change the atmosphere of a room, and that can go a long way to alter your mood. Sometimes you want to fade from a harsh white light into a relaxing warm glow.

When it comes to smart light brands, after Philips’ Hue line, Nanoleaf are one of the more respected names out there.

That reputation is built on the back of its range of smart light panels which, while excellent, are incredibly expensive. However, Nanoleaf has released a range of bulbs and lightstrips as a part of its Essentials range, with the goal of providing high end smart light options at an affordable price.

So how well did they do?

Nanoleaf Essentials Smart Bulb

WHAT IS IT?

Nanoleaf's take on the LED smart bulb.

PRICE

$39.99

LIKE

Maintain's Nanoleaf's high quality LED lighting but with an incredibly affordable price tag.

NO LIKE

Occasional lag when changing colours.

Light ’em up

In terms of use, the Essentials bulb is as basic as it comes. Open the Nanoleaf app, select the bulb and either set a solid colour in Basic mode or a Scene to suit the mood. From there, you can adjust brightness or, for Scenes, the speed at which the bulb cycles through colours. For Basic mode, you can set up to eight favourite colours, for quick access. It’s just that easy.

With Scenes, the bulb will cycle through a series of colours that you’ve chosen. It’s a fun, fairly low-effort way to shift the atmosphere of the room. The speed at which the colours change is adjustable, so you can go from a nice slow fade to a full on rave.

If you aren’t feeling particularly creative, or are just incredibly lazy like myself, the Nanoleaf app comes with a Discover tab where you can download Scenes made by other users.

While the Essentials are the first Thread-enabled smart lights, I don’t currently have a smart hub set up in my home. All of my interactions with the Essentials bulb through the Nanoleaf companion app were via Bluetooth.

Every now and then there’d be a moment where I’d change colours through the app and the bulb’s response would lag, but for the most part, it was a pretty satisfying experience.

Image: Gizmodo Australia

Shine bright

My apartment was renovated before I moved into it and all of the lights are bright whites. This is fine… for the most part. However, you really notice how alert they make you when it’s almost midnight and you don’t particularly feel tired.

Since receiving the Essentials bulb, I usually flip it onto a warmer colour at a brightness that keeps the room well lit enough that I can see what I’m doing. Or, if I’m watching or movie or playing my Switch, I’ll set it to a dim purple or green for ambient light.

According to Nanoleaf, these bulbs have a colour range of over 16 million different options. I only managed to try a couple dozen colours and shades, so I’ll just have to take their word on the other 15.99 million or so I left unexplored.

The range of colours I did test were all incredibly vivid, with a good contrast between shades. I’d say my biggest surprise when playing around with the bulb was how bight it was. And by surprise, I mean I set the brightness to 100% and instantly recreated that one scene from Christmas Vacation.

After that, I don’t think I ever set the brightness to anything higher than 70 per cent (the Essentials bulb is rated for 1,100 lumens).

The app has a Circadian Lighting features that lets the set it so the bulb’s colour temperature will automatically adjust throughout the day to be better suited to your circadian rhythms.

I had the Essentials bulb plugged into my living room lamp, so I didn’t get much use out of the Circadian Lighting feature during the morning or day, but when I used it during the evening I found it pretty calming.

nanoleaf
Left: 15% brightness. Right: 100% brightness. (Image: Gizmodo Australia)

All of the (smart) lights

Let’s talk about smart light prices. While Philips has more or less cornered the market with its Hue line, the price point for these smart lights can really make your head spin. For example, a single white and colour ambiance E27 bulb will cost you somewhere in the ballpark of $90 to $100.

For some, that’s a big ask. Especially if you want to install bulbs into multiple rooms. Nanoleaf is no stranger to big price tags, either. It’s is predominately known for its range of geometric shape LED light panels.

While these smart lights are pretty great, they have a similar financial barrier as the Philips Hue. When a Nanoleaf Shapes Triangles Starter Kit retails for a huge $349, it’s not exactly something you can buy on impulse.

There are budget options out there, of course. However, like most consumer tech, you get what you pay for. A lot of these budget smart bulbs are usually cheaply made and, in some cases, aren’t actually “smart”. Instead they use some form of remote to let you flip through colours, with an overall limited palette.

I bring up these expensive and cheap examples because I want to paint a decent picture of what the smart light market looks like, to help you better understand how Nanoleaf’s Essentials range fits in to it.

nanoleaf
Image: Gizmodo Australia

Should you buy it?

At $39.99 per bulb, these Nanoleaf lights offer the quality of more high-end smart lights, but at a considerably more affordable price. So if you’ve been looking for smart light that’s cheap in price but not in overall quality, the Nanoleaf Essentials range are exactly what its name suggests.

If you’ve been looking to add a smart lights into your home’s aesthetic, but don’t want to break the bank, these bulbs are some fantastic value. The range of colours and shades available is massive, and its overall interface is so easy to pick up and control. In the realm of smart lights, the Nanoleaf Essentials bulb shines bright.