Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm review: A slick lighting upgrade for your smart home

Light bulbs are one of the most common smart home gadgets, especially since they’re simple and relatively inexpensive to set up and add. They’re not all plain and simple, though, and that’s especially true with the Nanoleaf Aurora.

Nanoleaf’s futuristic panels go beyond just lighting your home and allow you to create moods and scenes that match the rest of your home. And, since they’re Wifi-connected lights, you can control them with your phone, automate them, or sync them up with other devices on your network.

For this review, we got to test out the Nanoleaf Aurora, as well as the Rhythm add-on that syncs the light show up with your music and other sounds around the house. Let’s dig in.

Setting up the Nanoleaf is going to be much more work than your typical connected light bulb or light plug. Each triangle panel is its own light that can be connected to the other panels, which means you’re going to have to connect everything in the shape or pattern you want and get it up on the wall without disconnecting anything.

 

It’s not a terrible task, but it’s going to take some coordination. Nanoleaf includes connectors for the lights plus adhesive strips to mount on the wall, so you won’t need extra tools unless you want to hang them in an odd place around your home.

 

I ended up just putting one panel up at a time (and I used to level to make sure everything was flat) and was just really careful not to press on the adhesive until each piece was snapped into place. You’ll also have to plug the power cable into one end and the Rhythm module into another, but you’ll get adhesive strips for those, too.

 

Nanoleaf has a bunch of inspirational ideas for shapes and designs in the instruction booklet in case you don’t know exactly what you want to do, but you’re free to connect things in any way you want as long as the panels are touching. You can even Google search some other creative ideas if you’re hitting a wall.

Once the hardware’s out of the way, you simply install the Nanoleaf application to start tinkering with lights and rhythm patterns. There’s a near infinite amount of flexibility here, too, plus a ton of ready-to-go presets if you just want to get it up without doing the detailed work yourself. If you do want to change things, you can adjust individually lighting per panel, set up patterns to streak across the panel, fine tune your colors, adjust the brightness, you name it. Nanoleaf also offers a “store” where you can download official presets and creations from other users to find something to fit your mood.

The Rhythm module goes a step further and makes your Aurora lights look almost like a custom music visualizer. You can pick from several presets or roll your own again, picking color, brightness, and different reactions to sounds.

At first I thought the Rhythm module was tied into the music playing on my phone, but it’s pretty quickly apparent that it just has a microphone that will sync with anything it hears. Music, movies, conversations, you name it. That’s certainly a good thing and makes the module much more flexible with other devices around your house.

So now that you’ve spent a couple hours placing everything perfectly and setting it up, how does it actually look? Honestly, it’s hands down one of the best decorative upgrades you can possibly make.

It’s guaranteed to garner attention wherever it’s at in a room, and I had plenty of people asking questions and complimenting how slick it looks. I didn’t tend to leave it on any crazy patterns or do a fancy design, either.

It’s eye-catching, it sets the mood of the entire room, and if you need it to spice things up during a party, it’s perfect.

And when you really want to wow your friends, drop the “Okay, Google” command to set scenes, change the brightness, or turn the Aurora on and off. Yep, it’s fully integrated with all three major smart assistants, so whether you’re using Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri, you can fully control the device without ever touching the app or hardware ever again.

That makes it sound like a party trick, but it really is an incredibly high-class way to improve the ambience of any room. The only real drawbacks are the price tags for the starter kit and extensions; the Aurora Rhythm starter pack comes with 9 panels for $229, and three extra panels will cost you $59. Pricing per panel is actually pretty good for something with this much color variety, but it’s not useful without multiple panels. And if you want another set for a different wall or room? You have to get the starter kit again, as it’s the only way to get the power supply to make a second set work.

If you can handle the price, however, this is easily a 10/10 upgrade for your smart home.

Buy it now: Nanoleaf


About the Author: Jared Peters

Born in southern Alabama, Jared spends his working time selling phones and his spare time writing about them. The Android enthusiasm started with the original Motorola Droid, but the tech enthusiasm currently covers just about everything. He likes PC gaming, Lenovo's Moto Z line, and a good productivity app.