Nanoleaf Lines review: Brilliant ambient lighting but Android app needs work

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·Senior Games & Tech Producer
·7 min read
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Nanoleaf Lines during the day. (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)
Nanoleaf Lines during the day. (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)

 

If you're someone who follows gaming content regularly, you might have already heard of Nanoleaf, a company which sells RGB lights in a variety of shapes.

You can find their Nanoleaf Shapes in the background of lot of streamers and people who create content. They provide pleasant and accurate lighting colours for camera, and are also bright enough to illuminate a room. 

I personally have purchased the Nanoleaf Hexagons and Essentials bulbs for my own gaming/office room, and always had a joy playing around with them to make my room vibrant and also unique to my own tastes.

So naturally, I was pretty excited when Nanoleaf Singapore reached out to us at Yahoo Gaming SEA to send us their new Nanoleaf Lines for review.

Nanoleaf Lines packaging. (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)
Nanoleaf Lines packaging. (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)

Unlike their Shapes, the Nanoleaf Lines are short light bars that are able to connect to each other via a little connector. 

This connector allows each of these bars to be configured at 60-degree angle increments, and the unit that was sent to us, the Nanoleaf Lines Starter Kit, consists of nine light bars and a power connector to help you get started.

The box also included nine connectors, a controller, covers for the connector and a couple of extra double-sided tape, just in case you screw up your installation (though if your wall is plastered, you might need a bit more than just tape).

The connectors and the power connector have double-sided tape already pre-installed on them. All you have to do is to peel the tape, place it on your wall, hold it there for 30 seconds, and you should be good to do. 

The connector is also rotatable, so you do not need to get your ‘first try’ right. Just simply paste the first connector on your wall, and you will able to adjust it from there.

Installation

I decided to test the lines in my living room, because I barely have any space left on the walls of my gaming/office room.

The Nanoleaf Lines set to red. (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)
The Nanoleaf Lines set to red. (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)

The installation is pretty straight forward. Once you paste the first connector to the wall and insert a light bar into it, simply place another connector at the other end of that light bar, adjust the position that you want your lightbar to take, and then paste the other connector to the wall. 

Repeat this process till you set all your light bars up.

You can position the included controller on any of the connectors in your setup, as it doesn’t need to be placed on the power connector, even though it comes in the box attached to it.

After setting the lights up, makes sure to cover all the connectors with the included covers.

How to set up Nanoleaf Lines (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)
How to set up Nanoleaf Lines (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)

Setting it all up

All you need to do after the set up is to just plug it in, wait for it to boot up, and it should work. 

Like other Nanoleaf products, you can also control the lights through the controller, if for some reason you decide not to pair it with the Nanoleaf App. 

You will be able to turn it on and off, reduce or increase brightness, change mode to rhythm from its default, which is to respond to sounds around it, or cycle through other preset modes.

Of course, if you want to get the most out of your Nanoleaf Lines, you'll need to pair them with the Nanoleaf App, which in my experience was extremely easy.

Pairing the Lines can be done through manually inputting the device code on the power connector, using NFC or with a QR code. 

The NFC feature was quite seamless to use for pairing. I simply needed to pair the Lines with my WiFi router, and they are now controllable on my Nanoleaf App.

With the app, you can change the scenes, let the Lines react to music, configure them the way you want, and similar to configuring the Shapes. 

If you're willing to link up a PC via HDMI, there also Screen Mirror, just like the Shapes, which as the name implies lets the Nanoleaf lights change colour according to what it detects on your screen.

Functionality wise, it is almost the same as the Shapes. The only missing function of the Lines is probably the touch feature present on the Shapes, but I don’t think anyone will miss it.

Unfortunately, just like the Shapes, it still has that long and unsightly white power cable dangling from it, so you will have to find a way to mask or hide it, if you want to keep your set up clean.

The Nanoleaf Lines are extremely bright, even in broad daylight. Turned on at night, the nine Lines were enough to give enough ambient light to illuminate a small living room area.

Inside the box of the Nanoleaf Lines. (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)
Inside the box of the Nanoleaf Lines. (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)

It’s really all fine and dandy, yeah?

Or so I thought.

Android users, take note

Now, this next section does not reflect anything on the Nanoleaf Lines themselves. The product is solid, and if you like the aesthetics to pair with your Nanoleaf ecosystem, by all means, go ahead. It gets a thumbs up from me.

But my oh my, the Nanoleaf App on Android needs A LOT of work.

Don’t get me wrong. When it works, it works great. But it is a problem when it only works three out of 10 times I open the app.

I remember relinquishing all control of the Shapes and Essentials that I have to Google Home, just because of how buggy the Nanoleaf App was. I have not touched the app since, and this was about a year ago. 

While the experience of pairing the Lines was easy enough, getting it to work with Google Home again reminded me why I refused to use the Nanoleaf App in the first place. 

Even after updating it to the latest version, the app is buggy, hangs a lot, and is extremely unresponsive when you try to give any commands to your lights.

So why do you need to use the app, then?

Well, what the Nanoleaf App does is allow you to sync your devices to a Nanoleaf account, which in turn lets you pair it with something like Google Home. This lets you do fancy stuff, like use voice commands to turn your Nanoleaf lights on and off.

Unfortunately, the Lines didn’t show up in my Google Home, no matter how many times I tried to refresh and sync them to the Nanoleaf App. 

I even waited for a few hours to see if it was a syncing issue. My other Nanoleaf devices like my Shapes and Essentials still turn up on Google Home, so I realised then that something was amiss.

I unpaired my Nanoleaf App from my Google Home account, only to re-pair it again, hoping to see if it was just a bug on the back end. The re-paring didn’t work. 

After much tinkering, I decided to sync all my Nanoleaf lights to a new account.

This time, it did work. All my lights, including the Lines, show up on Google Home after re-pairing it with a new account. 

The caveat? None of my Essentials bulbs now work with Google Home, for some odd reason. I was finally able to control the Lines and Shapes, but the Essentials bulbs just refuse to talk to Google Home, even though they show up in the devices that are tagged to my house and ecosystem. 

That means I am stuck controlling them using the Nanoleaf App anyway.

I've reached out to Nanoleaf for feedback on this issue, and will update when they respond. I have no idea if this bug was caused by the pairing of the Lines to the account, or it was just some weird behaviour on the server side of Nanoleaf or Google.

That aside, the Nanoleaf Lines are a beautiful piece of work. They are easy to set up, bright enough and definitely a great lighting showpiece, just like their Shapes. Now, if only their app was as reliable as their lights.

Dominic loves tech and games. When he is not busy getting headshotted in VALORANT or watercooling anything he sees, he does some pro wrestling.

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