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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

NanoLeaf Canvas is Bold, Beautiful, and Expensive

NanoLeaf Canvas panels in shades of blue and white.
Josh Hendrickson

NanoLeaf Canvas is an LED system vastly different from the usual strip lights you see in smarthomes. Comprised of touch-sensitive LED light squares, you decide the shape and configuration. Simply put, it’s beautiful to behold—if you can afford it.

Most smart LED lights come in long strips and are relatively simple. Hang them somewhere, choose a color, enjoy. But NanoLeaf’s Canvas is different. The lights come as square panels, and you join them together to build a shape of your desire. With enough panels, you could effectively create a pixel picture, like a whale or Pac-Man ghost. But you’ll pay a pretty penny along the way.

Setup is a Bit Difficult

Inside the NanoLeaf box, you’ll find square LED panels (between 4 and 25 depending on the kit you chose), command strips, a plug, and enough linkers to join all the panels. The linkers are long narrow rectangles with metal stripes on either side that somewhat resemble the inside of a USB port.

A single Canvas panel, plug, and linker set with a quarter for scale.
The control panel has several buttons for power, shuffle, and rhythm mode. The words on the panel are a sticker you peel off. Josh Hendrickson

Once you figure out the layout, you want to mount the canvas panels by sticking the command strips to a panel and then attaching it to the wall. Next, slip a linker into one of the ports on the backside of the square on the wall; each square has three ports to utilize. Then put the commands strips on the next panel and slide it onto the linker and push against the wall to get a strong sticky seal.

That part is a bit tricky because you have to angle the square just right so the linker will slip into the new panel without the sticky command strip touching your wall too soon.

Just repeat that process until you have all your panels placed. The plug adapter for the device resembles a linker end and utilizes the same ports, plug that in, and you’re ready to pair. Pairing is, thankfully, easy to do. You can either scan a QR code included in the package or touch your device to the control panel for pairing. That part was and quick—the first time (more on that later).

When you’re placing everything, you’ll want to pay attention to where you put the control panel. This particular panel differs from all the rest in that it has touch buttons on it for power, dimming, turning on rhythm mode, and shuffling the current scene. It’s best to place that in an easy-to-reach spot. One thing I liked about the Canvas is that the control panel can go to any spot in your layout, and the plug can be connected to any port on any panel. I buried my power cord in the wall for a cleaner look; otherwise, you’ll have a white cord hanging down your wall.

Once You Turn It on the Canvas Is so Pretty

In a moment of honesty, I’ve agonized over the pictures I’ve taken of this Canvas review unit. None of them do the system justice. In-person the Canvas looks incredible. They stand out as unique, but they’re also bright and vibrant. My entire family fell in love from the moment I turned them on.

9 Nanoleaf panels showing sea green colors.
Josh Hendrickson

And I appreciate that the panels aren’t just static lights. Like most LEDs, you can choose colors to display, like all red or green panels. But, the NanoLeaf app (for Android and iOS) includes scenes you can choose from as well (or you can make your own). NanoLeaf created some of these scenes, and users created others and uploaded them for everyone to enjoy.

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