I don’t really think Nanoleaf needs much of an introduction, especially if you like to watch YouTube. Many gaming or tech-focused channels have these RGB panels adorn their walls and setups, and even I have a triangle starter pack situated right above my monitor. Despite being the triangles being their most prominent product, they also offer the often underlooked square-shaped Canvas panels. These panels go a step further than the triangles by being touch responsive and providing an interactive experience. Naturally, I wanted to check it out and see if it’s more than a gimmick and if it enriches the already great Nanoleaf smart light experience.
Nanoleaf Canvas light panels are available for purchase on Amazon. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
SETUP AND DESIGN
Nanoleaf Canvas is a set of square-shaped light panels that can be connected to form different, larger shapes. While Canvas panels are smaller than the Nanoleaf triangle-shaped ones, their illuminated surface is roughly the same. This is because each triangle has these small non-illuminated protrusions while the entire surface of the Canvas panel is illuminated with no extra material to speak of.
This fact along with the (150 x 150 mm) square-shape of the panels makes the Canvas much more appealing and somewhat easier to set up. Once you pick a spot on your wall or any other surface and decide on the configuration of the panels, it’s preparation time.
In that regard, each panel has four spots where you can apply adhesive stickers which will hold the panel firmly in place. When I say firmly, I really mean that. My triangles haven’t moved a hair’s length ever since I placed them on the wall and were even unfazed by a couple of very strong earthquakes in my area. Even in the extreme case of Canvas panels falling, each one is made out of solid plastic and weighs around 160 grams which should make them able to survive unscathed.
The package includes just enough of the stickers for one use so you’ll have to find and buy similar ones should you wish to change the configuration of the panels. Also, keep in mind that, while they do a great job of securing the panels to the wall, they can be a bit of a hassle to remove. Unlike for the triangles, the method of leaving a part of the sticker outside the panel for easier removal isn’t as viable so it best to use the often recommended method of slicing through the stickers using dental floss in order to keep your surfaces and panels undamaged.
Placing the panels on the wall, it’s highly recommended you start with the master panel that has the “physical” touch controls. These can be used to power the panels on or off, increase or decrease brightness, change up the color scene or turn on the rhythm scenes that use the microphone to respond to sounds or music. Each option has a nice and subtle white LED so you have a way of knowing if the panel registered your touch input.
Compared to the triangle panels, which had separate modules for controls and microphone, Canvas’s integrated solution not only makes it more convenient to set up and use but also provides a much cleaner look to your chosen configuration. Sure, as with the triangles, you are left to deal with the cable running down your wall which can be somewhat of an eyesore, especially if your wall isn’t white.
As far as connecting panels to one another, this is done via small sim card-like linkers. As with the stickers, the backside of each panel has four slots where you can insert them in order to create your desired configuration. This part of the set up can be a bit finicky since the linkers themselves feel very fragile and aren’t designed to actually hold the panels together. In order to avoid having to buy new ones, It’s best to slowly connect one panel at a time, using the stickers to affix the panels.
For those thinking that 9 panels aren’t enough – don’t worry. Although you can buy expansion packs, the panels are bright and big enough for the 9 of them to be highly effective in mid-sized to large rooms. There are literally dozens of different configurations to choose from but I highly recommend you take the specifics of your room into account and get creative with it.
FEATURES AND PERFORMANCE
The main selling point of Nanoleaf Canvas and the thing that separates it from other Nanoleaf products is the fact that the panels are touch-sensitive. While this may seem gimmicky at first, it’s gracefully implemented and a great way of interacting with your lights. In order to take full advantage of this, it’s best to place Canvas somewhere where you’ll be able to easily access the panels.
As far as how the interactivity works, a couple of things are worth mentioning. First, even though the panels don’t require pressure to register the touch, they aren’t as sensitive as a smartphone screen for example, and will only register either a couple of fingers or your entire hand. Second, the most touch-sensitive area on each one is the dead center, where smaller squares connect. You can drag your hand across them to make the panels respond, but most scenes will react only when your either touch or reach the center of a panel. Since you’ll either be using a couple of fingers or your entire palm, this shouldn’t be an issue but it’s something to keep in mind if you were expecting insanely sensitive responsiveness across the entire surface of the panels.
While you can use Canvas as a standalone device, its full potential is realized only when connected to the Nanoleaf app. The panels themselves connect to your local Wi-Fi network and you pair them with your smartphone by either manually inputting the pairing code, scanning the QR code, or using NFC on the master panel. Once you are all paired up, the app will display your configuration and allow you finer control over lighting and scenes.
The level of control and customizability is really amazing and you can create elaborate scenes just as easily as you can basic, single-colored ones. All the changes in the app are instantaneously visible on the panels so you can immediately see your creations and adjust them if necessary. If you aren’t feeling especially creative, the app offers a ton of amazing user-made scenes ranging from simple moody to elaborate pop-culture inspired ones. The scenes can even be saved to the device so you can cycle between them without using your smartphone. Add to that the ability to set up double-tap and swiping gestures and you won’t have to use it at all save for when you want to check out some new user-created scenes.
Besides the gestures, touching the panels will cause them to respond by slightly or permanently changing the color to another one in the chosen scene. For something more responsive, the app offers some touch-controlled games like Memory, Connect 3, and Whack A Mole. While these won’t hold your interest for a long time, it’s a great point of conversation and a neat little feature to showcase to anyone daring to think you just have some regular old LED’s slapped on the wall.
What’s more, the panels can easily be added to Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home to be used with the Google Assistant. Adding the Canvas to any of these apps will enable you to use voice commands to increase or decrease the brightness level, change the scene, or have the panels to light up in a specific color.
For gamers using Razer peripherals, the Canvas can also connect to Razer Synapse software to great effect. For example, you can use Razer Studio to customize the Canvas and match its lighting and effects with any of your peripherals. I mostly used it in ambient awareness mode that sampled the colors from across my screen, be it from a wallpaper, a browser, a movie, or a game. Using it with games was especially enjoyable as the lights change in real-time and help boost the immersion or just further set the mood for whatever you are playing.
The last thing to talk about in regards to Nanoleaf Canvas is the price. While you could argue that $200 for a set of 9 panels is a bit much, you definitely won’t find any other product even approaching their quality. There’s a saying that goes: “Seeing is believing” and you won’t appreciate how awesome Canvas can look on your wall until you actually place it there. If you want to take your gaming setup to the next level or simply want to add a bit of color in your life, Nanoleaf Canvas is definitely the absolute best way to do so.