I have a lot of different Nanoleaf kits at home. I’ve tried Canvas, Shapes, Elements and more. So I say it with great authority: Nanoleaf’s Limited Edition Shapes Ultra Black Triangles is the company’s best-looking set ever. Buy them now while they are still available.
Here’s what we like
- Anything is better than black
- Easy installation
Celebrating years as a company, Nanoleaf has released a limited number of Shapes Ultra Black Triangles for its “Nanoversary”. If you’re wondering what exactly “limited edition” means, a Nanoleaf representative told me that the company only produced 1,000 units worldwide. Interested in Nanoleaf? Do you like the beautiful pictures you see? Go buy them now before they sell out, then come back and finish the rest of the review.
For everyone else, here’s everything you need to know.
Just like other triangles – but better
Nanoleaf has already earned a name for some of the most unique and best-looking smart lighting on the market. One of the main lines of its products is the Shapes sets. These come in large hexagons, triangles and mini triangles. You can buy all three sets to combine to create new shapes and designs.
Since these initial kits were released, Nanoleaf has started playing around with how the lights look when they are off. That’s one of the downsides of most Nanoleaf kits – they’re pretty when they’re lit, but they’re an ugly white when they’re off. The Elements line introduced Hexagons to the look of wood and as a woodworker I love them. But while the Elements set looks much better unlit than the other Shapes series, they don’t have all the color options when lit that the various Nanoleaf sets enjoy. You will only get shades of white.
The limited edition Shapes Ultra Triangles set takes a similar tack but improves on the Elements line. When you turn the TV off, they are a jet black color that should look good on almost any wall. And when you turn them on, you get the full color spectrum that the rest of the Shapes line enjoys.
And frankly, black is the best look of the Nanoleaf lights yet. The white versions are a little ugly when you don’t have them on, and that’s more common than you’d expect. After all, who wants giant glowing lights in the middle of the night or during an hour of a movie? But the color black? This will look great on almost any wall. Nanoleaf has also gone all out – the connectors, mounting plates, controller and even the power supply are all black. The mounting plate doesn’t even show up once you have everything installed, but it’s nice.
I was worried that the black finish would prevent the lights from looking good, but that’s not the case at all. While the Ultra Black triangles don’t seem as vibrant as the white model, you get more color contrast instead. They look amazing lit up and it’s fantastic that you can choose any color instead of just shades of white.
The only downside to the Ultra Black color is that it’s a fingerprint magnet. It’s not as visible as it seems in the pictures, but it’s noticeable when you’re up close. The Nanoleaf includes a microfiber cleaning cloth in the box, and you’ll want to use that.
The settings remain the same
If you are familiar with Nanoleaf kits, then all you need to know is that nothing has changed about the process. But the good news for everyone else is that placing Nanoleaf panels on your wall is pretty simple and painless. Getting them off the wall is potentially a different story, but we’ll get to that in a second.
First you need to choose the design in which you want to arrange your triangles. I recommend doing this on the floor – Nanoleaf has a visualizer in their app, but I haven’t had much luck with it. Once you’re happy with this, grab one of the included pieces of double-sided mounting tape and stick it to the back of the panel. On the back you will find a circular holder, but you don’t want to cover it completely: hang the tape slightly over the edge.
Attach the linker where the other panel will go and the control panel if you want it here. Then just peel off the paper from the tape and attach it to the wall. Then repeat the steps to create the pattern. Just make sure you attach the “next” linker for the “next panel” to the panel you are hanging. It will make your life easier.
And what about hanging the tape partially outside the holder? This will help you if you need to make changes. You see, Nanoleaf sends a mighty tape to hang their kits on. Once fully applied, it can easily pull the plaster off the wall if you just try to pull the panels off. So if you need to pull them down for any reason, the first thing you need to do is pull the edge of the panel. This will break off the mounting plate and expose the edge of the tape you left exposed. You can pull the tape and remove it safely without damaging the wall. It’s a pretty good system that Nanoleaf landed on, and my walls appreciate it.
From there, you pair with the app, a process that could work.
The app still needs work
The Nanoleaf app (for iOS and Android) gets the job done, but it’s still the weakest point of the company’s offering. Take setting up a new device for example. It took me the better part of 45 minutes to actually connect Black Triangles to my Nanoleaf account. It either froze in the process or in one case overwrote another set of Shapes in my house.
I ended up getting an error message indicating I needed to restart the phone, which worked. But it took too long. I’ve never been happy with the app because it doesn’t work great for controlling lights. More often than not, it can’t connect to my Nanoleaf kits despite having a Wi-Fi connection and a Thread mesh network between them.
I often see slow responses when they join immediately. I can tap the radio button for the room group and nothing happens. The same can be true for trying to interact with a set. Sometimes everything will work fine even for a week. Other days like today I will have trouble connecting any of my Nanoleaf kits to the app.
More often I use the controls directly on the lights. These work without a hitch, and once you’ve loaded all the scenes you like, it’s easy to flip through them. And despite my complaints about app controls, voice control via Google Assistant and Alexa works very well, so that’s my next thing.
Other than that, the app itself looks good. Having groups of rooms is nice and discovering new light scenes is easy. Nanoleaf is constantly adding more, and the list also features user-created light scenes. You can create your own scenes and the process is easy, if not tedious. The only thing I couldn’t figure out how to do is skip lighting the panels. This would be a great addition to displaying illuminated colors and black panels. I doubt Nanoleaf will add this option since this is a limited edition set. For now, I’ve decided to limit the glow to almost nothing on the panels I want to shine through as black.
You should buy them before they sell out
Despite my complaints about the app, I love having Nanoleaf panels in my house. I learned to work around the app issue and the lights themselves are beautiful. Whenever I have guests over, the first thing they ask about is the different Nanoleaf kits they see.
This makes it easy to recommend any kit from the company. But the Ultra Black Triangles set is simply the best looking set from Nanoleaf yet. They look amazing when you have scenes filtered through the lights. Even better, they still look amazing when they’re not lit up.
My biggest complaint about them (besides the app) is the limited edition nature. A Nanoleaf representative told me there are only 1,000 units available. If you’ve made it this far in your review, you may have waited too long. “Limited Edition” means “once they’re gone, they’re gone.” I hope that doesn’t happen here. I want more of these panels in different shapes. Maybe if they sell fast enough, Nanoleaf will consider making more. A man can dream.
Shapes Ultra Black Triangles can be purchased directly from the Nanoleaf site while supplies last. The nine-panel starter kit costs $219.99, while the optional three-panel expansion pack will set you back $69.99.
Here’s what we like
- Anything is better than black
- Easy installation