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Nanoleaf Lines Squared Review: More of the Same, but That’s Not a Bad Thing

Rating:
8/10
?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price:
Starting At $99.99
Nanoleaf Lines and Lines Squared arranged in a shape
Dave McQuilling/ReviewGeek

Nanoleaf has expanded its Lines range with a kit that can connect at 90 degree angles. Now instead of diamonds, triangles, and rhombuses, LED lighting enthusiasts can make squares and rectangles. This may not sound too exciting, but trust me Lines Squared are great.

The premium wall lights originally launched last year, but the modular sticks could only connect at 60 degree angles. As with other Lines kits, you’ll initially need to buy a starter pack and then add to your number of light sticks by purchasing expansion packs. However, the new kits do work with old Lines, so if you already have the original Lines in your room, you can add to them with a Lines Squared expansion pack and potentially save some money. The base “Smarter” kit comes with four lighting strips, and expansion packs contain three additional “lines.”

Setup is Simple

Clipping Nanoleaf Lines Squared together
Dave McQuilling/ReviewGeek

The lights themselves are pretty simple to set up. There are a number of blocks that consist of two parts, and a series of stick-like LED lights that connect between the blocks. It’s the blocks that make the “Lines Squared” lights different from regular Nanoleaf Lines. Lines Squared, as the name suggests, connect at a series of 90-degree angles, as opposed to the 60 degrees regular Nanoleaf Lines connect at. So you can make squares and other square-like shapes.

The plus side here is, you can make a bunch of shapes that weren’t really possible with the previous Lines series. The “downside,” if you can really call it that, is that only four of the stick bits connect to each block. This isn’t a problem though, as you can mix and match between standard “Lines” and Lines Squared. Just get one with a base unit, and then as many expansion kits as you need.

Once you’ve made the core of your design, you can stick it to a wall, ceiling, or any other flat surface. Nanoleaf includes some pre-attached adhesive pads that do the job perfectly. The lights themselves aren’t heavy, so they should stick well provided your intended surface is clean and you don’t plan on dangling from them or anything.

If you liked the original Lines, and really think corners would take things to the next level, then stop reading here. These are perfect for you, go out and buy them. If you haven’t encountered this particular writing setup before, then read on. There are a few quirks and considerations to take into account.

These Things Can Melt Your Eyeballs

A lighting set up made from a combination of Nanoleaf Lines and Lines Squared kits
Dave McQuilling/ReviewGeek

Nothing prepared me for how astonishingly bright these things can get. The ten I was sent, stuck together behind the TV, throw out enough light to brightly illuminate a fairly large room. I initially thought these would serve solely as an interesting piece of decoration, but I was wrong. They’re immensely practical.

Having sampled Nanoleaf Lines, I’ve now discovered a new use for them. My front room doesn’t have a ceiling light, and my landlord is unlikely to install one. For $200-ish, I can buy something that works just as well in terms of lighting the room, has over 16 million colors available if white light begins to bore me, and is breathtakingly simple to set up.

Lines also come with a lot of wire. As a rough guess, the base kit I was sent probably has about 20 feet. So you can definitely place your light set up in an odd location and not have to worry about reaching a plug.

As an added bonus, the lights also function as a Thread border router. In short, this means they can relay your WiFi signal to other Thread-enabled devices nearby. So if your smart home is based around devices that operate on the Thread Wireless Standard, dotting Lines around your house will help improve overall connectivity.

The flipside of this is the lack of Matter support. While Nanoleaf plans to release some Matter-capable LEDs and bulbs, it won’t commit to updating its existing products to support Matter, and that includes Lines Square. The company won’t commit to releasing future products at Matter Border Routers either.

Customization Isn’t Limited to Shape

A side view of Nanoleaf Lines
Dave McQuilling/ReviewGeek

One of Lines’ main selling points is its “scenes” you can make your own, or use the Nanoleaf Smarter Series app to download one of hundreds available online. Scenes don’t just add colors to your lighting setup but can play through a pattern to add ambiance to a room.

There are also various seasonal scenes available — I spent most of the testing period with one of the Halloween ones playing. There was a decent orange one, which complemented the pumpkins we have in the room. There were also a few “blood” themed ones, but those were a bit intense and not something you can have on in the background without getting distracted.

Some scenes have a really nice effect too. There was one with a fire-like appearance that really fit the strange cultish shape my Lines ended up in. As far as I’m aware, that arrangement and setting hasn’t summoned any chaos deities, so it’s a win all round really.

As mentioned, all of this is controlled through the app. You can download new scenes with a tap, switch between them, or even pair it all up with your smart home. Or you should be able to anyway…

The Software Lets the Side Down

Nanoleaf Lines Squared manual controls
Dave McQuilling/ReviewGeek

While the ease of assembly, intensity of the light, and customization options all make Nanoleaf Lines pretty great — the app makes you wonder why you’re bothering. Setting the light up using the app is pretty straightforward. Just connect your phone to a 2 GHz network then scan a QR code in the app itself. The app will automatically guess how your lights are configured, though you should use a tool within the app to rotate them to the correct configuration if Nanoleaf’s guess is off a bit.

While setup via the app is simple, things go downhill from there. Half of the scenes don’t work for whatever reason, and the ones that do cause the app to lag. There have been a few occasions where I’ve selected a scene and nothing’s happened, so I’ve assumed it’s not working and selected another. After I do this four or five times the app suddenly realizes I want it to do something and flies through every scene I’ve selected before settling on the last one.

The option to download and create scenes is there too, but the downloads don’t work half the time and nothing I’ve created has been any good. It’s times like this where I worry I’m lacking in talent.

It works with your smart home, sometimes

Nanoleaf plug, QR code, and wire
Dave McQuilling/ReviewGeek

On the box, there’s a label outlining that it works with Apple home. There are also skills available that allow both Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa to interact with the device. Of the three, I currently have Alexa managing my smart home — so that’s what I used to test things out.

Unfortunately, the functionality with Alexa is pretty limited. You can turn the Lines on and off, but that’s basically it and it doesn’t work every time. If you add a new scene to the app, Alexa will notify you about the scene becoming available. If you ask Alexa to switch to that scene you have to word it in a particular way and even then it’s a coin toss. Half of the time they’ll play without a hitch, the rest of the time Alexa will get confused and ignore you like the passive aggressive heartless AI harpy she is.

Looking at reviews of the skill, apparently, it was okay at one point, and then it went to pieces. As with the app, it’s something that can potentially be fixed, but at present, it’s only good for turning the lights on and off or using them as part of a routine.

They’re Not Cheap, But They Justify the Price

The Nanoleaf Lines LED strips
Dave McQuilling/ReviewGeek

My first thought after taking on this review and seeing what Nanoleaf charges for the basic Lines kit and a couple of expansions was something like “they want how much?” This attitude didn’t really change as I unboxed and assembled the lights. However, having had a kit and two expansion packs glued to my wall for a week, I can now say it’s worth the money.

Hopefully the software issues get looked at soon, and there are some manual controls to fall back on if it gets really bad. In terms of hardware though, Lines Squared is a high quality product you can have a lot of fun with. If the white will contrast with your wall, or you just want some variety, there are some official skins you can buy to further customize the lights’ appearance.

The “Smarter Kit” which is what you need if you’re not just adding to other Nanoleaf Lines you own, costs $99.99US/$129.99CA and you can also purchase three-piece expansion sets for $69.99US/$99.99CA. You should also consider getting a set of the original Lines, then you can make that weird symbol I came up with and join my cult.

Rating:
8/10
Price:
Starting At $99.99

Here’s What We Like

  • Eye meltingly bright
  • Easy to assemble
  • Wide range of color options and themes

And What We Don't

  • Pretty expensive
  • The software is a buggy mess

Dave McQuilling Dave McQuilling
Dave McQuilling has spent over 10 years writing about almost everything, but technology has always been one of his main interests. He has previously worked for newspapers, magazines, radio stations, websites, and television stations in both the US and Europe. Read Full Bio »