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Nanoleaf Canvas review: A wall of colour

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £180
for nine tiles, inc. VAT

Nanoleaf Canvas is hardly essential, but the interactive lighting system adds playfulness to your home decor


  • Mesmerising creative light shows
  • Expandable
  • Good integration with apps and services


  • Pricey
  • Fiddly setup and app
  • Difficult to change your layout once set up

App-controlled lighting is nothing new, but once you’ve gotten over the novelty of telling Alexa or Google Assistant to turn on the lights, or turned them a somewhat uncomfortable red shade for an extended period, they begin to lose their sense of wonder.
This is where Nanoleaf comes in. It’s app-controlled lighting, but with a lot more fun and whimsy than you’d get with a plain old Philips Hue. Link them together in a shape, then set the panels to millions of different colours, or watch them dance to a musical beat and your touch.

Buy from Nanoleaf

Nanoleaf Canvas review: What you need to know

Nanoleaf Canvas isn’t a set of bulbs. Rather, as its name suggests, it’s a collection of square plastic plates that can be arranged in any shape you like, providing they’re all touching, and you have enough panels to arrange your masterpiece.
This is how mine looks, in all its animated glory:

To be clear, the only obstacle for the latter is money. Although the starter kit has nine panels in the box, a single piece of wall art can be made of up to 500 panels, with an extra power supply connected every 25 squares. Price aside, when you consider each panel is 150mm x 150mm, this is purely a hypothetical ambition: to make a square design with 500 Nanoleaf tiles, you’d end up with a block that’s 37.5 meters high.

You can see examples of multi-pack designs throughout this review via media images direct from Nanoleaf. 

Nanoleaf Canvas review: Price and competition

The Nanoleaf Canvas nine-tile starter kit sells for £180. You can get a 17-tile version for £320 or a 25-pack for £460. An expansion pack of four extra panels goes for £70.
If you prefer a different shape, the original Nanoleaf Light Panels are triangular and offer the same functionality minus the touch control. They go for pretty much the same price.

Elsewhere, LIFX Tiles are very similar to Nanoleaf Canvas, but they retail for £230 and come with three fewer squares in the box. They also don’t have built-in microphones to listen out to musical beats, so need your phone to do it for you.

Nanoleaf Canvas review: Performance and ease of use

For most people, the nine-tile starter pack will be plenty to begin work, and you can always buy expansion packs later. In fact, the app has a rather neat system that lets you plan a design for a given number of tiles before you begin connecting them, so you can start creating your masterpiece before you’ve even started sticking the tiles to the walls.
That’s very helpful, as they’re quite fiddly to set up. Each one must connect to another via a Canvas Linker on the back, but with only four connection points – some designed for straight lines and others with an off-centre design in mind – you need to be careful to get each tile the right way around. If you get it wrong, you have to unstick your creation from the wall and start over.

What’s more, though you can technically change the design any time you want to (my review set had clearly been used at least once before), it’s a real faff to do so as you’ll need new adhesive strips every time. This is best reserved for house moves, then, rather than flights of design whimsy.
Once it’s all installed, it works brilliantly and is a real talking point. Connecting to your phone is as simple as holding the handset over the control tile, and your design is then loaded into the app, where you can begin creating light shows or playing with pre-existing ones.

Beyond this, you also have some functionality on the panels themselves, which are all touch sensitive. This means you can set gesture controls that respond to you moving your hand over them, for instance, and even download simple games like ‘whack-a-mole’ where you tap the panels as they light up. This is a neat diversion, but it’s unlikely to offer much comparison to the myriad quality games available on your smartphone.
The touch controls on the tiles also allow you to cycle through colour scenes (the preset ways in which colours shift), adjust the brightness and activate one of the canvas’s many rhythm modes, where its built-in microphones listen for musical beats and respond to them with a fully programmable light show. These range from a standard equaliser effect, where the light fills up the tiles in response to the volume, to more elaborate setups where lights pop randomly to the beat.

As well as smartphone and physical controls, Nanoleaf interfaces pretty well with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, letting you control the panels with the power of your voice. Better still, it has some interesting IFTTT presents invented by the community. Want it to change colour to let you know the temperature outside, or whenever someone mentions you on Twitter? Well, IFTTT can make that happen and a lot more besides.
In fact, there’s only one real downside to the Nanoleaf Canvas, and that’s that the app could be a little more user-friendly. Don’t get me wrong: it’s hugely versatile, but trying to get a lot of customisation into a mobile app is always going to make things a little cramped, and as such many of the advanced options are hidden away. Once you get into the swing of things, though, you’ll can do everything from setting the shades it will flash, to the speed of transition and even the direction the colour shift will go in.

Nanoleaf Canvas review: Verdict

Buy from Nanoleaf

I’d be hard pushed to say that Nanoleaf Canvas is something that’s essential for any household, or even that it’s worth the high asking price, but it is hugely entertaining and can offer a bit of personality and creativity to your home. If you own some kind of public space with a music licence, it’s kind of a no-brainer as it’s definitely a spectacle to watch and a real talking point for guests.
Treat it as digital art and it becomes easier to justify. If you’d think nothing of spending a few hundred pounds on a nice print or a painting, then Nanoleaf suddenly becomes a hypnotic bargain.

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