Nanoleaf Remote review: The Smart Home conversation starter




Broadly speaking, the appeal of smart lights has always been the ability to control them intelligently. Whether from an app on your phone or a command delivered to your digital assistant of choice, smart lights are able to offer a massive array of options. And while these lights do a great job walking the line between practical and fun, simple acts like turning the lights on and off aren't really any faster than a lightswitch most of the time.

Sometimes a physical remote is a good thing, but the Nanoleaf team wanted something more than a simple light switch for its impressive Aurora lights. Instead, this remote is something you actually want to show off on the coffee table for everyone to see, and it does a whole lot more than turn the lights on and off.

At first glance, the Nanoleaf remote looks like a large, plain white 12-sided die. It's not the kind of thing you'd expect to see anywhere but the game night table, but at the same time isn't going to stand out unless you reach for it to do something. There are no buttons on this remote — instead, the entire system is based on playing with this die. As you play with the die, it communicates with the Nanoleaf Rhythm connected to the Aurora panel instead of over WiFi like the Aurora app. This helps the light control happen a little faster than pulling out the phone, and doesn't use a lot of power, which is why the remote itself runs on AA batteries.

If you're showing off to friends it's nothing short of magic, but it's also practical when compared to reaching for your phone every time.

Turning the die to the left or right like you're rotating a dial increases or decreases the brightness of the entire Aurora panel, while flipping the die onto any of the 12 sides starts up a color program. It can be a light animation, a rhythm program to jam with music, or just turning everything off. The Nanoleaf app lets you program each of the 12 sides to do exactly what you want, and because each side is labeled you can easily remember which side does what. Best of all, when you pick up the Nanoleaf Remote it starts to glow. If you're showing off to friends it's nothing short of magic, but it's also practical when compared to reaching for your phone every time.

While gloriously uncomplicated and reasonably stylish in just about every environment, Nanaloeaf Remote isn't cheap. This remote will run you $50 if you already have the Rhythm adapter, but if you don't you'll be shelling out another $50 for that adaptor. Given the cost of Nanoleaf light panels is already higher than most, these accessories really jack up the initial price of the lights when trying to buy it all at once. But it works well, and looks way nicer than any of the other smart light remotes available today. If you're already a fan of Nanoleaf lights and want an everyday remote anyone in the house can use, this glossy 12-sided die is a great addition. If you're just getting started with Nanoleaf lights, you may not feel the need to upgrade just yet.

See at Nanoleaf

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter