Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes Hexagons and Triangles Review: Dramatic Lighting Effects that Look Like Art When Not in Use

The Lowdown

If you want to enhance your gaming experience or add some dramatic lighting effects to your home, the Nanoleaf Shapes series is an excellent choice. If you want the lighting panels to have a more distinct presence when not in use, then the Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes Hexagons and Triangles are for you.

Overall
4.8

Pros

  • High quality
  • Smart and elegant design
  • Black shapes look like art when turned off
  • Integrate well with other Nanoleaf products
  • Compatibility with industry-standard systems

Cons

It would be nice if Nanoleaf could offer power cords in white and other neutral colors as accessories

Nanoleaf is a technology and Internet of Things-focused company that, since 2012, has offered a line of modern smart home products, including several series of light panels. Their system of smart light panels is available as triangles, mini triangles, and hexagons. Occasionally, the company offers limited editions of these products, as is the case with the Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes, which are available in Hexagon and Triangle Smarter Kits.

Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes on the author's wall behind his computer moitorThe obvious difference between these Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes kits and the existing Shapes Smarter Kits currently on the market is that rather than being white, the panels are black on every side, as are their matching cord and control panel.

Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes on the authors wall while turned off

Depending on the color of the wall on which you wish to mount them, white panels may tend to disappear but, conversely, do not make much of a statement. These black panels, however, look like art when not in use.

What’s in the Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes Box:

  • Seven Ultra Black Hexagons Shapes Panels ($219.99)  or nine Ultra Black Triangle Shapes Panels ($199.99)
  • One Ultra Black Controller (1x)
  • 42W Ultra Black Power Supply
  • Ultra Black Mounting Plates
  • Mounting Tape
  • Ultra Black Rigid Linkers
  • Cleaning Cloth

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The Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes hexagon and triangle panels can be mixed and matched along with their mini triangle panel counterparts to create completely customized configurations. The panels are connected via Nanoleaf’s Connect+ links that snap in and out of slots positioned around the edges of the shapes. These links both hold the shapes together and provide power.

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It is best to lay the shapes on the floor or a table to design your configuration. You can easily find an appropriate shape with a little measuring and centering. The Nanoleaf mobile app and the included paperwork also offer layout suggestions; there is even an Augmented Reality mode should you need it.

Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes Hexagons and Triangles Review: Dramatic Lighting Effects that Look Like Art When Not in Use

Once the desired layout has been selected, it’s time to hang your Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes design. Depending on your wall surface, you can use the included double-sided tape strips, screws, or nails.

We used the tape strips for our installation, which proved easy to use and very strong.

Each shape is mounted to the wall individually, and adjacent shapes are joined via the Connect + link and added one by one until the final layout is achieved. The controller can be placed along the edge of any of the shapes, but as the power cord will extend from this location, an edge along the bottom of the layout is most logical.

As mentioned before, other Nanoleaf shapes can be added, and Nanoleaf sells Ultra Black Hexagon 3-panel extension kits if you want to create a larger layout. A single controller can accommodate up to 21 light panels.

The Nanoleaf app allows users to select from many included lighting scenes as well as the ability to create their own effects. You can also choose from an ever-growing number of user-created lighting scenes. The Magic Scene option will even create effects based on a word.

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The Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes can be set to be reactive to sound or to touch and can even be scheduled to turn on and off and change colors at designated times of the day. There is also a screen mirroring mode in which the app detects and matches the colors on the screen in real-time, although this feature is currently not available for consoles.

When combined with the Overwolf app, the lights can be set to respond to in-game events such as hits, kills, and deaths, further amplifying the immersive experience.

Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes Hexagons and Triangles Review: Dramatic Lighting Effects that Look Like Art When Not in UseNanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes Hexagons and Triangles Review: Dramatic Lighting Effects that Look Like Art When Not in Use

The Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes are compatible with most industry-standard systems, including Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT, Nanoleaf Remote, SmartThings, and Razer Chroma.

The test gaming setup used for this review primarily employs Razer Chroma and links products from various manufacturers, including keyboard, mouse, mousepad, monitor backlighting, and other lights. All are easily controlled via Razer Chroma to create multiple desired lighting effects.

As part of a modern gaming computer setup, the layout of Ultra Black Hexagons looks modern and impressive when off. Their matte finish does tend to show fingerprints and smears, but most users won’t have this issue unless they play the included games such as Simon, Pac-Man, or Whack a Mole. The panels do ship with a cleaning cloth to remedy the issue.

Edge of the Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes

The combined effect is impressive when initiated and integrated with other custom lighting products. The light panels are bright and, depending on the selected scene, can create bold or subtle lighting effects.

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As all of the components in the Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes Hexagon and Triangle Smarter Kits are black, there may be some discussion about whether the power cord should be a white or neutral color.

While the black panels look great on any color wall, the black cord is hard to hide, and it is my guess that not many people have black walls. It can also be argued that keeping the cord matching just makes sense, as the entire system is black. It might be nice for Nanoleaf to offer cords in different colors as accessories to make everyone happy.

Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes Specifications

Hexagons
Height Per Panel 7.75 in / 20 cm
Width Per Panel 9 in / 23 cm
Edge Thickness 0.24 in / 0.6 cm
Mounted Thickness 0.39 in / 1 cm
Weight Per Panel 0.46 lb / 208 g
Cable Length 8.2 ft / 2.5 m

 

Triangles
Height Per Panel 7.75 inches / 20 cm
Width Per Panel 9 inches / 23 cm
Panel Thickness 0.24 inches / 0.6 cm
Panel Mounted Thickness 0.39 inches / 10 mm
Weight Per Panel 0.31 pounds / 141 g
Cable Length 8.2 feet / 2.5 m

 

Features
Connect+                   Yes, Shapes panels are designed to work together
Touch Control           Yes
Music Sync                Yes
Screen Mirror            Yes

 

General
Luminous Flux Per Panel Hexagons 100 lumens

Triangles 80 lumens

Lifetime 25,000 hours
Communication Protocol        

 

WiFi (2.4 GHz b/g/n) NOTE: 5 GHz networks are not compatible with Nanoleaf products.
Dimmability   Yes (via Nanoleaf App, Voice, Touch)
Mounting Type Via included double-sided tape or screw mounts (screws and anchors not included)
Nanoleaf App Control via the Nanoleaf App (Android & iOS) for mobile/tablet or the Nanoleaf Desktop App (Windows & Mac).
Compatibility Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT, Nanoleaf Remote, SmartThings, Razer Chroma

 

Color 
Color Temperature              1200K – 6500K
Color Channel Configuration RGBW
Color Capability            More than 16 million
Color Rendering Index (CRI)     80

 

Power
Voltage           100VAC ~ 120VAC
Max Power Supply Power            42W
Max Energy Consumption Per Panel Hexagons 2W

Triangles 1.5W

Max Panels per 42W Power Supply 21 Hexagons

28 Triangles

Max Panels per Controller      500 Hexagons or

500 Triangles

If you want to enhance your gaming experience or add some dramatic lighting effects to your home, the Nanoleaf Shapes series is an excellent choice. If you want the lighting panels to have a more distinct presence when not in use, then the Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes Hexagons and Triangles are for you.

The ability to play games with the panels is a nice bonus, and setting the panels to respond to sound can enhance the party feel of any situation. But more importantly, the primary long-term benefit I have found, like with many similar scene-enhancing lighting products, is the subtle integration with the primary experience, whether playing a game, watching television, or just being in the room. It does not take long for the combined enhanced experience to seem the norm, and then watching or playing without it seems to be missing something.

The Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes Smarter Kits start at $199.99; they are available directly from the manufacturer and other retailers, including Amazon.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review samples

What I Like: High quality; Smart and elegant design; Black shapes look like art when turned off; Integrate well with other Nanoleaf products; Compatibility with industry-standard systems

What Needs Improvement: It would be nice if Nanoleaf could offer power cords in white and other neutral colors as accessories

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About the Author

Charles Kliment
A lifelong gearhead, as a teenager Charles was obsessed with high-end audio and musical instruments and through the years has focused on computers, mobile devices, 3d printing and drones. Both in his career and hobby, he employs a wide range of video, still and VR cameras. An avid gamer, dog lover and father of three adult sons, Charles is married to Jane Randel and lives in New Jersey.

2 Comments on "Nanoleaf Ultra Black Shapes Hexagons and Triangles Review: Dramatic Lighting Effects that Look Like Art When Not in Use"

  1. These seem quite versatile. I hadn’t know that these could respond to touch or sound, and that you can play games with them. Thanks for the review!

  2. These look fun & very creative. Seems to be easy to manipulate also.

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