The best smart lights for covering your walls in color

Posted on: November 25, 2018, by :

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Another option from Lifx: the Lifx Z Multi-Color Light Strip. Unlike other light strips from competitors like Sylvania and Philips Hue, the Lifx strip can put out multiple colors at once. And since it uses Wi-Fi, you wont need any extra hub hardware to connect with it. At a retail price of $90, the starter set isnt cheap, but its hard to deny that it looks great behind a TV or beneath a cabinet.

At $60, Sylvanias light strips are a lot cheaper than comparable Lifx or Hue products, but they still offer compatibility with Apple HomeKit. That makes them the cheapest lights of their kind that you can control with Siri, and while they arent quite as bright or as feature-filled as the competition, theyll definitely get the job done.

Weve been testing color-changing smart bulbs for years now — but lately, the trends been moving more toward all-in-one fixtures that splash color across your walls, or even ones that seek to serve as standalone pieces of high-tech art in and of themselves.

Both new offerings play right into Hue Entertainment, a new initiative from Hue that seeks to sync your lights up with whatevers on your screen. The software still needs work (you can currently only mirror PC and Mac screens, so youll need to connect your computer to your TV, for instance), but the effect is pretty striking with the right media. And, for the record, the effect also works well with Hues light strips and existing fixtures, like the Hue Go lamps seen here beside the TV.

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Another nifty Nanoleaf accessory: the $50, dodecahedron-shaped Nanoleaf Remote. You can pair your favorite Nanoleaf lighting and rhythm scenes with each of the 12 sides, then trigger those scenes by rotating that side to the top. Like the panels themselves, the remote is also compatible with Apple HomeKit, which means you can use it to trigger your HomeKit scenes, too.

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As a result, Lifx Tiles allow you to craft scenes that are more complicated and intricate than youll get with Nanoleaf. They arent touch-sensitive, but you can write on them in the Lifx app, for instance, or set them to swirl through a preset mix of colors like a funky, wall-mounted lava lamp.

Previously known as Nanoleaf Aurora panels, these triangular LED light panels change colors and sync up with all of the major voice control platforms. The $230 starter kit comes with nine panels — arrange them on your wall however you like with the easy-to-use connector tabs, then have fun creating your own custom scenes and animated effects for a geektastic in-home light show.

The newest version of that starter kit comes with the Nanoleaf Rhythm module, a tiny plug-in accessory with a built-in microphone. Add it to your setup, and youll be able to turn on rhythm presets that get the panels dancingin sync with whatever music or media youre listening to.

Just keep in mind that those Siri controls require a dedicated HomeKit relay device under your roof — anApple TV, anApple HomePodor an always-oniPad. Without one of those, youll only be able to control the lights using Sylvanias app — and only from within Bluetooth range.

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Rhythm presets range from subtle to striking, and most did a good job of syncing up with different kinds of music when we tested them out.

Heres another behind-the-TV option — the $250 DreamScreen 4K starter kit, which pairs a smart, color-changing light strip that runs the entire perimeter of your screen with an HDMI pass-through box. Plug your streaming devices, cable boxes and gaming consoles into that pass-through box, and itll match the lights to the color of whatever media its piping through to your screen.

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Philips wasnt done, there — you can also pick up the new Philips Hue Signe fixtures for the same color-casting effect. Available in two sizes and starting at $160, each one is a fixed vertical wand with built-in LEDs that youll direct at your walls.

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All of them offer a sort of geek-chic aesthetic, and most will work with some, if not all, of the most popular smart home platforms, including IFTTT, Alexa, Google Assistant and the Siri voice controls that come with Apple HomeKit. All of that might have you tempted to splurge if you like the way these lights look — scroll through this handy gallery to take a gander at your options.

DreamScreens individually controllable LED lights can track the color and movement of whatevers on your screen. The effect works better with some media and games than with others, but it might be a great fit for a gaming room.

Nanoleafs not the only game in town anymore, though. Theres also Lifx, which recently began branching out past bulbs and into dedicated fixtures, including these new Lifx Tiles. You get five of them in the $250 starter kit, and unlike Nanoleaf, each one can put out multiple colors at once across 64 independent zones of light. Thats a key advantage.

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Coming this December: new, square-shaped Nanoleaf panels called Nanoleaf Canvas. The $200 starter kit includes nine panels with a built-in Rhythm accessory, and the panels are touch-sensitive now, too. Plus, you can expand your setup to include up to 500 panels on a single power supply. Color us intrigued.

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Another interesting option for TV backlighting: the new Philips Hue Play fixtures. Theyre those little guys on either side of the TV, and at $60 each, theyre designed to cast color-changing light on your walls. In an interesting and unique design move, you can also mount them directly on the back of your TV, or lay them on the floor to cast light up onto your walls from below.

The best smart lights for covering your walls in color

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