The latest product from smart lighting company Nanoleaf is less about jazzing up your YouTube streaming setup and more about bringing some holiday cheer to your home this winter. The new Nanoleaf Essentials Matter Smart Holiday String Lights cost $120 and are designed to decorate your Christmas tree, Festivus pole, fireplace, or anywhere a set of twinkly string lights would add some festive cheer. They’re also IP44-rated, so they can look pretty strung on your porch. And they have tunable white light as well as color, making them potentially useful year-round.
The Wi-Fi string lights are available to order now at Nanoleaf.me (early enough to put them to work for Halloween, too) and come in a pack with two 33-foot (10-meter) strings connected by a manual controller for a total of 65.6 feet (20 meters). They feature a total of 250 individually addressable LEDs capable of displaying over 16 million colors, custom color gradients, and lighting scenes.
There are nine preset lighting scenes accessible in the Nanoleaf app, including “Holiday Magic” and “Crackling Fireplace,” and you can create your own scenes as well as download more options. You can pair multiple string lights in the app and share the same scene across them all. The lights come with a manual controller to turn them on and off or cycle through scenes, and the controller has a microphone built in, so you can have your lights dance to your holiday playlists.
As with Nanoleaf’s entire Essentials line, the String Lights are Matter-compatible, so they work with any Matter-compatible platform, including Apple Home, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Samsung SmartThings. You will need a Matter controller from the platform you want to use them on to set this up. Currently, Matter doesn’t support addressable lighting, so you'll need to use the Nanoleaf app for the fun stuff and your Matter app to automate them with schedules and routines and to enable voice control.
“Wi-Fi has higher bandwidth than Thread, which is optimal for products with many addressable zones.”
Unlike the rest of the Essentials line, which uses Thread for connectivity, the String Lights work over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Matter over Wi-Fi. “We see Wi-Fi and Thread as complementary technologies in the smart home of the future,” Nanoleaf’s Leslie Chen explained when I asked why they chose Wi-Fi rather than Thread for this product. “Wi-Fi has higher bandwidth than Thread, which is optimal for products with many addressable zones (like our Shapes and Lines, for example). We wanted to ensure the product could take full advantage of experiences built around immersive technologies like Sync Plus, which can connect all of your Nanoleaf RGB lighting together for screen mirroring.”
The String Lights work with Nanoleaf’s Sync Plus and screen mirror tech, so you can sync them with your TV and all your other Nanoleaf lights — perfect for when you want your Christmas tree to light up along with Chevy Chase’s while you’re watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. (You’ll need Nanoleaf’s 4D kit for this.)
The smart holiday string lighting space has a few other options, but Nanoleaf’s are the most affordable of the big names. Plus, as Nanoleaf has an extensive smart lighting line, you can get the whole room in on the action.
Philips Hue has its white and color Festavia String lights, which are $220 for 250 LEDs ($120 for 100 and $360 for 500). I reviewed them last year, and the latest version adds more lengths and an IP54 weatherproof rating (a slightly higher dust rating than Nanoleaf’s but the same waterproofing). Hue lights work with Matter through its $60 bridge, and Hue also has a lot of lighting options you can sync with its string lights. Plus, it has an array of remote controls for easily managing your lights.
Twinkly is the other popular option, with its Wi-Fi string lights costing $140 for 250 white and color LEDs (color-only are $120). They’re not Matter compatible yet, but they work with all the major platforms, including Apple Home and Alexa. Twinkly also has a lot of decorative lighting options, including icicles, curtains, and clusters, as well as pre-lit wreaths and trees.
Of course, you can pick up a smart plug and control your holiday lights that way — but that’s just not as fun.