There are tons of smart ambient lighting panels. Here are a few we also like.
Twinkly Dots for $100: You can stick these strings of LED dots around frames and furniture or have them hanging somewhere, and the app offers a wide range of colors and animated effects. You can map your pattern to make the most of the effects, create your own effects, and group Twinkly lights together. On the downside, the strip is split into two sections, with the power controls in the center, and you don’t get enough adhesive dots in the box.
Govee G1 Gaming Light Strip for $60: This is very similar to the Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip for PC listed above, but not quite as good. It is easy to fit, comes in two sizes (for monitors 24 to 26 inches and 27 to 34 inches), and brightens up your gaming. But it relies on Govee’s flaky desktop software to sync. Sadly, streaming services like Netflix flag it as screen recording copyright infringement, so the syncing doesn’t work with them. Compatibility with Govee DreamView and Razer Chroma enables you to sync up other lights and peripherals.
Moonside Lamp One for $65: This modern lava lamp looks gorgeous and boasts 120 dynamic color zones capable of displaying millions of colors and themes (animated effects). You can even design your own themes or have the lamp react to music. Sadly, the app is a tad clunky, and the lamp is made of lightweight frosted plastic, so it’s a little too easy to accidentally knock it over.
Philips Hue Go 2 for $90: This bowl-shaped portable lamp has a ridge so you can angle it for reading, and it makes a good bedside lamp with dimming for nighttime and up to 520 lumens to wake you in the morning. You can tweak the temperature and choose from millions of colors. This newer version (2019) has Bluetooth, so you don’t need a Hue Bridge. Battery life is limited; if you crank up the brightness, you’ll be lucky to get two hours, but dimmed, it can last around 10.
Nanoleaf Elements for $200: Plastic light panels can look ugly on some walls (especially turned off), so Nanoleaf offers this version of its larger hexagonal panels with a wood finish effect (they are still plastic). Like the rest of its panels, you can arrange Nanoleaf’s Elements in whatever pattern you want, and they support touch controls and music syncing. Sadly, they only put out white light, but with a color temperature range of 1500 K to 4000 K, you can go from cool whites to warm orangey glows.
Mpowerd Luci Solar String Lights for $46: If you want lights you can take on the road or on camping trips, this clever gadget from Mpowerd can brighten up your RV or campsite. The canister pops open to unspool water-resistant string lights (IPX4). Press the power button to use them as a torch or cycle through the string light colors. There’s a solar panel on top for recharging (but it’s slow) and a port that goes both ways (so this can double as a power bank).
Govee Outdoor LED String Lights for $70: Festoon your backyard or balcony with these hanging bulbs to bring more atmosphere to BBQs and parties. You get 15 tough plastic bulbs on 48 feet of cable. The bulbs are IP65-rated and offer dimmable warm white or colored light. The control box is IPX5, but the power adapter is not waterproof, so you must run it inside or use a weatherproof box.
Govee Flood Lights for $100: Easy to mount and angle, this four-pack of flood lights offers a wide range of colors and scenes through the Govee app using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. You can also dim or tweak the temperature. Each light can put out up to 500 lumens. They are IP65-rated and connected on a single 40-foot cord, but the power adapter is not water-resistant.
Nanoleaf Lines for $200: Our previous pick for gamers, the Nanoleaf Lines (8/10, WIRED Recommends) project light from the back of each line onto the wall, casting colors and creating a lovely ambiance. Even when turned off, the Lines look better than most decorative smart lighting because they cast shadows on the wall and could pass for sculptural art. They can also boast screen mirroring for PC to enhance gaming (Razer Chroma is supported too).
Govee Glide Hexa Panels for $180: These offer a wide choice of colors and animated effects similar to the Nanoleaf Shapes, not to mention music syncing support. But the installation is fiddly, smart home integration is limited (no HomeKit or Thread), and they lack touch controls.
Lifx Lightstrip for $90: This isn’t as bright as the Philips Hue Gradient Smart Lightstrip, but it offers rich colors, separate zones, and lovely animations. The app allows for scheduling and can gradually brighten a bedroom in the morning. There’s also music syncing using your phone’s microphone. Smart home integration is solid, and there’s no need for a hub, but when I tested the previous version (the Lifx Z), it frequently disconnected from Wi-Fi and was unresponsive until reset.
Govee Lyra Floor Lamp for $150: This is a tall, slim option that’s designed to splash colored light onto your walls. It has eight sections that can be controlled separately, supports animations, and can sync to music or other audio. It also comes with a handy remote control.
Nanoleaf Essentials Lightstrip for $50: This affordable light strip from Nanoleaf boasts Matter support, but is only recommended for folks with Nanoleaf gear already. You can choose the color, change the brightness, and tweak the color temperature, and it supports a few animations, but this light strip can only display one color at a time. The connection between the strip and power unit is flimsy, and we found the light cut out if anyone bumped it.