Nanoleaf shapes: Bright light fantastic

Up until this month, I have to admit I’d never heard of the company Nanoleaf but my interest was piqued when the company’s New Zealand PR firm contacted me, offering some of the company’s funky light panels for review.

Some quick Googling told me that Nanoleaf was founded by Gimmy Chu, Tom Rodinger and Christian Yan in 2012, with the aim of “shaking up the lighting industry” and before too long some of the company’s hexagon, large triangle and small triangle panels landed at my door.

We initially decided to set up the Nanoleaf shapes in the hallway. I’m not sure why we picked there but it had a blank wall so I thought “Why not?”

Caveat: I will admit to being quite nervous about attaching them to our textured wallpaper, though. The quick start guide advises quite clearly against attaching them to textured or porous sufaces, like wallpaper, and given how incredibly sticky the adhesive on the mounting plates was, I can see why.

Anyway, after a couple of hours of committee deliberations, which involved laying out pattern formations on the floor [I really recommend this before fixing them to the wall] then affixing them to the wall [you have to apply pressure for 30 seconds to ensure they stick], the panels were up.

The panels join to each other using small clips that have a contact point at each end and you can connect any panel to another panel: The only limit is your imagination.

Each hexagon panel has several connection points so you can pretty much lay them out in any orientation you want. There’s a controller that snaps to one of the connection points which lets you control the functions if you don’t want to use the smartphone app.

You attach the 42Wpower supply to one of the connection points and then to a power socket. Each power supply will support upto 21 panels, each using 2W of power. There’s a cable hanging down so my suggestion is placing the panels somewhere where you can hide the wire with, say, a piece of furniture.

The panels went up and they looked great. It was time for bed.

The next day, though, I decided to move the panels from the hallway to my games room/study, mainly because I worried overnight that one of them would peel off, ripping the wallpaper with it. I noticed how sticky they were when I slowly peeled the mounting plate off the wall and I could see the wallpaper puling away from the wall slightly. Slow is the order of the day when removing the plates.

They’re now in a less public area of the house – the games room/study – should there be a mishap with the wallpaper, which, for my sake, I hope doesn’t happen.

Up and running, the panels look really neat and you can control them completely using the smartphone app. You can change colours, brightness and sequence patterns using the app or the controller and you can even make your own pattern then save it.

Pre-programmed light patterns include one based on the Aurora Borealis and another one the brilliant blues of the Mediterranean sea and Nanoleaf says they can display 16+ million colours and they also respond to touch and sound.

At one point, I had my games room bathed in a kaleidescope of light, different colours pulsating across the simplistic pattern, as the video below shows.

The Nanoleaf panels retail for between $120 and $350, depending on the kit you buy [available in New Zealand from Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming, JB Hifi, MightyApe and PB Tech] and they’re a pretty neat piece of kit if you want to funk up that game space or any other room that needs a bit of colour.

They’d also be just the ticket if you’re a streamer. Just remember what I said about the wallpaper, right?

A big thank you to Nanoleaf’s New Zealand PR team for providing the panels for review. Good on ‘ya, mates.

D-Link AX5400 (DIR-5460) Wi-fi 6 router review

Getting constantly reliable wireless speeds seems to be a life-long mission for many – me included – so when D-Link offered to send me one of its latest wi-fi 6 routers to test out, I jumped at the chance.

Looking like an alien spider that has been flipped onto its back, D-Link says its Exo AX5400 (DIR-5460) mesh wi-fi 6 router brings next-generation wireless to your home, supporting six simultaneous streams and unleashing “lightening fast wi-fi goodness” over larger areas than before.

If you’re read previous router reviews of mine, you’ll know how my house is set up. The services box – where the fibre connection enters the house from the street – is in the garage of my, roughly, 226sq m single-storey, four bedroom house. Inside, there are a handful of wall-installed ethernet ports [one of them in a kitchen cupboard!] There is also an internal door between the router and the rest of the house.

The only device that has a permanent wired connection is my PC: Everything else – smart TV, laptops, iPads – uses wi-fi. Currently, there are four people living at home, including two young adults in their 20s, so the demand on my wi-fi is considerable with media streaming and university work.

D-Link’s DIR-X5460 supports the latest 802.11ax wireless protocol [as well as other available protocols, of course], which D-Link says improves wireless performance and allows multiples devices to connect at once without compromising on performance.

The last D-Link wi-fi 6 router I tested was the bare bones DIR-X1560 but the DIR-X5460 is fully featured, with three LAN ports (10/100/1000Mbps gigabit), an internet port, a USB 2.0 port and a USB 3.0 port. It also has six antennae [four non-detachable, two-detachable], compared to its smaller sibling’s four.

The DIR-X5460 offers concurrent dual-band wireless (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz)  for connections up to 5.4Gbps, six simultaneous data streams and BSS colouring which increases range and reduces interference in “noisy” wi-fi environments, apparently. It’ll set you back around $NZ540.

Bottom line for me when it comes to wi-fi is I want stable, reliable wireless that doesn’t tank during heavy downloads or buffer during extended streaming sessions of The Wire or Peaky Blinders.

Like previous D-Link routers, set-up was super simple using the mobile phone app but you can use a web browser-based set up, too. All I had to do was enter my ISP’s username and password details, the router rebooted and I was up and running. There was a firmware update during the testing period.

Long story short, the DIR-X5460 impressed me, offering reliable wi-fi out a single drop out over the past month, but what about the speeds?

The simplest way to find out how good a router is, is to test it – so that’s what I did, multiple times, using a variety of testing tools: Ookla Speedtest and and website Speedof.me.

I tested the speeds from a variety of locations around the house: Beside the router, in the main bedroom, in the lounge and in the kitchen/dining/family room [these last three are the furtherest from the router]. I tested multiple times in each of the locations then did additional speed tests on September 13 at random times during the day.

The results

Ookla:

  • Kitchen: 28.6Mbps download, 27.8Mbps upload (as low as 12.9Mbps)
  • Lounge: 33.4Mpbs, 30.8Mbps
  • Bedroom: 36.9Mbps, 37.7Mbps
  • Next to router: 38.3Mbps, 55.7Mbps
  • Additional testing (13/9, single connection, various times during the day): 31.5Mbps, 11.4Mbps (lounge); 26.3Mbps, 19.5Mbps (kitchen); 39.1Mbps, 22.7Mbps (main bedroom); 40Mbps, 34.6Mbps (beside router)

Speedof.me

  • Kitchen: 37.43Mbps download (max 52.18Mbps), 20.17Mbps upload
  • Lounge: 39.55Mbps (47.57Mbps), 34.63Mpbs
  • Bedroom: 41.01Mbps (max 53.5Mbps), 41.95Mbps
  • Next to router: 41.75Mbps (max 60.45Mbps), 51.66Mbps)
  • Additional testing (13/9, single connection, various times during the day): 33.6Mbps, 11.74Mbps (lounge); 23.03Mbps, 7.15Mbps (kitchen); 36.87Mbps, 16.24Mbps (main bedroom); 40.14Mbps, 41.6Mbps (beside router)

For me, the DIR-X5460 delivered consistently fast wi-fi speeds right across my house without any drop outs and provided problem-free Netflix, YouTube and Neon streaming – and that’s a massive plus in my book. Obviously the wi-fi signal got weaker the further it got from the router and no doubt there are faster routers out there, but speeds were faster and more consistent with the DIR-5460 than many of the other routers I’ve used previously.

In fact, it must have been alright as I had no complaints from the two young adults currently in the house at all about wi-fi quality, given my daughter had moaned about the wi-fi strength before setting up the new router.

Being wi-fi 6 means the DIR-X5460 is future-proofed, too, meaning as the protocol becomes more commonplace, firmware updates to the router will mean it will prove useful for years to come. Two thumbs up, from me.