Review: Zagg’s Slim Book More Than Doubles the Weight of the iPad Pro, but Keyboard is Great

Zagg’s newest Slim Book is its first product designed specifically for the iPad Pro. Following in the footsteps of its previous Slim Books for other iPads, the Slim Book for iPad Pro features a protective case that snaps around the iPad and fits into an accompanying full-sized keyboard.

The Slim Book is one of the few keyboard cases available for the iPad Pro, and it essentially turns the iPad Pro into a full-fledged laptop, plus it is versatile because it’s able to serve as a standalone case or a case that offers full protection. That might sound appealing, but as I’ve discovered testing it for the last week, there are some downsides to Zagg’s latest offering.

Design

The Slim Book consists of two pieces: a black plastic shell that fits around the back of the iPad Pro and a matching silver aluminum keyboard with black MacBook-style keys and a matching black plastic exterior. The shell piece that fits around the iPad Pro is relatively slim, snapping into place to protect the back of the iPad. It doesn’t feel cheaply made, but it also doesn’t feel as premium as an Apple product given all the plastic.

All of the ports on the iPad Pro are left open with the shell on, leaving everything from the headphone jack to the Lightning port accessible. Because the shell fits so tightly to the iPad Pro, it’s difficult to remove. This is not a shell that I would want to be taking off my iPad on a regular basis, because it takes a lot of force to get it off. It also makes the volume and the sleep/wake buttons on the iPad Pro more difficult to press because it causes them to be recessed.

For a while after I put it on, I wasn’t even sure my iPad Pro would ever come out, so expect a tight fit there. Given the amount of force it took to get that shell off, I’m concerned about future breakage, especially at weak spots near ports. If you get this case, you’re going to want to leave the back shell on all the time, so that’s something to keep in mind. On the plus side, it does offer some rear protection from scratches and dings.

The shell is thin enough that it doesn’t add a lot of bulk on its own, but the whole setup gets a lot heavier when the keyboard is added. On the left side of the shell, the plastic is slightly thicker, which allows it to fit into grooves on the keyboard portion of the case. It’s necessary for the holes in the shell up with the mounts in the keyboard groove, but this sounds more difficult than it is – things just kind of snap in place when you go to set the iPad and shell on the keyboard, but it can take a minute to line up both pieces.

On the keyboard, the slot that the iPad Pro sits in is attached to a hinge, which rotates forwards and backwards so the iPad Pro can be set at a user’s preferred viewing angle. The hinge action is smooth with little friction, and the hinge itself reliably stays in the correct position. The hinge can be positioned backwards to 135 degrees, but it closes completely in the front to serve as a protective clamshell case for the iPad Pro when not in use. When closed, the Slim Book is approximately three quarters of an inch thick at its thickest point (excepting the hinge area, which is about an inch thick) and with its black plastic exterior, it more closely resembles a bulky Windows laptop than a MacBook. Thickness wise, it’s a bit thicker than a Retina MacBook Pro.

When I first received the package containing the Slim Book, my first thought was „Wow, this is heavy.“ I thought it might just be the packaging that was adding weight, but no, the Slim Book itself weighs quite a bit. The iPad Pro on its own weighs a hefty 713 grams, or 1.57 pounds. Attached to the Zagg Slim Book, my iPad Pro weighed 1814 grams, equivalent to nearly four pounds. For comparisons sake, that’s heavier than the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and nearly as heavy as the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, which weighs 4.49 pounds. In fact, it feels heavier than a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro simply because the weight is distributed over a smaller surface area.

The iPad Pro can also be positioned backwards in the keyboard, allowing it to serve as a stand for reading or watching videos. When backwards, the keyboard can be folded flat under the iPad Pro, though I’m not sure why you would want to use it this way because it’s just added bulk.

Keyboard

Zagg’s Slim Book isn’t a lightweight solution, but that weight does allow it to sport a full-sized keyboard. The keys on the Zagg Pro mimic the keys of a Retina MacBook Pro, offering excellent key feel and travel. Of the iPad Pro keyboards I’ve tested so far, including the Logitech CREATE Keyboard Case, the Zagg Messenger Universal, and Apple’s own Smart Keyboard, the Zagg Slim Book has the best keys. The typing experience was almost identical to the typing experience on my Retina MacBook Pro (with slightly more travel), and the keys were neither too clicky nor overly noisy. If you like the way a Retina MacBook Pro or MacBook Air keyboard feels underneath your fingers, you will like the keyboard of the Zagg Slim Book.

Like most keyboards at this price point, the Zagg Slim Book offers backlighting. It goes a step beyond some other keyboards, though, allowing users to cycle through a range of different LED colors like aqua, green, yellow, red, purple, white, and deep blue. There are also three levels of brightness to choose from, along with an option to turn the backlighting off. Customizable backlighting was one of the features that I enjoyed most during the time that I tested the Zagg Slim Book.

At the top of the keyboard, there are function keys that correspond to specific iPad shortcuts. Using these keys, it’s possible to lock the iPad, access the home screen, open the app switcher, access search, bring up a Siri search, bring up the on-screen keyboard, adjust volume, and control media playback. Missing are keys for controlling screen brightness, so that will need to be done manually on the iPad.

The keyboard is detachable from the iPad Pro, so it can potentially be used with other devices. The Slim Book can switch between three different connected Bluetooth devices using the function key along with the first three number keys. Switching between devices is smooth and quick.

Keyboards like the Logitech CREATE and the Smart Keyboard connect to the iPad Pro using its Smart Connector, but the Zagg Slim Book connects via Bluetooth like any other Bluetooth device. That means it requires charging (via an included micro-USB cable), but according to Zagg, it only needs to be charged once every two years with regular usage. I had no issues with Bluetooth with the Slim Book. It connected quickly and stayed connected.

Bottom Line

The Zagg Slim Book has appealing features like multi-color backlighting, good key feel, and a smooth hinge with adjustable viewing angles, but it’s more than doubling the weight of the iPad Pro. That’s a deal breaker for me because it cuts down on the portability of Apple’s larger tablet. If I’m going to carry four pounds around, I might as well be carrying my Retina MacBook Pro.

For customers who purchased an iPad Pro for its portability or to use in place of a MacBook while traveling, this case probably isn’t the best option, but for customers who are using the iPad Pro as a complete laptop replacement, it may be more viable. The Slim Book is heavy, but it turns the iPad Pro’s tablet form into a MacBook-style design. Figuring out whether the Zagg Slim Book is for you basically comes down to deciding if you want to sacrifice portability for a keyboard.

As someone who is thoroughly invested in the Apple ecosystem and prefers products that match the aesthetic of Apple devices, the Zagg Slim Book would not be my first accessory choice. I am not a fan of the overwhelming black plastic, but the look may not bother those who are looking for function over form.

Pros:

Great keyboard

Multi-color backlighting

RMBP-style key feel

Connects to and switches between multiple iOS devices

Hinged design with multiple viewing angles

Cons:

Super heavy

Shell is very difficult to remove

Black plastic design doesn’t really match Apple devices

Makes volume/sleep/wake buttons harder to press

How to Buy

The Zagg Slim Book for iPad Pro is available from the Zagg website for $139.99.

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Review: Zagg’s Slim Book More Than Doubles the Weight of the iPad Pro, but Keyboard is Great

iPhone the most popular camera among Flickr’s 112 million photographers

The longtime Kings of the Camera must know their kingdoms are shrinking. If Canon or Nikon need further evidence, Flickr’s 2015 Year in Review shows the popular tool of choice for an engaged and global photography community is not a dedicated camera. It’s first and foremost a phone. Apple’s iPhone was the popular device used […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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iPhone the most popular camera among Flickr’s 112 million photographers

iPhone the most popular camera among Flickr’s 112 million photographers

The longtime Kings of the Camera must know their kingdoms are shrinking. If Canon or Nikon need further evidence, Flickr’s 2015 Year in Review shows the popular tool of choice for an engaged and global photography community is not a dedicated camera. It’s first and foremost a phone. Apple’s iPhone was the popular device used […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


This article – 

iPhone the most popular camera among Flickr’s 112 million photographers

Withings Home Review: New Apple TV App and Baby Monitor Features Make a Solid Camera Even Better

Roughly a year ago, popular accessory company Withings introduced its Home security camera and air quality monitor, giving users an easy way to keep tabs on their homes with video streaming, push alerts for activity, and cloud storage of footage. Withings has continued to improve the Home with software updates since the launch, and several recent additions such as an app for the new Apple TV and a Baby Monitor mode have made the user experience even better.

Priced at $200, the Withings Home is a 5-megapixel HD camera with a 135-degree field of view, night vision, sensors for motion, sound, and air quality, and more. A companion iOS app [Direct Link] makes it easy to control the camera, receive alerts, and monitor video, audio, and other data from the Home.

The Home is a fairly attractive looking camera about the size of a coffee mug, with a wood grain shell that can be rotated to physically cover the device’s camera to eliminate any potential concerns about accidental activation of the camera at unwanted times. The lower portion of the main body can glow in a variety of colors to indicate device status or act as a nightlight.

The Home sits on a magnetic saucer-like base that makes it easy to adjust the angle of the camera to suit its position within the room. Other features of the Home include a large speaker on the top, two microphones for picking up sounds from the environment and noise cancelation, an Ethernet port for wired connectivity as an alternative to Wi-Fi, a micro-USB port for power, and a regular USB 2.0 port that can be used to provide passthrough power to other devices. Finally, an ambient light sensor and an infrared LED near the camera itself work together to support a night vision mode.

Withings Home live view in landscape with quick access to air quality, snapshot, lullaby controls, and push-to-talk

By default, animated timeline items (one photo every 5 seconds for detected events) and timelapse recordings (the past 24 hours shown in a one-minute series of shots) are stored for two days free of charge, but Withings offers subscription plans to extend those storage times and provide for continuous footage. An „Improved Security“ plan priced at $7.95 per month increases storage to seven days of continuous recording, and a $19.95 per month „Premium Security“ plan pushes the limit to 30 days. A 30-day free trial for either plan is available.

Withings Home main view (left) and air quality detail (right)

The Home’s air quality sensor measures the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), displaying a parts-per-million (ppm) reading and a corresponding rating of Good, Medium, Bad, or Very Bad. Graphing features in the iOS app make it easy to check levels over time, as well as receive alerts when air quality degrades beyond preset thresholds.

Notification thresholds from the Withings Home are customizable, with slider bars in the iOS app letting users set general sensitivity levels for motion and noise, as well as specific ppm thresholds for air quality.

Withings Home control center (left) and settings (right)

Back in August, Withings rolled out a software update that brought a redesigned Control Center to the Home’s iOS app to easily switch camera modes, as well as new Baby Monitor features that automatically send audio to the iPhone even when the Withings Home app is in the background. And a few weeks ago Withings launched new „Lulla Lights & Music“ lullabies that combine music or other soothing sounds with nightlight functionality to help with the nighttime routine. Push-to-talk functionality through the iOS app also makes it easy to send reassuring words to the little ones.

Withings Home lullaby settings

Other changes with the version 2.2 update introduced in mid-November include full HD support for timeline event videos from 7-30 days old for Premium Security subscribers, as well as an improved Timelapse view to make it easier to scrub through video events. The update also lets users download videos directly to the Camera Roll on their devices for easy saving and sharing.

Another nice addition to the Withings Home is a new Apple TV app, made possible by the opening of an App Store for the updated set-top box late last month. Withings Home was one of the launch apps on the platform, quickly embracing the new platform to expand access to information from the camera.

Once signed into your Withings account, the Apple TV app displays a live feed from up to four Withings Home cameras simultaneously, making it easy to check on little ones, pets, or any other issues right from the living room. Air quality measurements are also overlaid on the screen. It’s not a sophisticated app, but it gets the job done.

Finally, showcasing its commitment to Apple’s ecosystem, Withings also has an Apple Watch app for the Home, allowing users to see one-snapshot-per-second feeds right on their wrists, play lullabies, and receive activity alerts.

Overall, the Withings Home is a nice option for those looking to keep an eye on young children or pets, and it also serves as a basic security camera. The air quality sensor is also a nice addition for helping keep a general eye on your home environment, although it won’t detect some dangerous situations such as elevated carbon monoxide levels.

Withings’ paid storage plans feel rather pricey (although they actually compare favorably to Nest Cam’s similar Nest Aware plans), and the animated clips and screenshots available with the free tier may not be enough for many users’ needs, particularly those wanting to use it for some security functions. But for those more interested in live look-ins or baby monitoring, the free tier could be sufficient.

The Withings Home is priced at $199.95 and is available from a number of retailers including Apple and the Withings website, and can sometimes be available for a few bucks less from Amazon. Withings and Amazon have also just partnered up for a new Baby Bundle in support of the newly enhanced baby monitor mode. The bundle includes blue and pink covers for the Withings Home as alternatives to the Home’s standard wood grain outer shell.

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Withings Home Review: New Apple TV App and Baby Monitor Features Make a Solid Camera Even Better

Popular Design App ‘Sketch’ Leaves Mac App Store Due to Poor Customer Experience

Bohemian Coding has announced that its popular design app Sketch is no longer available in the Mac App Store because, after a lengthy decision making process, the developers felt that directly licensing the software outside of Apple’s storefront will provide customers with a better experience.

In a blog post on its website, the Sketch team highlighted some of the Mac App Store’s limitations, including a lengthy app review process, sandboxing and no upgrade pricing. Sketch stresses this was not a knee-jerk reaction to the Mac App Store’s recent expired certificate problem, but that issue did compound the situation.

Sketch said the Mac App Store’s customer experience has not progressed like its iOS counterpart:

We’ve been considering our options for some time. Over the last year, as we’ve made great progress with Sketch, the customer experience on the Mac App Store hasn’t evolved like its iOS counterpart. We want to continue to be a responsive, approachable, and easily-reached company, and selling Sketch directly allows us to give you a better experience.

There are a number of reasons for Sketch leaving the Mac App Store—many of which in isolation wouldn’t cause us huge concern. However as with all gripes, when compounded they make it hard to justify staying: App Review continues to take at least a week, there are technical limitations imposed by the Mac App Store guidelines (sandboxing and so on) that limit some of the features we want to bring to Sketch, and upgrade pricing remains unavailable.

Sketch is among a growing number of apps that are no longer sold in the Mac App Store, including professional HTML and text editor BBEdit and web development tool Coda. By selling their apps directly, developers not only get around the Mac App Store’s technical limitations, but also do not have to split 30% of sales revenue with Apple.

Bohemian Coding has provided instructions for Mac App Store users to migrate to the directly licensed version of the app in a FAQ on its website, which is required for future software updates. The development team does not rule out a possible return to the Mac App Store „in the longer term“ if the necessary changes have been made.

Moving to a direct version of Sketch does not require a re-purchase. Simply download the latest copy of Sketch here, replace the old version in your Applications folder, and we will issue you a license for Sketch absolutely free of charge. Just follow the steps in-app to complete the transfer. We will also migrate your presets and templates across, so you won’t lose any data in the process. We’ve made it as simple and painless as we possibly can.

Sketch is a professional design app for Mac for creating user interfaces, websites, icons and more. The software received an Apple Design Award in 2012 and was consistently a top ranked app on the Mac App Store. Sketch continues to sell for its regular price of $99 with a free trial available.

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Popular Design App ‘Sketch’ Leaves Mac App Store Due to Poor Customer Experience

Griffin Review: The Guide Cable Management Set Will Keep Your Desk Organized

Griffin’s Guide Magnetic Cable Management Set was first announced at CES in January of 2015, but it didn’t become available for purchase until September. We went hands-on with the Guide to see if it was worth the wait as a cable management solution.

The Guide Cable Management Set is modular and consists of three weighted bases and three magnetic aluminum cable anchors that attach to the bases. Each base is made from a polished stainless steel with a shiny finish while the anchors, available in three sizes from small to large, are made from an anodized copper-colored aluminum.

Together, the Guide system looks great on a desk, but it is only available in the polished steel and copper colorway, which doesn’t match any iOS devices and while neutral, may not match all office and room decors. I liked the design of the Guide, but I did wish it was available in a wider selection of colors.

Each of the three bases is the same size, measuring in at 2.28 x 1.98 inches, but the magnetic cable anchors come in a range of sizes to fit different cords. The smallest of the three anchors is sized to fit a single iPhone cable, while the middle one can hold several iPhone-sized cables or a couple of larger cables, and the biggest anchor can hold thicker cables like those for cameras and other electronics. The weight of the Guide bases will keep them in place, but there’s also a non-skid material on the bottom to provide even more traction.

Because the anchors attach to each base using magnets, they can be arranged in multiple ways. One anchor can be used per base or multiple anchors can fit on a single base to meet various cable management needs. For my work space, I used the smaller one to hold an iPhone cable that has a pesky habit of slipping off the edge of the desk, while I used the other two to hold my MacBook cable and cables for other devices in place.

Due to their weight, the Guide bases can’t realistically be mounted on walls or on the sides of desks and tables (and the Guide doesn’t come with the necessary hardware) so these are going to be limited to on-the-desk organization. For that use case, the Guide is primarily going to keep your cables where you want them to be so they’re not sliding all over the desk or slipping off. The Guide isn’t going to hide or conceal cables and cords, but it will keep them looking more organized and streamlined.

The large base size means the Guide takes up more room on a desk than simpler cable routing options, but sacrificing the extra space felt worth it to me both for the versatility of being able to rearrange the pieces at will and for the premium aesthetic. If you have multiple cables in different areas, such as on a desk and on a nightstand, the Guide can also be split up across multiple rooms. After some experimentation, I found the Guide to be more useful for me when split up, because a single larger cable anchor can hold multiple cables in place, letting me address several problem areas.

Given the usefulness of the Guide’s interchangeable pieces, I’m surprised there aren’t more magnetic cable management systems on the market. Before the Guide, I hadn’t considered magnets as cable organizing solution, but it seems like an ideal way to wrangle cables.

Bottom Line

The magnetic Guide system is a clever way to organize cables on a desk, and because it can be used in so many ways, it’s suitable for a range of cable configurations and setups. Since it’s magnetic, it’s easy to arrange and rearrange cables and the Guide system as necessary, and its industrial look blends in with a lot of decors.

If you’ve got pesky cables that are continually slipping off of your desk or getting tangled and knocked out of place, the Guide is going to keep them where they belong with no problem.

The only real negative with the Guide is the price. At $40, this is a somewhat expensive solution to manage a handful of cables, and I do wish it was either more reasonably priced or had more pieces. If you don’t mind shelling out $40 in the name of desktop organization, the Guide is worth picking up.

How to Buy

Griffin’s Guide cable organizers can be purchased from the Griffin website for $39.99 or from Amazon.com for the same price.

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Griffin Review: The Guide Cable Management Set Will Keep Your Desk Organized

Review: The Nanoleaf Smarter Kit Features Smart HomeKit-Enabled Light Bulbs With a Unique Look

Nanoleaf, a company that specializes in energy efficient LED-based lighting, got its start on Kickstarter in 2012 with a unique set of light bulbs that looked more like art than traditional lighting with individual LEDs mounted on origami-folded printed circuit boards.

Nanoleaf has since expanded from simple lightbulbs to home automation with the introduction of its Nanoleaf Home Smarter Kit. Consisting of two of its signature dimmable bulbs and a geometric hub, the Nanoleaf Home Smarter Kit integrates with Apple’s HomeKit home automation platform, allowing users to control their lights both through Siri and through an accompanying Nanoleaf app.

Design

When it comes to the hardware, the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is undeniably attractive. The two Ivy bulbs it ships with are some of the nicest looking bulbs you can find, suitable for use in both closed and open-style lamps and light fixtures. The hub, which connects the bulbs to the Internet, is stylish enough to sit out on a shelf or an entertainment unit without looking like an eyesore. It’s without a doubt the most visually appealing HomeKit product I’ve tested so far.

Because the bulbs that the Smarter Kit ships with are black, you’ll need to take that into account with any lights where the bulbs are visible. The distinctive design is nice, but it’s also not going to match with every decor. Keep in mind the hub is going to need to be plugged into the router via ethernet because this is a Zigbee setup.

For the record, the Ivy bulbs are standard bulbs that are going to fit in any E26 or E27 lamp and they function like any normal bulb, with one small exception. There’s a neat built-in feature that lets the bulbs be dimmed physically through the light switch (even one that doesn’t support traditional dimming) rather than through an app or voice command. Flipping the light switch on and off a couple of times activates the dimming, and another couple of flips sets it. It’s a handy feature if you don’t have a smartphone nearby.

The Ivy bulbs the Smarter Kit ships with are 800 lumens, equivalent to 60 watts, which isn’t particularly bright. Two of these lights in my living room didn’t provide enough ambient light, so I’d count on needing to buy additional bulbs depending on how bright you prefer a room to be. Compared to a standard 60 watt bulb, I’d say these live up to their 60 watt claim. The light output was similar. The bulbs are 3000K, so they put off a soft yellow or „warm“ light rather than a more blue light.

Though not super bright, these 7.5 W bulbs are marketed as eco friendly and energy efficient, so they have the potential to save you some money on your monthly energy bill if you’re not already using energy efficient lighting. The Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is $99 for two bulbs and additional bulbs are priced at $24.99, so it could take awhile to see those savings. A single Nanoleaf Smarter Hub can have 32 bulbs connected to it, enough to outfit an entire house.

Setup

Setup of the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit should be a simple process theoretically, but in my experience, few HomeKit products work seamlessly out of the box. With the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit, you’re supposed to be able to plug in the hub, connect it to the iPhone using the HomeKit code, and then add the lights automatically.

I ran into problems right away. Out of the box, my iPhone and the Nanoleaf app refused to recognize the Nanoleaf Hub, and despite following all of the available troubleshooting tips, I still couldn’t get it to connect. As it turned out, the ethernet cable my Smarter Kit shipped with was faulty, something I only found out after I was put in contact with the Nanoleaf tech team, who suggested I try a different cable.

Once I swapped out the ethernet cables, my iPhone was able to see the Nanoleaf Hub, but I ran into a permissions issue. It turned out at some point during this setup process, HomeKit decided I was not the owner of my HomeKit home. I had one home that I had set up with no other users (Juli’s Home) and in my HomeKit settings, that somehow became a shared home (shared by myself, no less) and I no longer had admin privileges.

That was a HomeKit error that likely wasn’t the fault of the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit, but it was a sensational hassle. There are a lot of HomeKit products in my home and no longer owning my own HomeKit setup meant that I had to delete everything and start from scratch. If your HomeKit setup is corrupted and you need to start over for some reason, you have to manually reset every single product. Have a paperclip on hand, because with most products, you need to hit a tiny reset switch for a specified time and then redo the entire pairing process.

After re-pairing every HomeKit device in my house (including a bunch of Hue bulbs by serial number) I finally got my phone to successfully recognize the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit and add it to HomeKit. Problems solved, right? Nope. The Hub didn’t recognize the bulbs (presumably because they paired to the Hub when it had the faulty cable plugged in) so I had to reset those too – flip the switch on and off eight times and then hit the pairing button on the hub.

It took me two days and several conversations with the Nanoleaf team, but I finally got everything in working order.

I don’t think most people are going to run into these problems setting up the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit or another HomeKit product, but I think it’s important to cover some of the incredibly frustrating issues that can come up when working with the HomeKit system.

HomeKit support for most products is inadequate because things are just supposed to work, and when they don’t, it’s a frustrating experience trying to figure out what’s wrong with absolutely no way to diagnose a problem across multiple HomeKit devices from one central location. I hope most Nanoleaf setup processes go smoother, but as can be seen from my setup experience, there’s a lot that can go wrong.

Nanoleaf App and Siri

Once I got the Nanoleaf Hub and bulbs successfully connected, things went much more smoothly. Along with the physical dimming controls I explained earlier, the bulbs’ dimming feature is controlled with the Nanoleaf app and through Siri. Dimming is about all these bulbs can do – there are no colors, but you can set them from 100 percent light to one percent light and turn them off and on.

The Nanoleaf app is simple and straight forward. It’s used to pair new bulbs to the hub, to control those bulbs, and to set up lighting scenes. When a bulb is added via the Nanoleaf app, it’s added to a Room in the house and it’s given a specific name. These are all cues that facilitate different Siri commands. You’re going to want to give each bulb a name for individual controls and assign it to a room to control an entire room of bulbs at once.

Bulbs can be turned off and dimmed through the „Rooms“ tab of the Nanoleaf app, which lists all of the light bulbs in each room. The Nanoleaf app will also recognize other HomeKit bulbs from similar lighting systems, including Philips Hue (as long as those bulbs are paired to their separate hub). It was able to see all of my Hue bulbs, but with the Nanoleaf app, I could only turn my Hue bulbs on or off or dim them – there are no color controls because the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit bulbs are single color.

By the way, when I say it recognizes Hue bulbs, I don’t mean that the Nanoleaf Hub is able to pair with Hue bulbs or vice versa. It’s simply seeing them as additional HomeKit devices and pulling them into the app.

The Nanoleaf app can only „see“ and control lights – it’s not going to incorporate other HomeKit devices like thermostats, smart plugs, or room monitors. For that reason, if you have a lot of HomeKit products, the Nanoleaf probably isn’t going to be your go-to app. I continue to wish Apple would create a central HomeKit app because the HomeKit experience is so disjointed without one, but until that happens, there are a few third-party solutions, including Home and MyTouchHome. I also like the free Elgato Eve app because it can recognize and control all of the available HomeKit products.

The Elgato Eve app

As with most HomeKit apps, the Nanoleaf app includes a section for setting up Scenes. Using Scenes, which are activated with Siri or through the app, you can set up different lighting recipes for things like going to bed (turning off all the lights) or getting home from work (turning on all the lights). You can use any combination of lights in any room when creating a Scene. There are some pre-defined Scenes to help users understand what they’re used for, and it’s possible to create your own.

Scene names, Room names, and bulb names are all used for Siri, and Siri supports a wide range of commands. A handful of sample commands is below.

Turn on the lights

Turn off the lights

Set the lights to 50% brightness

Dim the lights (automatically dims them by a percentage, usually around 25%)

Set the lights to max brightness

Set the Good Night scene

Are the lights on?

Turn on the lights in the Living Room

Turn off Living Room Bulb 1

Which of the lights are on?

In my experience, Siri commands with the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit worked perfectly. My commands were recognized right away and went through without delay, which is one of the benefits to a hub. I’ve seen forum comments on HomeKit posts that eschew hubs because there are devices that can connect directly to Wi-Fi, but the HomeKit products that use a hub work much better than those that do not.

With the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit and the Philips Hue HomeKit products, I haven’t had connection issues and haven’t had to reset them due to a lost Wi-Fi connection, something I can’t say for the HomeKit products I’ve tested that connect directly via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The same goes for remote access – I’ve never struggled accessing a hub-based HomeKit product remotely, and that includes the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit.

HomeKit and HomeKit products may improve enough in the future that hubless Wi-Fi devices perform as well as those that are connected to a hub, but based on the HomeKit products I’ve used so far, we’re not there yet.

Bottom Line

Even with the setup problems I had with the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit, it’s still one of the more reliable HomeKit products on the market. Once I had it connected to my iPhone, I had no connection problems or trouble with Siri queries.

For someone looking for a first HomeKit product, the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is a solid choice, but it is more limited than some of the other HomeKit lighting options on the market, like the Philips Hue. With the Hue, lights can be changed to any color and dimmed, while with the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit, white is the only option.

Comparatively, the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is one of the most affordable HomeKit lighting solutions available right now. At $99 and $25 for extra bulbs, it’s cheaper than the Philips Hue, which is $199 for three bulbs and upwards of $20 for additional bulbs. If you can afford it, the Hue setup is the first HomeKit lighting solution I’d recommend, but Nanoleaf is the second. And for people who simply don’t need colored lights, it should be a top choice.

The Nanoleaf app isn’t the most comprehensive, but that’s not going to be a problem unless you’ve got multiple HomeKit products. It adequately controls the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit – it’s just not going to be satisfactory for other accessories. For home setups with better manual controls and integration between HomeKit products, the more expensive and more complicated Lutron Caseta lighting kit is worth checking out.

If the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit meets your home lighting and decorating needs, it’s worth picking up. It’s a good looking set of hardware and it works reliably through the app and through Siri.

How to Buy

The Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is available from the Nanoleaf website or from Amazon.com for $99.99.

Note: MacRumors received no compensation for this review.

Tags: HomeKit, review, Nanoleaf, Nanoleaf Smarter Kit
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Review: The Nanoleaf Smarter Kit Features Smart HomeKit-Enabled Light Bulbs With a Unique Look

Cult of Mac Magazine: Apple TV Review – The good, the bad and the ugly

It’s finally here! The Apple TV we’ve all been waiting for should be arriving in homes across the world today. We’ve got our review of the cute little black box, plus a ton more, including the biggest takeaways from Apple’s recent earnings call, how Google is facing its own Bendgate issues, 10 delightful new iOS […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Cult of Mac Magazine: Apple TV Review – The good, the bad and the ugly

Clever leather wallet case can turn iPhone 6s into a dock

I go through phases of different cases that I like to style my iPhone with. Back in the day I used to like clear cases just to show off the fact that I have an iPhone at all, but lately I’ve been really digging leather. That’s why I was particularly excited to try out the new […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Clever leather wallet case can turn iPhone 6s into a dock