Smart Light Review: Lifx Tile

Category: Features, Reviews

Part of what is becoming quite an extensive range of products, the Tile Set is one of the latest offerings from brand LIFX, whose range encompasses nearly everything from globes and downlights to beam lights and LED strip lighting. This minimalistic yet versatile set of 5 tiles gives you the ability to create a feature simply using your wall as the canvas, setting it up in a configuration that is aesthetically pleasing and allowing you to really bring the mood out in the room.

Getting set up

Setup out of the box is pretty straightforward, and outlined on the welcome card as you unpack everything. In the box you’ll find five tiles, a power adapter with a longer cable, and five shorter cables to connect the tiles. You’ll need the LIFX app before you proceed to set them up; the tiles connect to your wifi once the information is set through your phone, and from there they’ll be permanently connected unless you unpair them. Setup is a tad tedious – making sure the cables are inserted fully will ensure the tiles are connected, otherwise you may end up with multiple tile inputs like I did the first time around.

Each tile connector cable is ~40cm long and quite rigid – and while each tile has channelling on the back to arrange the cables, the cable management exercise becomes quite tedious. Nobody wants a feature wall with cables going everywhere, but unless you’ve got a significant amount of patience or time, your setup results may vary. I wasn’t too fussed with the layout or the cables being visible; however, I did have to adjust the pattern so that the cables weren’t jutting out awkwardly.

Additionally, ensuring the lights are the right way up is something you’ll want to prioritize – tile effects can be ruined if these aren’t the correct way.

Fancy Features

The app is definitely marketed towards having your whole household with LIFX lights set up – you can connect multiple sets and designate where in the house they are. I hooked mine up in my bedroom, and named it “Brighty” (laugh all you want, I thought I was naming them individually). The integrated connectivity with Siri and Apple’s HomeKit as well as Google Assistant and pretty much all the others is extremely welcoming too.

Scrolling through the app, the first thing you’ll likely do is sit there having fun with the array of colours you can set under the “Colours” tab. LIFX boasts that there are trillions of colour combinations you can set, and with “Polychrome Technology – 64 addressable zones per tile”, there is a magnitude of patterns, designs and colour schemes you can come up with. Playing around with the solid colour gradients as well as the white-balanced options is a great way to initiate yourself with what these tiles can do.

The “Create” tab is where things get a little more entertaining. With “Themes” and “Colours” sections, there are a heap of options you can play around with – for instance with “Themes”, you can add moods to your room or wall with a tap of a button – which highlights the addressable zones on the tiles. The ‘Blend’ option adds swirling patches and patterns of colour in the preset themes, whereas the ‘Solid’ option has one pure colour per tile. Especially great if you want something really vibrant and vivid such as a mix of blues and whites to start your day, or if you are feeling especially spooky and want a Halloween theme. The “Colours” section allows you to choose individual colours per tile, or even paint your own with your finger or a stylus.

The “Effects” tab is probably the most fun, though I feel it could benefit from more diversity. My favourite feature was the ‘FIRE’ effect, which basically does as advertised – imitate a crackling fire, really changing the mood of the room. The ‘MUSIC VISUALISER’ effect worked to a degree, but it used the microphone of my device to function, instead of integrating with my audio app (in this case, Spotify). ‘MORPH’ gives you a lava lamp-esque colour variation feature, while things like ‘PASTELS’ would scroll through pastel colours, and ‘SPOOKY’ would flicker at intervals to add a creepy vibe. ‘STROBE’ is only functional if you hold the option down, but let’s face it – who is going to want a permanent strobe light on?

The “Day & Dusk” tab functions as a timed ambient lighting feature. Beneficial for those who like a bit of routine, the feature suggests it wants to ‘automate your life’ by shifting white temperatures and brightness to suit the day. Great as a set and forget feature, but only really helpful for routines.

The one really cool feature that is hidden away in the settings of the tiles themselves is the “Tile Tap” function. This allows you to turn them on and off with a simple double-tap on ANY tile, and to scroll through three pre-set features with a single tap. I cannot understate the usefulness of this – instead of having to get my phone out every time, all I had to do was tap one of the tiles to switch them on and off.

Not so bright

There’s a fair few drawbacks to these tiles though – the cabling issue is one that I’ve already outlined, but a few gripes came about throughout the use. The app itself has a mind of its own sometimes, and your current layout may change if you go in to lower the brightness or change the pattern. Additionally, the app can be finnicky and fiddly when trying to get certain functions to work, and you might end up turning the tiles on and off a few times before you get your desired outcome.

The other annoyance is purely decorative – these things are DUST MAGNETS! Even after a simple set-up, I had already noticed the amount of dust these things had picked up, so be prepared to clean them a lot if you live in a dusty or carpeted environment.
Resetting patterns will require you to buy new Command sticky pads as well, and while the box comes with a few extras, it won’t be enough to redesign your whole wall.

The last thing is, don’t buy multiple Tile kits unless you plan on setting each one up individually – your maximum amount of tiles per setup is 5; any more and you won’t be able to connect them.

Conclusion

The LIFX Tile Set is on the verge of being a great home device. Despite a finnicky setup and an app that could use some work, the set is a pretty nifty novelty that epitomises tech that will only get better as it develops. With a significant selection of options and setups to fit your living space, people will likely be wowed by what it can do – but the real excitement is waiting to see what will come with future app updates and firmwares.

Lifx Tile Set (5 panels)

A$399
6.7

Design

6.0/10

Features

7.0/10

Performance

7.0/10

Pros

  • Great mood lighting
  • Customisable configurations
  • Tap touch operation
  • Smart home integration

Cons

  • Annoying setup
  • App needs improvement
  • Some connectivity issues