If you do a quick search for Twinkly products, you are probably going to first see a lot of Christmas lights, curtain lights, strings of lights and light clusters for sale on places like Amazon. Most of those products have smart controls that allow for things like color changes, or for integrating those strings of lights with music. Twinkly seems to clearly have one of the most advanced product lines in terms of holiday or themed lighting.
Flushed with their success in the holiday lighting market, Twinkly has moved on to the internal home décor arena with the unveiling of Twinkly Squares. The Squares product is part of a new home line that also includes Twinkly Flex and Twinkly Line. The Twinkly Squares offering, which the company sent over to GiN to test out, is a really cool idea too, because they have taken their technology with smartphone-controlled lights and placed it into a more traditional portrait type of configuration so that it can easily be hung on a wall and displayed alongside other fine art, gaming posters and whatever else gamers have hanging in their game or computer rooms.
The Twinkly Squares starter kit comes with a single master panel of LED lights and then five add-on panels that connect to the master. Each panel is a perfect square, and it’s clever that instead of forcing all of them into a single, larger square configuration, that buyers are given a choice of how they want their Twinkly Squares to look. It would be fairly easy to configure the squares into a diamond pattern, an arrow or maybe something that looks like a Space Invader monster. Or, you could also just build that aforementioned giant square. Twinkly also sells kits that just have add-on panels, so you can make even bigger designs, or maybe group enough of them together that they could actually provide real lighting for a room in whatever colors you prefer.
Each master panel can support up to 15 add-on panels. And each seven-inch panel is comprised of an eight-by-eight square grid, with each grid being its own pixel that can be individually controlled. Each pixel can in turn display 16 million different colors. When lit, the pixels are surprisingly bright and really stand out in any room.
The downside to having the freedom to configure your Twinkly Squares however you want is that it makes the setup a bit more complicated. Looking at all the components that come with the starter kit can be a little bit daunting. There are six connector cables to provide power and control functions to the sub-panels, a dozen or so fasteners for linking the panels, a power cable for the master unit, and of course the square panels themselves. All of that comes neatly packed into a colorful box, but looks a bit scarier for non-mechanically inclined folks once everything is removed.
Despite my initial intimidation, it was rather easy to put everything together. Each panel is also surprisingly light, and all of them have places in their corners where they can grab a small screw or a nail for mounting everything to the wall. Even with all six panels attached, the entire group seemed stable when mounted using two nails, with one on each side of the attached panels. However, to be on the safe side, it’s probably best to use a few more mounting points. The starter kit comes with a square piece of paper that shows where the screw mounts are on the actual panels, so you can use a pencil to mark the wall where you need to drill or nail your anchor points.
Once everything is mounted, it’s time to have some fun. These are smart lights after all. Twinkly Squares has apps for both Android and iOS devices that allow users to control what the lights display and how they act. We got the Android version.
You first need to set up an account with Twinkly. Once that is complete, you use Bluetooth in order to initially connect with the Twinkly Squares panels. It seems like this is the same app that can used to drive all of those Christmas lights too, so it’s important to handshake the Squares with your app and your account so it knows what you are trying to control. Thereafter you connect to your Squares using your home Wi-Fi.
The app is surprisingly powerful. For those without a ton of artistic talent, it comes packed with lots of very cool special effects that you can use to drive the Squares, making it display some incredible special effects. For example, there are options like having waves go across the screen, changing colors, adjusting brightness and displaying simple, pre-programed pictures like a sunset. You can even set up a schedule so that your Twinkly Squares does different things at different times of the day. And if you have a smart home setup, then Squares can integrate with it as well.
And for those with artistic talent, the app enables users to individually control each pixel across the entire Squares matrix. That allows for very fine control and makes it easy to design a good-looking, if blocky, work of art.
Pixel art is hot right now, with lots of games coming out that are made with it. So, if you are a budding Pixel artist, or really like a scene from the noir detective game Lacuna or the strange Norco adventure, then you can try and recreate it with your Squares. You can also just draw on your smartphone through the app with your finger and have your work transferred to your Squares, although someone with real artistic talent could likely get a lot more out of their Squares.
Twinkly Squares is the ultimate in adventurous room lighting. It’s so advanced that it actually crosses into the realm of art, or at least it can if someone puts a lot of effort into it. Even for me, with very limited artistic talent, I was able to create some pretty cool displays that really enhanced my game room and made me smile every time I entered it.
The Twinkly Squares starter kit is available on Amazon for $249, so it’s not an inexpensive investment. However, you won’t find a better way to decorate your game room, and especially one that provides lighting, style and total control over the presentation.