Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition review

Fun and flexible smart lighting

Nanoleaf Sonic
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

If you're a gamer and have had an eye on some decorative smart lighting for your home then the Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition is a great way to do that. You get enough panels to create Sonic, Tails and Knuckles (or any other shape you want) and then light that how you want, with Nanoleaf's app making it easy to change up how the panels are lit.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Lighting panels are bright and powerful

  • +

    Lighting can be synced with music and games

  • +

    Strong Nanoleaf smartphone app

  • +

    Wide variety of lighting scenes free to download

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Build diagrams need to be downloaded

  • -

    You'll want cable ties to keep the cabling tidy

  • -

    Not exactly cheap

T3 is a huge fan of smart lighting and in our Nanoleaf Shapes review we gave the modular RGB smart lighting system a maximum score of 5 stars.

As such, I was excited to test out the brand's new Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition, which T3 had previously reported on.

In this Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition review I explain what you get in this limited edition version - tied in to the new Sonic The Hedgehog 2 movie - what it is like to install and how it performs.

Nanoleaf Sonic box showing components of kit

(Image credit: Nanoleaf)

Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition review: what's in the box, price and release date

In the Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition box you get 32 colored lighting panels. These are triangles, with 4 large and 28 small. You also get a control bar, 33 lighting panel connectors, 28 small sticky pads (for attaching panels to a wall) and 4 large sticky pads. One power supply with cables is also supplied to power the smart lighting panels.

In terms of release date, the Sonic Edition is out now and can be bought from various retailers including directly from the Nanoleaf store (opens in new tab). The Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition price is £299.99 in the UK. Unfortunately the product is not currently available in the USA.

The Nanoleaf Sonic Limited Edition Starter Kit review kit open on a table


(Image credit: Future)

Open the Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition box and you're greeted with the panels, which are stacked neatly on top of each other (and separated by thin paper to avoid damage), as well as its accessories, power supply and a manual/quick start guide.

The box itself has a Sonic The Hedgehog 2 movie sleeve, which advertises what you can build with this set, which are smart lighting versions of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles.

The Nanoleaf Sonic Limited Edition Starter Kit review kit box in my hand.

(Image credit: Future)

Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition review: setup

Setup involves taking the panels out of the box and then basically building the character shape you want. The manual shows you the best way to do this in terms of steps but doesn't come with an actual build diagram, which needs to be downloaded (opens in new tab). I didn't realise this at first so I built the character based on the box art. I feel it would be a super cheap addition for Nanoleaf to include a small print out of the build diagrams for each character in the box, so am unsure why it doesn't include one.

The Nanoleaf Sonic Limited Edition Starter Kit review kit panel connectors shown close up

(Image credit: Future)

Panels are affixed together easily, though. The included 33 panel connectors just snap in and snap off, meaning you can affix two panels together in seconds. Importantly, though, there are only enough panel connectors in the box to build a character if you only connect panel-to-panel with one connector, so while it may seem like it makes sense to anchor panels together with more than one connector, that is not possible (or technically needed).

The Nanoleaf Sonic Limited Edition Starter Kit review kit sticky pads shown close up

(Image credit: Future)

Once I'd built Sonic (of course I had to pick the main hero for this review) and affixed sticky pads to each of the panels I then proceeded to break the panels into more manageable chunks before placing them on my wall of choice.

Affixing panels entails pressing them firmly, onto the wall for 30 seconds. My experience with this was flawless. I placed the panels on, held them in place for 30 seconds, and then they never moved and felt super secure.

The Nanoleaf Sonic Limited Edition Starter Kit review panels being affixed to a wall

(Image credit: Future)

Once thing you do need to be aware of when putting up Nanoleaf shapes, though, is that the panel that has the power connector attached to will have a cable trailing from it. Nanoleaf panels have cable channels in their rear, though, so providing you forward plan then you can guide the cable behind the panels and have it just become visible again at the bottom of the creation.

I'd then advise investing in some small wall-mountable cable ties to guide the cable neatly (and tidy to the wall) to the power socket, as otherwise the cable will just hang loosely and look a bit (in my mind at least) untidy. I think really I'd expect a few of these cable ties in the box if I'm being perfectly candid, as it would complete the package so to speak.

Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition review: performance

As you can see from the short video above, the lighting and brightness delivered by the Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition is really impressive. Lighting can be turned on and off on the control bar (which is snapped on to one of the panels) with a physical button press, as well as via the Nanoleaf app.

The Nanoleaf app is essential for controlling the smart lighting panels and determining what lighting design they have. You can select static designs as well as active ones called 'scenes', with lighting panels actively changing colour and pulsing in various ways.

I chose the official Sonic lighting scene and the result can be seen in the video above.

In addition to these more standard lighting features, the Nanoleaf panels also come with a 'Rhythm Mode' which is cool as it syncs the lighting on the panels to your music.

This kit also supports Nanoleaf's 'Screen Mirror' feature, which means you can sync what is being displayed on your monitor or TV from a PC on the lights to add an extra level of immersion.

The Nanoleaf shape panels are also touch sensitive, meaning you can play lighting-based games on them. One is aptly called "Catch A Hedgehog" and is like the game Whac-A-Mole but with lights. This isn't my bag but I'm sure younger users could enjoy it.

Overall, I was really impressed with the sheer quantity of lighting scenes I could display on the Nanoleaf panels. This is great as, really, for all the Sonic theme-ing here these are just Nanoleaf Shapes in a different box. As such, if you ever get tired of having Sonic, Tails or Knuckles on your wall, you can just create whatever pattern you want.

Naturally, you could also augment this kit with more Nanoleaf panels, too.

The Nanoleaf Sonic Limited Edition Starter Kit review box on a shelf

(Image credit: Future)

Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition review: verdict

Overall, then, I think Nanoleaf has done a good job here in tying its 5-star rated product to a much-loved video game series.

The price of the kit will mean that it most likely isn't for everyone, though. At the time of writing this kit costs £299.99 in the UK and that is a decent chunk of change.

If you're tempted by the Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition but want to dip your toe in the water first, though, then I'd recommend trying one of its Starter Kits with less panels. This will let you get the full Nanoleaf experience for less money.

If you're sold by smart lighting and Nanoleaf's 5-star system, though, and love Sonic, then this is a match made in heaven. Gotta go fast... to buy Nanoleaf Shapes Starter Kit – Sonic Edition.

Deputy Editor for T3.com, Rob has been writing about computing, gaming, mobile, home entertainment technology, toys (specifically Lego and board games), smart home and more for over 15 years. You can find Rob's work in magazines, bookazines and online, as well as on podcasts and videos, too. Outside of his work Rob is passionate about motorbikes, skiing/snowboarding and team sports, with football and cricket two favourites. Feel free to contact him with any related products, events, and announcements.