Android

Nanoleaf Canvas review

A lot of what we review at AndroidGuys centers strictly around Android phones, tablets, and smartphones as a whole. That net has widened over the years with Chrome OS, smart homes, and the whole Internet of Things.

Much of what’s covered here could be considered more necessity and life-enhancing; there’s often more need than want. But, every so often we get a chance to review something that doesn’t necessarily provide any true value other than fun and entertainment.

Nanoleaf Canvas

The Nanoleaf Canvas is one of those things that is decidedly not something we need to own. It’s cool as hell, smart and interactive, and really ties a room together. The best part? It works no matter your environment or layout.

The Canvas is not the first product in the Nanoleaf portfolio; however, it’s perhaps the most feature-rich LED lighting kit available. Not only does it provide virtually endless color options and nearly unlimited configurations, but it’s smart. It detects environmental sounds for rhythmic dancing and patterns. Oh, and it also works with IFTTT, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit.

Setup

We were pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to set up Nanloeaf’s products and the Canvas is no different. The package consists of a power supply, nine panels, connecting pieces, and two-side adhesives.

It’s literally up to you as to how you want to design the layout of your Canvas kit. Each of the tiles has three connecting points. Feel free to line them up direct, offset, or mix and match.

The connectors (Linkers) are thin and flexible. They’re not quite bendable to right angles but Nanoleaf does offer a Flex Linker kit ($10) that bends up to 180 degrees. So, if you want to wrap a pillar, or extend your layout around corners, this is what you’ll need.

The hardest part of setting up was deciding which wall would get the Canvas. After that, it was a matter of figuring out how we wanted to arrange the panels. After overthinking it for far too long, we ultimately chose to wing it and build as we went.

The main panel, which houses a handful of buttons, is where you’ll connect the power supply. Keep this in mind as there will be a thin white cord that runs from the panel.

After that, it’s all fun and games. There’s no wrong orientation or direction to extend your build. The system intuitively knows how it’s set up; you’ll verify this in the mobile app.

Nanloeaf App

The mobile app walks you through the process of setting up the lights and also allows for deeper control over the lighting. Whether you want to turn every panel to a desired color or brightness, let them breathe and flow like water rippling, or dance to music, the app is where you go.

There are a number of preset options for colors, rhythm, and interactive lights. Out of the box there’s more than enough to satisfy the masses with an always-changing array of lights. Spend a couple minutes in the section for discovering new designs, though, and you’ll find all sorts of great color palettes, speeds, and effects that can be downloaded.

It’s not necessary that you open the app every time you want to use the lights. Really, once you have the stuff downloaded that you like, you don’t have to open it. The buttons on the control panel let you cycle through things. Moreover, the panels react to touch as well. With that said, it’s nice to have visual representation of color palettes.

General Impressions

We’ve set up the Nanoleaf Canvas to have schedules, added it to IFTTT for more lively notifications in the office, and played with Google Assistant. Every one of those works as we’d expected and each provides a different level of coolness.

Whereas the Canvas looks great just blinking, glowing, and pulsing by itself, we really like to watch it dance to music. It’s almost too distracting at times because of the myriad ways to configure it.

Were this a bedroom or living space we would have them cycling through Aurora Borealis-like ripples and other wave effects, glowing to wake us up, or providing reading light. These truly do work in any environment.

Conclusion

As it is, the nine pieces can be configured in cool and interesting ways that take up a decent amount of space. It’s all at once a quality piece of artwork, helpful lighting, and fun way to liven up a room.

The bonus points come when you factor in something like IFTTT when you can have it switch all of the panels to a certain color when a specific person emails you or a person tweets at you.

We like how much Google Assistant and Google Home have evolved over time. Now we’re able to do things like use our voice to change colors on a Philips Hue light or Nanoleaf Canvas. We can imagine all sorts of great, interactive ways to brighten up our home or office were these in each room.

We really like the Canvas and would love nothing more than to wrap rooms in the panels. The first day we put them up we realized that nine would not be enough to satisfy us long term. To that end, it’s an expensive set of tech, especially if you start to expand.

At $250 for the starter kit, it’s not an extraordinary amount of money when you compare it to other smart lights. And, given that it’s so flexible and feature-rich, one can see how it’s worth the money. Nevertheless, it would take a small fortune to outfit a wall with a few dozen panels.

If you do plan to start out with more than nine panels, you’ll want to opt for one of the other bundles. The Suave One is a 17-piece kit for $369 and The Bold One is $513 for 25 pieces. It’s not clear whether these were limited time deals at the time of publishing this review. From what we can gather it’s like adding multiple expansion packs and applying a discount code.

Nanoleaf offers add-on panels to the tune of $80 for four. At $20 per square you’d be into thousands of dollars if you set up a room to look as cool as those in the Nanloeaf promotional videos. Fortunately, it’s not all-or-nothing and you can slowly add to your wall over time.

Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have to figure out where we’ll plug in the next four panels.

Android

Google is bringing a dark mode makeover to another one of its apps soon

Dark mode is all the rage in apps now, and Google has been adding the feature to some of its apps. We’ve seen it in beta on Chrome, while some of their other staple apps such as the dialer, contacts, and Google Discover feed all have official dark mode toggles. Even Google Play Games has […]

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Android

PSA: Download your data from Google Plus before it shuts down on April 2nd

Allo has already said goodbye, and as Google starts to purge Inbox from the internet and force everyone back to using Gmail, the search giant is also prepping to yank yet another favorite app out of our grasp. No, not really, it’s just the much-maligned Google Plus that is being deactivated on April 2nd. If you’ve […]

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Android

[TA Deals] Charge absolutely everything with the discounted GOSPACE SuperCharger (54% off)

Do you ever get frustrated without having enough flexibility with charging your devices? GOSPACE has a solution with their all-in-one SuperCharger, allowing charging up to four devices at once with a ton of adapters for travel. The charger has two regular USB ports, a high-speed USB C port, Qi wireless charging, and a built-in 10,000mAh […]

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Android

Nokia has taken its time with Pie for 5.1

Nokia released its meh 5.1 back in September 2018, after Android Pie had been released, and yet is only receiving the update now, over six months later. Nokia has been receiving a heaping of praise over the last year-or-so for its commitment to Google‘s unadulterated and swiftly-updated ‘Android One‘ initiative which had been originally conceived […]

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Android

‘Hidey Hole’ makes finding S10 punch-hole wallpapers easy

Chainfire‘s latest app gathers from the /r/s10wallpapers subreddit to provide a database of punch-hole embracing backgrounds for your S10, with filters for model and genres. Following his well known contributions to the SuperSU root management software which he left last year, Chainfire has now released a comparatively basic wallpaper fetching app for Samsung‘s new Galaxy […]

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Android

Full Stack JavaScript Bundle: Kickstart your programming career for $35

You can’t browse the internet without coming across websites that use JavaScript. No, that’s not an exaggeration; 95 percent of sites use the coding language. In other words, its everywhere and doesn’t look to be going anywhere.

If you are looking to gain an edge over your co-workers in 2019, you’ll need to do something they can’t. We’re willing to bet that the guy next to you doesn’t know anything about JavaScript.

Did you know that you could teach yourself the popular coding language over the next few weeks? How would you like access to some 55 hours of video and hundreds of code snippets for less than a date night at the movies?

The Full Stack JavaScript Developer E-Degree Bundle is a full suite of tools to give you true hands-on experience with JavaScript at nearly every angle.

Whether it’s working with JavaScript in relation to HTML, newer innovations like PWA (progressive web apps), or advanced frameworks, this bundle has it all. Move from beginner to advanced and master things over 30 different projects which will put your newfound skills to work.

Full Stack JavsScript bundle features

  • Ebook – Contributing to Open Source ($16.50 value)
  • CSS for Beginners ($16.50 value)
  • HTML5 Programming ($16.50 value)
  • JavaScript for Beginners ($16.50 value)
  • Advanced JavaScript ($17.50 value)
  • Modern Java with ES6 ($16.50 value)
  • TDD in JavaScript ($16.50 value)
  • JavaScript Frameworks ($16.50 value)
  • PWA in JavaScript ($16.50 value)
  • NodeJS and ExpressJS Framework ($16.50 value)
  • HTML for Beginners ($16.50 value)

Where to Buy

The Full Stack JavaScript Developer E-Degree Bundle is available to AndroidGuys readers for only $35 right now — a fraction of its normal $183 value.

Head to the AndroidGuys Deals Store and purchase one for yourself and, while there, grab one for your friend, too. Who knows what the two of you will be doing a year from now once you have that education under your belts?

Android

How to use Google Maps offline

Let’s face it, we don’t have great cell service everywhere we go. Raise your hand if you’ve gotten lost someplace you’re unfamiliar with and had absolutely no signal. Thankfully, Google allows you to use its maps offline. And, with a little forethought you won’t end up stranded with no understanding of your surroundings.

What you should know about offline maps

The most important thing to know is that you will need to download the map before going to your location — preferably over Wi-Fi. Google Maps allows you to download a pretty large area with a few limitations. Generally speaking, though, you can get an area that covers a whole city with couple of nearby cities.


EDITOR PICKS


Depending on the size of the area you choose the offline map can take up quite a bit of storage. Worried about low on storage on your device? An option to save to a microSD card ensures you don’t fill that phone up.

Maps expire after 30 days, presumably because roads are always changing and Google wants you to have the most up to date information. Fortunately, your saved maps will automatically update over Wi-Fi.

Perhaps the best part of offline maps is that you are able to search locations and use navigation with the map just the same as if it were connected online. The rub is that you won’t have access to traffic data, transit details, walking directions, ride services, or biking directions in offline mode.

How to download offline maps

  1. Search the area you want to download
  2. Tap on the hamburger button for options
  3. Select Offline maps
  4. Choose select your own map
  5. Pinch to zoom to select the area you want to store offline
  6. Tap download

Once maps are downloaded, you can manage them by going into offline maps again and tapping on the three-dot menu for the map of your choice. From there you have options to update, view, rename, or delete the map in question.

For more settings, you can click on the settings cog in the top right corner where you can change preferences for storing and updating the maps.



There you have it, now you can store maps for all your favorite or new locations to make sure you’re never up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Android

ZTE’s solution to the notch is to put cameras on the side of phones

If there’s one thing Android manufacturers deserve a lot of credit for, it’s trying weird ideas that may or may not have any chance of actually succeeding in the real world. ZTE is tackling the problem of a display notch in the weirdest way yet, and even though I don’t think it’ll catch on, it’s […]

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Android

FuseChicken Universal travel charger review: An all-in-one power solution

I’ve been reviewing tech and accessories for over a decade now. I am rarely surprised by much anymore, but a name caught my eye recently when they sent a request for reviewing some of its products. The company is called FuseChicken. Yep, FuseChicken.

It’s definitely the oddest combination of names for a tech company but I had the opportunity to test out its new Universal travel charger. Incidentally, I was not aware that AndroidGuys had previously spent time with its products and even toured its facilities nearly seven years back.

Overview

The Universal wants to solve all your charging needs while on the go. It’s a Swiss Army knife of chargers honestly. It is a standard wall outlet charger as well as a battery pack. Inside is a 6700mAh power bank.

It also has Qi-enabled fast wireless charging. So, in a review, that’s USB-A, USB-C, and wireless charging. This is one of the few devices that can charge your phone and laptop that you can throw in your bag and continue using it to charge while traveling.

Design

I’ve always been a sucker for a black and white combination color scheme. The FuseChicken Universal charger has a nice soft-touch black trimmed with standard white plastics. It makes the device appealing while keeping a minimalistic pattern.

On the left, you have the wall adapter port that is interchangeable for US and Euro power outlets. Around the opposing side, you have an LED display for the power bank percentage, both USB ports, and a status light for charging. A red light means it’s charging and green means the device is on but in standby mode.

To the “top” of the unit are the FuseChicken logo and the letter “V” surrounded by wavebands similar to a WiFi signal image. This is where the magic happens to charge via Qi wireless charging.

The size is pretty nice too. The FuseChicken Universal is not much larger than most power bricks you may have to lay around. The photo below shows it next to a Targus USB-C charger I use while traveling.

Results

None of this really matters if the Universal fails in general usage. I’m happy to report that it’s spot on with what FuseChicken claims it offers. I was able to get a full charge via the USB ports almost 2.5 times on my Google Pixel 3 XL. This lines up with the bank’s 6700mAh cell.

The Qi charging also worked as expected with 10W quick charge being pushed to the device that supports it. Sadly this does not include my Pixel by cause it’s not “Made for Google” approved. Despite this, it functioned like any other charger.

One downside is that both USB ports don’t seem to support full fast charging. This option seems limited just to the USB-C plug. I’d also like to have seen the 18W power bank be able to charge my laptop as well. It just doesn’t seem to have enough juice to recharge my Dell.

Bonus Mini-review: The Shield C power cord

FuseChicken included this with my review material for the Universal charger and I was impressed. This USB-C cable is wrapped in steel chainmail. This makes it nearly indestructible and it looks awesome. The Shield cable reminds me of trim you’d find on a high-end car or a machine shop.

The cable allows for fast charge 2.0 and besides the wrapped steel cord there’s a nice soft rubber surround on each port of the cable. I was really surprised how well-made yet still flexible this cable was, and I’m glad that FuseChicken included it in the bag of goodies.

Conclusion

I hate to be jaded, but I didn’t really have high hopes with a company I’d never heard of for this review. I came away pleasantly surprised by FuseChicken. The Universal charger and the Shield C cable are both well-crafted products. Both look great and offer great functionality. And FuseChicken gets some bonus points for its namesake.

The Universal charger will set you back $85 on the FuseChicken website. That might seem like a lot, but power banks and some Qi chargers both can go in that price range. For all it does, I think it’s more than reasonable. The Shield C cable is $35 on the site, and again, seems in line with other products in that sector.