Cololight Mix Panels Review: RGB Walls

The Cololight Mix consists of a few modular panels that can be attached to form a specific pattern and, if you have seen all those cool lights on the walls of YouTubers (and I’m sure most of you did), well, know that the concept is the same.

Cololight Mix
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The kit that I got has three panels and the idea is to create a seamless path for the power to go through multiple panels (the power requirements scales along with the number of connected panels). Then, you can use the dedicated app to customize the way the LEDs will light up the room. They’re not particularly bright, but that was not really the intention, since these lights are supposed to compliment the look of the room, which is why the gamers and YouTubers are pretty much the targeted audience.

cololight-mix-led-lights

And it makes sense when you think that they’re essentially a way to have RGB walls (the panels can also be positioned on a flat horizontal surface). But, even the people that don’t fit the aforementioned description can use the Cololight Mix to adjust the mood of the room for reading, meditating and so on. I am fairly sure that unlike the LED strips and LED bulbs, these modular panels are far harder to get right, so let’s put the Cololight Mix to the test and see if the manufacturer has managed to create a cool and reliable way to improve the look of the room.

Design and Build Quality

Cololight also has some hexagonal-shaped light panels, but the Mix is a bit different in the sense that the LEDs shine from a circular white panel which is embedded within a black rectangular case. And yes, everything is made of plastic which is fairly lightweight, but it doesn’t really feel flimsy (each Cololight Mix piece weighs 5.3 ounces or 150 grams). The rectangular panel measures 5.0 x 5.0 x 1.2 inches (12.8 x 12.8 x 3.0cm) and all three devices from the package share the same look and design, but they’re not completely identical. And the differences may be subtle, but they become noticeable once you need to power them on.

cololight-mix-rear-panel

The main Cololight Mix (has LS168A written on the label) lacks the plus and minus signs at the top (they are replaced by a circular button), which are present on the extension panels and there’s also a battery compartment on the rear side, besides the power port. The extension modules (LS168E) only have a single port for the power cable – and yes, there is one provided in the package. The main Cololight Mix unit also has a USB-C port which I found very curios since there was no such cable in the box, but the instructions suggested that you can power it on using any USB-C cable you may have around, to not rely on a battery.
So, the main unit supports a 18650 rechargeable battery, a 5V power supply or the use of the power cable (24V / 3A). If you press the circular button, it will move through all the available modes without having to rely on the app.

Sure, a single Cololight Mix does look cool, but why not add the extensions as well. And the way to do it is by using the connecting plates. The process is not really difficult, just push the connecting plates into place but be aware that the shape does have a meaning – after connecting two LED lights, you will see that the connecting plate will look like half an arrow: that’s the direction that the power will flow, so make sure to connect the plates accordingly. What I did was to connect the main unit to the power source and then I pointed the arrows towards the extension Cololight Mix units. And it worked properly.

cololight-mix-connector

Did I mention that each Cololight Mix is also magnetic? And it’s not some weak magnet either, they’re strong enough to hold each unit firmly in place attached to the side of my PC case. So yes, you don’t necessarily need to use the double-tape pieces that you got in the package to mount the LED lights if you have a metallic surface that the Cololight Mix can be attached to. But, I do need to mention the dedicated areas for the double-sided tape since these were lacking on the previous models and it made it difficult to attach the units to a flat surface.

Since there are silicone feet on each Cololight Mix unit, you don’t have to mount it on the wall, you can just leave them on the desk or on any flat surface. I was curios whether the LED lights get hot while functioning (they shouldn’t), so I grabbed a thermal camera (AGM Glory Pro) and, as you can see, there is a warmer spot where the power cable is connected, but overall, the units remained cool.

The App and Customization

You don’t have to connect the Cololight Mix to the app if you’re satisfied with the limited control that the single buttons has to offer, but if you’re not, then download and install the Cololight app (available for both iOS and Android OS).

cololight-mix-installation

The app will ask for access to the devices from your network and to send you notifications (neither are really necessary). Then, you can either create an account (as well as sign into an existing one) or continue in Guest mode, where you get a more limited experience (for people that are very privacy-concerned, this is a nice change of pace). I also had a look at the Privacy Policy and Data page and it’s the same as on other apps (they will not disclose the collected data to other parties unless you have specifically stated for them to do so). Then, you’re ready to Add your first device. Choose Cololight Mix from the list and then the app will ask for your location (you can either refuse or switch Precise to off).

Afterwards, you should attach all the units, if you haven’t already (there are finally some clear instructions on how to do so) and now it is a good time to press and hold the physical button for a couple of seconds until the LEDs turn off. They should start flashing blue a few seconds later (in my case, they didn’t, so I long pressed the button again which prompted the blue lights to start flashing).
The app will now detect the Cololight and you will be asked to select the right WiFi network and enter the password (only 2.4GHz is supported, as expected). Wait a few seconds and, after entering the preferred name for the Cololight Mix, you now have access to the user interface.

cololight-mix-app

The GUI will allow you to move through eleven different Dynamic Effects, where the LEDs will light up in certain patterns and I noticed that the three units that I got would move identically, so the effect was even more interesting. Still, I wanted more diversity in how each Cololight Mix unit would behave, so I clicked on the ‘enlarge’ icon from the small menu on the right side and then I selected DIY. The new window has three main sections: the first allows you to choose the colors, the second the speed at which the light will change its status and lastly, the effect itself. There are lots of cool effects to choose from (27 in total) and some of them are even better than the preset modes, so don’t be afraid to customize your own patterns.

I specifically liked the last effect because it was the closest to a fluid animation that moves from one Cololight unit to the other. The small menu on the right (from the presets window) will also allow you to turn on or off the LED light, to adjust the brightness and you can enable the Listening mode which can either use the Mobile microphone or a Device mike.
You can use the phone microphone so that the lights will change in accordance to the sound, but under the Music mode (Device microphone), you can set a pattern (Romantic, Soft, Dynamic or Default), the color, how fast or bright the LEDs will be, as well as one of the available effects.

cololight-mix-app-more

Returning to the main window again, we can see that there are three dots on the top right corner which, once tapped, will show another menu which allows you to set the maximum distance between the main Cololight Mix unit and the other additional plates that are attached. Furthermore, you can set a Timer or Countdown for when the lights will turn on or off, as well as view the log to all the changes that have been made in the app. Lastly, there are some Device settings (change the name, the password, reconnect and more). If you swipe left from the main window, you can select a certain color (with no effect) and swipping again will get you to the Official Lab section. Here, you can download certain effects, such as Traffic light (which was a bit weird) or Moon phasing (that effect was kind of cool). You can also create your own effect, but the entire process was very strange, with the only effect being Static color.

The Cololight Mix Performance

Each Cololight Mix unit has 37 independent programmed light beads and I couldn’t resist, I needed to open a unit. So, I chose an extension Cololight Mix, used a plastic pick to carefully detach the bottom cover and, as you can see, there are three interconnected boards.

cololight-mix-hardware
Cololight Mix Teardown.

The two smaller ones are used for the communication between the Cololight Mix units (it’s interesting to see where you actually insert the arrow-shaped connector) and the larger one is where you will see the LED lights. And I did indeed count 37 independent LEDs, so all is good. Not only good, but better than what other similar LED lights are currently offering. That’s because the ‘animation’ can be much smoother. I played several light effects and the transition between colors is very smooth, no freezes or jitters.

The colors were good, but not great, as some, such as yellow weren’t that accurate, having a slight orange tint. The brightness was excellent on the Cololight Mix, which I know was an issue on the previous Cololight Hexagon system, but with the newer model, it can get very bright, at the least with the three models that I currently have. The manufacturer says that you should be able to add up to 11 units in a single system using a USB-C cable or up to 30 lights using the provided power cable. So, I decided to check just how much one unit needs in terms of power when the brightness is at the maximum.

I connected the main Cololight Mix unit to a smart plug (from Gosund) and, while the brightness was set to maximum (I used white as the color), the app showed that the power consumption was a bit over 2W (2.3W to be specific). Adding another unit rose the power consumption to 4W and the third unit pushed it to 6W.

cololight-mix-test
Left: One unit. Center: Two units. Right: Three units.

But, then a weird thing happened. I tried powering up one unit using a USB-C cable and a small multimeter showed slightly different values than the Gosund plug, since the power consumption was below 2W, but that’s not really the issue, the problem appeared when I added the second unit. It would not power up, I tried using different connectors, different cables (including Thunderbolt 3 cables) and three separate power bricks, but no, only a single unit would light up. I am not sure if it’s an isolated case or if it’s a general hardware or software issue, but I could only use the provided power cable to power up more than one unit. I do need to mention that the Cololight Mix works with Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple Homekit and Stream Deck. I do wish to see support for the open source Home Assistant as well in the future.

cololight-mix
Lighting up a model (apparently, it’s a thing).

Conclusion

Lifesmart has definitely managed to improve its light panels line and the Cololight Mix is looking better than its predecessors, as well as some of its competitors. The panels are larger, have cool effects that will make the background of a YouTube video really stand out. For gamers, the Mix will also help add RGB to your walls, so if that’s your thing, the LED lights are fine for the job. There are three ways to power up the Cololight Mix, using a battery (for a single unit), the provided power cable which can power on lots of units at the same time or by using a USB-C cable. I couldn’t make the last option to work with more than one unit, so, if it’s a software issue, I am sure that the engineers will quickly patch it up.

Cololight Mix

-
8

DESIGN

8.2/10

EASE OF USE

8.0/10

FEATURES

8.0/10

PERFORMANCE

7.8/10

AFFORDABILITY

8.0/10

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • The effects are fluid and smooth
  • Lots of options for customization available
  • Can connect to smart assistants
  • Can get quite bright

Cons

  • Couldn't get the USB-C connection to power up more than one unit
  • The 'Official Lab' custom process is weird

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