Govee Glide Hexa light panel review: Great lighting, cluttered app

Govee Glide Hexa Light Panel

MSRP $200.00

“An excellent physical setup process complements beautiful lighting choices and a well-equipped app.”

Advantages

  • Excellent physical setup process

  • Easy to remove tiles

  • Responsive Music Sync

  • Wide range of animation controls

  • More affordable than comparable panels

The inconvenients

  • Lower performance at lower brightness

  • Cluttered app

  • No HomeKit support

The Govee smart lighting ecosystem has grown steadily over the years and they recently added wall panels to their lineup. This is a hotly contested category, largely dominated by Nanoleaf. Can Govee Glide Hexa light panels make inroads against an entrenched player in the smart lighting space? Let’s find out!

Setup and Installation

The box comes with 10 tiles, a power supply and connecting cables to link them together. My main point of reference was a strip of Nanoleaf canvas tiles that I had recently installed in the bedroom. This process was plagued with tight corners, uneven placement, and weak adhesive strips included in the box. The Govee Glide Hexa light panels were a breath of fresh air by comparison.

What's in the box Govee Hexa Glide Light Tile laid out on the table.
Simon Sage / Digital Trends

The Govee Glide Hexa light panels were a breath of fresh air by comparison.

First, they include a physical level and alignment stand to make sure your placement works. On the software side, there is a comprehensive layout wizard to help you determine the order in which you want to configure these tiles. A YouTube video linked right in the app covers all the basics and saved me from putting the connecting cables the wrong way around. The connectors on my Nanoleaf tiles were stiff which limited their ability to be placed in corners. Meanwhile, Govee’s connectors were not only flexible, but also had enough slack to get creative if needed.

The treat with Glide Hexa light panels is with their mounting system. I ended up needing to use way too strong an adhesive with my Nanoleaf canvas tiles, and I plan on ripping off large chunks of paint every time they have to go down. The few tiles that ended up using the included adhesive have little tabs sticking out which is a continuing eyesore. Govee tiles use a separate mounting bracket. This allows for larger adhesive and hides the adhesive tab. When the time comes, I can simply remove the tile from the backing and then remove the adhesive.

Overall, the installation process for the Govee Glide Hexa Light Panels was excellent.

Govee’s connectors were not only flexible, but also had enough slack to get creative if needed.

Software and performance

Glide Hexa light panels offer a full range of colors at an impressive level of brightness. The RGBIC LED layout allows for precise individual color control along each edge, so you don’t just get a single solid color in each panel. The brightness floor is still a little high for my liking, and transitions tend to be a little more jagged when the brightness is lowest. A physical on/off switch is built into the cable which is really useful. You don’t always want to dig into the app.

Screenshot of the Govee app to change the color of a light tile.
Simon Sage / Digital Trends

Govee’s app is robust and offers the features you’d expect and more. “So some” defines the app in many ways, to the point of being bloated. Govee pushes users to sign up for their “Savvy User” program, which gamifies engagement through a comprehensive in-app social channel. You earn points by commenting on threads and posting to their in-app Instagram mimicking version. These points can be spent on rewards. The app’s home screen is cluttered with a rotation of banners promoting community events. Combined with a full built-in storefront, the experience becomes overwhelming for simple tasks. Patrick Hearn of Digital Trends had similar reservations with Govee’s app.

Not everything is bad, of course. Setting timers is easy. Animation styles are varied and customizable. Widgets are available on both iOS and Android, although it’s hard to get them to do much more than toggle on and off. A range of automation options are available which allow the various Govee lights to communicate with each other.

How often do you want your kitchen to inspire the vibe of Shrimp Meat?

A color wheel allows you to choose complementary hues in several different ways. As convenient as this is, the selection process goes too far in the effects lab. Here, the color sets are organized based on preloaded static images. For example, there is an Ingredients tab that includes an image of shrimp meat and a set of three colors to match the image, which can then be activated on the Glide Hexa light panels. How often do you want your kitchen to inspire the vibe of Shrimp Meat? This sort of thing goes on for two dozen tabs, with over 10 images in each. The color wheel is perfectly suited to handle the task of selecting light colors, and the app allows you to upload your own photos to find the dominant schemes. Anything beyond that is overkill.

An in-line microphone allows for real-time syncing with music that sounds great. The app also lets you use your phone’s microphone, but it’s not as efficient. I’ve had privacy reservations with internet-connected microphones that came with my lights in the past, and those reservations also apply here. Most people only occasionally use real-time audio synchronization. Between those episodes, they’ll have to decide if it’s worth having something to listen to them around the house, assuming they don’t already have a smart speaker.

The biggest functional gap in my book is the lack of HomeKit support. Apple iOS users deserve to have unified home lighting control across multiple brands, just like Google Home and Alexa users get with the Glide Hexa Light Panels. I would also have liked to see a desktop PC sync app like Hue and Nanoleaf offer. Having the Hue bulbs in my entire living room turn on with any game or movie playing has changed my life. Unfortunately, Govee only enables this feature when having a camera sold separately mounted on top of your screen that constantly scans what’s on the screen. This is a cumbersome solution that I wouldn’t bother trying.

Our point of view

Govee Glide Hexa Light Panels are beautiful, easy to install, and offer a host of customizable animations. Although the app covers all the bases, it still tries too hard to engage users in its built-in social network. Apple HomeKit support is a major omission.

Are there alternatives?

Nanoleaf has the merit of having popularized this type of wall light tiles. Their application is much better designed and their link to the Matter home network protocol makes them rather scalable. That said, I had a much easier time installing the Govee panels than my Nanoleaf Canvas tiles. You also save a few dollars with Govee. The Nanoleaf Hexagon Smarter Kit gives you multiple tiles instead of 10, but it also costs $200.

The process of setting up Govee Hexa Glide light panels.
Simon Sage / Digital Trends

How long will it last?

Govee Glide Hexa light panels come with a one-year limited warranty. The adhesive is likely to be the first thing to fail, but replacements are easy, especially given the clever mounting system these tiles use. The relatively low voltage and minimal physical interaction bodes well for these lights that physically last for the long haul. I would be more concerned about the app’s continued support. Will Govee want to keep five-year-old products supported in its app while continuing to research the latest mobile operating systems? I’ve been relegated to featureless apps for older Sonos and Hue products before, and would expect the same treatment here. Hardwired light control will at least allow you to turn the tiles off and on again if software support ever goes away.

Should I buy it?

It’s worth waiting a little longer before diving into the Glide Hexa light panels. There’s a new version on the way that makes the tiles look like cubes. Looks like it could be a really fun effect. If you’re heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, Glide Hexa light panels (and really anything from Govee) can be a non-starter without HomeKit support. For everyone else, these lights are a great addition to the home, especially if you’re into blasting music and looking for visual accompaniment.

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