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Govee Glide Hexa Light Panel review: Great lighting, cluttered app

Govee Hexa Glide Light Panels installed on wall behind desk.
Govee Glide Hexa Light Panel
MSRP $200.00
“An excellent physical setup process complements beautiful light choices and a well-featured app.”
  • Great physical setup process
  • Easy to remove tiles
  • Responsive music sync
  • Wide range of animation controls
  • More affordable than comparable panels
  • Subpar performance at lower brightness
  • Cluttered app
  • No HomeKit support

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

Setup and installation

The box comes with 10 tiles, a power supply, and linking cables to tie them all together. My primary point of reference was a strip of Nanoleaf Canvas tiles I had recently installed in the bedroom. That process was plagued by 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.

Govee Hexa Glide Light Tile box contents laid out on table.
Simon Sage / Digital Trends

The Govee Glide Hexa Light Panels were a breath of fresh air by comparison.

First off, they include a physical level and alignment bracket to make sure your placement works. On the software side, there’s a full-blown layout wizard to help you figure out the order you want to set up these tiles. A YouTube video linked directly in the app covers all the bases and prevented me from putting the connecting cables in the wrong way. The connectors for my Nanoleaf tiles were rigid, which limited their ability to be placed around corners. Meanwhile, Govee’s connectors were not only flexible but also had enough slack to get creative if needed.

The treat with the Glide Hexa Light Panels is with their mounting system. I ended up needing to use an adhesive that was way too strong with my Nanoleaf Canvas tiles, and I anticipate ripping off pretty big chunks of paint whenever they’ll need to come down. The few tiles that ended up using the included adhesive have little pull tabs sticking out which are a continual eyesore. The Govee tiles use a separate mounting bracket. This allows for a larger adhesive to be used and for the adhesive tab to be hidden. When the time comes, I can just take the tile off the bracket, then pull the adhesive off.

All in all, the installation process for the Govee Glide Hexa Light Panels was great.

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

Software and performance

The Glide Hexa Light Panels provide a full range of color at an impressive level of brightness. The RGBIC LED layout allows for fine individual control of colors along every edge, so you’re not just getting a single solid color in each panel. The brightness floor is still a little high for my liking, and transitions tend to get a little more jagged when on the lowest brightness setting. A physical on/off switch is built into the cable, which is definitely helpful. You don’t always want to go digging around the app.

Screenshot of Govee app for changing color of a light tile.
Simon Sage / Digital Trends

Govee’s app is robust and offers the features you’d come to expect and then some. “Then some” defines the app in a lot of ways, to the point of bloatedness. Govee pushes users to sign up for their “Savvy User” program, which gamifies engagement through an entire social channel built into the app. You earn points for commenting on discussion threads and posting on their knock-off version of Instagram baked into the app. Those points can be spent on rewards. The app’s home screen is polluted with a rotation of banners promoting community events. Combined with a full in-app storefront, the experience becomes overwhelming for simple tasks. Digital Trends’ own Patrick Hearn had similar reservations with Govee’s app.

It’s not all bad, of course. Setting timers is easy. Animation styles are varied and customizable. Widgets are available on both iOS and Android, though it’s tricky getting them to do much more than a toggle off and on. A range of automation options is available that let different Govee lights communicate with one another.

How often do you wish your kitchen inspired the mood of Shrimp Meat?

A color wheel helps pick hues that are complementary in a handful of different ways. As handy as that is, the selection process goes overboard in the Effects Lab. Here color sets are organized based on preloaded static images. For example, there’s an Ingredients tab that includes an image of Shrimp Meat, and a set of three colors that matches the image, which can then be activated on the Glide Hexa Light Panels. How often do you wish your kitchen inspired the mood of Shrimp Meat? This sort of thing goes on for two dozen tabs, with over 10 images in each. The color wheel is perfectly adequate to handle the task of picking light colors, and the app lets you load your own photos in to scan for dominant schemes. Everything beyond that is overkill.

An in-line microphone allows for real-time syncing with music that looks great. The app lets you use your phone’s microphone too, but it’s not quite as effective. I’ve had privacy reservations with internet-connected microphones bundled with my lights in the past, and those reservations stand here too. Most folks are only occasionally going to use the real-time audio sync. In between those episodes, they’ll have to decide if it’s worth having something listening to them around the house, assuming they don’t have a smart speaker already.

The biggest functional gap in my book is the lack of HomeKit support. Apple’s iOS users deserve to have unified home lighting control across multiple brands just like Google Home and Alexa users enjoy with the Glide Hexa Light Panels. I also would have liked to see an app for desktop PC sync like Hue and Nanoleaf offer. Having my whole living room’s Hue bulbs light up with whatever game or movie is on has been life-changing. Unfortunately, Govee only enables that function by having a separately-sold camera mounted on top of your display which constantly scans what’s on screen. It’s a cumbersome solution that I wouldn’t bother to try.

Our take

The Govee Glide Hexa Light Panels are beautiful, easy to install, and offer a wealth of customizable animations. While the app covers all the bases, it still tries way too hard to get users invested with its baked-in social network. Apple HomeKit support is a major omission.

Are there any alternatives?

Nanoleaf gets the credit for popularizing these kinds of wall-mounted light tiles. Their app is much better-designed, and their tie-in with the Matter home networking protocol makes them rather future-proof. That said, I had a much easier time installing the Govee panels than my Nanoleaf Canvas tiles. You save a few bucks with Govee, too. The Nanoleaf Hexagon Smarter Kit gives you severn tiles rather than 10, but it is also $200.

The setup process of the Govee Hexa Glide Light Panels.
Simon Sage / Digital Trends

How long will it last?

The Govee Glide Hexa Light Panels come with a one-year limited warranty. The adhesive is likely to be the first thing to deteriorate, but replacements are easy, especially considering the smart mounting system these tiles use. The relatively low voltage and minimal physical interaction bode well for these lights physically lasting the long haul. I would be most concerned about continued app support. Will Govee want to keep five-year-old products supported in their app while continuing to pursue the latest mobile operating systems? I’ve been relegated to feature-deprived apps for older Sonos and Hue products before, and I would expect the same treatment here. The hardwired light control will at least let you turn the tiles off and on should software support disappear someday.

Should you buy it?

It’s worth waiting just a little while longer before taking the plunge on the Glide Hexa Light Panels. There’s a new version on the way that makes the tiles look like cubes. It looks like it could be a really fun effect. If you’re heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, the Glide Hexa Light Panels (and really anything by Govee) may be a non-starter without HomeKit support. For everyone else, these lights are a great addition to the home, especially if you’re prone to blasting out tunes and are looking for some visual accompaniment.

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