May 15, 2023

Yeelight Cube: Modular, Customizable RGB Table Lamps

Matter-compatible, these modular cube smart lights are available in three designs to add a little flair to your desktop.

The Yeelight Cube is a modular smart lighting solution that adds flair and fun lighting effects to any room or desk setup. With three customizable lights to choose from, you can create some incredible configurations and designs (if you have the budget for it). Although it has some software and hardware limitations, this is one of the coolest smart light/lamp solutions of 2023.

Looking for a fun and funky way to spice up your desk setup? The Yeelight Cube is one of the most unique smart lighting solutions of 2023. It's a modular lighting system that allows you to create unique lighting effects either by selecting from one of its many presets or by drawing and animating your own custom design within its app.

We've seen similar approaches to decorative lighting products, including the Govee Glide Hexa panels and the NanoLeaf Lines. However, what sets the Yeelight Cube apart is that it's far easier to switch up its design whenever you want. While other modular lights typically require you to commit to installing them on your walls, the Yeelight Cube can be easily moved around and rearranged in any configuration of up to six cubes long.

Despite this flexibility, your designs will still largely be limited by how the cubes connect together. At the time of this review, Yeelight has completed its Indiegogo campaign and has begun shipping out orders.

With its modular design, the Yeelight Cube Smart Lamp is available in three different modules: Spotlight, Panel, and Matrix. Aside from their appearance on the front, all three cubes measure 50mm x 50mm and can be arranged in any order up to six cubes long per Cube base.

Even without instructions, YeeLight has made setting up the cubes very plug-and-play. To get started, you'll first need to link each base to your Yeelight account by scanning the QR code located on the bottom of the base. This will allow you to control the cubes through the Yeelight app and access all of their features. Once you have linked your bases, you can add the cubes.

To set up your Cubes, you'll need to start by connecting the first cube to the magnetic connection on the top of the base. Each cube features a circular magnetic connection on its top and bottom to link to the next cube. This was a brilliant design choice as it allows you to rotate each cube independently. We found that the hot-swappable nature of the lights encourages you to mix and match and play around with different configurations.

The base itself has a power port on the back for its power supply. It's unclear whether it's a software limitation or a power supply constraint, but you can only connect six cubes at most.

If you want to use more than six cubes, or if you want to create a more complex design with cubes stacked in different directions, you will need to purchase additional bases for those separate configurations.

The base is designed with a single button on the front, which offers a simple way to cycle through the programmed lighting presets. By pressing the button once, you can switch between different presets that can be customized using the app, including using your own designs. You can also turn off the lights by long pressing the button.

Depending on what you want to display, you can combine the three cube types in any order to create different layouts.

The Matrix cube is composed of 25 dots arranged in a grid formation. Each dot has the ability to produce a different color, enabling precise control over lighting and the creation of clear graphics and images. Unlike the Panel, the Matrix cube has no diffuser, resulting in sharp and distinct visuals for more detailed designs and patterns.

The Panel cube features a large color panel with a diffuser, giving it a uniform and blended appearance. Despite its surface looking like a single color, it contains 25 individual LEDs, just like the Matrix, but has a diffuser over them. This allows the Panel to display multiple colors simultaneously, offering dynamic and vibrant lighting effects. The diffuser ensures a smooth and cohesive look while still providing the versatility of multiple color displays.

The Spot cube differs from the Panel and Matrix because it is designed to emit a single color at a time. It can be adjusted 350 degrees horizontally and 90 degrees vertically, allowing you to focus the light wherever you want. The Spot cube's primary purpose is to act as a focused light source, capable of shedding color onto walls or ceilings. Additionally, it can be adjusted and angled to a certain degree, providing flexibility in directing the light where desired.

I found the spotlight to require the most thought with their implementation as they can only display a single solid color at once, and often don't complement the other lighting effects as well compared to the other two cubes.

Connecting the Yeelight Cube to your home network is easy. One of the more advanced features of the Yeelight Cube is its integration with Matter. This is a new smart home protocol that allows devices from different manufacturers to work together seamlessly. With Matter integration, the Yeelight Cube can be controlled using any of the major smart home platforms, including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit.

However, you may face some frustration with the Yeelight Cube if you want to control it remotely via the Yeelight app. In order to do so, your phone needs to be connected to the same WiFi network as the Cube. This could be an issue for users who need to access different networks, as switching back and forth can be cumbersome, especially when you're trying to control your lighting effects while also using other devices on different networks. For example, I faced this issue when trying to control my Yeelight Cube while also using my DJI Raven Eye wireless transmitter to film videos. If I want to make changes to my lighting effects while filming, I'd have to pause what I was doing, reconnect to my home Wi-Fi first, and then return to the Raven Eye.

Within its Yeelight Station app, you can view all of your created lighting groups and quickly choose from several lighting presets or manually adjust the brightness and color.

By opening up a specific lighting group, you can edit the order of the cubes so that effects are correctly displayed. It doesn't appear that the cubes are automatically recognized just by connecting them. The downside is that you need to continually update this order manually anytime you make changes to your cube configuration.

Within the Pixel Graffiti tab of the app, you can easily draw your own custom designs for each cube.

If you need a little inspiration or want to select from basic shapes, letters, numbers, or characters, you can choose from a huge selection to add to your cubes. After this, you can select the speed, direction, and type of effect to be applied to your set of cubes. At this time, these settings can only be applied to an entire group at once, meaning you are unable to have each cube do its own thing, which we feel is a missed opportunity.

That said, we appreciate how Yeelight allows specific lighting presents, including ones that you create, to be saved directly to the lights so that you can toggle between them without needing the app.

Currently limited to its Windows app, users will find settings for additional integrations, including sync with music playing and matching the colors on your monitor, creating an even more immersive lighting experience.

The Yeelight Cube is not just a fantastic decorative lighting product, but also a practical one with a range of useful features. For example, you can program the cubes to display short words or sentences, or even the time and date. However, the level of customization is rather basic (more on that in a bit).

The Cube's spotlight feature is particularly useful for lighting up smaller objects and creating contrast against the background. This makes it a great tool for product photography or videography, adding a professional and polished look to your visuals.

I had a blast using the Yeelight Cube to light up my collection of DC action figures. It was amazing to see how a seemingly dull shot can be transformed into something captivating and engaging with just a few tweaks to the Cube's lighting effects. With its versatile and customizable features, the Cube allowed me to experiment and create various lighting effects that made my action figures stand out and make the shot look even more dynamic. Its modular design, easy setup, and range of effects make it a fun and practical lighting accessory that can help you bring your creative ideas to life.

While the Yeelight cubes offer a lot of flexibility and customization options, there are a few limitations worth mentioning. Firstly, the cubes cannot be used individually unless they have their own dedicated base. Each cube needs to be connected to a base in order to function properly and be powered.

A bigger limitation I found was the fact that the cubes can only be magnetically attached on their top or bottom sides, which limits how you can configure them. Ideally, it would be great if the cubes could be attached magnetically on any of their sides, which would allow for even more creative freedom and customizability using a single base.

As it stands, the Cube's limited attachment options prevent you from creating more unique shapes using just a single base. Instead, if you want to do more than your basic vertical or horizontal configuration, you'll need to buy multiple bases, which can add up fast. Similarly, a maximum six cubes can be connected to a single base. More intricate and complex designs may require additional cubes. It would be great if Yeelight could increase the maximum number of cubes that can be connected to a single base, which would open up even more possibilities for customization and creativity.

For example, longer words or sentences may require more than six cubes, while certain smart home features or more complex designs would also benefit from additional cubes. By increasing the number of cubes connected to a single base, Yeelight could make the Cube even more versatile and adaptable to a wider range of applications. Despite these limitations, I still found the Yeelight Cube to be a fun and enjoyable addition to my desk setup, though I wouldn't be surprised if a future updated model offered even more customizability.

Additionally, it's important to note that the cubes do not have a built-in battery. This means they rely on being connected to a power source at all times, limiting their portability. While you can move the cubes around within the range of their power cords, they are not as portable as some other lighting options that have built-in batteries.

Interestingly, even the clock mode has its limitations. To display the time, you need to use the dot matrix cubes; a minimum of four connected cubes are required to form the complete time. Unfortunately, the clock mode is incompatible with the diffused cubes, which may feel like a missed opportunity to explore creative lighting effects. Even more annoyingly, if you have more than four cubes connected and choose the clock mode, the last two cubes will not display anything. The same is true when you toggle Date and Time. Instead of displaying both at the same time, the cubes alternate between the date and time, and the last two cubes remain blank. It would have been interesting to see alternative lighting effects or the possibility of using diffuser cubes to show additional information like temperature. Beyond this, I'm optimistic that future software updates could unlock even more customization and integrations such as subscriber count, stock tickers, and more.

With its modular design and innovative features, this smart lighting solution offers three distinct cube types, allowing for a remarkable level of creativity and personalization. Whether you're creating captivating lighting effects, adding flair to your videos, or showcasing your prized possessions, the Cube delivers on its promise of enhancing your visual experience.

While the Cube showcases impressive features, there are some design and software limitations, such as the need for additional bases for expanded configurations, its dependency on a power source, and some of its other quirks with what can be displayed.

Despite this, the ease of setup, intuitive controls, and compatibility with digital assistants make the Cube a fun and surprisingly useful addition to your smart home ecosystem. And while there really isn't anything else like it on the market, the Cube is sure to inspire an interesting future of smart home lighting solutions in the future.

Paul is a seasoned tech writer with a focus on reviewing camera, audio recording, and smart home products. Since 2016, he has shared his love for practical yet innovative tech through his work, drawing on his experience as a professional videographer to provide a unique perspective on the latest gadgets.

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