Pixelate Your Place With Squares From Twinkly

Crosspost Gadgets Products Reviews

Looking for some customizable, decorative lighting for your home or office? Then maybe Squares will be for you. Read on to find out!

The Squares starter kit. Image by Paul Benson.

What Are Squares?

Squares are smart LED wall panels from Twinkly that can be mounted in multiple configurations. Each panel has 64 app-controlled LEDs that can produce over 16 million colors.

A starter kit of Squares consists of a master panel and 5 extension panels, and retails for $249.99. Each master panel can control up to 15 extension panels, which are also available separately. You can purchase Squares from the Twinkly store on Amazon

Everything that comes inside of the starter kit. Image by Paul Benson.

Setting Up Squares

Getting started with Squares is a pretty simple process. You start with the master panel, and then run cables from there to extension panels. You can also run cords between extension panels to keep the circuit running.

Wiring up Squares. The master panel is top center. Image by Paul Benson.

After the panels are wired together, you connect them with the included plastic clips, to make the configuration stable.

Clips applied to link the panels. Image by Paul Benson.

While I went with a rectangle for this review, you aren’t limited to that geometric shape. There are many other configurations you can go for, depending on how many panels you have.

Recommended configurations for the starter set. Image by Twinkly.

The only caveat is that the panels must be adjacent to each other to use the Pixel Art feature.

Once the panels are all connected, you can plug in the master panel. As you can see in the picture below, only that panel is lit. That’s because the lights haven’t been mapped yet. You’ll use the Twinkly app for that remaining part of the setup.

The master panel is powered up. Image by Paul Benson.

The Twinkly App

The Twinkly App, available on the App Store and Google Play, is the backbone of not just Squares but the majority of lighting from Twinkly. You’ll use the app to not only configure your lights, but also control them via your WiFi network.

The app uses your phone’s camera to map out the lights. So you can knock yourself out with how you want to physically place the panels; the app will track where all the lights are physically. 

Configuring Squares in the app. Image by Paul Benson.

Once your Squares is configured, you can start using the app to map effects. I should point out though that the app will also take into account the orientation of your Squares, based on how you’re holding your phone. I had to re-map my lights, because my configuration came out in portrait orientation, and I wanted it in landscape.

An effect running in my original mapping of the lights. Image by Paul Benson.

There are many pre-loaded lighting effects on the app. Not all will be available to you to use, though, as some will need a larger number of panels for the images to appear correctly. You can also access a greater, and constantly growing, library of lighting effects online via the app. These are free to download for Squares owners.

Using the Twinkly app. Image by Paul Benson.

Here’s a look at some Squares effects in motion:

You can also use the app to create playlists of different effects, choosing how long you want each effect to run before the next. Here’s an example of a short playlist I threw together:

If you want something a little more personal, you can use the FX Wizard in the app to create custom effects.

The FX editor menu. Image by Paul Benson.

One thing you can do is convert animated GIFs into pixel art. I downloaded a GIF of Pac-Man into the app:

Putting an animated GIF into the app library. Image by Paul Benson.

And then applied that animated image to my Squares:

Pac-Man on Squares. Image by Paul Benson.

You can also use the FX editor to make your own, unique designs. Here’s one that I drew right on the app:

Making my own design in the app. Image by Paul Benson.

And here’s the same thing, running on Squares:

Squares: The Verdict

I’ve very much enjoyed playing around with Squares. There’s a wide range of different effects already available in the app and the online library. You have everything from patterns, to holiday designs, to reproductions of artwork. And it’s with the latter that you have, in my opinion, both the greatest strength and greatest weakness of Squares.

Here is a recreation of Marilyn Monroe’s portrait, recreated in Squares:

Pixelated Marilyn. Image by Twinkly.

While the image is pixelated, as you would expect from Squares, it’s clearly identifiable as Marilyn. I tried displaying some of the artwork on the 6 panels that came in the starter set, and it was completely unrecognizable. If you count the number of panels used to reproduce the above image, you find 16. That Starry Night image you see at the top of the page? That’s 32 panels.

Most of the better effects and images require a lot more sets of Squares than you get with just the starter. And that can add up cost-wise pretty fast, with extension sets, each containing 3 extension panels, retailing for $99.99. To recreate that Starry Night image you see at the top of the page, which uses 32 panels, would require the equivalent of 2 starter sets and 7 extension sets. Meaning you’re sitting at around $1200 to achieve the same effect.

Which really is a shame. I like Squares a lot, and truly wish that Twinkly had sent a lot more sets so I could put some of that artwork up on my wall. The ease of using the Twinkly app to control and configure Squares is phenomenal, and I could see wasting many an hour designing effects in the FX wizard, especially if I had more pixels to play with.

If you enjoy animated pixel art, then there’s a lot to like about Squares. The colors are bright and varied, and the product just has a great sense of fun. There’s even quite a bit you can do just with the starter set, but if you’re like me, you may become frustrated at the limitation of just 6 panels and soon want to expand. And if the price of that expansion fits in your budget, then you’ll be very happy with Squares from Twinkly.

For more information on Squares, head to the Twinkly website.

Twinkly sent me a set of Squares for evaluation, but had no input into this review. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small commission on qualified purchases.

Liked it? Take a second to support GeekDad and GeekMom on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!