I actually don’t know exactly how I ended up with Moonside One. I was under the impression that I’m getting Moonside Neon Hex – which I could use to “spell out” the chemical structure of caffeine on my wall, as it’s a substance I can’t live without. It turns out that Neon Hex is still in pre-order and I got the Moonside One lamp instead. Moonside’s website claims they redesign smart lights.
And they are NOT wrong.
It’s easy to underestimate a lamp like this. Static pictures don’t exactly flesh out the potential of Moonside One and after covering “a similar” mood lamp from Novostella I was too eager to push the review to the back of the queue. Thankfully, the night was dark and full of terror, and I needed some light to set me into a writing mood. I plugged the light in… and nothing exciting happened. Not until I started to play with the app.
After all, Moonside One is pretty featureless. Covered by a diffused dome comes with a single control button underneath the lamp. That’s about it when it comes to interactivity. Thankfully, Moonside One comes with USB-C which stops me from moaning straight away (even if it doesn’t support USB-C PD).
The looks can be deceiving when it comes to lights, so let’s not understate the lamp any further.
Moonside app has rather unimpressive reviews. I can understand why, as I had one or two app force closes, but the app is far from being broken. Perhaps some of the issues are fixed already. There are things, however, that this app does right.
Instead of fishing for all details, the app gives you full control over Moonside One via Bluetooth. I don’t have to share my email, my foot size or my sexual orientation. Simply open the app, and you are set to go (after pairing obviously, which is done over BT).
Until you decide to connect the app to your WiFi and enable cloud control, you don’t have to create an account or submit any details. It’s a nice change of pace in a world where everyone is making money off your personal details. Once created, I can link the light to 2.4GHz WiFi and link it to smart services. Here comes my only disappointment. Alexa skill has no access to colour features. I can only set brightness and toggle the light on and off.
Custom matrix pattern
Apart from the usual light controls and pre-sets, the light comes with a grid of 10 by 12. You can paint individual pixels in this grid to set 360-degree light effects. This option instantly revealed what I’m dealing with. Moonside One has a LED matrix inside and uses it to illuminate the area. As the light from individual pixels is heavily diffused, don’t expect crisp projections, but it’s fun to try anyway.
The first row is reserved for 12 LEDs in the upper section of the lamp, while columns correspond with vertical strips spaced evenly around the core of the lamp. This is what’s responsible for all these cool animations and effects.
Moonside One can offer complex light patterns and effects thanks to individually addressable LEDs inside. At first, I thought they used a LED matrix placed on a flexible PCB wrapped around the lamp’s core. I was wrong. The solution is simpler.
It turns out that the lamp doesn’t use flexible PCB, but much cheaper, traditional PCB strips cleverly arranged inside to create a light core. Inside the core, dreams ESP32 dev board responsible for WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.
There is a small microphone attached to this board, to enable sound-generated light shows. I call them shows, as they are simply stunning. The list of presets is long and exciting. This clever design enables Moonside One to display 360-degree animations and light effects. It’s a simple design, but very effective. In total I have counted 12 (top) + 6 x 18 (sides) = 120 individually addressable WS2812 LEDs.
Now that you and I know what we are dealing with, let’s talk about stunning light effects available to select and download in the app. These range from dynamic themes like fire, pulses and twirls of light to more static arrangements setting the mood around the room.
Considering the fun one can have with the LED matrix, what’s really missing is the editor in which you could map out your own effects and share them with other users. Moonside definitely considered this idea, as there are in-app forms to submit your ideas, but personally, I’d love to see support for user-created content.
I have two excellent lights I can use in my product shots. The DIY LED panel I assembled together gives a more futuristic vibe, while Moonside One brings this calmer softer aesthetics I can take advantage of. It’s not a perfect smart light, but it’s a darn good light source! It has my recommendation despite some flaws. At $69.99 it’s not the cheapest light you could have at home, but considering the cost and the time spent on my DIY matrix, it could be money well spent. Let me know what you think about it in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈💵 – See the transparency note for details.