Looking to take your Christmas tree lights to the next level this holiday season? While there are already plenty of LED light strings on the market, the ones I’ve seen in stores generally offer very basic color selections. Twinkly’s LED lights are designed to give their owner the ultimate in flexibility to make their Christmas light display truly their own.
I got my hands on a set of Twinkly’s latest generation lights to see what they could do. Each Twinkly light string is strung with dozens of bright RGB LEDs, and is fully-programmable using a companion smartphone app, letting you create your own color palettes and animated chase sequences with ease.
Setting up Twinkly lights starts out the same as other Christmas lights, but you have to be a little more fastidious in the way you string them for maximum control. It’s recommended that you wrap them from bottom to top, left to right for best results, though the app is smart enough to handle sloppy stringing as well. Once you plug them in, install the app on your smartphone then connect to the Twinkly via a direct Wi-Fi connection. Then you can tell Twinkly which home network you want them to join. I could only get the Twinkly to see 2GHz networks, but the amount of data being transferred to them doesn’t really demand a higher speed connection anyhow.
After the Twinkly string is connected to your Wi-Fi network, you go through a slick visual calibration process, which uses your phone’s camera and AI smarts to help the identify EXACTLY where each LED is placed on your tree. This gives you precision control over each and every light.
Out of the box, the Twinkly app comes preloaded with a variety of light patterns, including twinkling, chase sequences, firework-style bursts, and color fades. To load a pattern, simply tap on it and swipe left or right to preview it on the tree. But the real beauty is how you can go into any of the existing patterns and make it your own.
Create custom color schemes, change brightness, or speed to tweak the look of an existing animation, or go into the custom animation mode to draw your own light sequence. And when I say draw, I really mean it. Basically, you finger paint onto a map of your tree the exact pattern you want the lights to appear in. Choose a color, then paint. Assuming you followed the calibration step above, the lights will follow your finger like magic.
Once you design and preview a pattern you like, you need to save it to the Twinkly itself so the pattern can continue without your smartphone connected. You can also program the lights to automatically turn on and off at specific times, though the scheduler is very rudimentary, with only one on and one off time, and no ability to set daily schedules. You can also create groups of multiple strings in the app if you want to control multiple trees or a single tree with multiple strings.
The overall whiz-bang appeal and brilliant colors of the latest Twinkly light string are great, though the tester package I tested with only came with 105 lights, which was only enough to light up a 4 foot tabletop tree. To cover taller trees, they’re available in either 175 or 225 LED lengths, priced at $129.95 and $159.95, respectively, so the cost of having the highest-tech Christmas lights on the block can add up quickly. But if you’re a true Christmas junkie and a true gadget junkie, you’ll want a set or two on your tree this holiday season.