I get to review some pretty fun gadgets, and I recently had a chance to try one out that can make your home more beautiful and connected. Meural is a smart connected HD art display that can show a wide variety of paintings and photographs, either from world masters, or your own snaps.
Meural is a large framed art installation with a 1080p HD screen; it looks just like a painting or portrait. Meural can be placed horizontally or vertically so it can fit any space. Meural plugs in and connects to Wi-Fi to connect to the Meural database so you can get access to art. There is a subscription fee to access the art. I had a chance to review on in my home for several weeks.
How do I install Meural?
Setting up Meural was pretty easy, but not without its glitches.
You can easily hang it on your wall with the included cleat and screws, and initially I elected to lean it against the wall, gallery style.
There’s also a really neat swivel bracket the company makes that allows you to hang Meural securely, and swivel it to either portrait or landscape easily, just by twisting it.
That bracket installs easily enough (watch the video above to see how); you’ll use included drywall anchors to affix the bracket to the wall, and a second piece screws securely into the back of the Meural canvas. Then you can just hang it on the wall and it allows the canvas to swivel securely so you can enjoy both portrait and landscape art work.
Setting up Meural on Wi-Fi & app
Set up seemed easy but didn’t go smoothly. You’ll need to connect the Meural to power then download the Meural app.The canvas will walk you through some of the instructions while the app handles the rest.
You’re supposed to be able to connect the canvas to your phone by connecting to the Wi-Fi signal put out by the Meural. But initially I couldn’t see the Meural’s signal.
I went through the set up process numerous times and only once did I locate the Meural’s Wi-Fi network. It seemed to pair just fine, but after a few minutes I got an error message that also said to fix the Wi-Fi connection issues, I had to start the set up process over again.
I did this several more times but again could not locate the Meural Wi-Fi network.
After unplugging and plugging in the canvas again a few more times… I left it alone for 10 minutes then came back and loaded up my Wi-Fi settings on my phone again. This time, there was the Meural Wi-Fi network and it connected easily.
Finally I was connected and set up and ready to go. Once you have everything set up the Meural will walk you through a video tutorial on the canvas including how to operate it. You have control over the device using gestures or you can use it by navigating through the app.
Here are the steps:
- Download the Meural app from the iTunes or Google Play.
- Wave down to get to the Canvas menu, and then down to Wi-Fi, and right to select it. Select “Clear all connections”, and then “Start local network”.
- Turn on the Canvas and wave down to pull up the Canvas menu. Wave down to get to “Canvas info”, and then wave right right to select it. Within this section you will see the Canvas’ network—an artist’s name followed by three numbers.
- On your phone’s Wi-Fi, search for the name of your Canvas’ network and connect to it.
- Go back to the Meural app and enter your Wi-Fi network and password. The Canvas and app will take a few seconds to connect to each other. When you see the term ‘Connected’ on both screens, you’re all set.
It’s easiest to control Meural using the app. You can choose which art to show, which playlists to run or skip art, or set it permanently.
You can also use gestures so change things up, or to access the settings menu. Swiping left or right changes the art, while waving your hand up or down in front of the screen gives you access to the menu options.
Meural: Old world masters, photography or your own art & photos
Famous Canadian painter Emily Carr’s works are available on Meural, along with Frida Kahlo and Norman Rockwell and many others. You can choose works bases on colour, subjects, or content as well as work from specific museums like the MOMA, The Tate London, Louvre and many other top international galleries. There’s really a wide variety of nice works.
The problem with some display panels has been they look like computer screens – they can be glaringly bright and fake looking. Meural is definitely different. it has a soft light that I wouldn’t even call a glow. It looks like realistic art, not like a blaring screen.
Meural has adaptive brightness, which automatically adjusts the canvas’ brightness to match ambient light in the room.
Access full art with Meural membership
To get access to the full Meural library, you do need a membership. The subscription costs $4.95USD per month, and $39.95 for a year. If you aren’t interested in the Meural Membership, you’ll have access to a Sampler list of art only—a small collection of top works—but you will also have the ability to upload as many of your own images as you’d like.
How do I place my own photos on Meural?
If you want to place your own images on Meural, it’s easy: no thumb drives needed! Just head to the Meural app, and give the app permission to access your photos. Choose the photos you like from your phone, or create a playlist of photos. then select “Send to Canvas”. It’s easy, and makes it so personal.
One thing I enjoyed doing with this feature was sending photos to the canvas while I was at work and my husband was at home. It was a nice surprise for him to see special photos on the big screen! Wi-Fi connectivity means you can operate the Meural remotely.
How to use Alexa voice control with Meural
Conveniently, it’s possible to use Alexa voice control to operate your Meural. To get it set up, go to the Alexa app on your phone and locate the Hamburger menu then choose Smart Home> scroll down to your smart home skills Smart HomeSkills> Enable Smart Home Skills. Search for Meural then choose “enable”. Sign into your Meural account then choose Authorize Alexa.
Then go to Your Devices in the Alexa App and check that Meural is there. Mine came up as “TV” and I had to click to activate it. It’s probably a good idea to go in and rename it, as Alexa will know it by its default name.
Spelling and pronunciation: Alexa tips for Meural
Initially I found Alexa had a hard time recognizing commands regarding Meural and I wondered if it was because of the spelling: M-e-u-r-a-l. So I changed the spelling in the Alexa app to the more phonetic, ‘mural’ and from then on Alexa worked perfectly.
Things you can say to Alexa about Meural:
“Alexa turn on/off Meural”
“Alexa next on Meural”
“Alexa set Meural to 80% brightness”
Using Meural smart art display
Despite a few glitches in the set up, Meural is easy to use. The display is lovely and realistic, and there’s a nice variety of content. You can select your own playlists and specific art, set how long each image will show, or you can let Meural curate art for you, surprising you daily with new and wonderful art.
The special swivel bracket is a nice addition, particularly if you want to enjoy both horizontal and vertical images to change things up. I definitely recommend is if you’re investing in the canvas.
Overall review of Meural smart canvas
I think if you’re looking for something to add to your home’s decor and you can afford both the price of the hardware and the subscription, you’ll love this device. In the few weeks it’s been in my home, I’ve come to love it; I’m always looking to see what kind of cool art it’s going to show me next.
Meural sells for $799CAD for the 27″ black and white frame from Best Buy Canada or get more info from Meural’s website.
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