Homedics drift colours 3There’s a feeling that you get when you’re watching patterns that seem natural. It has to do with fractals, or the golden ratio, or the turn of the tide—or something. Whatever it is, it pulls a calming blanket over your consciousness, and it feels different from watching something splashy and synthetic on a screen. The HoMedics Drift Sandscape Kinetic Sand Table is a striking centrepiece that operates with a gentle murmur and the slippery rhythm of a brook.

What’s in the box of the HoMedics Drift Sandscape Kinetic Sand Table?

The HoMedics Drift Sandscape Kinetic Sand Table includes the Drift, a six-foot power cord, a metal ball, and 240 grams of fine, off-white sand. The Drift ships partially assembled with a removable glass cover. It comes in two colours (black and cream) and two sizes (a 16″ medium format and a 21″ large format). On the body of the Drift, just above its power connection, there are two buttons that sit flush with the rest of the sides: one to control brightness and one to pause/play patterns.

All four variations of this table operate the same way. This review features the cream-coloured 16″ Drift, which fits comfortably on a small side table and is built solidly enough not to tip over when bumped.

What's in the box of the homedics drift under the lid
HoMedics Sand Table without sand and glass cover

What are the benefits of a sand table?

The Drift Sand Table is a high-tech version of a traditional zen sand garden—which is itself a miniaturized version of a Japanese dry garden, also known as a zen garden. Zen gardens, which date back to at least the Heian period in 8th century Japan, are intricately cared-for areas of meditation.

Today, zen gardens are popular in Western culture in the form of desktop accessories. Rather than being places for Buddhist meditation, these compact sand gardens are meant to deliver an aesthetically pleasing moment of mindfulness. They’re meant to pull you and your thoughts into the moment so you can enjoy creativity, focus, and a calm, relaxed mental state at home or in the office.

A manual sand table needs to be thoughtfully designed with a miniature rake. To achieve beautiful results with such a delicate task, the user needs to slowly and carefully plan and execute each movement of the rake, requiring a steady focus.

What's in the box of the Homedics Drift

How the HoMedics Drift Sandscape works

Kinetic sand tables differ from traditional sand tables by adding an autonomous component. They use a magnet and a metal ball to create each sandscape. The concept that HoMedics uses to turn each Drift sandscape into a reality actually isn’t that different from the concept behind kids’ toys and magnetic magic tricks: a hidden magnet is dragged below a surface to create a pattern.

HoMedics, of course, takes this concept up a notch (or a hundred notches). It transforms what used to be a kid’s toy into a luxury product using high-end materials and app control. The Drift isn’t the first kinetic sand table on the market, but it’s widely available as of its 2022 launch and requires no technical knowledge to set up. (The demand for kinetic sand tables has actually been so high—and so unmet—in recent years that many enthusiasts have shared their DIY tutorials online. However, with woodworking, wiring, and coding components, they’re far from one-day projects.)

Homedics drift patterns, playlistsHow to control the HoMedics Drift sand table

The HoMedics Drift Kinetic Sand Table is designed to make using a sand table easy. Unlike a manual sand table, the Drift’s sandscapes are fully controlled with an app on your smartphone. The Drift app contains patterns and playlists to play on your table, with customizations for speed, brightness, and LED colours. Using it, you can stop between patterns, shuffle between your favourites, and set up scheduling so that the Drift is on only when it can make an impact on your state of mind.

I struggled a bit to have a totally seamless experience with the Drift. Overall, it’s a stunning product, and it integrates really well with its app. Your first connection (and every connection after that) is easy to set up and stable once it’s set up. However, I found during testing that the Drift is prone to turning itself on unexpectedly.

The way I can best explain it is that the Drift just feels… too eager to help. It’s clear that HoMedics has designed it for habitual use, not occasional use. To fix this issue, I recommend either unplugging your sand table when not in use or enabling the in-app schedule so the Drift knows for sure when you do and don’t want it to operate. You can always override this schedule using the app or physical controls; it just helps provide the table with information in case it loses connection with the app.

HoMedics Drift kinetic sand table review

My experience with the HoMedics Drift Kinetic Sand Table

Setting up the HoMedics Kinetic Sandscape Table was, as I mentioned, really easy. It’s less than a five minute setup from opening the box. You just need to set your product on a flat surface, pour in the included bag(s) of sand, and rake the sand so that it’s approximately even before your first use. Make sure you only use the included sand; the Drift isn’t designed to handle other textures, and pouring something that’s too rough or too small could damage it. Once even, you place the Drift’s metal ball on the sand and replace the glass top.

While I was raking the sand for the first time, I was struck by how difficult it was to get it even. It seems like a simple task: rest the rake on the surface, then turn it. That’s it, right? Wrong. Getting an even ring was impossible—much less raking in a beautiful, geometric sandscape. It’s easy to get the sand approximately level, which is all you need to do to make sure the Drift’s patterns are forming evenly, but it’s so hard to even complete one lap around the table and make it look beautiful.

I thought when I received the Drift, that it was a bit of a shame that we were losing the art of sand raking to an app. However, with my impatient temper and unsteady hands, I saw immediately just how much sense the Drift makes. This beautifully assembled product lets you watch mesmerizing designs come to life before your eyes. Each movement is slow and soothing, and the soft, mechanical whirr of the kinetic components draws you in and settles your chest.

Homedics drift colours 2

Who would enjoy the HoMedics Drift?

The HoMedics Drift Sandscape Kinetic Sand Table is a hypnotizing way to bring more mindfulness into your everyday life. With dozens of intricate patterns to choose from and lighting that seems to pulsate and breathe, it’s easy to find yourself staring contentedly at the Drift, letting your mind wander as it sorts through your thoughts.

The Drift is perfect for anxious individuals or those experiencing stressful situations who need help quieting their minds. Even if they don’t feel they have the time to stop and watch each sandscape being made, the Drift’s soothing whirring settles the noisy corners of your mind. I was surprised to find that, when I was testing the Drift, visitors to my home would request that it be turned on. Despite saying that it seemed silly or unnecessary the first time they watched it, they were drawn in over and over again in subsequent visits. I honestly don’t even think they realized they were doing it, but the Drift encouraged them to take a few moments to just be quiet, thoughtful, and mindful.

Enjoy organic motion with the HoMedics Drift Sandscape Kinetic Sand Table

Another unexpected lover of the Drift is my cat, Fern. I had moved the Drift from a side table to the floor so that I could take a few more photos of it from above. Once it was moved, I would hear it, turn to see what design was playing, and find her sitting there, staring at it.

To me, this speaks to how organic the Drift’s operation is. Fern loves watching the rain, and families walking down the sidewalk, and the way the grass blows in the wind—and she loves watching the Drift. Digital toys and TV shows have never held her attention, but with the Drift, she can’t look away. Its peaceful, repetitive patterns feel like watching the tide come into shore: even busy professionals and lazy cats, neither of whom could express if or why they like the Drift, are drawn to it.

The Drift is a luxury purchase, but if you’re looking for an interesting centrepiece that serves both your aesthetic sensibilities and your restless mind, I think it’s more than worth a second glance. You might just find yourself unable to look away.

Shop the HoMedics Drift Sandscape Kinetic Sand Table online at Best Buy today.

Rae Chen
Rae Chen covers everything from handbags to speakers here on the Best Buy Plug-in Blog. They can also be found at thenotice.net, where they've been writing about beauty & wellness since 2007.