BenQ are company more well known for making monitors, but now began to create lighting products. Are they as good as their monitors?
In the box
With the Screenbar you get
- The main LED light strip
- USB cable
- The mount
The contents of the packaging are pretty limited but its everything you need to get you setup and ready to go.
Design and Build
The Screenbar takes a very different approach to its design. Usually LED desk lights are upright and have a big bulky base. The Screenbar eliminates all that as it mounts to the top of your monitor. This would be ideal if you work in a compact space where room is at a premium.
The main lighting section is made from a thin layer of Anodized Aluminium and Polycarbonate. So the build is good for this part of the light. The front section has a subtle logo and all the icons. The icons are in line with a top mounted touch sensitive section that allows you to switch modes and adjust the lights settings.
Settings wise there is a main power on/off, adaptive lighting toggle, colour temperature and brightness. These are somewhat easy to use as they are all clearly labeled and easy to see when there is ambient light, but if you are in the dark they become a little trickier to read. After a while you do get used to their placement and it becomes easier to use.
Round the back of the main section is the USB port. The final section of the light is the LED area, this is covered by a loose fitting strip of plastic, this is probably my biggest complaint about the build and design as its not in-keeping with the rest of the impressive build. I wouldn’t say that it will break anytime soon, but again its just a little oversight that could have been implemented better.
The mounting arm though is solid, again made from plastic and metal it feels robust and like it will last a long time. On the side is some tasteful branding and nice brushed pattern design. There is also no screws, tape or any other type of adhesive, it just clamps and that is it. This means it won’t damage your monitor.
As a whole the Screenbar is very nicely designed and mostly well made too. I really love that its cleared up so much space and my workspace now feels less cluttered. So if you have a space that you feel is too full of things, this could help fix that.
Initial setup and installation is very straight forward. The first step is to take the main cylindrical section and line it up with the main mount. This is easy as the mounting bracket aligns perfectly with the micro USB port. Once you’ve carefully slotted them together you can insert the included USB cable and place the mount on the monitor. The mounts arm is spring loaded and allows you to easily open it up to place on the top of your monitor. Once you’ve done that you can make some fine adjustments to make sure its in the best place for you.
Keep in mind that this will work better on a flat monitor as a curved one may impact the contact between the mount and the back of the monitor. It may still work, but I’m not sure if it will be as stable. Monitor size and depth isn’t an issue either as the mount opens fairly wide. So as long as you’re not rocking an old CRT you should be fine.
Once installation is out of the way you can then use the touch sensitive controls to adjust the lighting to your preference.
Technology and In use
Tech wise the Screenbar is pretty much up there with the best of what you can get right now. The only omission is the USB output for charging, but honestly I don’t see how that could be implemented without adding needless complexity to the design. Its also a feature that I don’t miss as I never used it on my previous light anyway.
Back to the Screenbar and the first bit of tech to cover is the ambient light sensor. Once activated via the top toggle the sensor is turned on and it gather information from the amount of the light in your environment. So if you are working and its reasonably bright, it will adjust the output accordingly. The same goes for if its dark. It also adjusts the colour temp too based on this information. So in the day it offers a cooler light and at night the light warms up to help reduce eye strain. Its really clever and works well. No if you don’t want this, you can simply use the other toggles to adjust it to your preference.
Another cool feature is the auto power on/off. I have mine plugged into a USB port on my PC and every time I turn my PC on the morning, the light comes on. Its the same again in the evening when I turn my PC off. Its just one of those features that comes in handy and is one less step to get started with work. I do wish it worked when I place my PC into sleep mode, but nevertheless its still a cool feature.
Check out the working demo here
Onto the lighting now and the Screenbar has 8 different steps in colour temp. Its starts from a very warm 2700K and goes all the way to a cool 6500K. The warm light helps you relax and the cool is meant to boost concentration. This range is fantastic, my last light had 5 steps which was decent but this gives you much more scope to tailor how you want your lighting to be.
Another trick the Screenbar has up its sleeve is the fact that it provides glare and flicker free lighting which improves usability and just makes using the light much nicer. This can also be adjusted thanks to the main lighting section allowing 10 degrees of rotation. This means you can illuminate your desk more or you display. Its a simple feature but its very effective. For example my old desk light covered a massive area and the light spilled everywhere, with the Screenbar its just focused on the area you actually need light. This would be great if you wanted to work late into the evening without disturbing your partner.
Using the light daily however has been great, with all its smart features it just makes setting up for work that bit easier. I can turn my PC on and have the perfect amount of light needed without doing anything. It only lights what I need and the fact that its USB powered means I have an extra mains socket free.
To wrap this review up, should you buy a Screenbar? Well that depends.
For £89 it is very expensive and if you just want a simple light to use occasionally, this isn’t the product for you. If like me however and you work at your PC pretty much all day then it does help. I’ve noticed that my eyes don’t hurt as much from using my monitor, I can sleep better after using my monitor late in the evening and its also cleaned up my desk space and made it less cluttered. Yes the price point is a bit high, but if you use it everyday then it would be a worthwhile investment. Believe me I was skeptical at first, but during the time I’ve spent with it, its been great and I honestly can’t fault it.
Pick one up here via Amazon UK
BenQ ScreenBar USB Powered e-Reading LED Lamp