Since many people are now working, studying or simply spending time at home in front of the screen, we need to make sure to think about ergonomics, making the place we spend the most of our time as comfortable as possible. The first thing that comes to mind is desk and chair ergonomics. I find most people overlook the importance of lighting, especially when using your device deep into the night. Sitting in the dark, staring at a bright screen can make you blink less thus leaving your eyes dry and irritated. To counteract this, we will be checking out this ScreenBar Plus from Benq. It is a monitor mounted LED light that claims to ensure proper eye care while also saving the precious space on your desk.
I think it’s safe to say that most of us have questionable light conditions at our workspace, be it at home or in the office. So what’s special about this ScreenBar and does it magically fix all your issues?
BenQ currently has three versions of this light in their ScreenBar series. There is the Lite version which is designed for laptops, then a standard and plus version.
The one we have here is the Plus model. It comes in a very nicely designed box. Inside we find some paperwork including a quick start guide and the main LED light bar. Then there is this weighted mount into which the light bar just clicks in. The assembly is incredibly easy and it takes just a couple of seconds before the ScreenBar is all set for placing on the monitor. It comes with a medium sized control dial with the cables to operate the light. One is USB type C cable that goes into the lightbar itself and the other is type A cable that goes to any available powered USB port. This can be a port on the back of the monitor, PC or even a phone charger brick, just make sure it supports at least 1 Amp at 5 volts..
The unit itself is made out of aluminium alloy and engineering polymer, also known as plastic. Don’t get me wrong though - it feels and looks really premium and has a price to match.
It’s really easy to adjust the bar so that the light shines exactly where you want it. There are no gradual steps, therefore the adjustments can be fine tuned to the millimeter as long as you stay within the available range. The cool part about it is that no matter what angle the light is set to, there is no glare on the screen.
Talking about adjustments, this unit supports displays between 1 and 3 centimeters thick so it covers most standard displays. I would avoid using it on a laptop though as this model is not really designed for that (check Screenbar Lite instead). Another thing to consider - if you currently have two monitors side by side, which monitor do you place it on?
Or making things more complicated - if you have a second monitor mounted above the first, this light will be obstructing the view of the top one. If you have this setup - consider this before buying.
In our testing we placed it on top of a pretty large BenQ EW3280U monitor and it lights up the desk evenly while saving desk space and looking rather slick. By the way - we have already reviewed this monitor, it is great for consuming content like Netflix and Youtube or even gaming, so if you are interested in it - we have a link with our full review in the description below.
The feature that differentiates the ScreenBar Plus from a regular ScreenBar is the control dial.
The standard ScreenBar has all the adjustments on the unit itself so you need to reach over in order to change the brightness or set a different colour temperature. This Plus version comes with a separate dial that can be placed on top of your desk, making it easy to reach over and tweak the settings. When you’re choosing which light to get, think about your setup and choose accordingly.
Jumping back in - the controls could not be any easier, there’s literally just 3 buttons - the main dial for power and adjustments, then you have the brightness and hue switch (you can toggle between brightness and colour temperature, a light on the side indicates which setting you’re currently on).
And last but not least, there is the auto dimmer where you can set the perfect brightness in a second with just one click.
For this to work in the most accurate way, the dial should be somewhere in the vicinity of the light, meaning it shouldn’t be behind the monitor or somewhere on the far end of the desk. It has a small light sensor built in to measure the light condition, ideally it should be right under the ScreenBar.
It is not all positive though, there are a few points where BenQ can improve for the future iteration of this product.
First would be to make the USB type A cable longer to have a bit more flexibility in terms of getting it all connected. Not everyone is using monitors with USB ports and also with sit/stand desks becoming more common, this requires a longer cable to reach for the PC or even plug socket.
Second, they need to make it smart. Since it already has the light sensor, BenQ could utilise that and have it turn on and off automatically when needed. There are days when I get carried away with work and forget to switch on any light for good 2 or 3 hours into the evening. This feature would make it stand out above any regular lights. And as most people will connect it to the PC via USB, that could be a way to provide users with the ability to also configure timers and delays from within the desktop.
To summarize: it’s relatively expensive for a desk lamp but it’s also not JUST a desk lamp. The whole point of this ScreenBar is to light up the whole area evenly and it does it very well. With other lighting designs it is always inevitable to have some hotspots in one place and not enough light on the other side. So providing you have the budget, this is certainly a great addition to any desk set-up.
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