BenQ sent one of their “ScreenBar Plus e-reading lamp“s to see what we think of it. A bit of a strange item to review, not exactly your typical tech review gadget. To be honest I ran it past some fellow content creators and they told me not to waste my time reviewing a lamp. But, the longer I looked, the more this didn’t seem like your average lamp. And truth be told, I had actually been searching for an alternative desk lighting solution.
I responded back and agreed to take a look. I have spent the last several months with the ScreenBar, and I can no longer work without it.
The real genius of the product is the ultra-convenient location of the lamp, which sits affixed to the top of your monitor. The lamp hangs perfectly out of the way and aimed directly at your keyboard while ensuring no glare ends up on the screen. It’s powered by USB which connects to the lamp via Micro-USB as well as a control dial.
The bar is essentially a hollow tube of an aluminum alloy with a slit cut in it and some alternating cool and warm LEDs. The bar sits inside of a mount that sits on your screen in a similar way desktop webcam might.
The mount allows you to rotate the bar slightly to direct the beam of light exiting the slit in the tube. The mount will only allow you to ever point at most straight down so it is impossible to add glare to the screen. It’s honestly a really impressive little design implementation.
My personal work area is a little dark for my tastes, especially in contrast to my bright computer monitors. The contrast between the dark keyboard area and bright monitors has been bothering me for some time, I have been looking to add more lights to the room with limited space. So honestly, when BenQ reached out it happened to be perfect timing.
I keep my light at near max brightness and my color temperature on the cool side of white (~5500K) during most of the day and lower the temperature as the night goes on most often.
You control the color temperature and brightness with a control dial that sits on your desk. I mentioned in the video that I really don’t love control dials as quite a few peripherals like to clutter my desk with them. I feel like I am one new set of speakers from replacing the old charger drawer with a new “desk dial” drawer.
I will say however, I do appreciate the design and build construction and recognize that I do not believe there was effectively any better choice for interacting with the dial. The dial allows for the quickest and most intuitive control over the lamp. One of the only other options would have been dreaded software controls or tactile buttons which is cumbersome when dealing with ranges of settings. Like setting an alarm clock when you need to go up three hours, so you have to click up 60 minutes three times. Awful.
So, all in all, I can forgive a control dial for this application.
There is nothing negative you can truly say about it. It would be nice if multiple could be chained together without needing separate dials for people with multiple screens. And since the USB is connected to the dial permanently, if for some reason it is not long enough that could be an issue but it does seem unlikely.
The Bottom Line
My honest overall impression of it is “Impressed”. It is a very smart solution to a legitimate problem. This is actual engineering where every feature feels like it was really well thought out.
I had to remove the ScreenBar from my desk for about a week while I shot footage for the video above and during that week without the lamp I was made acutely aware of how much I had grown to enjoy and depend on it. It will be sticking with me foreseeably until it either does one day die or more likely gets damaged in a move or something.
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