As I am using BenQ photography monitors in my workflow, BenQ recently reached out to me asking if I wanted to try out their new BenQ ScreenBar. Not knowing what they were talking about I started to Google and quickly found out that it was a LED lamp that you place on top of your monitor that is used to light up your desk. I immediately thought: Do I need this? BenQ told me I would probably like it so I agreed to receive it. I love innovation, so I already liked the fact that BenQ is trying to come up with something that I had never seen before.
According to BenQ, this LED lamp is an innovative product with a bunch of interesting features that is a great addition to your desk. Let’s find out! This article is about my findings with this rather interesting product.
The packaging and box feels like it’s a premium product. And it kind of is. When you spend (over) 100 euro on a lamp for your desk, you expect something out of it. The box contains a few parts:
The LED lamp itself, which is 44.5 cm long
The ‘holder’ for the lamp
The BenQ ‘hot puck’ to control the lamp. Please note that I received the ScreenBar Plus. The difference between the normal Sceenbar is that the Screenbar Plus uses the puck to control the lamp. The normal version doesn’t have the puck and uses buttons on the lamp itself.
A USB cable.
Installing the lamp is a breeze and takes only a minute. Simply click the lamp in the holder, place the holder on your monitor and power it with the USB(-a) cable.
What’s nice about this is it doesn’t need any additional power. Simply plugin the usb cable in your computer and it’s good to go.
At first I thought this lamp was made to go with BenQ monitors but this is not the case at all. The holder can be places on basically any monitor (even on your laptop) because of the counterweight that holds it in place. You simply put it on top of the monitor, pull the counterweight back and it sits tight. It’s a clever design.
Simply place the lamp on any monitor and the counter weight holds it in place. On this photo: ScreenBar on top of the BenQ 321c.
ScreenBar sitting on top of the 27 inch iMac.
I found it interesting that BenQ was using their signature ‘puck’ with this lamp again. People who are using BenQ monitors will find this puck very familiar, as it’s also used on BenQ’s photography monitors to use with some handy functions like changing brightness and switching Color spaces.
It’s no different with the BenQ SceenBar Plus (the non-plus uses buttons on the lamp itself. The choice is yours) .
Simply press the puck wheel to turn the lamp on and off, and turn it to increase or decrease brightness from 500 to around 1000 lumens, or use the temperature mode to change temperature from 2700 - 6500 kelvin (8 levels).
There are 2 things that I immediately noticed here. As I am a photographer and often work in a dark environment, I wish that I could dim the lamp even more. Even at it’s lowest brightness it’s still quite bright. The second thing was about the color temperature. I love that I can change the colour temperature from cold to warm, but as a photographer it would be great to set an EXACT color temperature. Right now there are 8 levels, but I can’t exactly see what the value of the Kelvin is of the lamp.
BenQ added a nice function to auto adjust the brightness of the lamp according to the environment. Simply press the left button and the ScreenBar will automatically calibrate itself according to your environment.
Using the ScreenBar
Now let’s go back to the initial question that I asked myself when BenQ told me about this product: Do I need it? Is it useful? A lamp on top of your monitor is quite unique. I had not seen that before so I was curious if it wasn’t distracting or that it would cause glare on my screen.
BenQ ScreenBar on top of my BenQ SW321c
I’m sure most of us use a small lamp on your desk to light up the things we or to simply give some extra ambient light when it’s dark. The ScreenBar is meant to replace your desktop lamp and is meant to give you that soft lighting on your desk. And it succeeds in doing that job. As can be seen on the picture above, the BenQ ScreenBar gives a soft light to the surface of my desk. Furthermore, the screen is really not affected. There are no reflections and glare to be seen on the screen at all.
It’s really useful for quickly lighting up your whole desk if you have to read something for example, or even for checking a print. If you look closely at the image above you see my Epson P900 printer is on the left of my desk. Printing a photo and quickly checking it under the ScreenBar with a set color temperature is a pleasure as the lighting is very even everywhere
Looking at a print lit from above by the BenQ ScreenBar
I have to admit, it took me a few days to get used to having a light on my desk. You stare at your screen and you’re not used to having a light there, so it’s a bit strange. But I quickly found myself getting used to it and now I find it not distracting.
A nice advantage of the ScreenBar is that is saves you the space from a normal lamp on your desk. Also, it looks quite modern. I like the design of the ScreenBar and it fits in the look of my workspace. It looks kind of futuristic but it’s not too much.
It’s also nice to use as an extra ‘studio’ light when you’re making video recordings or vlogs of yourself. Many YouTubers (not myself) have nice lighting setups and I could definitely see the ScreenBar being integrated in here.
Let’s quickly summarise all the above points of the BenQ ScreenBar:
Nicely premium looking LED lamp of 44.5 cm long
Very versatile, fits every monitor
Auto dimming function
Adjustable Brightness (500-1000 lumen)
Adjustable Colour Temperature (2700-6500k)
So do I like it? Simply put : yes. I think the design is nice and the light it gives is very nice and even across the desk surface. I find myself using the lamp quite often.
But there are definitely a few things that could make this nice product even better (maybe in the future in a version 2?):
The lowest brightness is still a bit bright. Would be nice if I could dim it even more.
Would be nice to see the exact color temperature
Cannot be used with a shading hood on your monitor.
Now if we look at these 3 points, they’re all points coming from me as a photographer. I think BenQ designed this lamp for the ‘general’ audience and the focus is not on photographers here (which is fine). Either way, this lamp found its place in my office and despite the little things above, I really like it!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask :)
Thanks for reading.