BenQ ScreenBar – the gadget you don’t know you need

In June, I was contacted by BenQ Lightning about whether I was interested in giving their ScreenBar a try. I was, so this is my experience with this interesting desktop light. It was not what I was expecting!

I like a well-lit working space. I never understood the software developers, who work best in a cave-like environment with only little light. Only with enough light my brain works for a whole working day; otherwise, I get tired quickly. That’s the reason I got a very good LED standing light.

When BenQ contacted me about testing their ScreenBar, I was, on one hand, very interested – could it be even better than with my already good lighting – on the other hand, I was sceptical of a monitor-mounted light that only provides light onto the table, not the room around.

BenQ provided me the ScreenBar for free.
In return, I promised to write about my experience with the ScreenBar.

My setup with my standing light and the BenQ ScreenBar mounted on the middle monitor.

Beginning of day 1

After installing the ScreenBar by simply putting it on my middle monitor and connecting it to a USB port, I sat at my desk, and my first thought was: Nice, but the reflection of the light on my keyboard dazzles me. But let’s give it a try.

My keyboard is reflecting the light of the ScreenBar.

After changing the light temperature to my liking, I started my work day. Temperature, intensity and auto-dimming can easily be changed with the buttons on top of the ScreenBar:

ScreenBar buttons. (bonus points for knowing the game shown on the screen 🙂 )

End of day 1

I worked a normal day of about 8 hours, and I forgot about the ScreenBar. The reflection on my keyboard was still there, but I got used to it quickly (I normally look into the monitors, not the keyboard, anyway).

Before turning my computer off, I remembered my new gadget and turned it off. That was my aha moment. I turned it on immediately because it felt like sitting in a dark hole compared to when the ScreenBar was on.

Optimizing my experience

With the added light of the ScreenBar, I dimmed my standing light a bit darker. I felt like I still had the same amount of light, but dimming the standing light reduced my reflection of myself on my screens. That was a nice side-effect, especially because I like coding and working with dark themes all day long. It’s easier for my eyes to see clearly when using dark themes.

After two weeks of using the ScreenBar

So I used the ScreenBar for the next two weeks while working and gaming. And I like my place’s lighting much better now than before. The ScreenBar will definitely stay on my monitor.

I was very surprised by how different it felt with the ScreenBar on, even though the lighting in my room was already good.

I guess it is even more useful when you write or read stuff on your table. My writing and reading are almost exclusively on the monitors; still, I like the feeling of a better-lit table.

No reflection, really?

The marketing material by BenQ says that there is no reflection on the screens. On one side, this is not 100% true. There is a little light projected onto the monitor. My monitors get dusty quickly, and the reflection is clearly visible when the monitors are off. But on the other side, when my LED monitors are on, it does not matter. My eyes can’t see the reflection even when the screen is mostly black – maybe this is different on an OLED monitor.

Here, the ScreenBar is the only source of light. It lights my whole desk nicely.
With the monitors off, you can see the reflections on the monitors.

If mounted correctly, there is no direct blinding.

At first, I mounted the ScreenBar not perfectly horizontally. The result was that I saw the light source when sitting at my desk.

ScreenBar from below (not my normal sitting position!)

Bringing the ScreenBar to a horizontal position solved the problem. I can still see a bit of the light source, but it’s not a distraction.

In my normal sitting position, I see a small strip of the light source. This is no problem; it does not blind my eyes.

Will I keep it?

Yes, I’ll keep the ScreenBar. The lighting of my workplace is better with it, which helps me stay focused for longer. The ScreenBar is a nicely built piece of technology.

[Update after using the ScreenBar for three months]

The ScreenBar is still on my monitor, and I use it whenever I work on my computer. It even came along to a LAN party, and I could test it in a mostly dark room while playing all weekend long. The ScreenBar automatically dimmed the brightness to a good level, and the lighting felt very good. I never lost track of my snacks 🙂

Should you get one?

I don’t know. You have to give it a try to see whether it helps with your lighting situation or not. And this is the only problem I see with this product. People probably won’t buy it because they don’t know what to expect. I was lucky to get one for testing. Otherwise, I would have never given the ScreenBar a try. As I wrote in the beginning, I was very sceptical.

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Urs Enzler

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By Urs Enzler

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