When I joined Engadget in the summer of 2018, one of the first things I set out to do was build a beautiful home office. At my previous job, I didn’t have many opportunities to work remotely, so it wasn’t a priority. It turned out to be a mistake, because when I started working from home, I found it quickly exhausted me. My kitchen doesn’t treat it as an office at all – so I set about changing it.
Bit by bit, the office I built in my bedroom is pieced together into a space where I love to sit and write. But it didn’t feel like it was done until this year. The missing piece is the BenQ Screenbar, which is your display-mounted lighting fixture.
I put off buying the Screenbar for a few years, mainly because of its CAD$170 ($109) price tag. Then why don’t I buy the ordinary desk lamp you asked about? Well, the Screenbar caught my eye for a few reasons. I live in a small apartment in Toronto, so a light that could sit on a monitor instead of a desk was attractive because space is at a premium, especially on my small desk. Also, the Screenbar has a feature on Philips Hue lights that I like. Out of the box, you can adjust the color temperature of its LEDs – no need to buy a separate bulb. BenQ also claims that the Screenbar produces less glare than traditional desk lamps because of the way you place it on top of the monitor.
Setup is also simple. A USB-C to USB-A cable connects the Screenbar to your computer, giving it all the power it needs. You don’t need to install any software on your PC to use the device. Four capacitive buttons on top let you turn the Screenbar on and off, adjust color temperature and brightness, or turn on auto-brightness. BenQ sells a more expensive version of the Screenbar with a disc that can be placed on the desk for easier access to the controls, but that’s unnecessary for most people.
One downside to the Screenbar is that it takes up space that you could use to mount your webcam. With a 27″ flat panel monitor like my Dell, both can be mounted, but neither can sit in the center.
Depending on your needs, this may completely prevent you from considering the BenQ Screenbar. For me, it was an easy decision to make. I don’t need to make a lot of Zoom calls. The location of my desk is also not suitable for video calls. When I sit down to write, my back is to a wall-to-wall window. This is not an easy scene to expose for a webcam. My solution is to use my MacBook Air and sit by the window when I need to use Zoom.
Looking back now, I wish I had bought the Screenbar sooner. To say it changed the vibe of my bedroom and office would be an understatement. Winter in Toronto is a long, dark affair. In January and February, the sun can set as early as 5pm. Like many people, my mood can vary greatly depending on the amount and quality of light entering my home. You can adjust the color temperature of the Screenbar LED between 2700K and 6500K, which means it produces warm, bright, sunny whites, making it ideal for all-day use, or even color-sensitive work like photo editing. In my experience it is the perfect solution for small spaces.
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