BenQ ScreenBar Halo Review: Monitor lamp comfortably illuminates your workspace
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The BenQ ScreenBar Halo casts a pool of light on your desk that helps you focus, lets you see your work tools and papers better, and creates a surprisingly comfortable atmosphere around your Mac.
If you need more light where you work, your first thought is unlikely to be to buy one that shines on your glassy, reflective screen. Still, BenQ’s Screenbar Halo sits atop this monitor, it shines – and it’s excellent.
It’s an adjustable light in the sense that you can change the brightness and physically tilt it to avoid glare. Even without any adjustments, the effect is that the ScreenBar Halo creates a pool of light on your desk, no matter how small your desk or monitor is.
Without reflecting on the screen, the light makes everything particularly bright just below, where you have your keyboard. The light then gradually moves away from this central point, so subtly.
On gloomy days, all the papers you work on on the desk are now perfectly clear and usable.
In the evening, when you probably shouldn’t be sitting at your desk yet, the ScreenBar Halo keeps you focused and focused. At the same time, it makes you feel comfortable, even cozy.
It feels like you and your Mac are in a little bubble, separated from everything around you.
Specifically, perhaps more quantifiably, it also appears to reduce eye strain from screen glare. Part of that may come from the diffuse back light pointing from the ScreenBar Halo to behind the desk, which creates a cocoon-like feel.
What is provided
The BenQ ScreenBar Halo comes in a few parts. There’s the light itself, a USB cable connecting the device to your Mac or a power source, and a separate wireless remote.
This wireless remote is the clearest difference between the ScreenBar Halo and its predecessor, the ScreenBar. This older model had a dial physically connected to the light by a cable.
This is all meant to be used at your desk rather than halfway through an office, so the wired dial command with its short cable was fine. But the wireless remote control is more convenient because you can more easily put it aside when not in use.
This new wireless remote is the only way to control the light. Powered by three AAA batteries, the remote is a dial with a touch-sensitive front.
To use the remote, you first wave your hand over the device, which lights up a single red light. Then press that red light to turn on the ScreenBar Halo.
Touching also briefly turns on other control options. There are buttons to do with brightness, temperature and storing your favorite combination of these.
It’s not easy to see any of the buttons until you press them, because that’s mostly when they light up. However, you get used to where they are – and aside from the central one, you won’t tend to use the controls very often.
When you do, however, one aspect will keep throwing you. There are a series of bright red dots around the circumference of the remote’s face, but these are indicators rather than commands.
The more red dots you see, the brighter the light from the ScreenBar Halo. But while everything else on this face is controlled by touch, the way you manage the light level is to physically twist the top of the remote.
Positioning the screen bar halo
The ScreenBar Halo is designed to sit atop a monitor, and it traverses that top like a small saddle. There is the main light in front of the screen, an adjustable connection bar and a counterweight behind the screen.
In theory, this means you can adjust the Halo ScreenBar to fit any monitor. In practice, it seems to fit anyway.
Even with a curved monitor, the ScreenBar Halo evened out without adjustment.
It can be so simple to just pop the light on top of the screen that you miss there’s more to its back than just having a counterweight. The back of the ScreenBar Halo includes a second light.
This second light is a diffused, chunky block rather than an elongated second bar. It doesn’t need to be enabled, and it’s not by default, but depending on your environment, it can be a nice addition.
The backlight shines on everything behind your desk. If you’re in a co-working space, that might mean shining in someone’s face, but when it’s a wall or shelf, the bright second light casts a rather comforting glow.
That main light shining on your desk from above the monitor is key. In use, we tend to forget the backlight if we ever choose to use it.
The front may need more adjustments to be correct. This would, of course, be the case with any light, as you have to determine how bright you want it to be and when you want it to be that bright.
With the ScreenBar Halo, however, there is another aspect. The light itself connects to your Mac with a USB cable and USB-A connector, and it works best when plugged in directly, not through a router.
It doesn’t seem like there can be anything that works better, not with a light on or off. But when connecting for the first time, trying different brightnesses brought up a problem.
Although AppleInsider Wasn’t able to reproduce this issue as initially there was a slight flicker in the light. It was definitely something to do with the connection and the brightness levels as they disappeared as soon as we adjusted these.
Should I buy
As long as your Mac setup is in even a slightly dark environment, the BenQ ScreenBar Halo lifts your desk and improves your mood.
If you only work from 9am to 5pm in a corporate office with bright lights, this won’t do you any good.
It’s also not worth upgrading from the previous version of ScreenBar. The main difference between the two is that the new ScreenBar Halo control is a wireless control, which is handy, but not huge compared to the wired control of the previous model.
Since the light is connected to the Mac, it’s a shame that you can’t take advantage of it and use it in Shortcuts. It would be useful to trigger a shortcut that activates Do Not Disturb, turns on the ScreenBar Halo light, and opens a particular Pages document that needs your attention.
The ScreenBar Halo is much better than a desk lamp, however. Where its illumination may be the same, the ScreenBar Halo takes up no desk space.
- Provides a soothing light source that helps you focus
- Even fits curved screens
- Brightness and temperature are easy to adjust
- Can only be operated by its own wireless control
- It takes some getting used to this wireless control
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars