Monitor light bars are one of the most popular lighting items for the home office right now. We know you’ve seen this one a lot on the minimal desk setups we have featured. We know, because we see you guys keep asking about it. And today, we’re going to bring you the review that you have all been waiting for. Yes, we are talking about the BenQ Screen Bar. Did we also mention that we will be covering both the Standard and Plus version today?
Straight from the box both the Standard and Plus versions of the ScreenBar are nearly indistinguishable from each other. The Standard edition comes with capacitive touch controls located at the top of the ScreenBar itself. The Plus edition removes the capacitive buttons and replaces it with a dial.
From the first hours of use we have found the ScreenBar to be more than an adequate performer in the monitor light category. Its bright when you want you need it to be and warm when you want otherwise. Control of colour is easy via the capacitive touch controls and even easier by the dial. We did find the touch controls to be not as responsive but that may be due to us not hitting the areas correctly. The dial is clean and easy to use but it does come cabled, so will mean you will need to cable manage. But just from the initial usage, we like the product and can’t wait to use it more.
Plus Vs Standard. What’s the difference?
Aside from the price point and the name, you may be wondering if there is any difference between the two models. The answer, nothing that would affect the performance of either light bars. If you are looking for a monitor light bar, both ScreenBar models will more than meet your requirements. The difference really just boils down to their design and usability.
The ScreenBar (standard model) is designed as an all-in-one package for your desk setup. The controls are located at the top of the light bar itself. There is no need for a extra control module, you reach up to adjust your light settings and you are done. Think of it as a plug and play device. Its simple to use and no extra setup required.
The ScreenBar Plus is exactly the same as the ScreenBar. It only differs in that the control of the light settings is done through an attachment control dial. While the dial may seem like a step back, it actually does allow for easier and finer control of the warmth and brightness settings. Plus, its a great looking accessory for your home office or minimal desk setup. Just keep in mind that there will be a little bit of cable management that will need to be done.
Premium Construction and Design
One of the first immediate comparisons often made between BenQ’s offering and other monitor light bars is the price point. At $99USD for the Standard model and $129USD for the Plus Model, they are one of the more expensive offerings available. But for the pricing, you do get your money’s worth with its premium aluminum finishing and construction. It feels sturdy to touch and doesn’t feel like it will fall apart or break on you. But most importantly, it looks good.
Probably the most critical part and question of this whole review. How was the lighting performance? Rest assured, it is excellent. At the extremes, the white light is one of the brightest that we have experienced. And it is no difference for the warm lights. The ScreenBars operate within the ANSI White 8 colour standards from 2700K (warm light) and 6500K (cool light). The Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of both ScreenBars are rated at 95. CRI measures the ability to faithfully show the true colours of objects, and anything above 80 is considered great. So with a rating of 95, we can think we can say the performance of the ScreenBars is excellent.
This should cover off any scenario of lighting requirements that you may have. We certainly found that we did not run into any scenarios where we couldn’t get the right combination of warmth and brightness. The lighting is even across the whole desk setup and we found it hard to pick up dark spots in our working area. You are certainly getting a high performing monitor light for what you are paying for.
One of the most talked about features of the ScreenBar is its Auto-dimming functioning. A lot of people have mentioned that they have had mixed experiences with the feature. Unfortunately, we also had the same experiences with the feature as well. In particular, during daylight times when there is another external source of light, we have found the light sensor struggles to respond to the lighting conditions. It often flickers in between colours and this can instead be a distraction and also hard on the eyes as it constantly tries to readjust. Perhaps it was more of a by-product of our desk setup, we found that the auto dimming function leans toward the warmer colours. Due to this, people may find that their preferred method of use is to manually adjust the colours and brightness. We think it’s a great and innovative feature but it may not be everyone’s preferred method of operation.
Controls and Features
Touch vs Dial Control
One of the more obvious differences is the control type between the Standard and the Plus editions. As mentioned before we found the capacitive touch controls to be on the slightly more difficult side to use. We found the buttons were hard to trigger if you didn’t touch them in the right spot, but once you are used to their positioning and size, controlling the ScreenBar is incredibly simple. There are only 4 buttons, Brightness, Warmth, Auto Dim and On/Off. Due to the button pressing nature of the control, warmth and brightness are controlled in discrete preset settings. There is no fluid control so you won’t be able to dial your settings to the nth degree, if that is what you are looking for.
The Plus edition comes with a dial that allow you to control the Brightness, Warmth, Auto Dim and On/Off all in one compact controller. Operation is just as simple. One button to toggle between warmth and brightness and the dial allows you to fine tune both settings to your heart’s desire. The auto dim function is also a button that turns the feature on with just a press. We can see the simplicity in having the controls integrated into the lighting unit itself, this not only reduces the number of cables required, but also integrates it all into the monitor light unit. But there is something that is just so nice that comes with turning a dial. For those that are looking for the ability to fine tune their lighting settings, certainly do give the Plus edition consideration as we believe it is well worth the extra premium that it comes with.
Both Standard and Plus editions of the ScreenBar have a holder on the mount that they clip into. This is pretty easy and feels secure that the monitor light bar will not suddenly unclip and fall out. In addition, it gives you a few degrees to adjust the angle of the light. We found that clipping it in and then just rotating it out toward you should be sufficient for most scenarios that you will run into. The mount then clips onto the top of your monitor without any adhesive (to damage your monitor). The counter weight has some solid weight behind it and we can confidently say it will not shift or move. We just had an earthquake at the time of this article being written and it did not even budge!
We finally got our hands on one of the BenQ ScreenBars and we were honestly impressed. From the build quality and materials, all the way to its functionality and performance. Lighting was bright and performed well under all conditions. The auto dim function is innovative but feels like it could do with a few more improvements to make it more stable. The choice between the Standard and Plus edition really boils down to what you are looking for. If you need an all-in-one package, then the Standard edition will serve you more than fine. If you have a bit of budget left, then we would say go with the Plus edition. The dial and extra control are well worth the extra paid. We will have to admit that the pricing of the ScreenBars is on the higher side compared with other monitor lights on the market. But for that extra premium, you do get a much more polished and complete product that will serve you in all scenarios.