As a full-time blogger and entrepreneur, my laptop is critically important to my existence.
And I’ve gotten into a pretty good rhythm with my favorite laptop stand, bluetooth keyboard and magic mouse all arranged neatly for a nice work setup wherever I go.
So when I was recently sent a BenQ Screenbar Lite, I wondered if I really needed one more gadget to include in my highly portable setup.
After using the BenQ Screenbar Lite for a while, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with a few of the features. And, as with just about anything, I think there’s also room for improvement.
Today, I’ll break down a few of my thoughts about the BenQ Screenbar Lite and help you decide if you should buy one yourself.
It’s important to note that BenQ themselves sent me the Screenbar Lite for free in exchange for a review and I’ve also included Amazon affiliate links within this article.
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Let’s dive in.
There’s a lot to love about this little laptop light. As you can see in the image above, it’s small (in a good way). It’s also really slim and lightweight.
At first glance, it’s a pretty sleek little computer gadget. And as I started to use it more, here are a few things I really enjoyed:
I really love the light temperature adjustment option on the BenQ Screenbar Lite.
Where most lamps only offer a dimmer which affects the brightness, this lamp also lets you control the warmth or coolness of the light.
I’m a bit of a stickler for keeping my “nice things nice.” It could be all those years of my mom lecturing me about having nice things.
In any regard, I was a bit worried about clamping a lamp directly to my Macbook Air. But the clamp has just the right amount of grip and padding to keep it secure without risking scratches or damage.
It’s important to note that my laptop is a bit outdated and if you have a newer Mac laptop with a full glass screen, the experience might be different. But my guess is it will work just as nicely.
Next to the dimmer controls, there’s this nice little heart button. Once you’ve dialed in the exact settings you like the most for the lamp (right brightness and temperature), you can hold down this button for 3 seconds and it’ll save this as your “favorite.”
That way, if you adjust your lights throughout the day (or as the evening gets darker) you can always return to your fav settings when you’re ready tomorrow.
The feature I used even more than setting up my “fav” was the automatic lighting feature. This was super cool.
One tap of the automatic feature and it uses the sensor on top of the gadget to sense the light around you. It flashes a couple times to experiment and then it determines the perfect levels of warmth and brightness for your current settings.
There’s nothing worse than trying to get some work done and having to tilt your head every few minutes to get around your lamp’s light glare.
The nice thing about the BenQ Screenbar Lite? No glare.
I have no idea how they do it, but you can aim the light directly at your keyboard or desk and it lights everything right up. But once you point it at your screen, there’s no glare whatsoever.
Maybe it’s an angles thing. Maybe it’s magic. Whatever it is, I like it.
There’s a lot to love about the BenQ Screenbar Lite laptop light. But that’s not to say it comes without a few drawbacks.
Here are a few areas I think the light could dramatically improve.
I could tell the second I clipped this laptop light to my computer that it was going to block my laptop’s built-in camera. Sure enough, I pulled up Quicktime and this is what my video would look like.
At first, I thought there was a new camera built in to the unit to cover this problem, but then I realized, it was the light sensor I mentioned earlier for the automatic lighting feature.
I feel like this was by far the biggest drawback of the light. In fact, I think it could be SUPER cool to use this light to actually light my face when I’m on a call or recording a quick video.
With a little adjustment, BenQ could provide a laptop lamp and portable studio light for people who use their webcam like I do.
The only other real complaint I had with the laptop light was the button feedback. As I like how subtle the light adjustments were, but it was hard to know if something was happening each time I pressed the digital surface-level button.
Perhaps some real buttons or some sort of haptic feedback could help this issue. But really, it’s only an issue once you’re setting it up initially. For the majority of its use, you’re not really touching it.
Enough with the good and bad, here are just a few more thoughts about the laptop light generally speaking.
First, I think this may just be more of a desktop gadget. I recognize there’s the original BenQ Screenbar and they’re trying to replicate their success with that gadget—tailored more to laptop users.
But there are a few key differences to consider if your laptop is your primary computer like it is for me.
First, even though the bar is extremely lightweight, it’s still one more gadget you have to lug around in your bag.
I do most of my work in the daytime which means I’m not in terrible need of lighting and carrying this extra item in my bag just probably wouldn’t be worth it most days.
Additionally, at least for me, the screen of the Macbook Air together with the backlit keys get me most-of-the-way there in the darker hours of the day.
Similarly, the BenQ Screenbar Lite plugs into my laptop’s USB port (which is fine) and uses my laptop’s battery for power (which is not ideal).
That’s great if I’m seated at a desk with power constantly feeding my laptop, but I can’t imagine adding this extra taxation to my laptop battery when I’m on the move.
Once again, it feels like this is a bit more of a desktop-worth gadget than one for a laptop. In fact, if I’m honest, I’ll probably hook mine up to my desktop from now on since I’m almost never on my laptop at night.
The real question at this point is whether the BenQ Screenbar Lite is a good option for you right now.
I’d say definitely yes if:
- You work primarily at night.
- Your laptop stays plugged in most of the time.
- You don’t have frequent need for your laptop’s built-in camera.
Or I’d suggest you think twice if you:
- Need to spare your laptop battery to make it through the workday (or night).
- Don’t do much more around your laptop with papers and other items you need to see well in dark settings.
- Use your laptop webcam frequently.
For me (someone who works mostly during the day and uses my webcam often enough) the extra weight in my laptop bag probably isn’t worth it.
All in all, I really enjoyed the gadget. Like I said, I’ll probably hook it up permanently to a desktop computer at home.
And if you’re in the market for a laptop light, it’s a super-slick gadget with lots of cool premium customization features.
It all depends on what you’re looking for.
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