What We Bought: How BenQ’s Monitor Bar Completed My Home Office Setup | Engadget


One of the first things I decided to do when I joined Engadget in the summer of 2018 was to build a beautiful home office. In my previous job, I didn’t have many opportunities to work remotely, so it wasn’t a priority. This turned out to be a mistake, because when I started working from home, I found that it wore me out quickly. My kitchen just wasn’t suitable for an office, so I decided to switch things up.

Igor Bonifacic / Engadget

Gradually, the desk I built in my bedroom came together into a space where I enjoyed sitting and writing. But it wasn’t until this year that I felt like it was complete. The missing piece was the BenQ monitor bar, a fixture that you install over your monitor.

I put off buying the Screenbar for a few years, mostly because of its $170 CAD ($109 USD) price tag. So why didn’t I buy a regular table lamp, you ask? Well, the screen bar caught my attention for several reasons. I live in a small condo in Toronto, so a lamp that could sit on my monitor, instead of my table, was appealing since space is limited, especially on my small desk. Plus, the screen bar shares a feature that I love about Philips Hue lights. Out of the box, you can adjust the color temperature of its LEDs – no need to buy separate bulbs. BenQ also claims that the Monitor Bar produces less glare than a traditional table lamp due to how you position it above your monitor.

A close up of the screen bar's capacitive controls.

Igor Bonifacic / Engadget

Setup is also easy. A USB-C to USB-A cable connects the Screenbar to your computer, providing all the power it needs. You do not need to install any software on your PC to use the device. Four capacitive buttons on the top let you turn the screen bar on and off, adjust color temperature and brightness, or activate auto-brightness. BenQ sells a more expensive version of the Screen Bar that comes with a puck you can place on your desk for more convenient access to controls, but that’s not necessary for most people.

The only downside to the screen bar is that it takes up space that you might otherwise use to mount a webcam. With a 27 inch flat screen like my Dell, it is possible to install both, but neither can stay in the middle.

Depending on your needs, this might completely dissuade you from considering the BenQ Screen Bar. For me, it was an easy decision to make. I don’t need to make a lot of Zoom calls. The position of my desk is also not ideal for video calls. When I sit down to write, my back faces a wall-to-wall window. It’s not an easy scene for a web camera to expose. My solution was to use my MacBook Air and sit next to the window when I need to hop on Zoom.

A photo of the screen bar mounted on a monitor.

Igor Bonifacic / Engadget

Looking back, I wish I had purchased the Screen Bar sooner. To say it transformed the atmosphere of my bedroom and office would be an understatement. Winter in Toronto is a long and dark affair. In January and February, the sun can set as early as 5 p.m. My mood, like that of many people, can vary greatly depending on the amount and quality of light that filters into my home. The fact that you can adjust the color temperature of the Screen Bar’s LEDs between 2700K and 6500K means it can produce warm, bright, sunlight whites, making it ideal for all-day use. day and even for color-sensitive work like photo editing. In my experience, this is the perfect solution for a small space.

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