Hardware Reviews

BenQ ScreenBar Halo review: the ultimate monitor light?

BenQ ScreenBar Halo in a home office
Shining star: the Halo is great for home offices

Need a bit more light on your desk, but haven’t got space for a lamp? The BenQ ScreenBar Halo sits on top of monitor, angling light downwards, with no glare.

The ScreenBar Halo monitor light is BenQ’s top-of-the-range model, which is (ahem) reflected in its £149 asking price. Is this space-saving light worth all that money when there are cheaper alternatives such as the Xiaomi Mi Monitor Light Bar at a third of the price? Let’s find out.

Unboxing

Buy Now logo

The ScreenBar comes in a thin, light grey box, with the top lid sealed down with a single sticker. Break that seal, open the lid and you’re presented with the various components, all laid out in a plastic blister moulding. The instructions are held in a smaller box inside, but otherwise, the two parts of the hardware – the light itself and the remote control – are are plastic wrapped, with the occasional dab of foam for extra protection.

It’s not exactly packaging that shows off the product and it’s certainly not going to win any environmental awards. BenQ really should do better here.

The only other thing in the box are a couple of small items designed to help mount the light to curved back monitors.

The light

A combination of metal and plastic, the light is well built and has a pleasing weight to it. It’s 50cm across and is designed to stick out from the front of the monitor sufficiently that it still works effectively with curved displays. Unlike some others, this light bar is physically connected to the monitor attachment. The bar itself rotates slightly, so that you can position the downward light just how you like it. The light itself has no controls on it.

BenQ ScreenBar Halo mount

The monitor mount uses a counterweight system to hold it in place (see the image to the left to see how this sits). If the rear of the screen is curved, BenQ provides an adapter in the box to counter this.

The USB cable (which ends with a USB-A connector) comes out at the very bottom – a good decision, as it means that any webcam that you place on top of the ScreenBar doesn’t have to contend with it.

If you find your webcam difficult to position on top then BenQ also sell an £18 accessory for this. It’s essentially a plastic shelf that sticks to the top of the ScreenBar and provides a stable platform for your webcam. For the amount you’re already paying for this device, and the simplicity of this accessory, BenQ really should be putting one in the box.

BenQ ScreenBar Halo

Another thing I wasn’t too happy about is the captive cable. That makes life tricky if the provided 1.5m cable isn’t long enough and means the entire device is dead if the cable is damaged.

On the back of this counterweight is a large, frosted plastic section. This is a rear light, allowing illumination of the area behind your monitor. We’ll get onto how this is controlled shortly, but settings allow for both the front and rear lights to be turned on and off independently, including having both on at the same time.

The following images give you a fair idea of how this rear light looks, with two different colour temperatures being demonstrated here:

BenQ ScreenBar Halo ambient light
Images courtesy of BenQ

The remote control

BenQ ScreenBar Halo remote control

The angled remote control is about 7.5cm across, 3.8cm high and has quite a weight to it. That’s because it’s an all-metal design, other than the touch-sensitive, plastic top. On the bottom is a ring of foam to ensure it grips well on the desk. Turning the dial is a delight – it’s light and easy in your hand and feels so well made.

Three AAA batteries (provided) must be inserted into the bottom and that’s it – no pairing is needed.

The power toggle is in the centre of the device, and if you hover your hand over the remote for a couple of seconds, various parts of the dial are illuminated. There are four further icons, each in a different corner of the dial, which only illuminate when you press in that area. These are:

  • Top left, a thermometer icon. This allows you to control the temperature of the light. Click on this and then turn the dial to swoosh between warm and white. The various increments are represented by lit segments running around the outside of the dial.
  • Top right, a sun icon. Once clicked, turn the dial to adjust the brightness. As with the temperature, segments around the outside illuminate as you turn it.
  • Bottom left, a sun icon with an “A” in it. This is the automatic brightness. Once switched on, a sensor underneath the ScreenBar measures the ambient light and adjusts the brightness accordingly. This is how I had it set up during my testing.
  • Bottom right, a heart icon. This allows you to save and recall favourite settings. Get the brightness and temperature how you like it and then hold the heart icon for a few second. Now, you just need to tap it again to return to those settings at any time.

There’s one final trick. You remember that sensor that you held your hand over to wake up the controller? Press that and it toggles between the rear and front lights. You can switch between both lights, just the front and just the back.

My only gripe is how easily fingerprints and dust show up on the remote. A matte finish may have preferable here.

BenQ ScreenBar Halo performance

The BenQ Halo is a delight. The controller is amazing and, if I’ve not said it enough already, the whole product has such a high-quality feel to it. Yes, the price is punchy, but you don’t feel short-changed. The metal design, the lovely touches on the various controls and the overall look justify that outlay.

The light that it casts across the desk give you a lovely glare-free experience. Combine that with the adjustable warmth and automatic brightness and you end with a lighting solution that’s hard to beat.

The photo of my own home office setup is at the top of the page, where the room is only illuminated by the Halo. It casts an even light across the desk, but with no reflection into the monitor or, indeed, towards you in front.

One final thing that I like about the BenQ over rival products is that, when powered on, it defaults to the state it was in when switched off. It’s small touches like this that make you appreciate the attention to detail.

BenQ ScreenBar Halo Review
  • Build quality
  • Features
  • Value for money

Verdict

The best screen bar we’ve tested yet, with subtle automatic lighting and tremendous build quality

Overall
4.5

Pros

  • Solid, weighty build quality
  • Rear light is a welcome bonus
  • The wireless controller has a luxury feel

Cons

  • A punchy price
  • The unboxing experience could be better

About the author

David Artiss

Currently working for a technology company based in San Francisco, David has worked in IT for nearly 30 years. He is a keen gamer and happily admits to being a gadget nerd too.

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