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Review by Image Science

Jeremy Daalder

BenQ ScreenBar Halo LED Monitor Light with Wireless Controller, Adjustable Brightness and Colour Temperature

BenQ have released a new entry in their Screenbar line of monitor-mounted lights - the BenQ Screenbar Halo. The Screenbar lamps are task lamps that are generally mounted directly over your monitor, and used as work area lamps. This is different to the BenQ WiT e-Reading Designer lamps (a product which we think easily wins the 'worst product name ever' award). The WiT lamps are separate task based lights, and (awful naming aside) - a favourite of ours for inexpensively setting up a print viewing area.


The range is quite wide now, with the original Screenbar, the Screenbar Plus, and the Screenbar Halo.

The basic model is improved by the Plus model, which adds a better control system via a USB connected desktop controller.

The Halo improves things further with a re-design of the light itself, the option for rear 'bias' lighting, and a new wireless controller to keep your desk clutter free. The Halo also offers support for curved monitors (we won't cover that here as curved monitors are, put simply, a terrible option for imaging work and I don't think I've ever come across anyone with even a passing interest in the visual arts who uses a curved monitor...)


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First, let's look at the Screenbar in use as just that - a screenbar. This is of course the primary use case - as a task light mounted to your monitor, to light your immediate work area. Before we start, it's worth looking at the BenQ Screenbar Halo product page, which has a lot of useful information and good pictures, to give you a sense of the unit.

Screenbar lighting is great if you want to save space on your desk. In my experience they are most commonly used by people working (or playing) in fairly dimly lit rooms, to create a pool of light in which to work, but are useful for anyone looking for better illumination around their computer work area - and especially so if you don't have a lot of space.


The light is mounted to your monitor by a well-made clamp style system - which will fit just about any monitor, with a bezel thickness from 0.7cm all the way to 6cm. The front of the clip extends down over the front bezel by about 6mm - so should not cover any screen area even with bezel-less 'frame' style monitor designs. Basically, it should fit just about anything nicely and easily. It takes only seconds to mount.

The light itself is powered by USB - I did notice this draws a fair bit of power, so it's best to connect this USB to a dedicated USB power supply, or a port on your computer itself. I plugged the light into a USB port on my monitor initially, and Windows gave me messages about the device drawing too much power almost straight away. There is a note about the power requirements in the Quick Start Guide - the optimal power source offers 1.5A to the light, and a typical USB port is only guaranteed to offer 0.5A I believe, so for best results, a USB power brick is probably the way to go, longer term. Of course the cords can be hidden as they run down the back of the monitor, so the result is an easy, neat install.

One thing of note - the light barrel itself is a silver colour (similar to Apples 'Space Grey') - whereas previous models have been black, which I preferred to this grey.

Clean, easy & clutter-free setup for maximum productivity






The new fancy with the BenQ Screenbar Halo is very much the wireless controller. One presumes/hopes that this is the future of BenQ controllers/pucks (as these also come with the SW monitors).

For years the old-school USB cable approach has been a frustration - all of this work has gone into improving the industrial design of BenQ products, but then there was always this dangling cable-to-controller to spoil it all. This new controller is much slicker - using 2.4ghz wireless to connect to the screenbar. It takes 3 AA batteries. It is activated with a simple magical wave over the top - you'll see the power light in the centre turn on.

You do rather have to remember where the controls are, though, as they do not light up by default. There are basically 5 further controls arrange around the central on/off switch. They are activated by tapping, when they will light up. You then rotate the external dial to change the setting, once selected. It takes a couple of goes to get a feel for it, but works well when you do. For example, to adjust the colour temperature, you tap one to the top left of the unit, and you will see a thermometer icon light up. Then rotate the dial and little LEDs around the edge of the device show you the actual level set (as ever, I'd much prefer labels - e.g 6000, 6500K etc - more on this below).




Brightness is adjusted the same way. There's also a switch control for auto brightness, if you want the device to measure your ambient light and adjust itself to a steady 500 lux. And finally there is a 'heart' icon for saving your favourite pre-set (hold for 3 seconds to save the current state - just one preset is on offer, though, unfortunately). You can then return to your preset by simply tapping the heart icon, from any adjustment you may have made.

In all it looks fabulous and works pretty well. I'm personally a bit old fashioned with this sort of thing - I prefer buttons and labels, but I think most folks would really like this controller once they're used to it. I'd love it if there was a software control panel option, too - so no controller at all. And I'd really like to see multiple pre-sets supported, in a perfect world.

Wireless Controller, full control at your fingertips

The SW271C attached to the 320M stand using the VESA mount and the KUPO VESA adapter mount

The SW271C attached to the 320M stand using the VESA mount and the KUPO VESA adapter mount


Used over a monitor, the lamp lights a surprisingly large area, and does so without too seriously impacting the display on the monitor itself. No direct light really falls on your panel at all, but of course your brightly lit work area will now reflect in to your monitor - especially when displaying deep shadow tones, so it can't really be said it has no impact on the display. (These lamps are great for general purpose work, but for colour accurate work, I don't think they are a great idea - when mounted above the monitor due to the impact on deep shadow display - an area where high quality monitors precisely make the difference). (And of course, you can't use a monitor hood with one of these, either).

For general work, however, the control over colour temperature and brightness offered by the BenQ Screenbar Halo is great - nearly step-less control means you can get things just right where you like them, then save that as your pre-set.


Bias lighting is when you reduce the contrast of your monitors display with the surround area, by projecting light behind the monitor. You've probably seen this used around TVs - it's common in home theatre type scenarios (where the bias lighting can be made to match the on-screen image, thus both reducing the contrast for your eye and making the TV seem larger than it is).

Bias lighting can make monitor use, in dimmer environments, a lot more comfortable. Eizo have their Radilight product (used mainly in the medical field on Radiography monitors) - this is the first time I've seen this on offer on an inexpensive consumer oriented accessory.

The lighting works well, projecting a soft, diffuse light behind the monitor. Even better, it is both brightness and colour temperature matched to your setting for the front light (note the maximum brightness for the front light drops slightly when the rear light is in use).

My monitor is in the centre of my office, with no wall nearby, so I leave the backlight off - but for anyone using the monitor in a more traditional position against a wall, this new opportunity for bias lighting works a treat and can significantly reduce the strain on your eyes over the hours longer working sessions.


The complete set up of the BenQ SW271C, MacBook Pro and the KUPO 320M Tethermate Monitor Kit

The complete set up of the BenQ SW271C, MacBook Pro and the KUPO 320M Tethermate Monitor Kit

Here's some images to show you how simple and effective this is:

The SW271C attached to the 320M stand using the VESA mount and the KUPO VESA adapter mount
The SW271C attached to the 320M stand using the VESA mount and the KUPO VESA adapter mount

It's not really possible to use the BenQ ScreenBar Halo with a monitor hood. There's just no feasible way to mount the Screenbar properly when you're using a hood. However, you can use the BenQ Screenbar Halo with a webcam, using an inexpensive accessory. Again, this has been quite thoughtful developed, and works well.

However, you can use the BenQ ScreenNar Halo with a webcam, using an inexpensive accessory. Again, this has been quite thoughtful developed, and works well.

Setting it up is really easy, too. You first clean the flat area behind the main light, then attach a metallic sticker to that flat area. This then allows the accessory plate to attach magnetically to this flat area - and also means you can adjust the precise placement of this plate to get you camera in the best position.

As long as you don't have some ancient, super heavy wecam, this works really simply and well. I think perhaps BenQ should have simply included this with all the screenbars, but I suppose a lot of people would never have used it, in practise, so it makes sense as a separate accessory. (But given this Covid thing, who isn't really using a webcam a fair bit these days?)

About the Author

Jeremy is the owner of Image Science. With a background in both professional photography and computing, he handles all the technical stuff including development of our fine art printing, scanning and colour management processes. He also handles business development, and is the website maker & primary content writer.

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