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BenQ LaptopBar Review: A Stylish Solution to Eye-Friendly Lighting
When you spend hours in front of a computer, getting the lighting right can reduce eye strain and prevent headaches. While you can control the lighting at home or in your office, that's usually not the case when you're on the road. That's where BenQ's LaptopBar, a light bar for laptops and computer monitors, literally shines. It provides state-of-the-art lighting, delivering task lighting and backlighting to reduce contrast anywhere you set up shop.
After using the LaptopBar for the last three months in my home office and while traveling, I can't imagine working without it. It's easy to attach to my laptop or monitor, and once I've set my preferred light level and color temperature – from cool white to warm white – the light takes care of the rest, compensating for ambient light changes automatically.
My primary complaint is the cost. At $139, it's pricey for a laptop light bar. However, the quality of the light, the flexibility in setting it up, and the fact that it's battery-powered or can run off a USB-C port make it easy to recommend.
Design and build quality
The LaptopBar consists of two pieces – the light (measuring 9.3 x 4.5 x 0.3 inches) and the base (1.8 x 0.6 x 4.0 inches folded) that holds the light and houses the battery. Together, they weigh 6.35 ounces. Simply place the light on the base, and you're ready to go. The design is simple and elegant.
Appearances can be deceiving with the LaptopBar, which is a good thing in this case. Cleverly integrated into the base is an arm that nearly doubles the lamp's available height. This extra elevation allows you to easily use the LaptopBar on a computer monitor and cast light over a full-size keyboard and mouse setup. When you use only the base with the arm tucked in, the light focuses narrowly on your laptop's keyboard.
The LaptopBar is held together with magnets that secure the light to the base and the base to your laptop or monitor. For monitors and laptops that aren't magnet-friendly, BenQ includes two Magnetic Patches, one black and one silver, in the box. However, if your monitor or laptop has a special coating, texture, or is curved, it may not be compatible with the LaptopBar.
Ease of use
Once you have the light attached, you can make further adjustments by tilting the light bar to focus the light where you want it. And if you're using the arm, you can raise or lower it as well. The farther the light is from the surface, the more diffuse it becomes.
Sensors and controls built into the LaptopBar's light allow for adjusting the brightness and color temperature. Touch the button on the front of the light to activate the slider to change the color from a warm 2700K to a cool 5700K in seven steps. Tap again to adjust the brightness. Once you've set your preferred brightness, a top-mounted sensor adjusts the light to maintain consistency throughout the day. Another sensor detects a wave gesture to turn the light on or off. BenQ has made the design elegantly simple.
Read more: How to Buy the Right Light Bulb
The LaptopBar's value lies in the quality of light it provides. In my testing, I found it easy to achieve the right color and intensity without any glare on my monitor or laptop display. I never felt the need to adjust the light's intensity throughout the day. Sometimes, I'd look up, surprised to find it was dusk.
The LaptopBar doesn't just illuminate your workspace; it also lights up the space behind your laptop or monitor. This backlighting reduces the high contrast between your well-lit workspace and the area behind it, which is easier on your eyes. The company claims a 79% contrast ratio, which matches my experience. It's one of the main reasons I consistently use the product.
When you're finished using the LaptopBar, disassembly is straightforward. Pull the light off your monitor, separate the pieces, and place them in the included carrying bag. The whole process takes a couple of seconds.
As a product designed for mobility, the LaptopBar has a built-in battery for use away from power. The company rates the battery as lasting up to 160 minutes at 50% brightness. I found the light most comfortable at about 50% brightness and consistently got at least two hours of operation. However, I usually leave the light plugged into my laptop's USB-C port.
The bottom line
At $139, the BenQ LaptopBar is an investment. It's a premium task light for laptops and monitors, with a price tag, design aesthetic, and feature set to match. Available in black and ivory, it complements a variety of laptop finishes and has a sleek minimalist design that you won't mind showing off. But the primary reason I recommend the LaptopBar is that you'll always have an adjustable, glare-free light that provides both task and backlighting to meet your needs, whether you're in a dimly lit hotel room or your well-lit home office.
[Image credit: Techlicious]