Before I give my review here, I want to mention that this is a sponsored post. BenQ sent me the light.
The BenQ ScreenBar Halo Monitor Light light comes in an aesthetically pleasing matte grey box.
The presentation of the light when you open the box is really well done. It's not Apple-level, but still pretty on point. I like the bit of fun they have on the open lid where it says, "Hello! This is Halo!"
Everything was packaged well, but removing the plastic wrapping around the light was tricky. I used scissors to cut the tape, but I was still worried about damaging the lamp. It could be easier if the plastic covering each part of the light bar could slide off.
Setting it up
When I first connected the light, I plugged it into the built-in USB hub (USB 3.0) in the back of my monitor. It would flash periodically. After reading a little bit, I realized it wasn't providing enough power to the light. It requires 5V / 1.3A to work. I tried the same thing in my mini USB hub for my laptop. No luck again. I could get it powered up by plugging it into my Mac with a USB-C adapter. It wasn't enjoyable to have it plugged directly into my computer, though, as it protruded pretty far out because of the USB-C adapter. Ultimately, I ended up connecting it to my router's USB port on my desk. Another option could have been to use an iPhone plug, but the router's USB port is working fine.
The remote takes 3 AAA batteries. Thankfully they were included with the product. I always wonder why so many products don't have batteries. The bottom of the remote was easy to open and close to insert the batteries.
Trying it out
For some context, I'm in an office that is 8 x 10 feet (2.44 x meters 3 m) with white walls and a window above my desk that is 2 x 4 feet (0.61 x 1.22 meters)
Turning the front light on gave me enough light to see everything in front of my monitor, but I also preferred it with the rear light on.
In the evenings, I prefer less light, so I tried it with just the backlight, and surprisingly, I had a perfect amount of light to work in the evenings.
The remote sits nicely on my desk, arm's length away. It looks really nice just sitting on the desk.
In the photo, you'll notice it's very reflective. I can see the back of my phone on it that took the picture. It also surfaces smudges and fingerprints. This doesn't bother me, but maybe some folks would constantly be wiping it down.
I like that it turns on when you hover your hand over it as you see in the photo. The one thing I found confusing, though, is not all the buttons on the remote light up, so I had to look closely or turn on my office lighting to see what all the buttons were. An improvement could be to have them all light up and have some indicators to suggest if that feature is on.
I've been using the automatic feature that adjusts the light throughout the day, so I'm not tweaking things with the remote.
I have yet to speak to the battery life of the remote, as I've only been using this for a few days.
I checked their site when BenQ contacted me about trying out the light. I realized just sending me the light wouldn't work because I have a webcam that I mount in the middle on top of my monitor. I discovered they had a webcam accessory, so I asked if they could send that along with the light.
The webcam accessory is L shaped and comes with a magnet that you stick on top of the Halo. This was quick to set up and works well. Since the camera is a little higher because of the light, I had to change the angle of the camera slightly.
If you have a webcam set up like me, you need the webcam accessory.
Googling the price at the time this review was written, the BenQ ScreenBar Halo Monitor Light is going for 180$ USD (140$ £) on Amazon. I've only bought IKEA desk lamps or some inexpensive ring lights for live streaming in my office, so I'm not sure if that price is high for desk lighting. Having bought lighting for other parts of my house, though, it doesn't sound that expensive.
Despite the issues I ran into with removing the packaging, which was not a dealbreaker at all, I'm impressed with this light, aside from the little annoyances I mentioned about the remote. The light is also pleasing to the eye.
As mentioned, I use the rear light only in the evenings, and it provides me with enough light to work. Again, if you have a webcam set up as I do, the webcam accessory is a must.
Again BenQ sent me this light, but after reviewing it, I would shell out the cash for it.