An ideal LED lamp for reading or computer work?
As you may have gleaned from my other articles, I'm a bit obsessed with the realm of LED lighting.
So when I got the opportunity to get a hands-on look at BenQ's new, curved, LED desk lamp, you better believe I jumped on it.
Prior to this, I was familiar with BenQ primarily from their computer monitors. Most modern screens are backlit by LEDs, and BenQ also manufactures light bulbs for digital projectors; so it makes total sense that they would be able to jump into the task light market.
I've been able to play around with the e-Reading lamp for a few weeks now, and I'm pleased to share my thoughts on it.
*Upon request, BenQ provided me with a review unit for this article.
Retro meets modern meets gorgeous
The e-Reading is a stunner. Just absolutely, jaw-droppingly gorgeous. You probably noticed how eye-catching it is from the main photo; it really jumps off the page.
It's even better in person. There's an undeniably retro quality to the whole thing. With its thin arm, chrome accents, braided cabling and rounded base, it reminds me of those vintage-style desk lamps (y'know, kind of like the Pixar mascot.)
The lamp head is the most interesting part. With its chromed ring (which is the on-off switch; more on that in a bit), round dial and swooping head, it is visual candy.
The build quality is excellent. Some of the parts appear to be plastic (the coloured portion of the head, for example), but everything has been finished with a powdercoat-style texture, which feels refined and durable.
And it's big. I wasn't quite prepared for the size. When fully extended with the head pointed vertically, it is about three feet (one metre) tall.
You'll likely use it in that configuration, but even when partially folded this task light can reach all the way across the average desk.
Controls and settings
I'm a user experience guy. And this little lamp makes me very happy, because is a joy to use. BenQ has clearly put some serious thought into how the user will interact with it.
You can turn the lamp on and off with a simple touch of the chrome ring. Is that a gimmick? Oh probably, but it's remarkably compelling and highly intuitive.
You can also control the ambient light sensor by touching the ring once, and then touching it again and holding for a few seconds.
That's pretty cool. Modern iPhones now have an option for an "eye-care" mode. This is somewhat similar. The sensors measure the light in the room (both the colour and quality) and the lamp decides the exact brightness and tone.
That's why this is one of the best LED desk lamps for reading, writing, drawing or computer use. At night, the light is soft and warm, while during the day it's brighter and more energizing.
If you'd prefer to customize it, you can use the control knob to adjust the brightness and the colour tone to suit your preferences.
And the eReading will remember your settings for the next time you tap it on.
The flexible arm and rotating ball-joint at the head mean you can position the head pretty much anywhere you like.
BenQ recommends for reading that you position it so the curve is just in front of and below your eyes. When used this way, the lamp will illuminate even a very large desk like mine, but won't glare into your eyes. I found that worked pretty well, but took a bit of getting used to (it's strange at first to have a curved bit of plastic in your peripheral vision.)
The arms hold the lamp pretty steady, though you might notice a slight jiggling if you're a vigorous typist. The base is extremely heavy, but that keeps the whole rig steady as a rock.
Nothing feels creaky, loose or fragile, and I suspect it could handle a lot of wear and tear.
If you'd prefer to avoid clutter, you can pick up an optional clamp to attach the arm without the base. I might recommend that for anyone with a smaller desk, since the base is pretty big and heavy.
OK, we have established that the BenQ eReading is gorgeous and versatile, but is this LED desk lamp good for your eyes? I believe so.
Soft and flicker-free is key
I've said it many times: not all LED lamps and bulbs are made equal. You might notice that cheaper TV sets or low-quality fixtures can flicker.
Let's be clear, if they are LED, they're not supposed to flicker. I think cheaper lamps must constantly modulate brightness. Not everyone notices this subtle irritation, but I definitely do.
The eReading makes for a great task lamp because it doesn't flicker at all.
I tested the brightness and colour settings right across the spectrum and I got nothing but pleasant, soft, steady light the whole way through.
Easy on the eyes
The ambient sensor is worth using. It seems to match the surrounding environment perfectly.
I noticed a palpable difference after using it. I suffer from eye strain. After using the e-Reading for a while I had noticeably fewer headaches. Also, I was able to fall asleep faster at night. That is pure anecdotal evidence, but it was my experience.
Bright on the sides
Here's an interesting thing to notice about this task lamp: it is brighter on the curved sides than in the centre. Why?
Well, BenQ reasons that many people will position the lamp head hovering just over their computer monitor. The brighter sides will illuminate your desk surface, but the slightly dimmer middle prevents screen glare.
It's subtle enough that I didn't notice it until I read the product details. Take a look at the image below.
Wide light throw
This is the first LED task light or desk lamp that I've run across with a curved projector. And it's great.
BenQ boasts 90cm of illumination. That's about 35 inches, or just under three feet.
I'd say that's accurate. In the photo below, you can see I've turned off my office lights and set the lamp to ambient mode. As you can see, my whole desk is brightly lit. And that's a big desk. To get a sense of scale, that's a 24-inch monitor.
It's awesome, and when it comes to raw coverage I haven't yet seen its equal.
Concerns and caveats
It's hard to find too many flaws with BenQ's lamp, to be honest. But is it perfect? That depends on your situation.
Here are some things to be aware of:
- Size: This lamp is big, really big. The base is about 8 inches across, and it's heavy as a rock. The projector head is more than a foot long, and while it does fold, it isn't really portable. I don't mind at all, but if you have a really small desk, it'll eat up real estate.
- Price: It ain't cheap! At the time of writing it was about $189 in the US and a whopping $400 in Canada where I live. That's a pretty big hurdle to jump. I don't find the cost hard to justify, because LED lamps don't burn out and will last for decades, so this is a lifelong investment. But still, it's a big initial outlay and that can be tough if you're on a budget.
Here's how I see it: if you spend hours each day at your desk, especially if that involves a lot of computer work or paperwork, the investment in your eye health alone justifies the expense. But I do hope BenQ can manage to ease the price a bit lower, especially in Canada.
So is the eReading the best LED task light for reading and computer use?
I haven't really found a better one. It's a pretty impressive piece of technology, if you can afford it, and BenQ is a fantastic company, one that I trust.
If you have any specific questions about the lamp or its features that I didn't cover in this article, I'd be happy to answer them. Or if you just want to chime in, please leave a comment below.