Review: Benq WiT LED desk lamp
Benq may not be a brand you typically associate with lights, and we know it best for monitors, but your next work light could come from some neat R&D at this company.
Benq has built itself something rather unusual in the form of the “WiT”, which the company states is a name broken up from the words “wide”, “intelligent”, and “tailor-made”. That might be the case, but we’re just going to call the “Wit” simply because constantly capitalising that extra “T” looks silly, and will do our heads in trying to write the review.
So what is this Wit thing, and does it have the potential to change the way we view our desks?
What is it?
A company normally known for monitors is doing something a little different this year, as it looks to the research used for making monitors better for our health and applies it to something else that offers light.
Specifically, it’s a light, and one geared at people who are beginning to understand that light comes in all sorts of different styles, with colours and lighting temperatures changing the way you work, study, and relax.
That’s something people will begin to understand more and more as lights become infinitely more controllable and customisable, as is the case with the Philips Hue and LiFX light bulbs allowing you to use your phone and tablet to not only switch lights on and off, but also customise the colour space.
But what if you want a single light to do this, to test the waters, so to speak, and see if a colour changing light source could make your work life or home life just that much better?
The Benq solution is to bundle the technology into an LED lamp, which is exactly what the Wit is, a relatively large swing-arm desk lamp that features LEDs on a curved lamp casing, with one knob and one circular touch-based control.
A rather unusual design, it’s clear Benq wants its Wit to stand out, and has gone to some trouble to make sure this thing works a little differently from your conventional light.
For instance, there’s a small metallic loop at the back of the lamp, and this is your “on” switch. You won’t realise it until you touch it, but the moment you do, the Benq Wit will come to life, lighting up your room and life like you’d expect a lamp to do.
The only other control on the Wit is the control knob near the metallic touch power switch, and this has two modes: brightness or colour switching.
Upon first play, you’ll likely find it set to brightness, and when the Wit is switched on, turning this knob left or right will result in a brighter or dimmer lamp. Easy.
Pressing the knob results in a different mode, with the Benq Wit switching to a colour difference setting, allowing you to jump between a more yellow light, a more orange light, a blue inspired light, and so on and so on.
The Wit is also supposed to be able to jump between various lighting modes dependent on the room you’re in, matching the room and providing a balanced lighting setup that works and adapts to any changing light.
Getting this to work requires setting the Benq Wit up in its automated mode, which you’ll get if you hold the metal touch-based power loop down for a second, with a green light appearing to tell you it’s online.
With this engaged, the lighting changes, working to adapt to your room, which is great if you only need a touch of light, though even if it’s not right, changing this is as simple as pressing that knob and dialling in the right colour space and light type for the activity you’re taking part in.
It might be reading, it might be working, or it might be falling asleep with a mug of tea, and this knob will let you discover if a lighting style helps you do all of those things better (though truth be told, it won’t switch off when you eventually do fall asleep in that last one).
So using the Wit is easy, and only marginally more complicated than a standard light because you can not only fiddle with the right volume of light, but the colour temperature of the light, too.
Where Wit feels like it needs more time in the shop, however, stems from some of the design choices, and the obvious one is that this thing is huge with a rather unusual design aesthetic.
Granted, everyone has differing opinions on designs, but it’s hard to take the massive arch of the Benq seriously, with a giant curve that Benq describes as “smile curve tech”.
We’re not exactly sure how a curve that emulates a smile is technology per se, but a lamp with this strong a curve may look good in some offices and pretty out there and garish in others.
This slightly peculiar design can also be seen with the on-off switch, which is a metallic loop attached to the end, though one that can be touched a little too easily.
It’s not a far jump from the colour or brightness knob to the power switch, and we found our hands were often clumsily touching that touch sensitive power switch, meaning the light would be controlled and then powered down, only to find us touching it to switch it back on again and get it back to where we needed it.
Maybe it’s just us, but these two controls feel like they should be very far from each other, and perhaps the power switch should be on the base, or at least somewhere else so you’re not accidentally brushing the power switch and turning the light off.
Our other quibble is one of lighting choices, because as varied as the Benq Wit is, it doesn’t feel quite as controllable as the lights we’ve seen from the likes of the other customisable LED bulb players out there.
Sure, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for a desk lamp to glow blue or green or deep red, but at least you get the choice of that on a Hue, or a competing light bulb that you plonk into any old desk lamp.
In fact, if you go to a furniture or office shop, pick up a lamp, and throw the WiFi lightbulb in, you’ll have a colour changing light that can do the same lighting options, but also be controlled with a smartphone or tablet.
And that’s where the Benq Wit is a touch confusing, because while it’s a good idea, it’s one that feels like the control needs work, or even the adaptability.
We doubt you’re going to need to switch the light to a different set of colours not programmed into the Wit, but the option is at least there in other WiFi lightbulbs, and yet missing here.
Despite the omission of complete control — something an app would have brought to the table, Benq’s Wit is a curious concept, delivering something we’re only now seeing brought into the main home over to the office.
It’s not perfect and could easily do with some tweaking, but we like where Benq is heading with this one, because in generation two or three, we could see the company’s understanding of lighting and display technologies make the lamp better overall.
Right now, it’s a curious concept ideal for people who have a desk and want this sort of control but haven’t invested in another WiFi lightbulb. If you have already, however, your options are a little different.