Thursday, 26 October 2017

Review: The BENQ EW277 HDR eye care monitor

Now, I don't do reviews of technology. And there's a good reason why I don't.

I'm something of a dinosaur and I still look at my smartphone as some kind of possessed magic box. I have no idea how most tech works and, frankly, I don't care. As Blackadder once said, when confronted with the Industrial Revolution and new technology like the Spinning Jenny, 'I am quite happy to wear wool but I have have no interest in how it works.'

For me, technology is often a hindrance and can make a simple job far more complicated than it needs to be. Therefore, the only tech I invest in is stuff that makes my life easier. Occasionally, I come across something that also makes my life better too.

The BENQ EW277 HDR Eye Care Monitor is one such piece of tech. Yes, it's a monitor and there are lots of pretty monitors out there but this one genuinely improves my working life. Let me explain why.

Like many professional writers I work mostly at home. And I work quite long hours, either because I have a deadline or, most often, because I love writing and once I get the bit between my teeth it's pretty hard to walk away. Working from home is seen as some kind of Nirvana by many people but the reality is that there's a lot to consider. Distraction is a big problem: dogs need walking, the phone is always ringing, and there are cold callers and postal deliveries to deal with. On top of which you have in front of you the world's greatest distraction device - the whole of the internet. You have to be pretty disciplined in order to get the work done.

There's health and safety to consider too. Your home, even if you have a bespoke office space like I do, isn't set up like a company office. You have to make sure that things like seating, lighting, heating etc. are right. I invested in a bigger computer so I wouldn't be hunched over a laptop. I installed non-flicker daylight bulbs. I bought an expensive chair with good lumbar support and lots of adjustability. However, the one thing that many people don't think about is eyes.

Staring at a monitor all day isn't great for the eyes, especially if you work into the evening as I often do. I'm also Type 2 diabetic and have to be extra careful about eye strain as it can lead to terrible problems with the finer blood vessels in my peepers. The idea of a monitor that caters for eye care appealed to me greatly and the BENQ EW277 HDR delivers in spades.

Firstly, it's a great monitor; crystal clear, flicker free, has vibrant colours and is very reasonably priced. The High Dynamic Range (HDR) function - accessed by a simple button on the front - increases the overall dynamic range between true black and bright white to resemble what your eyes see in the natural world. I don't play games but I'm told by friends who do, and who have this monitor, that it's excellent.

Now, let's talk about blue light.

In recent years, we've discovered that the blue light given off by screens isn't great for us. All the time that we're staring at monitors or tablets or smartphones, that insidious blue light is worming its way into our brains and doing things we'd rather it didn't. For a start, it can suppress the production of melatonin, which is an important chemical that helps us sleep. And if you don't get enough sleep, there are all kinds of health risks that could affect you from emotional imbalance, through depression and difficulties with memory, to cancers even. In certain wavelengths, blue light is also implicated in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and possibly in increased likelihood of cataracts. Just Google the subject of blue light and see how much concern there is. I dread to think about the health issues this is going to cause for the younger generation in later life (along with neck problems from constantly staring at their phones).

You can filter it out by wearing orange lenses but the BENQ EW277 monitor saves you the horror of looking like Bono all day by having a Low Blue Light filter mode. It's accessed, as are all the functions bar HDR mode, from a series of small buttons just under the bottom right of the screen. There are four different BL settings that you can choose from, all designed to reduce the blue light: document mode (what I use mostly), websurfing, watching video or games, or general office (emails etc.). It means that I can work into the wee hours with minimal strain and with no effect on my sleep patterns, which is a life saver. Or an eye saver anyway.

It also has something called Brightness Intelligence. The monitor actively scans the ambient light of the space you're working in and adjusts brightness and colour to the optimum to reduce eye strain. How bloody clever is that? My monitor is apparently smarter than me.

The third function that I like a great deal is the Smart Focus function that allows you to pinpoint an area on the screen and make that the focal point. The highlighted area remains bright while the surrounding area is dimmed so you’re able to focus on what you enjoy. How mad is that?

I can't say enough nice things about this monitor, which is why I've taken the rare step of doing a review. If it helps other writers and people who work with screens all day to have a better time of it then I'm happy to sing this monitor's praises. And when I mentioned on Twitter that I'd got one, I wasn't surprised to get messages back from people I know who have also found BENQ eye-care monitors to be of benefit.

Oh, and I can even point you in the direction of a discount. If you click here and use the discount code:SCNINFEW277HDR_freeshipping you'll get free shipping. Just ensure that you enter the code exactly as written here. The offer is valid until 31st December 2017.

Right. Now onto the next novel.

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