After raising, lowering, working upon, and testing the stability of 16 different standing desks over the past four years, the Fully Jarvis Bamboo remains our favorite adjustable-height standing/sitting desk for most people. After our latest tests, we also recommend the Uplift Standing Desk. Both desks show more polish in their details and are far more stable than anything else in their price range. The Jarvis and the Uplift are also backed by generous warranties from established ergonomic firms.
We’ve accumulated more experience with the Jarvis Bamboo than with any other desk, and it remains the “no-brainer” option for a standing desk. It rises and falls smoothly with no shuddering and is stable, even at its full height—it’s particularly resistant to front-to-back wobble. The Jarvis accommodates the height of 95.5 percent of American adults (though shorter folks may need to add a keyboard tray) and can support up to 350 pounds, counting the top. You can customize a Jarvis that fits your space and looks just the way you want, and it will arrive fast, with easy-to-follow instructions and quality parts. In this field, that’s more exciting than it sounds.
Uplift’s Standing Desk is a direct competitor to the Jarvis, using a slightly different version of the same lifting frame. Of all the desks we’ve tested, most of which use the same frame supplier and have similar options, it’s the only one that’s as stable and reliable as the Jarvis, and the only other one we recommend. You can buy an Uplift with nearly the same accessories as the Jarvis for almost exactly the same price. However, the Uplift’s bamboo top is thicker, and it has a few different frame, top, and accessory options than the Jarvis. It has a bit less side-to-side wobble than the Jarvis, but a little more front-to-back wobble. In any case, both desks are far more stable than any other desk we’ve tested. The Jarvis remains our top pick because it’s a desk multiple Wirecutter staffers have years of experience with, but we have yet to find any serious flaws with the Uplift desk.
If you’re committed to a standing routine, but you already own a standard-height desk you like, or the price of a fully adjustable desk is just too much, we like the Ergo Desktop Kangaroo Pro Junior. It provides a decently smooth transition from sitting to standing, but more than that, it doesn’t render a huge chunk of your desk unusable, or demand an uncommonly deep desk, like most units we tested. It’s a stable, fluid upgrade to your workspace ergonomics.
If you’re curious about standing, or you don’t have the space or funds for one of our other picks, consider a cheap cardboard converter. Our favorite, the Ergodriven Spark, has enough room for a full keyboard with a numpad and mouse, and its three sizes should provide a decent ergonomic option for most people. For $20 to $25 shipped, it’s a good step along the path to healthier work habits.
If you’re going to stand to work, you need a standing desk mat to support and relieve pressure on your feet, back, legs, neck, and shoulders. We tested antifatigue mats right underneath the desks we tested for this guide, and found the Ergodriven Topo was the best mat for alternating between sitting and standing. It’s plenty comfortable beneath your feet, but what puts it over the competition are its multiple surfaces and densities for bored, fidgety feet and the ability to slide it under a desk and back with one foot. You’re also going to want a monitor arm if you use a monitor at your desk, or a laptop stand—or both, if you want to have two screens at the right height on your desk.
In 2013, The Wirecutter was the first publication to test and directly compare full-size adjustable standing desks and desk converters head to head. Freelance writer Mark Lukach built and worked at six popular and reputable standing desks that first year, followed by groups tested by Wirecutter editor Nathan Edwards, and then me, Kevin Purdy. We’ve tested more standing desks than any other publication, and we’ve seen the market grow and grow since we started.
Along the way, we’ve consulted the work of established experts in the field of standing, sitting, working, and maintaining health. We’ve read the work of James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, a pioneer and early advocate for varying one’s work position. We spoke at length with Shane Harris, one of the first journalists to write extensively about standing desks. We referenced—for this guide and our home office work—the work of Cornell University’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Group (CUErgo). We’ve communicated with company founders for background on the desks themselves: David Kahl of Fully (formerly Ergo Depot), Jon Paulsen of Uplift, Justin Lucas of Autonomous, and Steven Yu of StandDesk. Most of all, we’ve kept a watch on the ebb and flow of research and opinion on the dangers of sitting and what standing desks can and cannot do to alleviate sitting’s damage.
Most studies agree that sitting for long periods of time can shorten your life. This is something that helped spur the sudden explosion earlier this decade of height-adjustable desks. Suddenly, a niche tool became a status symbol, a signifier of a health-conscious, employee-minded office. But though sitting is bad for you, the shift toward standing happened before the other half was proven—that standing fixes or undoes sitting’s damage. Simply put, the health benefits of standing, and other “interventions” (like software that reminds you to move around) are not yet proven by solid studies. That does not mean a standing desk is not beneficial; simply, there is not enough evidence yet from good studies to prove exactly how.
Also, having an adjustable standing desk means you have an adjustable sitting desk, too. Most desks are built to a height for the “average person,” because they must be mass-produced. Sometimes you can raise the legs or casters a bit, maybe an inch. With an adjustable standing desk that has a memory console, you can figure out your most comfortable sitting height and lock it in, without having to lift up your desk and slide things under the feet.
If you do decide to set up a standing desk, get the ergonomics down. Misaligning your back, shoulders, or neck can lead to pains, or worse. This older graphic from Wired remains the simplest way to illustrate the proper standing desk goals: monitor slightly tilted back, eyes looking about two inches below the top of your monitor, keyboard and mouse at your elbow level or slightly below.
How much should you stand at your desk? Not too much. The best practice to avoid sitting all day is to not sit all day, but standing all day brings its own problems, as factory workers can attest. Rotate between sitting, standing, and moving around, as suggested by Cornell’s Alan Hedge and the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Ideally, you should stand and/or move around two hours of every eight-hour workday. Exactly how you break that up depends on your work tasks, your schedule, and how you’re feeling on any given morning or afternoon.
Just as standing while working is not yet soundly proven to undo sitting’s damage, you should not expect standing to cure any bodily problems you experience while sitting at work. If you have any maladies or concerns, consult an orthopedic or primary care doctor to address problems, or before committing to a significant change in work routine.
Adjustable sit/stand desks come in three general types: hand-cranked, hydraulic/pneumatic, and electronic. Hand-cranked desks are only slightly less expensive than electronic, a pain to work with, and prone to load-imbalance issues. Hydraulic desks like the Humanscale Float are quiet and elegant, but they cost as much as high-end electronic desks, lack any sort of preset height options, and can’t hold as much weight. We have focused on electronic desks since we first started testing in 2012, because they’re the most popular, reliable, and cost-effective adjustable desks and can hold several hundred pounds.
Generally, in assessing newer electronic standing desks, we considered how they compared with our standing pick, the Fully Jarvis Bamboo, in features, specifications, and price. Some of those desks ended up being dismissed before testing began.
Because adjustable-height desks generally cost at least $500, whatever you buy should be stable and operational for a decade or more. It should also look the way you want it to, because you’re going to spend thousands of hours working on it, whether sitting or standing. You should have few problems buying the desk, receiving it, assembling it, and troubleshooting any small quirks in its operation (and they exist, even for the best desk—see Care and maintenance). The company should offer speedy, reliable support and appear to be in the business for the long haul. If your desk stops working, especially while it’s raised, you don’t want to find out that you’ve been left high and dry.
Almost nobody has owned a modern standing desk with electronically controlled lifts for five years or more, so reliability and durability are something we have to extrapolate from customer reviews and day-to-day use.
A good standing desk should accommodate as wide a range of human heights as possible. Any desk can hit the middle of the bell curve, but a good desk should be usable by just about everyone.1
The most important thing in a quality adjustable desk is stability. A solid standing desk should not wobble from front to back or from side to side at any height. It should raise and lower as smoothly as possible, without unpleasant noises or shudders. Beyond wobble, there’s a feeling of balance, especially when a monitor is attached to an arm or a laptop is on a stand on the desk. It’s hard to quantify, but it’s easy to feel when you think about your expensive equipment. It is, essentially, a back-of-mind fear that “this whole thing feels like it could go right over if someone bumped it the wrong way.” Most desks we tested avoided that, but not all of them.
With those parameters in mind, and after looking into the leading companies, we brought in three new desks to try in the summer of 2016: the Autonomous SmartDesk (no longer sold in the configuration we tried), an Evodesk, and an Uplift Standing Desk. We tested these desks alongside our pick (the Fully Jarvis) in CoworkBuffalo, offering standing desks to an enthusiastic set of standing workers. We configured each desk to match as closely as possible to the same configuration: a 60-inch-wide bamboo top (or nearest equivalent), wire-management cutouts if available, and a programmable controller. We asked each person to rotate desks each day, and, after a few hours of sit/stand shifts, to compare each desk’s stability and adjustability with that of the others.
In the winter of 2017, we took a fresh look at desktop conversion units, which add an adjustable-height workspace to your regular desk. As with desks, stability is paramount, especially when the platform is weighed down with a keyboard, a mouse, and a laptop or a monitor. (We focused on models with VESA mounts for attaching monitors, but most companies also have versions for laptops or non-mountable monitors). It also matters how gracefully a conversion unit lowers back down to a desk. It’s all too easy to shuffle something underneath your keyboard tray or have something fall over into that shadowed space while you’re standing. A conversion desk that lowers too fast, without your firm control, can easily cost you a cracked screen or a broken mug.
We tested three variants of the Adapt by Uplift: one freestanding and two clamp-based. We also set up and tested the freestanding and clamp-mounted versions of the Duke converter by Beyond the Office Door, and we re-tested our longtime desktop converter pick, the Ergo Desktop Kangaroo Pro Junior.
Most desktop converters cost in excess of $300, which is a lot to pay if you’re not sure how much standing you’ll actually do. Some people also work in spaces where a new desk or a large adapter isn’t viable. Inexpensive models, most made of cardboard or lightweight wood, have stepped into this transient section of the stand-while-working movement. However, most of them just raise your laptop to elbow height, leaving your neck bent or your hands held too high (or both). Others come in only one size, which excludes anyone much taller or shorter than average. We looked for converters that offer a stable platform with enough space to comfortably use a full-size keyboard and mouse, that have more than one height option, and that are a significant improvement over simply stacking books underneath your laptop. Because these usually cost under $40, looks are less important than they are for our other picks.
Our preferred setup—a 60-inch rectangular bamboo top, with wire-management cutouts at the corners, and a programmable memory handset—doesn’t look too office-like for your home or too quirky for an office, and provides enough color and customization options to suit most people. Fully has sold the Jarvis for three years as of this writing, and is on its eighteenth iteration of small changes. Several Wirecutter writers and editors have used versions of the Jarvis for years, and all of them find their desks in good working order and easy to recommend.
The frame (the motor and lifting legs) used by the Jarvis was customized for Fully by Jiecang, a major supplier of standing-desk frames. The Jarvis’s steel feet are heavier than other desks’, about 6 pounds to most other standing desks’ 3 pounds. Nearly every other Jiecang-made desk frame we tested telescopes downward, with the biggest piece attached to the desktop; the Jarvis’s frame telescopes upward, putting more weight toward the bottom. Fully claims this lowers the center of gravity and reduces the sensation of wobble and tipping; another desk maker that uses Jiecang lifts in the other orientation dismissed the idea. Regardless, the Jarvis is one of the most solid and stable desks we’ve ever tested. Specifically, it is more stable front to back than our other pick, the Uplift desk, but slightly more wobbly in side-to-side movements. In both cases, these differences showed up only when shoving or shaking those two desks. Other desks we tested moved noticeably when simply leaning in to reach for coffee, and the Autonomous desk we tested couldn’t even hold its own against aggressive typing.
The Jarvis arrives in two boxes, one with the desktop and one with the frame components. Of the four desks we assembled in 2016, the Jarvis provided the best experience. When a Wirecutter staffer purchased a Jarvis Bamboo (with their personal email and payment), they received a shipping confirmation and tracking number two days later. The email noted the carrier, the time frame for delivery, the shipping origin, and had instructions for assembling the Jarvis attached. Most standing desk makers took three to five days to ship, with less notice and information provided, and one, Autonomous, left a staffer waiting for months.
Jarvis’s instructions were clear, and components were properly labeled. None of the predrilled holes on the bottom of the desktop were crooked or improperly spaced for the frame pieces. We wouldn’t mention this if this had not occurred with at least two other standing desks, one of which (the Evodesk) costs around $300 more than the Jarvis when configured with a similarly sized bamboo top and memory handset.
The maximum height of the Jarvis—¾-inch-thick desktop included—is 49¾ inches. Everyone’s body dimensions are different, but that height should allow a proper ergonomic keyboard height for most people up to 6 feet 6 inches tall. If you add the optional locking casters onto the feet, the Jarvis gains another two inches. You can save $25 by choosing the “Mid Range” frame when customizing your desk; at 46½ inches, it should cover people up to 6 feet 2 inches tall, but those on the taller side should err on the side of coverage. Compare those options to the Ergotron we tested, which tops out at 44 inches, effectively ruling it out for anyone taller than 6 feet 1 inch. The Jarvis’s minimum height, 24 inches, is three to six inches below the average fixed-height sitting desk. People under 5 feet 4 inches may need to add a keyboard tray to get their keyboard and mouse low enough for proper ergonomics while seated, but that’s true of virtually all desks.2
The ¾-inch bamboo top of the Jarvis feels solid and looks great. It’s a slightly darkened, three-layer slab of bamboo, sealed with a clear finish that stands up well against hot coffee mugs and ice-water condensation. You can get your bamboo top in a rectangle or with a front contour cutout, or “butterfly” style, with raised “wings” on the sides (an odd option we don’t think most people will need), and with cable-routing cutouts in either corner, including power-supplying or wire-hiding grommets. (These cable-routing cutouts are relatively new; we dinged previous iterations of the Jarvis for not including them.) You have two color options for the grommets and three for the frame. You can add locking casters, screw-on pencil trays or wire-management channels, PC holders, and other options. Although it’s listed as an add-on, you should definitely upgrade to a programmable memory handset, which makes raising and lowering your desk multiple times per day far less of a chore, because you don’t have to search for the correct height each time.
Fully (formerly Ergo Depot) has made ergonomic products since 2005 and gradually iterated on their standing desk designs since the Jarvis’s introduction in August 2013. The firm’s return policy is clear and relatively generous, asking a $50 flat return fee for a very expensive, heavy item, after troubleshooting measures have been exhausted. They’re not the only company with a seven-year warranty, they’re a company we’ve come to believe is well suited to fulfill it.
In addition to bamboo tops, the Jarvis is also available with laminate or powder-coated MDF or hardwood tops, and even a few weirder options, but we think the bamboo top is the best-looking and the best value. It’s also available in a narrow “Junior” version, with an L-shaped frame, or as a treadmill desk.
You can buy just the Jarvis frame in steel or black from Amazon, with free Prime shipping, and attach it to nearly any desktop in the proper size range, though you’ll need to drill mounting holes yourself. If you are near Baltimore, Portland, or San Francisco, you can visit the Fully showrooms, something most standing desk makers do not have.
Most of the issues you might encounter with the Jarvis, or any standing desk, come from human error. With our writers and editors having built more than a dozen standing desks, we know that, as with all assemble-it-yourself furniture, early errors like loose or too-tight screws or misaligned bolts can compound as you move on. But a few other quirks might arise regardless of how you set it up.
Like most standing desks in its price range, the lifting motors in the Jarvis’s legs can drift slightly out of alignment with each other after many uses, causing sounds or vibrations. Most of these issues can be fixed with the desk’s reset procedure (lowering all the way and pressing a button for a few seconds).
We recommend a particular Jarvis setup—bamboo, rectangular 60-inch desktop, memory-enabled console—because we think it’s the best value in the line. The laminate tops, though cheaper, are thick, heavy, and not too attractive. Most of the accessories for the Jarvis are not custom-built for the desk, just conveniently packaged with your shipment. If you want fewer wires exposed on your desktop, add grommeted cable-routing cutouts to your desktop or use good, affordable cable-management tools.
Two Wirecutter readers brought to our attention issues with Jarvis bamboo tops cracking, seemingly along glue joints; a Wirecutter staffer who bought a bamboo-top Jarvis also had this happen. So though defects are not common, they’re not extremely rare, either. In each case, Fully has replaced the faulty desktop at no cost to the customer (twice in one reader’s case), which makes us able to still recommend the bamboo option.
Uplift’s desk selector gives you a lot of branching options for your desk layout—even more than Jarvis does. There are three- and four-legged frames in three colors, five colors for eco/laminate, 14 solid woods and stains (compared with Jarvis’s five wood and stain options), and two reclaimed wood options. Uplift offers most of the same types of accessories as Jarvis and ships each desk with a free antifatigue mat, bag or headphone hooks, or a USB hub. (The mat is better than nothing, but less supportive than almost anything we tested in our standing desk mat guide). Shipping was estimated at two to four days for a bamboo desktop, and the packaging, shipping, and assembly process was similar to the Jarvis’s. We caught one hex-head screw mix-up in the manual text and informed Uplift, and the company has addressed it.
As for the bamboo desktop and its lifting frame: it raises and lowers smoothly. It is a little more stable side to side than the Jarvis, due to the welded triangular bits at the intersections of the frame and crossbars. The Jarvis seemed, within a very narrow range of human perception, more stable at its full height, in terms of vibrations, front-to-back wobble, and a feeling of being “planted.” It’s not a day-and-night comparison―more like a 5 to 10 percent difference―and your mileage with wobble/vibration will vary based on your desk setup. A heavily loaded desk will wobble more, for example, and a monitor mounted on an arm will wobble less than one on a stand. The memory console works just like the memory console on the Jarvis―and two other standing desks we recently tested.
The Uplift is a solidly made adjustable-height desk, with a similar stability and a wider range of configuration options than others, from a company with good standing and a reasonable seven-year warranty. If you can’t order a Jarvis desk just the way you want it, or you want a desktop option that Jarvis doesn’t offer, you should check out Uplift. As with the Jarvis, we tested a version with a 60-inch bamboo top and memory console.
The Kangaroo Pro Junior is a two-level contraption that sits on top of your desk.
The 24-by-18-inch base level is for your keyboard and mouse, and the second level is for your VESA-mounted monitor. Compared with a full-size adjustable desk, it’s a smaller space to work from while standing, and switching between positions takes a good bit more time, but it does allow you to introduce a standing habit into a workspace without totally reconfiguring it. Unlike many converters, the Kangaroo Pro Junior doesn’t attach to your desk—it simply sits on top. This is convenient because you can slide the Kangaroo to the side (assuming you have the room) or remove it entirely if you need to accomplish tasks that don’t involve a keyboard.
With your monitor and keyboard in place, you loosen first a bottom knob (or “brake,” as Ergo Desktop calls it), which allows you to then gently lift the platform and monitor with pneumatic assistance. You then loosen another knob to raise the monitor to your new standing eye level. (Unlike some desktop converters, the monitor and desktop levels adjust independently.) When you’re ready to go back down, you loosen the main knob, push down, tighten the knob again, then bring your monitor down and tighten that knob, too. You can put a removable stabilization leg under the keyboard platform once you’re standing, and remove it when lowering the platform again; you can skip using it for short standing sessions. If you shuffle a lot between standing and sitting, this is quite a few steps, especially compared with the one-click operation of a memory-handset standing desk.
Of all the desktop converters we’ve tested, the Kangaroo Pro Junior is the most usable while seated. Its platform isn’t the thinnest, but it’s the least obstructive to your wrists, and unlike other converters there are no wrist guards or sidewalls to block your hands.
The Kangaroo Junior’s platform can support up to 15 pounds of pressure when raised and with the stabilization leg in place. You can slouch a bit, but it can’t take your full leaning weight. Other desktop-conversion options hold only a keyboard and a mouse, without much structural support. Without the leg, the Kangaroo platform will still hold your monitor and keyboard, or even a laptop if you work with a laptop/monitor setup.
The Kangaroo Pro Junior comes almost fully assembled, with just a handful of parts (PDF) and all the tools you need to complete the setup in just a few minutes. Other converters we tested ship as a collection of a half-dozen joints and surfaces, with many more look-alike hex screws or bolts (29 of them in the clamp-mounted Duke [PDF]).
Ergo Desktop sells many variations of the Kangaroo, including models with larger or smaller workspaces, some that support multiple monitors and monitors without VESA compatibility, and motorized ones. Most people will do just fine with the Kangaroo Pro Junior, which holds a mouse and keyboard at the proper heights without taking up too much room. (Assuming your monitor has VESA mounts; otherwise, you’ll want the non-Pro version). The latest Kangaroo models come with an optional tray-lengthening extension piece for those with longer arms or deeper desks―it aided a 6-foot-2-inch Wirecutter writer in better fitting the Pro Junior.
The Spark’s thick cardboard folds over and up under itself many times, creating a sturdy platform that minimizes wobble and vibration while you type. It can support a full keyboard, numpad included, and a mouse, and has some useful cord-holding hooks for them on each side. It could hold a monitor, if you wanted; it could hold more than 100 pounds, really, because corrugated cardboard is awesome. You decide whether to extend a mousing surface off to the left or right side of the Spark while you’re building it.3 That lets you keep your keyboard in line with your laptop screen—better for your neck than most cardboard or plastic standing units, which force your hands’ resting keyboard position slightly off to either side.
With its centered, slightly downward-tilted keyboard shelf, and three models instead of a one-size-fits-all design, the Spark is more attuned to ergonomics and the fact that humans have different-size bodies than its competition is, but it’s far from perfect. The height of the Spark’s top shelf, where your laptop sits, differs a lot depending on which size you get, and the keyboard shelf moves only a little bit. That means the largest Spark gets a wider and more natural distance between the keyboard and the laptop screen, and the smaller heights will likely induce more neck tilt or slight arm raises. Not much can be done about this for the Spark or any other fixed standing desk; still, three size options are better than one.
The biggest downside to the Spark is its looks, which bear the trade-off for stability and cheap flat-pack shipping and assembly. The exposed edges of the cardboard are rough, and the break-off perforations leave a few notches on some edges. The matte blue-gray paint is inoffensive, but not as universally stylish as black or white. The Ergodriven logo in the middle of its back seems a bit much, but could be hidden with a bumper sticker.
Most of the time, standing-desk issues can be solved with one fix, common to all desks that use motorized lifts: a reset procedure. You bring the desk to its lowest height, let go of the down button, then press and hold the down button again until the console reads “RST.” Press and hold the down button one more time, and the desk will sink a little lower, do something approximating a shimmy, then rise. If your desk still has whatever raising/lowering/balance issues you noticed, make sure there’s nothing underneath its feet, or a cord putting pressure on its frame, and then contact the manufacturer.
As for the bamboo tops of our preferred desktop configurations (Jarvis and Uplift): They are sealed beneath environmentally friendly UV-resistant finishes and should survive many years of coffee cups, water glasses, and minor scratches without issue.
We look forward to testing a “V3” of the VertDesk when it becomes available from Beyond the Office Door. The desk aims to be faster than our picks at raising and lowering, and likely lower in price.
Full-size standing desks we tested
The NextDesk Terra is beautiful, and was the first standing desk we recommended. Since then, the Jarvis and its near competitors have gotten better-looking and sturdier, and the average price of a nice standing desk is now about half that of the Terra. Terra’s lifts are still a little quieter and faster than the Jiecangs used by competitors, and the Terra’s bamboo top looks sleeker. But the Jarvis and Uplift offer 95 percent of the polish and experience of the Terra for about half the price.
NextDesk’s parent company offers a more competitively priced brand, Evodesk. The predrilled holes on a 63-inch dark bamboo model we purchased in 2016 were alternately narrow or loose, making assembly a pain, and the desk didn’t feel seated on the frame. We saw more front-to-back wobble and typing wobble than with the Jarvis or Uplift. Given that it costs more than our picks when similarly configured, we recommend passing.
Autonomous sells adjustable standing desks starting at roughly $500 less than the Jarvis. We tested a dual-motor version, in a smaller configuration no longer sold. The predrilled holes were rough, or not where they were supposed to be. The instructions were the most confusing of any desk we assembled. The desk itself, a T-shaped desk with Jiecang lifts, is okay, mechanically, for its $300 cost … if you don’t need a good-looking desk, and don’t load much weight on it.
The Autonomous ordering experience, however, was painful for another Wirecutter writer. In summary: A two-month shipping delay, a series of emails to pitch a “new frame design,” receiving a one-motor desk after ordering a two-motor model, missing protective feet, and a flaw with the lifting mechanism that the company saw often enough that they created a YouTube video for it. We emailed Justin Lucas, a director at Autonomous, about these matters. Lucas told us in mid-August 2016 that Autonomous would shift to another motor and control-box maker in early September, and that the shipping delays were “good symptoms of startup scaling and fast growth.” These were not reassuring answers.
These are the desks we tested and dismissed prior to 2015:
The NewHeights Elegante comes from one of the first standing-desk companies we discovered, but its VertDesk was entirely forgettable. The Elegante is a huge step in the right direction, but you’re paying a lot ($1,200 to $1,800) for a desk that isn’t as sturdy as it could be, with a cluttered wire-management system and an inspired but imperfect control panel.
The GeekDesk v3 is a basic desk—no frills, no accessories, just a tabletop and a frame. It has a simple design, it works well, and it looks fine. The Jarvis has a superior height range and lifting capacity, as well as a much longer warranty. But unless you go with a laminate or veneer desktop, the GeekDesk v3 ends up costing more than our picks (though shipping is now free, compared with when we first tested in 2013).
Other full-size standing desks
We have not tested:
Desk converters we tried
The Duke is very similar to the Kangaroo Pro, the wider version of our converter pick. But its monitor adjustment is far less convenient, and the sidewalls on the Duke’s keyboard tray make it feel like it takes up far more of your desktop than the Kangaroo’s flat surface. Moving your mounted monitor on the Duke requires loosening two small wingnuts a half turn, tilting your monitor back, raising or lowering it, returning it to its original tilt/position, then fastening the wingnuts again. Compare this with the Kangaroo monitor mount, which loosens with the turn of one large knob, and provides pneumatic pressure to help ease your monitor into position. The Duke requires many more parts and instructions to assemble than the Kangaroo. For the same price as the Kangaroo Pro (or $100 more than the Pro Junior), we think our pick will work better for most people who want to rotate often between sitting and standing.
The clamp-mounted Duke is a slightly sturdier monitor arm with a thin keyboard tray attached. It is far more bouncy when raised than any desktop converter we tested. That’s a shame, because the clamp-mounted arm, pivoted to one side, allows you far more freedom in placing your standing setup. Its thin keyboard tray, though likely adding to the vibration problems, also gives it the most flat, hand-friendly profile on your desk. But the actual experience of using it involves a lot of annoying monitor bounce and shudder.
We tested the freestanding and clamp-mounted versions of the Uplift Adapt converter. They’re both about half the price of the Kangaroo Pro Junior, but they’re more awkward to use. Both versions bring your monitor very far forward on your desk in sitting mode, wasting about three feet of space behind it. In the lowered position, the Adapt keyboard tray lands in front of your desk, pushing you away from your workspace (unless your desk is more than 40 inches deep, in which case the tray lands on top). You can lower the keyboard tray so that it nests over the front of your desk, but you have to use considerable force to shove the tray into that lower position. What’s more, building the Adapt with a lowered keyboard position increases typing vibrations (because you’re using two fewer bolts). And because your monitor is on a stand, rather than VESA-mounted, it will bounce some as it is raised. The Adapt works better for those who primarily use a laptop, plus an extra keyboard and mouse, but it’s a big, heavy investment of more than $200 that isn’t for most people.
Other conversion options
We stayed away from full-platform-style converters, like Varidesk’s Pro series, a version of which we have tested in the past. Though cheaper than the Kangaroo or Duke converters and easy to adjust, they are huge and heavy, and take up significant room on your desk, making it hard to work with a notepad or anything other than your safely arranged keyboard and mouse.
Budget (cardboard) options we tried
We liked the Oristand a lot, because it’s a single piece of cardboard that folds up easily, looks slick, and feels sturdy. For a person of average height, who uses a compact keyboard and trackpad (or small mouse), and doesn’t stand for long periods at a time, it could be perfect. But for most other people, the Oristand’s single-size option and small keyboard surface mean it’s too limited.
The Oristand puts your keyboard and mouse 11½ inches above the surface it sits on, and your laptop 20 inches up. Standard desks and dining tables are around 29 inches tall, and kitchen counters are about 36 inches. That means people 5 feet 6 inches tall should be at the right keyboard height at a desk, but their straight-ahead gaze could be 3.5 inches above the screen if they’re using a 13-inch laptop. With all the little differences in desks and laptops and people, we’d guess people between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 10 inches can use an Oristand for brief periods of time, and anyone taller has to consider whether it’s worth the neck cramp.
Other budget options
As noted in How we picked and tested, there are many products that offer a half solution to standing while working, simply raising your laptop up to where your hands are, without much regard for your eyes and neck. So we looked past the StandStand and similar models.
There are many fixed-height desks and adaptors that are far more expensive than our cardboard picks, though also less flexible or easy to store. We wanted to consider the StandUp desks by Jaswig, which look wonderful and suggest an idyllic life in which your child works next to you, but we must consider the practicalities of both human body differences and children’s joy in destroying expensive things.
Originally published: February 28, 2017