Editors Pick for Portable Desktop Riser.
Our introduction to the VariDesk Pro started off on a trying foot. Unbeknownst to us, the FedEx delivery guy left our review unit resting against our loading bay door. When we opened the door from the inside, the whole package came crashing to the ground. It’s a large, heavy box (VariDesk recommends 2 people when moving it, and we agree) and we were concerned such treatment would damage our review unit. Fortunately, the team at VariDesk obviously put some forethought into thwarting the best efforts of delivery men everywhere as our VariDesk turned out to be well packaged and survived the ordeal with no damage whatsoever.
The VariDesk comes fully assembled, which is nice. It’s a little awkward to get out of the box and heavy. The weight is great for stability once installed on your desk, but you should definitely recruit a friend whenever moving the VariDesk around.
Three models to choose from
The VariDesk Pro unit (aka “VariDesk Dual,” designed for dual monitor use) is 36” wide by 20” deep and weighs 47.3 lbs, while the VariDesk Single (designed for single monitor use) unit weighs in at 41.5 lbs and is 30” wide by 20” deep. There’s now also a VariDesk Laptop unit that weighs only 39.4 lbs and is 30″ wide by 17″ deep. This is ideal if you don’t need the extra surface area for a monitor and its base.
We did have one component, a small screw that tightens down the keyboard tray, missing when we removed our VariDesk from the packaging, which we found in the box. While it’s never comforting to find pieces of your brand new desktop riser at the bottom of the box, we’re willing to give VariDesk the benefit of the doubt on this one and blame it on the episode with our delivery guy. Reattaching the screw was easy and our VariDesk was once again whole.
Once installed, my initial impression of the the VariDesk Pro is that it looked very large on my 65.5” wide executive desk. In fact, I had to move my printer to another desk because it no longer fit. You’ll probably want to mock up the footprint of the VeriDesk on your desktop before deciding between the Pro and the Laptop/Single to see what you would have to move and if you could live with the desk reconfiguration. The unit comes in three different width variations (Dual, Single and Laptop) for this very reason.
On appearance, the desk, a black plastic composite top and black metal frame, fits in well with my other furniture. I never once got the feeling that the VariDesk was out of place in my office. In fact, it’s a design that is elegant enough to fit into your nice office settings while not overly designed so that you have to avoid it if your office isn’t filled with Herman Miller furniture.
To setup your desktop, you simply move your monitor(s) on to the Varidesk along with any other peripheral that needs to be close at hand and move with you from sitting to standing positions. Check your cables carefully in all positions as you DO NOT want to pull your monitors off the back of your VariDesk because the cables are too short when you’re moving to the standing position.
We also recommend a wireless keyboard and mouse for use with the VariDesk as you’ll have your keyboard and mouse on the keyboard tray when in the sitting position and will need to move it to the desktop when standing. Those using a laptop will likely just use an external keyboard/mouse when sitting but use the laptop’s built-in keyboard and mouse pad when standing.
To move from sitting to standing, you loosen the 2 screws (one on each side) of the keyboard tray and push it in. This gets the tray out of the way. You then push down slightly on the desktop to release the springs, pull in on the two adjustment levers and lightly lift up. The desktop begins to move and you can release the desktop in any of the 11 total positions available. Most of the time you won’t stop the top in a locking position so you just need to push down or up after releasing the adjustment lever and the top will quickly lock into place with a satisfying “click.”
I never got over the concerned feeling that arose every time I moved my desktop from position to position because the monitor would shake and move around ever-so-slightly. The monitor never fell off, but I was always extra careful and think I’ll probably always feel that way. When just using my laptop, this was no issue at all.
Moving back into the sitting position is as easy as pulling in on the adjustment levers and pushing down on the top until you’ve reached the bottom position. If you’re using a laptop, there’s no way to continue typing directly on the laptop from this sitting position. The laptop is too high and too far away, so you have to have a keyboard and make use of the keyboard tray. I actually got to the point where I would simply leave the desktop in the standing position and move my whole laptop down to the keyboard tray and assume the sitting position. Probably not what this was designed for, but it was pretty convenient for me.
Working at the VariDesk was natural and intuitive. It felt great to be able to go quickly from sitting to standing and I didn’t notice any degradation in my efficiency or typing accuracy. When using a monitor along with my laptop, I did find myself moving both screens from the back of the desk to the front of the desk as I shifted from standing to sitting. This is because at a standing height, the VariDesk actually rises up AND moves towards you (providing a better ergonomic setup) to the point where it’s hovering out over the front of your fixed desk.
The monitor’s best position is at the back of the desktop. But when you sit down, the desktop returns to its natural position and you pull out the keyboard tray (which pushes you even further away from the desk) so the monitor is too far away. The best place I found for my monitor while in the sitting position was at the middle-front of the desktop. This meant one extra step to make every time I moved from sitting to standing and back again.
The coffee slosh test
I was really concerned at first glance that putting any weight on the front of the VariDesk in the standing position (using the desk as an anchor to type) would cause the desk – and everything on it – to topple over towards me. I was pleasantly surprised at just how sturdy the desk felt in this position once I got to try it out. I tested a lot of weight on the front of the desk and it never felt like it was going to topple. The desk is well balanced and this is where the 40+lbs of weight comes in handy.
One thing that I did notice throughout my use of the VariDesk while in the standing position was the transfer of typing vibration to my monitor and to my coffee cup. I couldn’t figure out any setup that allowed me avoid this, and while not a huge issue, I did find the light screen shake somewhat annoying. This is something you’ll just need to accept or get a separate monitor arm to keep the monitor isolated from your typing surface.
A range of variable height settings
Another thing to consider is the height of the user. I’m 6 feet tall and found the standing position that was 3rd highest from the top to be very comfortable. I would even shift it up or down one click every so often to avoid being in the same position for too long. This leads me to believe that any person who is 6’ 4” and shorter can find a comfortable standing position with the VariDesk. For those of you who are taller, the Single/Laptop version actually rises ½” higher than the Pro at 16” vs. 15.5,” respectively.
VariDesk’s warranty offers a limited one year warranty that will cover any failure from normal usage free of charge, as long as the customer pays the freight to send the product back to the VariDesk warehouse in Dallas, TX. If they determine your unit was damaged through misuse or abuse then all repairs and return shipping will be at the customer’s expense.
Overall this is an excellent product that was designed for aesthetics and function. With a few things to consider – moving your monitors back and forth based on sitting/standing position, slight monitor shake while typing, giving up some desk space, and length of peripheral cables – you won’t go wrong by choosing the VariDesk for your fixed desk setup and turning it into a height-adjustable standing desk for a relatively budget friendly price.
Another fantastic use for the VariDesk
Outside of wanting a sit-to-stand desk setup but not wanting to throw your heirloom antique executive desk out of your office, the other application we see with high potential for the VariDesk is in conference room settings where the ability to both sit and stand would be of great benefit, depending on the meeting type. We foresee the VariDesk popping up in meeting rooms around the world because of its versatility while integrating with current furniture setups, rather than requiring the replacement of existing desks and tables.
These days most people come to meetings with a laptop or tablet computer. Smart companies will soon figure out that placing a variable-height desktop riser like the VariDesk at each position around the conference table would allow everyone in the meeting to have a comfortable standing position. Standing meetings are faster, more productive, and relieve everyone who attends of just that many more hours of sitting, which we all know is very bad for your health. We think VariDesk would be wise to put pictures on their website of conference rooms where everyone is standing at a VariDesk sit-to-stand platform.
NextDesk Electric Height Desk
Frame in Silver Gloss- Brushed Aluminum
Frame in Silver Matte- Anodized Aluminum
Frame in Black Matte- Anodized Aluminum
|Terra 63" Width||$1,497||$1,594||$1,644||$1,694|
|Terra 79" Width||$1,794||$1,891||$1,941||$1,991|
|Solo 30" Width||$897||NA||NA||NA|
|Solo 36" Width||$994||NA||NA||NA|
The VariDesk Sit-to-Stand Desktop Riser offers easy transitions between sitting and standing at your current non-height adjustable desk, featuring 11 different height settings. Made of attractive and solid materials. Stable on your desktop - even with substantial force pressing down on the keyboard area it will not tilt off the desk.
Visible monitor shake and light liquid sloshing in cups when typing in the standing position. Have to be careful when transitioning to standing not to extend monitor and peripheral cables too far, pulling them off the VariDesk.