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Product Review

What we bought: The standing desk I chose after researching the hell out of the competition

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When I started working from home five years ago, my chair was the floor and my desk was a stool. I was allowed to type with two hands when the baby on the floor next to me was napping or otherwise occupied. So really, any desk would have been an upgrade, but once I knew working from home was going to be my reality long-term, I went all in and bought a motorized standing desk.

After some research and lots of YouTubing, I settled on an Uplift V2, opting for the curved bamboo desk top in the 42-by-30-inch size with the standard (non-commercial) C-frame. I sprung for the advanced keypad, as Uplift recommends, and picked the storage grommet inserts, thinking I might want to put pens or a drink in there (I don’t).

Amy Skorheim / Engadget

I considered a few other companies including Autonomous, Vari and Fully when I was deciding which desk to get. Back when I ordered, the offerings from Uplift felt the most comprehensive, with a slew of size, color and desktop material customization options, and they had the most accessories.

That’s something you’ll notice as you configure your desk: there are a huge number of add-ons available. Probably the most unexpected is the under-desk hammock, but that’s only available for desks 72 inches wide and larger, so I didn’t get one. More I own a couch. Mine came with two free accessories when I purchased it a couple years ago, but lucky buyers today get six freebies. I went for the free rocker board, which I don’t use, and now wish I’d grabbed the cushioned standing mat instead. I also picked the bamboo under-desk drawer, which I use daily, filled with a few of these metal storage bins.

If you browse through the image galleries on Uplift’s site you’ll notice idealized office setups, with a curious lack of cables on, under or snaking away from the desks, as if buying one will somehow make wireless energy transmission a reality. Turns out that’s not the case, but Uplift does offer a number of ways to route and hide those still-necessary cords. Every desk comes with a wire management tray that mounts at the rear underside of the desk, along with cable tie mounts to keep wires up and out of the way. I paid $35 extra for the magnetic cable channel which keeps the rather thick cable that powers the desk routed against the desk leg.

Uplift Desk IRL

Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Once the desk arrived, it was fairly easy to assemble following the video instructions. What stood out to me most about my new office furniture was the weight. It’s heavy. Each leg contains three nesting sections of steel with a steel crossbar up top. I’m sure my bamboo desktop is among the lighter of Uplift’s options, but it’s still substantial. Considering how little anything wobbles as it raises and lowers, or when it’s 45 inches off the ground, I think the heft is a good thing.

After the desk was assembled, it took a little fussing to get the cables hidden in a way that somewhat resembled the minimalism you see in the Uplift gallery photos. It helps to lift the desk to its full height when you’re setting up so you can get under there to work with the plugs, power strips and cable ties – something I wish I’d realized before I spent an hour hunched under there while it was at normal-desk height.

Uplift Desk IRL

Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Lifting and lowering the desk is a simple push-button operation. The standard (aka free) keypad only has up and down buttons, which you press and hold to adjust the desk’s height. Uplift “recommends” paying the extra $40 for an advanced keypad that lets you program four different height settings; I gave in to the upsell, but I’m glad I did. If you need to go from sitting to standing or the other way around, just push a numbered key and the desk adjusts all by itself. I only use two pre-programmed positions – a sit and a stand height – but it’s nice to have the option of more settings. For example, if I ever want to make use of that balance board, I might need a couple extra inches.

The operation is impressively smooth and almost silent. During working hours, my cat stations himself at the corner of my desk and doesn’t wake from a nap when I change heights. I adjust the desk four times a day, starting off standing, switching to sitting for lunch and staying seated for an hour or two after. When I start to feel that afternoon slump, I’ll raise the desk back up to standing, which (paired with a cup of tea) usually helps with focus. Then just before quitting time, I sit down for the last hour or so, pushing the standing button when I log off so it’s ready for tomorrow. I’ve been more or less following that pattern for two years and the motors are performing exactly as they did when I first got the desk. Aside from a little dulling in the desktop finish where I have my mouse, everything still feels and looks new.

You’ve probably heard it said that your healthiest working position is your next one, meaning you shouldn’t stay in any posture for long. Having an adjustable desk doesn’t necessarily solve the problem of bad ergonomics – standing still all day is nearly as bad as sitting – but I’ve found when I’m standing, I’m much more apt to step away and get in a stretch, or even pace a bit when I’m searching for my next word. The Uplift desk is worlds away from a stool on the floor, and I don’t think I could ever go back to just a regular desk again.

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