Health & Wellbeing

Review: Varidesk Pro Plus – the $350, spring loaded sitting/standing desk

Review: Varidesk Pro Plus – th...
Varidesk Pro Plus - halfway up
Varidesk Pro Plus - halfway up
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Varidesk Pro Plus - sitting mode
1/8
Varidesk Pro Plus - sitting mode
Varidesk Pro Plus - halfway up
2/8
Varidesk Pro Plus - halfway up
Varidesk Pro Plus - fully extended
3/8
Varidesk Pro Plus - fully extended
Loz's Varidesk Pro Plus in action with a laptop and large monitor
4/8
Loz's Varidesk Pro Plus in action with a laptop and large monitor
Varidesk Pro Plus: gratuitous action shot
5/8
Varidesk Pro Plus: gratuitous action shot
Varidesk Pro Plus: elephant photo provides up to 37% more writing inspiration
6/8
Varidesk Pro Plus: elephant photo provides up to 37% more writing inspiration
Loz's ghetto standing desk: gratuitous Blue Steel shot
7/8
Loz's ghetto standing desk: gratuitous Blue Steel shot
Loz's ghetto standing desk solution: not appreciated by Gizmag CEO Tim Hanlon
8/8
Loz's ghetto standing desk solution: not appreciated by Gizmag CEO Tim Hanlon
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We humans are simply not designed for what modern office life asks of us. Sitting in front of a computer all day is a well known cause of all sorts of musculoskeletal ailments - hence the popularity of standing desks. But standing up all day isn't great for you either. It hurts your feet, for starters, it places additional loads on the circulatory system, leading to carotid atherosclerosis, and it increases your risk of varicose veins.

Tossing in your office job and becoming a lumberjack is one possible solution, another is looking at sit-stand desks that can give you the option to change things up throughout the day.

For the last month or so I've been using a very affordable ghetto-style standing desk by piling old boxes under my keyboard and monitor:

Loz's ghetto standing desk solution: not appreciated by Gizmag CEO Tim Hanlon
Loz's ghetto standing desk solution: not appreciated by Gizmag CEO Tim Hanlon

This solution wasn't bad, but transitioning from sit to stand to sit again was a bit time consuming, the boxes were annoying when they weren't on the desk, and Gizmag CEO Tim Hanlon felt they didn't do much for the aesthetics of an emerging technology website's headquarters. Fair point, Tim.

So we started looking into affordable alternatives that might look a bit nicer and be easier to deal with. Clearly the electrically actuated, hand-gesture responsive MisterBrightLight desk was too expensive at US$3,400. In fact, most decently sized self-lifting desks go for around US$2,000 and upwards. This wasn't going to fly with the bean counters.

The Varidesk Pro Plus, however, looked much more reasonable. At US$350 a pop, it's not horrifically expensive. It sits on top of your current desk and has room for two big monitors, or in my case a monitor and a laptop. It elevates the monitors on a separate level from the keyboard/mouse level, which is also pretty spacious, and while you can't adjust the spacing between these two levels, they work fine for me.

Varidesk Pro Plus - sitting mode
Varidesk Pro Plus - sitting mode

Varidesk Pro Plus - fully extended
Varidesk Pro Plus - fully extended

To raise it up, you grab a couple of levers on the sides and lift it up as a heavy spring assists you. It still takes a bit of effort, but it's easy enough. The same process lets you lower it down in a couple of seconds.

At its highest point, it's impressively stable. You can shake your monitors around a bit, and you wouldn't want to go leaning on it, but it's solid enough. You can lift it all the way up, which suits me at just under 6 foot tall, or stop at a number of points before the full extension.

Varidesk Pro Plus: gratuitous action shot
Varidesk Pro Plus: gratuitous action shot

There's no setup required, you pull the Varidesks out of a box and plonk them on your table – a process I'd recommend two people for, as I just about popped a disk doing it myself like some sort of he-man to impress the rest of the Gizmag team. I don't think anyone noticed, or if they did, they're playing their cards close.

Varidesk supplies a free iPhone/Android app that is pretty much entirely pointless – it reminds you to stand up and sit down every now and then, and counts how many calories you're burning while on your feet. Thanks guys!

Loz's Varidesk Pro Plus in action with a laptop and large monitor
Loz's Varidesk Pro Plus in action with a laptop and large monitor

One potential issue, depending on your setup, might be that cords and cables get squished in the Varidesk mechanism. It's worth paying attention the first couple of times you move your rig to see what's falling where.

We've got six of them in the office now, and in their first week, heads have been bobbing up and down throughout the Gizmag office like a jumbo sized game of whack-a-mole with nobody whacking.

The Varidesks seem solid, well priced and a good way to get a bit more activity and variation into our physiologically stagnant work days. We're giving them the thumbs up.

Product page: Varidesk

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4 comments
toolman65
Interesting that you mention cables getting squished. I would also be concerned about cables getting snagged. Lift the unit and your monitors get yanked off the top. The company website shows all sorts of configurations, but never any cables being used. You would think they would address that with a simple wire loom attached at top and base.
Gadgeteer
$350? You must be kidding. I bought a Rubbermaid heavy duty monitor arm for $30 off eBay a few years ago. It's rated for about 70 pounds, pivots up and down, slides forward and back, tilts forward and back, swivels left and right and has a keyboard holder. It doesn't have enough real estate for a laptop, monitor, keyboard and mouse all at once, but nothing a little bit of lumber couldn't rectify for $20 or so, and with today's light LCDs, still would be well within the 70 pound weight limit. And it doesn't crush my cords.
ErgoGuy
Loz, Nice Blog, A couple of quick observations. First, the homemade box may cause more issues than than benefits. It's very important that your readers know that they want to be as close to "L-shape" when typing as possible, and their eyes should line up with the top 1-2" of their monitor. That's not happening in your picture. You are causing neck flexion which adds about 10 lbs of pressure to your neck for 1" you you move your head down to read your monitor. Lastly, desk risers like Varidesk can be a major issue for a very large population. Picture you being 5'5" and trying to type while shrugging. Most contract furniture is between 28" & 30" tall, add an extra 1" for the Varidesk and your setting yourself for major issues if you are not 5'11" tall or taller. Please check this video out, it covers what to look for with desk risers: http://blog.ergoprise.com/sit-stand-desk-converter-pro-desk-riser/
StandingRocks
Loz, when people look for a sit stand solution they should take how ergonomic or how non-ergonomic they are. There are products that can cause more issues than it alleviates. Ha, I about fell out of my seat when I saw the picture of you typing on the box. I've enclosed two links. The first is a side-by-side spreadsheet of the top models including the one that you reviewed (green highlights category leader). The second link takes your seated and standing height in consideration for each of the products. Hope this helps your readers. http://blog.ergoprise.com/side-by-side-sit-stand-desk-converters/ http://blog.ergoprise.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Side-by-side-Sit-Stand-Workstation-Comparison-3-2-16.pdf