Best Standing Desks of 2017 Review


by Ryan Fiorenzi on February 23rd, 2017

As more people are learning about how dangerous extended periods of sitting are, the adjustable height desk market is exploding with options. Buyers can easily get overwhelmed with so many choices.

We’re standing desk nerds. Over the past few years, we’ve spent thousands of hours using many different adjustable desks, reading reviews, watching videos, and communicating with manufacturers, so you don’t have to.

Our Top Choices

Our #1 Pick

The Uptown is the most customizable desk on the market, as well as being the second quietest. It also switches position quickly, has an acceleration/deceleration dampening feature, and has a great warranty. It’s no surprise that one of our favorite standing desk companies – iMovR – produces our favorite standing desk at $719.

Read More About the Uptown from iMovR

For Small Spaces

Besides the Upsilon being our top pick for small spaces, it’s also the lowest priced of all of our standing desks. If you have a small apartment, or not much room in your office, the Upsilon from iMovR at $668 is a great choice.

Read More About the Upsilon from iMovR

Semi-Luxury


Our favorite feature in the Omega Everest is the embedded SteadyType keyboard. You can change the angle so there’s less pressure on your wrists, and if you use it with a treadmill, you can lean the edge of your wrists on the edge for more stability. This also makes it our top choice for use with a treadmill. Also from iMovR at $1274.

Read More About the Omega Everest from iMovR

Luxury Pick


The Focal Locus Workstation is the most beautiful standing desk we’ve ever seen. This work of art switches via a hydraulic system, not an electric motor, and it’s the fastest standing desk that we’ve tested, and the quietest. It’s a leaning desk, which many experts say is even better for your back than a normal standing desk.

The cost ranges from around $1,455 to $3,000 depending on the upgrades.

Read More About the Locus Workstation

The Cost of Standing Desks

If you’re surprised at the cost of a standing desk, remember a few key things:

  1. Extensive research shows that extended periods of sitting lead to higher rates of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and early death.
  2. Standing desk users often report that their back pain is reduced or goes away after they start using an adjustable standing desk.
  3. Many users report increased productivity, energy levels, and better mood.
  4. Standing at your desk burns more calories than sitting, and many users report weight loss.

So if you’re on the fence about spending money on a standing desk, remember that you’re investing in yourself. What is your health worth to you? And how expensive is it to not be well?

Note that almost all of our top choices are electric desks. We’ve found that though you can save a little bit by having a desk that you crank up and down manually, it’s inconvenient, and we ended up not standing as much. So if you’re going to get a standing desk, committ to buying a desk that will help you get the benefits of standing.

#1 Pick:
iMovR Uptown


Desk-Uptown-30x72-Hayward_Cherry-Left45_Props-1024x945-1000x923Even though the iMovr Thermodesk Uptown costs less than most standing desks at $719, it’s not a cheap desk. It’s got some great features that compete with desks that are double the price.

The Quietest Desk on the Market

Of all the adjustable standing desk that we’ve used and researched, the Uptown measures at a shockingly low 41 decibels. To give you perspective on how quiet that is, a normal conversation measures around 60 db, and a whisper comes in at around 20 db.

And it’s not that this desk is weak – it can hold a whopping 360 lbs!

The Most Customizable Desk in the World

You have a lot of choices with the Uptown:

      • two table top thicknesses
      • five tabletop sizes
      • two base colors
      • optional grommet-mounted power+USB nodes and wireless cell phone chargers
      • 11 tabletop colors, shown below

omega-color-chart700x660

The Tabletop

The Uptown uses a 3D laminate top, which is impervious to spills. You have the option of a 3/4″ or 1 – 1/8 ” table top, with the thinner one being cheaper, and cheaper to ship. The thicker top will make the desk more stable, which is important when the desk is at it’s standing height. Countoured edges (even the grommet holes), optional caster wheels that lock in place, which will add 2.5″ to the desk, which can be useful if you’re tall, recessed nuts which helps you put it together faster and if you take apart and move it a few times, the screw hole isn’t going to fall apart.

Here’s a 1 minute video about iMovR’s tabletops:


Other Great Features

      • One of our favorite features is the acceleration/deceleration dampening feature.  This means that your desk won’t come to an abrupt stop, spilling your coffee whenever you adjust your desk to it’s standing or sitting height.
      • The warranty is great – lifetime on the frame, and 5 years on everything else, including the tabletop.
      • The speed of switching – 1.5 inches per second – beats many other desk that cost far more.
      • The desk includes three memory presets and a digital readout controller, so you could have 3 different heights for sitting, standing, and walking (if you use a treadmill under your desk). If you share the desk with others, each could have their own preferred standing heights, but you’d only be able to program one sitting height (you can always adjust the desk with the up/down controller).
      • Easy installation with recessed-nuts and machine screws, which make taking the desk apart and putting it back together easy, and there’s no wear and tear on the wood from repeatedly taking screws out and putting them back in.
      • Something you’ll want to consider is the optional Advanced Cable Management for $49.95 you get the items shown below.

advanced-cable-management-kit

You can get most of these items at Home Depot and Office Max for a little cheaper, but you won’t find the 24″ long cable tray, which holds the power strip.
You could attach the power strip to the underside of your desk with double-sided tape, but we’ve found that after a few months the tape doesn’t hold anymore. Whether you buy their package, or do it yourself, you’ll definitely want to organize your power strip and cables, especially if you attach the caster wheels. It looks way better and you’ll prevent issues if you move your standing desk, as well as when you move your desk from sitting to standing height.

A Word About the Manufacturer, iMovR

We’re huge fans of iMovR, the makers of the Uptown.

It’s obvious to us that iMovR does a lot of usability testing, and they listen to feedback from their users. That’s why more of our top choices come from this company. Uptown is a stellar desk for a surprisingly small cost.

Check Prices on the Uptown from iMovR

Top Pick for Small Spaces:
iMovR Upsilon

The iMovR Upsilon is our top choice if you’re on a budget, or you’re working with a small space. With the base model at $668, you get a great adjustable standing desk that has features that beat out desks that cost much more.

The iMovR Tabletop

All iMovR tabletops are 3D laminate. 3D lamination protects the surface from moisture damage, warping, scratches, and stains. One of our favorite features of the desktop is the contoured edges. On a normal desk, the 90 degree angles on the edges of the desk and any holes in the desk for cords will show a lot of wear and tear over time, and if it’s laminate, the top layer will eventually start to peel off. The 3D will stand up to lots of wear and tear because the edges are contoured, which makes it much more comfortable to lean on, and it looks like it’s made of hardwood. iMovR is so confident in their tabletops that they back them with a 5 year warranty.

If you have a small apartment, a small office, or you just don’t need a lot of desktop space, the Upsilon is a great investment. It’s only 23.5″ wide, and you have 3 different lengths: 42″, 47″, or 59″.

There’s also easy installation with recessed-nuts and machine screws, which make taking the desk apart and putting it back together easy, and there’s no wear and tear on the wood from repeatedly taking screws out and putting them back in.

The Upsilon is available in several colors shown below.

finishes-upsilon700x395

Other Features of the Upsilon

  • It changes position at 1.45″ per second, which is fast considering the price of the desk.
  • It shares first place for the quietest standing desk with the Uptown (our mid-tier top choice).
  • If you have a lot of things on your desk, such as multiple monitors, books, your cat, a couple of kids, etc., it won’t be a problem. The Upsilon can hold a shocking 360 lbs!
  • One nice thing about the Upsilon is that it ships one day after your purchase. Some desks will arrive up to 8 weeks later.
  • The base is available in black or silver powder coat finish.
  • If you’d like the option to move the Upsilon around, you can get optional caster wheels.
  • If your monitor is lower than eye height, you may want to think about getting a monitor arm. When you’re standing, if you’re looking down, you’re putting pressure on the vertebrae in your neck, your neck and upper back have to do more work, and you have a tendency to round your shoulders forward (the condition now known as the “ihunch” from looking down at cell phones).
  • You may also want to look at the basic or advanced cable management system from iMovR. You definitely don’t want cords hanging out of the back of your desk. It looks bad and if you’re raising and dropping the tabletop, and/or moving the desk, the cords can get caught. You can save a few bucks by buying these items at a home supply and office supply store, but you might have a hard time finding the tray to hold the power strip. And if you do buy your own power strip, make sure the cord is long enough (using extension cords doesn’t look as good). iMovR sells a 12 foot cord with the advanced cable management system.cable management for standing desks

Check out iMovR’s video about the Upsilon. The low prices they advertise in the video are out of date, these were for their kickstarter campaign.

Check Prices on the Upsilon

Semi-Luxury: Omega Everest from iMovR

omega everest standing desk

 

The Omega Everest from iMovR sells for $1274. It’s our favorite desk in the higher end price range because of the SteadyType embedded keyboard. When I started using a standing desk, my back pain went away, which was amazing, but I started to develop pain in my wrists from typing. The reason why is because when I used to sit all of the time at my desk, my palms rested on my desk or laptop when I typed. When I started standing, they had nothing to rest on, and my keyboard was flat on my desk, so my wrists were bending backwards and all the pressure was on the backs of my wrists.

improper typing position

Incorrect position for wrists when typing.

The Top Typing Desk

The Omega Everest solves this problem by embedding their keyboard that you can angle downwards so your wrists aren’t under pressure.

omega everest embedded keyboard
The embedded keyboard is also solidly attached to the tabletop, which is great for walking on a treadmill while typing. Experts recommend walking at a very slow pace (1 mile per hour), which doesn’t sound like much, but when walking and typing it helps to anchor yourself to the desk for balance, and we appreciate the monitor not shaking from the typing (a benefit for heavy typers). Other desks that we’ve tested with an attached keyboard tray bend when you press on them, which is more pronounced while on a treadmill. The Everest doesn’t move. Maybe that’s why they named it Everest.

To demonstrate how superior their Steadytype embedded keyboard is, iMovR produced a video where they drop fruit (including a pineapple) on the keyboard tray of another desk, and then at the :50 mark, at the Everest.

We’ve talked to a few users that said that their typing speed and accuracy has gone up as well because of the SteadyType embedded keyboard.

As with our other top choices from iMovR, this desk has great features:

      • Lifetime on steel frame, 10 years on moving parts, 5 years on tabletop, 5 years on electronics
      • Adjusting speed of 1.5″ / Second
      •  Digital LCD Readout with 4 Programmable Preset Heights
      •  Tabletop sizes available: 30″ x 48″, 30″ x 60″, 30″ x 72″, 30″ x 83″.
      • Colors available:

omega-color-chart700x660

        • Maximum height of 50.5″, and 54.5″ with leg extensions that you attach to the bottom of the legs (great for taller users)

omega everest leg extensions

      • Can hold 220 lbs
      • Easy installation with recessed-nuts and machine screws, which make taking the desk apart and putting it back together easy, and there’s no wear and tear on the wood from repeatedly taking screws out and putting them back in.

The only possible drawback with the Omega Everest is that the embedded keyboard takes away some desk space. The desk is named Omega because it makes a “U” shape, similar to the Greek letter “omega,” Ω. We feel it’s a smart trade-off, especially if you’ve dealt with carpel tunnel or had wrist issues. In fact, when I use a standing desk that doesn’t have a keyboard with a negative tilt, I use a piece of high-density foam under the keyboard that I bought from Amazon.

computer keyboard stand ergonomic for wrists

Available on Amazon.

If you have the room in your apartment or office, you can order a larger table top to make up the difference. The widest is 83″ long, which is a lot of space. You may just have to reach a little more.

Here’s a video produced by iMovR on the Omega Everest.

Check Prices on the Omega Everest

An Alternative to the Omega Everest – Omega Denali

omega denali stand up desk

The Omega Denali can accomodate a treadmill, just like the Omega Everest.

If you are interested in this desk, but it’s out of your budget, the Omega Denali is the same desk, without the electric motor, for only $894. It has a manual crank to lift and lower the desk, and the maximum weight it can hold is 20 lbs less, but other than that, everything else is the same.

We’re not fans of the manual crank, and that’s not because of the crank itself, we’ve found that we don’t switch as much from sitting to standing when we’re using a manual crank desk. Researchers have shown that it’s better to stand more than you sit, and many experts recommend that you find your own ratio of standing to sitting. The act of standing up is good for you because every time you use the large muscles in your legs to stand you jump start your metabolism, and most experts recommend doing some movement every 20 minutes.

The manual crank counts as physical activity, so maybe we’re just be lazy!

Check Prices on the Omega Denali

Luxury Pick: Locus Sphere Standing Desk


focal Sphere workstation best standing desk

The Focal Locus Workstation, which is identical the the Sphere Workstation except that the Sphere has a larger tabletop.

In 2014, Inc. Magazine voted the Focal Sphere Workstation as one of three of the best new products of the year.

“This was one of the most dynamic and comfortable seating solutions I’ve ever used,” Pepin Gelardi, a partner at New York-based product design company Tomorrow Lab, told Inc. “I felt relaxed, elevated, but also engaged. The execution and engineering of the ergonomics was aces.”

The Sphere Workstation ranges in price from $1975 to $3,199 with all of the upgrades, and the Focal Locus, an almost identical desk except for a smaller tabletop size, starts at $1455. We were surprised that we like this desk as much as we do, because it’s a leaning desk, and it doesn’t have an electric motor.

What’s a Leaning Desk?

A leaning desk has 2 or 3 options for how to use it, depending on how tall you are. You can sit, use a leaning chair such as the Locus Leaning Seat, Mobis, or Mogo, pictured below.

The Sphere Workstation adjusts from 36″ to 48″, and since I’m 6 foot 3″, 36″ is actually a comfortable height for me to sit. So I sit, lean, and stand at my desk. If you’re shorter than 6 foot 3″, 36″ might be too short for you to sit comfortably. So you may want to stand at your desk, and when you want a break, switch to leaning.

The genius creator of the Sphere and the Locus, Martin Keen (the same person who created Keen shoes), gives a demonstration of the Locus in this video. Remember that the Sphere is identical to the Locus, except that it has a larger desktop.

Sphere Features

  • The Sphere Workstation has 2 adjustments that you can make. One is that the height via a hand crank can adjust from 36″ to 48″, with each turn lifting or lowering the desk 1/4″. The other is that you can tilt the tabletop 15 degree. It can be flat like a normal desk, or you can tilt it like a drafting table.
  • The tabletop is 31″ by 78″ (the Locus is 30″ by 48″).
  • The desk can hold 180 lbs.
  • The table top is made of furniture-grade, 13-layer plywood, with 3 layers of polyurethane on veneers
  • 2 removable cup holders
  • Powder-coated aluminum desktop bracket
  • Powder-coated cast zinc adjustment handle
  • Hardened steel and aluminum adjustment mechanism
  • Powder-coated cast aluminum with steel insert angle adjustment handles
  • Powder-coated cast recyclable aluminum lower floor leg
  • Powder-coated extruded recyclable aluminum desk legs

Optional Upgrades

There are some upgrades that we really like. The first optional upgrade is the LED light. Not an ordinary light, it has 4 different brightness levels, and 4 different temperature levels.

Next is the Sphere shelf, used to hold your monitor itself, a monitor-arm, or any other items you want on your desk. The shelf isn’t attached to the desktop, so it remains level no matter what angle your desktop is at.

If you have an iMac monitor there’s an optional iMac bracket that will keep your monitor in place. You slide the monitor under the brack, and put the screw in the pre-drilled holes to keep it secure.

There’s a cable management tray that will keep all of your cords organized.

If you bought the Locus Leaning Seat, there’s an anti-fatigue mat that you put on top the board that you stand on. With a normal standing desk, many find that an anti-fatigue mat will help you get less tired from standing. With a leaning chair, there’s not nearly as much pressure on your legs, but many find it more comfortable.

If you bought the Mogo or Mobis, the stabilizing foot rest is a good investment. The idea behind the leaning chair is that your leaning chair and your legs make an A-frame for stability. If your feet are flat on the floor, your ankles will be nearly straight, which can strain the muscles along your shins.

If you’re interested in these upgrades, thereare a few bundles of options.

The Sphere Bundle includes the iconic Locus Seat with Nubuck seat cushion, Sphere Desk, anti-fatigue mat, Sphere shelf, cable management tray, and LED worklight. Buying these items in the bundle, as opposed to individually saves you $277.

If you bought the Locus desk, there are 2 bundles to choose from. The Locus Bundle includes the iconic locus seat, Locus desk, and anti-fatigue mat. Buying these items in the bundle saves you $170.

The Locus Bundle Pro includes the Locus seat, Locus desk, anti-fatigue mat, Locus shelf, cable management tray, and LED worklight. Buying it in the bundle saves you $207.

Check Prices on the Sphere Bundle

The Leaning Chair

The inspiration behind the leaning chair was based on the idea that there is less pressure on your back when your torso is at a 135 degree angle to your legs. Leaning chairs also involve your core, so you’re using a little bit of your muscles while sitting. The entire reason for using a standing desk, as opposed to sitting all of the time, is that when people sit for long periods of time, their metabolism slows down. When people sit for extended periods of time, the risk for 4 of the top 10 killers of Americans goes up (cancer, diabetes, cardiovasuclar disease, and obesity). So leaning solves this problem, but it still gives you a break from standing when you get tired.

It will take a little bit to get used to a leaning chair. In the mean time, if you really miss sitting, you can keep a chair next to your desk as you ween yourself off of it.

The following leaning seats are made by Focal, the manufacturers of the Locus and the Sphere, so the design will match with their desks. If you’re open to other options, you can check out our separate review of the top standing desk chairs and stools.

The Mogo Leaning Seat


Mogo leaning chair for standing desksAt $99, the Mogo is an affordable way to start leaning on a budget.

This chair is mobile, so it’s useful for traveling to meetings, and can be used outdoors. We found that the seat could use a little more padding, and the shape is slightly uncomfortable. We found it useful, but not for long periods of leaning.

Check Prices on the Mogo

The Mobis Leaning Seat

At $519, the Mobis is a solid leaning chair. It has a smaller range of motion than the more expensive Locus (detailed below), but some people prefer the added stability. Like the Mogo, it’s light and mobile, so you can take it with you around the office or meetings around town.

We prefer the Locus Leaning Seat for one reason – the footrest on the pan below. Standing on the Mogo or Mobis, your feet are flat on the floor, ankles mostly straight. We’ve agreed that the footrest gives a little more stability, and is a more comfortable to lean.

Check Prices on the Mobis

The Locus Leaning Seat

At $715, this is the highest quality leaning chair we’ve tested. The seat can be locked into a position where you’re comfortable, or it freely swivel as you shift while leaning.

The cushion is available in several colors: chili pepper, citrus, black, and nubuck. The base is available in glacier white laminate, or matte black laminate.

Here’s a quick presentation from ergoprise demonstrating the focal locus seat.

Check Prices on the Locus Leaning Seat

The Difference Between the Sphere and the Locus

The only difference between these powerhouse desks is the size of the table top and the price. The Sphere is 31″ by 78″, and the Locus is 30″ by 48″. The difference in price is $520.

Take a look at your current desk to see how much space you need. If you feel cramped, the larger Sphere may be a good investment for you.

A Final Note About Focal’s Leaning Desks

These desks excel in both beauty and function. We’ve found that leaning and standing are better than sitting and standing that you do with most desks. We’ve compared notes and found that we have less upper and lower back issues, more energy, better mood, and higher productivity with leaning desks.

There is a bit of a learning curve with leaning, as with standing. Remember the general rule is to move around every 20 minutes. Being motionless standing isn’t good for you, as extended periods of sitting are harmful to you. So stand for a while, and when you get tired, lean. If you get tired leaning, keep a chair nearby for a little while until you acclimate to not sitting anymore.

Obviously the Sphere and Locus are one of the more expensive options on the standing desk market today. For myself, I was spending a lot of time and money at the chiropractor and getting massages for my back pain. And something that surprised me is that since I started using a leaning desk, my productivity has gone up, my energy levels are higher, and I sleep a little better. Between the savings on extra chiropractor visits and massages, and higher productivity and quality of life, my standing desk purchase paid for itself after about 9 months and was one of the smartest investments I’ve ever made.

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