Autonomous Desk Review – Standing SmartDesk 2By - 07/23/2016
Sitting is the new smoking, standing causes enlarged veins, women who sit for more than 6 hours per day are 94% more likely to die, desks that are halfway up, halfway down look sloppy. When did working at a desk become so complicated? What’s a girl to do? Clearly, the answer is to drop $400 on a SmartDesk that will magically move up and down via the push of a button. And yes, such a desk exists.
A SmartDesk Solves the Up vs. Down Debate
The key to most things is moderation, and that seems to be the case for the sit/stand debate. A SmartDesk, by Autonomous, is a desk that remembers your perfect sit versus stand position and allows you to change its position automatically.
Autonomous often adjusts their desk lineup and pricing. Currently, they offer one customizable and upgradable option – the SmartDesk 2 – as well as the AI-powered SmartDesk 3. With the introduction of the SmartDesk 2, all future standers start with the base model ($349) with the option to upgrade everything from the tabletop finish, to the motor, to the shape of the desk, and beyond. SmartDesk 3 is not upgradable but already includes one of Autonomous’ most popular upgrades: a dual motor design. You can read my hands-on review of the SmartDesk 3 here.
|Desk:||SmartDesk2||Basic Upgrades:||Premium Upgrades:||SmartDesk3|
|Base Price:||$349 + Free Shipping||$599 + Free Shipping|
|Surface Options:||Black, White, Walnut, Light Oak||Bamboo +$50||Black, White, Gray|
|Surface Design:||53″ x 30″ Classic||53″ x 30″ Ergonomic or Curved +$50||53″ x 31″ Wave +$150; 72″ x 30″ XL Classic + $250; 72″ x 30″ XL Wave + $300||53″ x 30″ Classic|
|Platform Color:||White, Black||White, Black, Grey|
|Platform Design:||29″ – 47″ Sit-to-Stand, Single Motor||24″ – 51″ Sit-to-Stand, Dual Motor +$100||24″ – 50″ Sit-to-Stand, Dual Motor|
|Accessories:||Professional Assembly (LA, SF, & NYC Only) +$49; Wireless Charger, USB Charger, Bag Organizer, Speaker +$75||AI Personal Assistant, Smart Home Controller, Developer SDK, App Access +$150||7” Touchscreen Display|
When I purchased my desk, SmartDesk 3 was not an option. The major difference between 2 and 3 is AI. The desk includes a 7″ touchscreen that acts as your virtual assistant. It can tell you when to stand up and sit down for optimal health, and it can also help you order a pizza.
The AI has two features aimed at productivity including shortcuts and intelligent suggestions. By creating shortcuts, you can quickly access frequently used actions like adjusting your thermostat, ordering an Uber, or even ordering your favorite pizza with all the right toppings. Intelligent suggestions will help you to remain mindful while plugging away at your desk. For example, your AI assistant will remind you to eat lunch, stand up if you’ve been sitting down for too long, and it will even remind you to stay hydrated.
Currently, SmartDesk 3 has both native and third-party integrations including Sit/Stand, Order Food (delivery.com), Make Coffee, Nest, LIFX, Clock, Weather, Uber, Water Reminder, Play Playlist, Check Stocks, and Meeting Reminder (syncs with your Google Calendar). Autonomous plans to grow this list over time using automatic over-the-air updates.
SmartDesk Mini and SmartDesk Studio
In addition to the smart desk, Autonomous sells the SmartDesk Mini and SmartDesk Studio. The SmartDesk Mini, which sells for $269.00, can turn any desk into a SmartDesk. Studio, which sells for $299, is a SmartDesk designed for smaller spaces.
Hands- On Review of the Autonomous Smart Desk
— Rose Thibodeaux (@Rose_Thibodeaux) July 13, 2016
Before purchasing my desk, I was hesitant about moving to a standing desk. After all, the majority of my day is spent writing. I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to write and stand, just like I can’t drive when the radio is too loud. I was wrong.
Installing my SmartDesk
The SmartDesk arrived in two separate shipments, on two different days, in two different boxes, in many different pieces. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting a project. The installation process was made more challenging by the lack of proper instructions.
As shipped, the instructions read more like a picture book and less like a helpful guide. They lacked important details, like what size screw to use or what tool to use. Beyond that, support from the Autonomous team was slow. And though tucked away in the shipping box was a sweet note that welcomed me to “give them a call,” they didn’t provide a phone number, nor could I find one on their website.
Perhaps the biggest challenge during the installation was that the top wouldn’t fit the bottom. Basically, the holes would not align. Fun fact about me, I don’t use a power drill. So, I had to enlist help to drill new holes so that I could put the desk together. Of course, I’m willing to give Autonomous a little grace on the process as I purchased the desk during a time when they were swapping out their old desk models for a new one. I’m assuming some of the challenges I faced were due to the change.
Once the desk was assembled, the final step was to program my preferred sitting and standing heights. To set the heights, I adjusted the desk to the right position, pressed the S button, waited for the numbers to flash, and then I pressed my preferred position number. Easy peasy.
Using the Desk and Final Thoughts
Using a standing desk is a delightful experience. As I’m already standing, I find myself more willing to roam around. A body in motion stays in motion, right? And it isn’t a distracted sort of wandering either; it’s intentional. And there are other side effects too. Embarrassing things that make me realize how slothful sitting can make a person. For example, I have less trash left on my desk at the end of the day, because walking to the trash can is no longer that big of a deal. I’m also more hydrated because walking to the kitchen seems easier when I’m already standing.
In the end, I’ve decided that I’m definitely keeping the desk. There are things I don’t like about it. For one, you have to press and hold the button to adjust the height. It would be more fun if you pressed once and the desk magically moved. Two, the desk was scuffed up when it arrived, and they didn’t bother sending a touch-up kit. Three, their customer service is a little slow to respond. Four, the wires on the bottom of the desk tickle my legs so I had to tape everything with electrical tape. Five, it wasn’t easy to put the desk together. All that said, even if I didn’t want to stand, which I do, my SmartDesk is still an upgrade from the IKEA desk I was using. Who knows? I might even upgrade to a SmartDesk 3 in the future. If you want to order your own desk, head over to autonomous.ai for more information. As a bonus, the desk ships with a 30-Day trial.