Autonomous SmartDesk 3 With Built-in A.I.By - 09/20/2018
I purchased the second generation Autonomous standing desk two years ago, and I love it! It’s everything I’ve ever wanted. I feel healthier, more energetic, and to this day, it meets my needs. But, and there’s always a but, I originally purchased it with the intention of adding the A.I. accessory, a product that never launched. Instead, Autonomous has launched the SmartDesk 3 which is a smart desk with built-in A.I., so I upgraded.
SmartDesk 3 doesn’t replace 2, but rather it’s just another option. Currently, Autonomous has three primary desks including SmartDesk 2 Home, SmartDesk 2 Business, and SmartDesk 3. They also sell a DIY Kit and Accessories, but we’re going to focus on the three primary standing desks.
|SmartDesk 2 – Home Edition||SmartDesk 2 – Business Edition||SmartDesk 3|
|Price||$299 + $49 Shipping||$399 + $49 Shipping||$499 + $49 Shipping|
|Top Colors||Black, White, Walnut, White Oak||Black, White, Walnut, White Oak||Black, White, Grayscale|
|Premium Colors||Bamboo Top ($50)||Black XL ($80), White XL ($80), Bamboo Top ($50)|
|Platform Color||White, Black, Grey||White, Black, Grey|
|Size||53 x 30 Classic||53 x 30 Classic, 70 x 30 XL||53 x 30 Classic|
|Lifting Capacity||220 lb||300 lb||300 lb|
|Save $25||Save $25||Save $25|
TIP: Autonomous has several preset top/platform combos, but you can customize to mix and match if you choose the SmartDesk 2.
Installing the Desk
My previous installation experience was pretty bad. Autonomous has made strides towards improvement since then, but the process wasn’t perfect.
Perhaps the biggest improvement is that the instruction booklet actually breaks down the different parts that ship with the desk and tells you what part goes where. My last instruction manual had pictures but lacked words.
The second improvement? More holes. My last desk shipped without pre-drilled holes. This one had all of the holes drilled, but unfortunately, I assumed it was missing the holes for the keypad. After calling a friend, and drilling new holes to install the keypad (which shipped with the desk), I realized that the SmartDesk 3 doesn’t necessarily use the keypad. If you plan to use the A.I. tablet, you can’t use the keypad as they both plug into the same place. This information was not included in the instruction booklet, which was an oversight in my opinion.
So to install the desk, you will need a Screwdriver and a Tape Measure; hopefully, you will not need a power drill.
All things considered, the installation process is slightly challenging because the desk is heavy and difficult to maneuver. My tip? Buy magic sliders.
We used the magic sliders to line up the holes in the side brackets to the predrilled holes in the table. During this part of the installation process, you have to place rubber noise dampener pads into the holes of the side bracket before drilling. The next step is to slide the bracket into place, but without the magic sliders, it’s not easy to slide. It’s like sliding rubber on a road. The magic sliders allow you to slide while aligning. They make the process so much easier and more precise. And the more precise you are, the sturdier the desk will be.
If you don’t know what magic sliders are, google them. You can pick them up at Target or online. I used this size.
Finally, if you are afraid of an installation project, Autonomous offers professional furniture assembly services via partners.
The SmartDesk 3 in Action
The SmartDesk 3 is the SmartDesk 2 Business Edition with a cutout for a tablet (included). That’s truly the only difference.
Out of the box, the included tablet (7″ touchscreen) lets you pre-program two sit/stand heights. Alternatively, the keypad that you use with the SmartDesk 2 supports four sit/stand heights. My original desk required that you press and hold a button to adjust the desk’s height, but with this one, I swipe up with one finger to move to my preferred height and the desk automagically moves.
What I found most disappointing is that out of the box, you can only use the tablet to swipe up to stand and swipe down to sit. (Honestly, I would rather use the keypad.) You can’t even use the tablet to turn on other options or edit options. If you want to do more, you will need to visit store.autonomous.ai using a web browser to control possible Shortcuts.
The Autonomous Shortcut Store
Shortcuts are sort of like apps for the Autonomous tablet.
From the Shortcut store, you can choose from eleven Shortcuts.
- Adjust Height
- Play Music
- Request a Ride (Uber)
- Be on Time
- Quote Me
- Stay Hydrated
- Adjust Temperature (Nest)
- Control Lights (LIFX)
- Need a Ride Lyft
- Combat Burnout
Adjust height is something we’ve already talked about, and it’s the only Shortcut that’s enabled from the start.
Delivery is a Shortcut that allows you to preset your favorite meals. When you first set up your tablet, it will ask for your address — creepy. But then it uses your address to find food near you — kind of cool. Unfortunately for me, there were no available restaurants nearby so I couldn’t test this Shortcut. I did, however, temporarily change my address to Chicago, IL, and then I had several options ranging from Thai to Middle Eastern to Quiznos.
Play Music requires a Spotify Premium membership which I did not initially have. I ended up subscribing to test the desk, but was sorely dissapointed. The Shortcut will not show on your desk unless you play a song from another device. With a song streaming elsewhere, a Shortcut will appear telling you the name of the song playing. You can then pause, skip, or rewind, but the buttons did not work for me.
‘Request a Ride’ connects you to Uber, ‘Need a Ride’ to Lyft, while ‘Be on Time’ syncs Uber/Lyft to your Google calendar so that you can get to your appointments on time. I tested out Uber. From the Uber app, you will need to set favorite locations, which I did, but I wasn’t able to get the feature to work.
Adjust temperature ties your desk to Nest. Unfortunately, it does not work if you use heat/cool mode, which I do.
LIFX controls lights connected to LIFX. This shortcut worked, but it’s limited. You can only turn lights on and off. You cannot change colors, dim, or anything else.
The rest of the Shortcuts (Combat Burnout, Stay Hydrated, and Quote Me) are notification-based only which means that you can’t customize or control them. Instead, you have to sit around and wait for the desk to get to know you. Autonomous says this takes two weeks, but I didn’t have a lot of luck with the notifications. I received hydration reminders and a reminder that suggested I sit after standing for an hour and a half when I’d actually been standing closer to five hours. I couldn’t figure out the timing of the notification-based Shortcuts enough to make them useful. How does it know when I’m working? Clearly, it doesn’t.
Issues With Shortcuts and the Tablet
Obviously, I had a lot of issues with Shortcuts. Most of them didn’t work, didn’t work well, or were so severely limited that they were useless to me. I tried to troubleshoot things on my own and then called (that’s right, Autonomous now offers phone support) for help. The woman I spoke with suggested that my SD card was bad, so they offered to send one. The card took about a week to arrive and installing it wasn’t simple.
The card lies beneath the motherboard of the tablet, which means that you have to remove it from your desk, open it, remove the motherboard, and then replace the card. In gently lifting the tablet from my desk, the screen cracked. In removing the mini USB charging cable, it bent in half. If I wasn’t convinced of the cheapness of the tablet before disassembling it, I was after. Though you don’t know me, I can promise that I’m not an aggressive person.
Inside the tablet, you will find that it’s powered by a Raspberry Pi display board version 1.1.
The tablet itself lacks a battery, can’t be powered down/up unless you unplug it, is slow to respond to touch, doesn’t do most of the things Autonomous promises on their website, and long story short, replacing the microSD card didn’t help. I reached out to Autonomous about the cracked screen, and they graciously offered to send a new tablet, but I counter-offered: Send me an insert to cover up the tablet hole because I’d rather use the keypad. Unfortunately, they don’t have an insert to replace the tablet, but they did offer to send a new top.
While lack of performance is concern number one, I do have a second: How much does my desk need to know about me? My desk knows my home address, my credit card number, my favorite playlist, and my Uber history. Is that too much? For me, it is. Yet, Autonomous promises privacy. On their website FAQ page they promise that my info is perfectly safe,
“We use https protocol and 256-bit encryption to make sure that all of your information is secure.”
That said, all of your data isn’t stored on the device itself, but in the cloud.
Finally, the SmartDesk 3 is missing a lot of promised features. For example, their website shows an app, but the app is currently MIA as it was having issues. Second, it also says you can sync Bluetooth devices to the desk, but support confirmed that this is again a missing feature. Third, they promise a 6-foot cable, but there are actually two cables, one for the desk and one for the tablet. The tablet cable is only 5 feet in length which barely reaches when the desk is fully raised. Fourth, they show Shortcuts like check stocks, make coffee, and weather, all Shortcuts which are not currently available.
Should You Buy SmartDesk 3 or SmartDesk 2?
So the question is, which SmartDesk should you buy? My vote lies with the SmartDesk 2 Business Edition. It provides more power and greater stability than the Home Edition thanks to the extra motor, and I just don’t think the SmartDesk 3 is worth the extra $100. If I lived in a city, used a daily car service, and ordered a lot of food, then maybe I would be more patient with the SmartDesk 3, but right now, it just doesn’t offer any features that I can use, and the user experience is sub-par. Plus, you can buy a Google Home Mini for $30, set it on your desk, and have access to Hue, LIFX, Nest, streaming music, Uber, your calendar, and even use it to order a Domino’s pizza for lunch.
While I was admittedly a little hard on the SmartDesk 3, I want to be clear that I LOVE having a SmartDesk. The SmartDesk 3 gets a thumbs down, but the SmartDesk 2 Business Edition gets a thumbs up.
If you want to order a SmartDesk, use this link to get $25.00 off of your order, and I’ll get $25 toward my next order (an ErgoStool).