You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, we’ve all read the warnings claiming that sitting too much is the new cancer. Trust me, cancer is no fun (voice of experience here), so finding alternatives to sitting all day is something everyone should consider. There are apps that will remind you to get up and move around every hour or so that you’re inactive. This is an easy and cheap way to sit less – as long as you actually heed the reminders. Or you can get yourself a standing desk like the Varidesk Pro Plus that was sent to me to test. It’s been almost two weeks since I started using it, let’s see what the experience has been like for me.
Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.
The Varidesk Pro Plus standing desk arrives pre-assembled so that all you have to do is remove it from the packing carton and place it on a desk that has at least a 36 x 30 inch surface. You will need help with this step because this particular desk (Varidesk sells larger and smaller versions) weighs a little over 50 pounds. I was a little worried that the Varidesk was too large for my work surface which is only 24 inches deep with a wall behind it. The front feet of the Varidesk hang over 2.75 inches, but so far I’ve not had any problems with instability or with the desk shifting position when I raise or lower it.
I snapped the image above after the desk was unpacked and placed on my desk in the office cube at my day job. I figured this would be the best place to review this desk, at the place where I sit the most each day. Eight hours a day to be exact.
This desk is available in any color you like as long as that color is black. Seriously though, I think the desk looks nice and would fit into any office or home without looking out of place. The desk is constructed with sturdy steel hardware, plastic covers over the sides of the base and what I think is a wood composite working surface with a bead blasted type texture.
Unlike some standing desks, the Varidesks are designed so that you can use them with your existing office furniture / desks instead of replacing them. These desks are convertible. They change from sitting to standing position very easily using the spring loaded latches on each side. All you have to do is press both latches and pull up on the desk to raise it.
There are 11 different height settings so the desk can be adjusted properly based on how tall you are. When the desk is raised to the level that is most comfortable to you, it snaps into one of the settings. Lowering the desk is just as easy. Even with a monitor, laptop, keyboard and other items on the desk, the lifting and lowering action is very smooth and easy to do. It requires minimal effort due to the spring-assisted lift mechanism and is virtually silent. The only noise it makes is when the height adjustment pins snap in place.
The Pro Plus version of the Varidesk can handle up to 35 lbs and is large enough for two 24 inch monitors to be placed side by side on the upper level. For my setup I have one monitor and a laptop side by side along with a full sized keyboard and mouse on the bottom portion of the desk. There’s still room left for other items in front of the keyboard and to the sides. I sometimes set my Nexus 7 tablet in landscape orientation in front of the keyboard for a 3rd display.
I am 5’6″ tall and typically have the desk in the position you see in the image above. It’s not raised to the highest setting, but the keyboard is raised about 12 inches above the existing desk’s surface. As I mentioned earlier, I have a job that keeps me planted in front of a computer for 8 hours a day. However, transitioning from sitting all day Monday through Friday to standing most of the day hasn’t be a huge challenge for me. After two weeks I already have a routine. I typically arrive at work around 7am and stand until 8:30am. I then put the desk down so I can sit and eat breakfast for about a half hour. After that I raise the desk again and work standing up till lunchtime when I put it back down for a half hour. The rest of the day is spent standing with a couple breaks here and there.
Other than having tired feet now and then, I have noticed some issues with my knees burning. This is probably due to me unconsciously locking my knees while standing. Varidesk sells a padded mat ($50) that they included with the desk, which is supposed to help with body fatigue. I’ll admit that I don’t use this mat every time I’m standing because I have to slide it under the desk when I have the desk in the sitting position so that my office chair will roll under the desk. I tend to forget to pull it back out when I raise the desk.
Varidesk offers a free iOS and Android app that you can use to remind you when to raise the desk and when to lower it for a break. It’s probably a better idea to start out slowly instead of switching to standing for all day when you’ve been sitting for years like I have.
I’ve really enjoyed the ability to stand up instead of sitting all day. I feel like I have more energy and now I can look at the window while I work, which is pleasant. I’ve had quite a few co-workers curious about the desk and have asked me about it. They are surprised when I demo it for them to show how easy it is to raise and lower. Then they ask about the price and are a little deflated when I say it’s $350. At that price it’s not a frivolous purchase, but I don’t think it’s overpriced compared to other office furniture. The Varidesk Pro Plus is very well made and offers health benefits over sitting all day. After only two weeks using this standing desk I really can’t imagine going back to sitting all day every day. I have enjoyed the experience so much that I’m even going to try another desk for my home office.
Have you switched to a standing desk? Share your experience in the comments.
A month or so after I posted this review I ended up giving the desk to a co-worker because I was having problems seeing the monitor without getting closer to it. I have crummy eyes and the distance between my eyes and the monitor was farther than what I have been used to with the monitor on a regular desk. The person I gave it too likes the desk but I don’t see him using it in the standing position all that often. I’m not sure if he forgets to use it in that orientation or he just doesn’t like to stand… I still think the Varidesk is a very nice standing desk and would happily recommend it.
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Varidesk. Please visit their site for more info.
30 thoughts on “Varidesk Pro Plus standing desk review”
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How long do you usually stand while working before you get too tired and sit down again?
@Eric I don’t ever get whole body tired. My feet might start hurting though if that’s what you mean, but I don’t have a set time when my feet get tired. It varies day to day. Sometimes it’s first thing in the morning and other times I feel like I can stand all day. Then I feel it at night once I’m off my feet for awhile and I get up and start walking around the house.
I’ve used Varidesk for about 6 months now and I can pretty much stand up all day now. I’ve found it helpful to have something to put a foot up on occasionally, like an upside down milk create or a small waste basket. On a sidebar: I have the Pro Plus, but I would have bought the Pro Plus 48 if it were available 6 months ago. I have two monitors and a small LED lamp on my Varidesk and would like more room for working off documents, etc.
I have an Ergotron WorkFit-S Single LD, which also adapts an existing desk to be stand/sit. It goes for $100 more than your Varidesk, which I still felt was a good price compared with costs for purpose-built desks.
I have the same issue about using an anti-fatigue mat: it goes under my desk when sitting, and I have to risk hitting my head on the extended keyboard platform when ducking under to retrieve it (plus at the moment it has a 25-lb bag of calcium chloride on it – ordered from Amazon due to depleted stocks in Boston!)
I also got a privacy screen for my monitor, since having it at standing eye level made it much more visible to people strolling by my cubicle.
@Betty I have been a little self-conscience about the privacy issue, but I haven’t tried a privacy screen. That might draw even more attention to what I’m doing. 😉 I figure if I’m getting my work done and want to flip over to a tab with my personal email or The Gadgeteer every so often, it’s no biggie.
Judging by the greenery behind the Golden Gate bridge, I’d say you’re due for a repeat visit out here to San Francisco. Now get over here. And is that a microwave? Sneaky!
@Andy yes it’s been awhile. Jeanne keeps talking about going to see the giant sequoias. 🙂
Darn it, my secret microwave is no longer a secret!
I’ve been using standing desks for a while now, and for anyone who hasn’t used one, YOU SHOULD! I’m lazy as heck, but I stand all day. It’s amazing how constant your energy level is throughout the day (no 4pm slump). Also, meetings become a nice break since you get to sit down!
At my current job I have one of these. I’m 6’2″, and this is NOT tall enough at all. I have to use reams of paper on the keyboard section (six total, 2×2 for my keyboard and 2 for my mouse). With that it works fine, but I have to use a ton of counterweight in the back to keep it from falling over. If you can’t get an actual standing desk and aren’t over 6′ (maybe 5’10”) then this is a great option.
Ha, I like standing desk meetings because people will stay awake and disperse when the point of the meeting has been taken care of 🙂
But I also use a stool on and off throughout the day. Here’s my setup:
Monitor Arm: http://goo.gl/68TE3e
Julie, I’ve been eyeing the Vari-desk for awhile, so thanks for the great review. One question regarding the height of the monitor(s) when in the lowered position – they look like they might be ergonomically annoying, as they’re now raised quite a bit more than they would be if sitting just on the desktop. Any new neck strain issues there?
@Pam Not really. The monitor shelf is only elevated 3.5 inches. It prompts me sit up straight instead of slouching.
I disagree. I am now finding that the desk is too high when sitting. When I raise my seat I can barely touch the floor with my feet.
I’ve had a Varidesk Pro in my work office for almost a year now and I love it. I use it in the standing position most of the day on the days I don’t do morning boot camp workouts, and on those days still will stand a bit in the afternoon. I use the anti-fatigue mat which definitely makes a difference–if I forget to pull it out from under my desk on a standing day, I notice fatigue a little after the first hour. So get the mat — don’t skimp on that.
I keep my monitor, docked laptop (open for 2nd screen), wireless keyboard and mouse on the top platform when standing (the Pro version doesn’t have the cutout like the Pro Plus in Julie’s photo). When I’m sitting, I lower the desk and put the keyboard and mouse on the lower platform. It’s definitely a plus to use a wireless keyboard and mouse for this.
Overall I’m quite happy with this and use it every day. The construction is high quality and after nearly a year I notice no change in the mechanism or “slack” that might develop over time on something like this. Highly recommended!!!
Hi Julie, thanks for the detailed review. The Varidesk has been on my wishlist for a while, but I am concerned about stability: Do typing movements cause it to wobble, or do you feel slight shifting when you rest your wrists on it when it’s in the raised position?
@Iris It’s very stable. No visible wobbling or shifting when it’s raised.
Julie – I’ve been using a DIY stand-up desk for well over a year now and love it. It’s similar in concept to the Varidesk, in that it sits on top of my regular desk, but it’s not adjustable. It took a little trial and error to get the height right – my first attempt was a little too low, but turned out to be just right for my wife. Second attempt works great and I’ve had many compliments on it at work. I also found I wanted enough surface area to have my phone on it as well. Have you tried positioning it any higher than you show in the pictures? Most ergonomic guidance (I’m a human factors geek at work) suggests your forearms should be roughly parallel to the floor and the monitor should be eye level when you’re standing. I found just an inch or so difference in desk height made a big difference in how straight I stood at the desk. I think it’s made a big difference in my energy level at work, but now that I stand most of the time, I REALLY hate sitting through all-day meetings :o).
@Scott I have set the desk at the highest position but I prefer a notch or two lower. I don’t like the monitor to be any higher because it would then be too high when I have the desk in the sitting position. It saves one thing to adjust.
I’ve used a standing desk at work for close on 4 years now, and I’ll never go back to a sitting desk. In fact, switched over to a standing desk at home too.
The 2 tricks I found were…
1. A taller, bar height chair – instead of raising or lowering my desk, I have a standing desk with a taller chair, making it easy to go back and forth. On purpose, my bar chairs are simple wood chairs, to encourage standing.
2. A large, thin, gel mat, placed under the workspace, large enough that the chair can go on top. The key was thin gel, as foam could be permanently crushed, and thick padding actually caused more fatigue, particularly whilst wearing shoes.
Thanks for the tips. I’ve given the desk to my co-worker to try for his sciatica problems. I was finding one problem with the desk… actually my eyes. The distance from the monitor to my eyes was too far so I was constantly squinting. One of the “fun” issues with getting older 😉
Aha! Monitor arm to the rescue! One of my favorite things about using a monitor arm is that you can get the screen practically under your nose 🙂
Here’s a photo of my standing desk setup w/ monitor arm extended:
Here’s the monitor arm on Amazon:
@Joan very nice!
I love standing at work! I looked into the Varidesk, but also agreed it was very expensive. I actually ended up buying a Stand Steady desk. It’s much more affordable, with a little assembly. I bought it on Amazon. They have 3 sizes and 3 colors and lots of other products too.
Cobin tested and cobin approved. The cost really isn’t that bad when you consider the quality. And especially when you consider how much it costs to go to the chiropractor twice a week when your back is messed up from sitting so long (ahem). I was really happy with how sturdy it was (I have one too now) and how easy it is to adjust up or down. Good job Julie!
I have the Ergotron Workfit T in white (I have to admit, that was the deciding factor for me over the VariDesk), and I LOVE it. Now that the novelty has worn off, and people are used to seeing me standing, it doesn’t seem so strange. I stand pretty much every day, all day, except for meetings (I’ve had it for a little over a month) . Occasionally, if I’ve been at my desk all day, I do sit down @ 4:00 pm, but quite often I forget to. It did take some getting used to in the beginning, my back and feet would get a bit fatigued. But, my hips, which were aching at the end of day from sitting all day long, are so much better! It moves up and down so easily that when someone comes in my office, I do lower it and sit, just because it feels awkward to have someone sitting at my desk while I am standing. I also find that people feel comfortable walking around my desk and standing right beside me, which is TOTALLY weird. I have to put my chair between where I stand and the end of my desk to keep the space invaders at bay. Only other drawback is wearing cute shoes…not so much, since I am on my feet all day, it’s supportive flat shoes for me, for the most part. Or shoes that can easily slip off, so that I can stand barefoot. But that’s a little weird…
I did get a yoga block and do calf raises on it when I am going through emails. Makes me fly through my emails, let me tell you! Also thinking of getting a balance board. A little more movement can’t hurt, right?! If you are thinking of getting a stand up desk though, I HIGHLY recommend it, especially if you have a motivating factor like pain from sitting all the time. I just don’t see myself going back to sitting all day long.
I can’t decide between the Pro and the Pro Plus. I am leaning to the Pro, but don’t want to be sorry later if the ergonomics of the Pro being all on one level are not good for the keyboard. Some comments say yes, some comments say no. Any way to judge this in advance? I am only 5’5″, if that matters.
Hello Gadgeteer, There is an interesting review on all the popular standing desk risers that looks at peoples height and how ergonomic their posture is seated and standing. Worth a quick look: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/review-best-standing-desk-risers-stephanie-gilbert
Thank you for your thoughtful review. I feel that I need to make both shorter people and taller people aware of the downfall of all these dozens of Varidesk and Vardesk alternatives; most are NOT ergonomic and can cause more issues than standing can alleviate. They add up to 1″ to your desk height. Standard contract furniture is around 29″ tall which is ideal for a 6′ user in the seated position.
First for anyone 5’10” or shorter try this exercise: Put your elbows next to your side and hold your arms in an L-shape… you can hold them there for hours without stress on your body. Now try and shrug your elbows to try and raise your elbows hum 4″ to 5.” You can do it, you start to do what we call chicken wings when your elbows move away from your body which now ads tremendous strain on your neck and shoulders. A 5″ person should type at about 22″ off the floor, not 30″ that the Varidesk or copy cat riser.
Lastly, if you are 6’2″ or taller, you will potentially have head and neck flexion issues with the monitor being to low. The keyboard will also be too low. There are two solutions that travel 7.31 & 6.9″ below the work surface for the shorter population and up to 51″ for the 6’5″ to 6’6″ folks. It’s called the S2S Sit Stand Workstation and the S2S Comfort Plus Workstation.
This is a blog that shows you in greater detail people seated and standing heights when using a desk riser: http://blog.ergoprise.com/choosing-best-sit-stand-desk-riser-body-type-1-year-later-new-risers/
Thanks for sharing this info!
We’d love to send you one to compare the difference for yourself.
Great review of a number of desks, the biggest glaring issue that most reviews miss, is how ergonomic is the desk or riser? It’s very important that you transition between sitting and standing numerous times a day. Most contract furniture is designed at a 29″ to 30″ height which ergonomically is not a great typing position for those people between 5′ to 5’9″ tall. The ideal typing position is an L-shape one and when you add a desk riser the odds are that it will add an additional 3/4″ to 1″ to the height of the desk when in the seated position. In the reviewers seated position she is typing way too high.
There is one sit stand desk riser solution in the market called the S2S Comfort Plus which has an adjustable keyboard tray that adjusts to almost 7″ below the work-surface which meets BIFMA & HFES 100-2007 standards. 5′ to 6’5″ users can work ergonomically seated and standing. You can also flip up the keyboard and move out of the way so you have access to the desk.
To give you a better visual I’ve enclosed a video link that shows the S2S Comfort Plus vs. the Varidesk: https://youtu.be/9ClHc2pgQ7w