REVIEW – I have been a fan of Ergotron’s carts and stands for more than a decade and have used their clinical (healthcare) and office carts and wall mount systems at multiple institutions. When the opportunity to review a new ergonomic educational product came up, I enthusiastically volunteered to review it. The LearnFit desk is designed to address an important problem in classrooms, namely that of desks that adjust to the needs of students and educators of various body types and posture / work surface height needs.
What is it?
The Ergotron LearnFit desk is a compact sit / stand desk. It uses a familiar single-column cart configuration. The single adjustable height column allows for height adjustment and also features storage for backpacks. The desk features an integrated holder for water bottles or other vessels, a tablets / books, and a pen tray. The top surface is a porcelain / steel dry-erase surface for quick calculations or sketches which can help reduce paper waste in the classroom or office.
What’s in the box?
My LearnFit arrived in a large and moderately heavy (37 pounds) shipping box.
After opening the end of the box, I was greeted with a damaged shipping insert, which made me a bit concerned about the condition of the contents. However, the protective cap on the column had prevented any damage to the mechanism and all of the parts were undamaged.
Once everything was unloaded, the contents of the carton were revealed to be
- Base with locking casters
- Adjustable-height column
- Desk surface assembly
- Instruction packet
The LearnFit desk weight approximately 35 pounds and has a footprint of approximately 22″ x 25″. It adjusts to accommodate work surface heights from 29″ to 45″ and is rated to support 15 pounds on the desk surface. However, while setting up a new workspace, I did use it to hold a 41″ 4K monitor that weighed significantly more than 15 pounds, but only for about 15 minutes.
The base sports two free and two locking casters with the locking casters facing the user. There is an adjustment lever on the near right side which activates the piston controls in the column (this will be familiar to anyone who has used an office chair with an adjustable column)
Design and features
Setting up the LearnFit took about 15 minutes a bit of swearing as some of the tolerances are very tight and require you to have things in precise alignment to get them to fully fit together. The process was
- Remove all of the parts from their protective shipping bags
- Remove the protective cardboard insert from the column receiver in the base
- Insert the column into the base and seat it into the receiver. The column is not fully seated until the arrows and the horizontal line disappear into the receiver. This takes a combination of finesse and brute force. I wasn’t able to fully seat the column until after I had installed the top.
- Remove the cap that protects the piston control from the top of the column.
- Seat the column in the receiver on the underside of the desktop.
- Cut the restraining tie on the adjustment lever
- Remove the protective plastic from the desktop
As you can see in the photo, I hadn’t fully seated the column yet.
Upon assembling the LearnFit, the first thing I had to do was try out the dry-erase surface. I was trained as an engineer and had expansive whiteboards in my offices for years, but now that I work from home, I am suffering from white-board withdrawal. The LearnFit has helped with that.
The dry erase surface works wonderfully, although I can’t say the same from my old dry-erase markers. The enamel surface also stands up to permanent marker mishaps. This required a bit of ethanol and a clean rag to remove, and the surface was none the worse for wear.
The height adjusting mechanism works well and has a strong mechanism with easily raises the work surface up most of the way. The last 2 inches of travel requires a bit of coaxing, but it isn’t a wrestling match. The mechanism allows the desk to descend smoothly as well.
The locking casters work well and keep the desk in position when it is in use.
After using in my home office for a week or so, my high schooler asked to use it when he takes his online college courses which require him to have a clean desk upon which to work, and since the LearnFit was the only desk or table in the house without a layer of paperwork and since it is a student desk, I agreed. My son says that it is a great work surface, although he would prefer it to be a bit larger for regular use (he has a large work table in his room that he could use if he’d just clean it off). He has decided that this will be his go-to test and homework desk and I had to argue him out of it to take a couple of extra photographs. We have even used the whiteboard to work through some physics problems that he needs to figure out how to set up the problem before solving it (having a father with 12 years of post-secondary education in engineering and technology is useful sometimes, whether either of my teens wants to admit it).
I haven’t made use of the backpack hook, but it appears robust and is adjustable on the column to accommodate various sizes of packs. There is an optional shelf system that also mounts to the column, but this is an optional accessory and was not included.
In addition to my older son and me, my younger son and wife also tried out the LearnFit in various scenarios. Among the four of us, our heights range from 62″ to 72″. We were all able to find comfortable working heights whether we were sitting or standing. I have ongoing back problems and have used sitting, standing, and adjustable work surfaces for almost 20 years. The LearnFit is one of the most user-friendly small desks that I have used in that time. Like my son, I wish it was a bit bigger, but for its intended use, it is a good size (comparable or larger than the individual desks used in our local public schools). In addition to its use as a desk, the integrated tray makes it an excellent lectern as long the user is respectful of the design weight limits (I find myself leaning on lecterns and applying significantly more than 15 pounds of weight, so I didn’t test the LearnFit as a lectern).
What I like
- Good height-adjusting mechanism
- Dry-erase surface
- Integrated tray
- Locking casters
- Easy to move around
- Easy to assemble (with the caveat below)
What I’d change
- The assembly process could be slightly easier (maybe a smoother surface or dry lubricant to ease assembly of the column and base). I had to apply impulse loads much higher than 15 pounds to get the column to seat the last inch or so into the base.
- It would be nice to see a slightly larger model (8″ – 12″ wider) for use with large laptops (yes, I know these are a niche product now) while still allowing a workspace
- Cable management for use with computers
I really like the concept and execution of the LearnFit, and I can see where it has a place in both office and educational settings. I didn’t put the LearnFit through an abuse cycle with an elementary-age cohort, but based on my experience with other Ergotron products in acute care and critical care settings, I believe the LearnFit would survive a year of elementary school use. Having taught at the middle-school level, I’m not sure about that environment.
There is a need to help both educators and students with their body mechanics and having the option of sitting or standing would give them the opportunity for the regular position changes recommended by experts.
Price: approximately $360, but different vendors offer discounts.
Where to buy: The LearnFit may be purchased through multiple different retail and specialty vendors including Amazon and Connection.
Source: The sample of this product was provided by Ergotron.