Vari Ergo electric standing desk review – ergonomic, ergo, enjoyable

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REVIEW – While a great chair, like the Vari Performance Task chair, can help improve your posture, a standing desk can perfectly adjust to your work height. Standing desks also allow you to move while still being productive. I have a Vari Ergo electric standing desk to review. Read on to see what I think!

What is it?

The Vari Ergo electric standing desk is an office desk with electrically adjustable legs that allow the top of the desk to be positioned between 25″ (63.5 cm) and 50.5″ (128 cm). A control panel displays the current height, permits adjustment to within 0.1″, and allows storage and recall of four custom height settings. The table top is manufactured from a laminate-coated medium-density fiberboard (MDF). The top has a cable grommet in each back corner. The front of the desktop has a gracefully curved and rounded front edge for enhanced comfort and ergonomics. The tabletop can support up to 200 lbs.

What’s in the box?

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  • Vari Ergo electric standing desk
  • Allen wrenches
  • Vari Coaster
  • Vari Hook and Loop Wire Wraps
  • Vari Bag hooks
  • Assembly and use instructions

Hardware specs

  • Curved and rounded front edge of desktop
  • 3″ diameter cable management grommets for streamlined wiring
  • Assembles in minutes with included tools
  • Easy-to-clean, durable laminate finish
  • Adjust to any height from 25″ – 50 ½”
  • 4 Programmable Height Settings
  • Supports up to 200 lb (90.72 kg)
  • Meets or exceeds BIFMA standards
  • Table top dimensions: 26″ (66 cm) – 54″ (137 cm)
  • Foot depth: 23″ (58.5 cm)
  • Table thickness: 1.25″ (3 cm)
  • Minimum table top depth 23.5″ (59.9 cm)
  • Width of rounded front edge: 36″ (91.5 cm)

Design and features

Unboxing

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The Vari Ergo electric standing desk comes in two large boxes. Each weighs about 60 lbs. The Larger box contains the desktop and the bag hooks.  The smaller box contains the feet, legs, motor controller, display, hardware, Allen wrenches, coaster, and hook and loop wire wraps. Each box comes with printed instructions. 

Inside the smaller box, the parts are well-packaged in a styrofoam insert. It was nice seeing the coaster and hook and loop wire wraps included in the package.

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Inside the bigger box, the table is packaged against blocks of cardboard to keep the table from shifting. The table top is wrapped in heavy gauge plastic to protect the surface. 

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It is important to follow the directions on each box to open the top of the box. This will ensure that the legs are accessible from inside the styrofoam mold and that the table top is positioned upside down for attachment of the legs and other components. 

Setup

Setting up the Vari Ergo electric standing desk is a breeze and is similar to the simple instructions for setting up the Vari Performance Task chair.  The first step listed in the instructions is to insert the feet into the table base. The feet are symmetrical so it doesn’t matter which foot is installed on each side. They use a clever pin and groove assembly that allows the tops of the legs to slide into the steel frame below the tabletop. The steel pins secure the legs to the center of two lengths of box steel that run along the base of the tabletop. Any side-to-side movement of the table is limited because these pins are not free to move up and down inside the grooves.  The legs are secured to the short edges of the box frame to prevent the legs from being removed.  There is some packaging below the point to which the legs are secured, so one thing Vari has done to make assembly easier is to include a ball end metric Allen wrench for securing the legs. The ball end facilitates securing the bolts at an angle and makes what may have been an annoying task much easier. 

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The next step is the placement of the motor control box at the center of the table. The table comes with its control panel mounted to the right side. If this is where the display will be then position the control box in the center of the table with the port labeled HS towards the right. If the display will be moved to the left then rotate the box 180 degrees and have the port labeled HS towards the left. The table top has a bracket for the control panel mounted to the right side. If the control panel is going to be placed on the left side there are pilot holes drilled into the bottom of the table so that the bracket can be moved over. 

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The control box mounts to the center of the table with a slot-and-tab style attachment. 

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After installing the control box the cables may be secured to the appropriate attachments.

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The control panel mount allows the control panel to mount with the display extending beyond the edge of the table or almost completely underneath it. This design may also help prevent the control panel from being damaged by unintended knocks and bumps. I wish that Vari made the control panel mounting a little bit more secure. Vari also included a couple of adhesive cable-securing clips, but I feel that the control panel cable is short enough that this isn’t really required. 

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Once the control panel is secure and while the desk is still face down, the feet are placed on top of each leg and secured using the supplied screws (M10-40mm) and hex key (M10). The feet and legs are symmetrical so it doesn’t matter which foot is secured to each leg. The underside of the desk has 6 mounting holes for the Vari cable management tray and two mounting holes for a privacy screen. 

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Once legs and feet are secure, two people should carefully flip the assembled desk (along the back edge to avoid damaging the control panel) to an upright position. Adjust the footpads to level the desk as needed. Before starting your initial setup, place the desk where you want it, connect the power cord to the control box AC input, and plug the desk in. The desk comes with a 9-foot power cord that plugs into the control panel mounted below the center of the desktop. 

The control system has an initialization sequence in the manual. One option that is presented during the sequence is the option to choose how the buttons operate on the desk. They can either be set up so the desk automatically functions after a press of a button or they can be set up so that the button must be held the entire time the desk is moving. This “dead man switch” operation may be required in some commercial settings but I trust myself and my dog enough to not be squashed by a moving desk. 

The setup also has the ability to display inches or centimeters and this can be configured in the setup as well. Lastly, the setup allows the full range of motion to be limited to a smaller range within the 25″ to 50.5″ that the desk is capable of. (50.5″ is extremely high for the desk and would be an appropriate level for between 5 to 50 people out of 1 million; I realize that there are some who position these desks over treadmills.)

Design

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The main feature of every desk is the desktop. The Vari Ergo electric standing desk has a desktop made out of a laminated medium density fiberboard. It isn’t the most luxurious material, but this is a piece of furniture designed for work. So I expect that the materials are utilitarian and suited for performance rather than traditional materials. Also, since MDF is made from scrap, it is an environmentally sustainable material. I really like the color of this dark wood laminate and think that it would complement most interiors.

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Here’s an image with high magnification

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I’m concerned that a monitor stand torqued on the edge of the desk may damage the wood. It would be nice if Vari included some guidance on appropriate installation. I’m using a monitor with a desktop stand.

The corners of the desk look to have about a 3″ radius on them and the front of the desk has a fillet across the entire front. Furthermore, the middle 36″ of the desk is scalloped so that when you are sitting in front of it the front edge becomes a very comfortable thing to lean against. Often, when standing and not typing or using the mouse, one’s hands will rest against the edge of the desk. By filleting and scalloping the desk, Vari has made a very comfortable and ergonomic piece of furniture. 

There are a couple of other design features that make this an excellent desk for professionals. There are cable grommets in each corner. These can strategically direct cables to the cable tray mounted to the rear underside of the desktop. Vari has included a couple of hook and loop strips to aid in cable management. Vari has also included two molded plastic hooks that can be used to support a personal item. The section that is held by the table is designed to the exact measurements of the table top and has foam inserts to ensure that it does not mar the finish. 

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The desk can support up to 200 lb. There are some YouTube reviews with the top fully loaded but most likely there will not be that much weight on the desk these days (as opposed to the 50 lb CRTs that used to be on desks.) I have noticed that the desk barely moves even when it is on a carpet. I certainly don’t feel any movement on the keyboard as I’m typing. 

The control panel has what looks like an OLED 7-segment digital display, up and down buttons, 4 memory recall buttons, and a memory setting button.

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The buttons are rubber and labeled with the function on the face of each. The height is only visible for a few seconds and then the display disappears. It’s barely noticeable in person but Vari has a dark grey logo on the black control panel.

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The legs are dark grey steel. The foot of the desk is secured to the non-movable outer segment of the telescoping legs. The top of each leg has two telescoping sections that are secured to the motor, which is in turn, secured to the base of the desk top.

Vari Ergo 04I think this arrangement of having the bottom of each leg be stationary is preferable to having the top of each leg be stationary and having the legs telescope toward the foot of the desk. The way that Vari has designed the desk keeps the moving parts high up under the desk and away from the feet, which may be hazards to damaging shoes, pets, or office supplies that happen to be adjacent to the legs while they are moving. The feet have built-in levelers which is a nice touch. One thing that would be nice is a way to have cables routed down the leg to keep them out of the way. The picture below has the power cord removed but it comes out of the control box where the three prongs are visible next to the white sticker.

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Performance

The Vari Ergo electric standing desk suits my work very well. The 54″ by 26″ surface is just big enough to open a file on the left and right side of the keyboard without being so big that it overpowers the room that it is in.

The table moves at about 1-1/4″ per second. The table also has an acceleration and deceleration period so that movement of the table top is not too sudden for things that are on it. Taking all of this into account, the table takes just short of 13 seconds to move from my two operating positions of 26.8″ to 41.5″. The table has a 0.1″ accuracy. If the table is mounted above a fixed height cabinet or shelf then you can be sure that the table will not hit it if the table minimum height is set above that level. And, just in case the table does hit something, at a certain point the force causes the table motion to stop and the motion to reverse some before stopping. The applied force required to trigger this response is large and the action may be to protect the table from failing more than to protect the items around it, but it is good to know that a jammed arm rest will not cause the table to get damaged.

What I like

  • Comfortable
  • Attractive
  • feature-rich

What I’d change

  • cable management 
  • guidance on monitor arm installation

Final thoughts

I’m a late adopter of the standing desk. I’ve always thought that a person’s attention can use a stretch when their legs need one and I rather take a lap around the office than stand at a desk in one place.  However, I needed a desk at home and figured if I didn’t use the standing feature then I’d still have a great desk, right? It turns out that a standing desk is something I should have explored a long time ago. I was partially correct about using this as a desk, but one thing that I never anticipated is customizing the height of the desk provides a dramatic improvement in ergonomics and comfort. Having the keyboard at just the right height improves the whole experience of working at the desk. I went from working on a 28″ desk to working at a 26.8″ one and the experience has improved dramatically. What I didn’t anticipate about standing desks is that the approach to work is dramatically different. When I am working from home in the evenings I may be pulled away from my work a number of times in the evening. While I am working at a standing desk I can leave my work and return to it much easier than if I was sitting. The difference in time is probably minuscule (a few seconds different) but the ability to mentally disengage and reengage is much more fluid when using a standing desk. So, if you’re not in the market for a standing desk I suggest that you try one out. And, if you are looking for a high-quality desk that has great ergonomic features, I recommend the Vari Ergo electric standing desk.

Price:
Where to buy: Vari and Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided by Vari.

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