I rarely write product reviews anyplace other than Amazon, but I wrote this Varidesk review because they are heavily advertised and I’m worried others may be sucked in by slick marketing. Plus it is rare for me to feel so strongly about a poorly designed product. In this case, the product can cause physical pain which is important enough to talk about.
If you’re like me and watch a fair amount of TV, then you’ve probably seen the ads for the Varidesk desk stand. The ease of use shown on the commercials interested me. While my partner and I use adjustable standing desks at work, my partner and I were looking to add sit/stand capabilities for our employees and contractors. Our office space came with nice desks, and we’d rather adapt what we already own than buy new desks for everyone. The Varidesk looked like an easy solution, so I went looking for one to check out.
The Varidesk isn’t sold in local stores
Fortunately, I found one I could check out at Ergorpise, a local ergonomic furniture dealer. I soon discovered that not offering the Varidesk through dealers is a smart strategic move for the company because if buyers could check it out before they buy, most would not purchase this device.
I wanted to like it. I like easy, and this seemed like such an easy solution. There’s no assembly. You just pull it out of the box and put it on your desk. My initial impression was that it was solidly built. Plus it is cheaper than a desk.
Then I sat down
As soon as I sat down, the first issue was painfully obvious. So obvious I should have thought about this before I even went to look at it. When at its lowest setting, the Varidesk still adds about an inch to the height of the desk surface. The Varidesk sits way too high for most people to use.
Let me explain. I’m petite, around 5’ tall. According to ergonomic standards, when typing the arms should rest comfortably at your side with your forearms parallel to the floor. For me, that height is around 22-23 inches. Most desks are between 28-30 inches high. This meant the Varidesk’s lowest setting is more than 7 inches too high for me. I can’t possibly use it. When I refer to a reference chart for expected seated typing height I find that in order to use a 29” desk height, a male user would need to be more than 5’11” to be able to use the Varidesk in a seated position.
Is my monitor going to fall off?
At this point, I’ve already ruled out buying these units for my office, but I decided to check it out and write a thorough review that may be useful to someone else. I squeeze the levers to raise the platform for standing. My monitor immediately wobbled like mad! This an instant disqualifies this product for me. While it is possible to add a monitor arm to this unit, that seems silly and will add $200 or more to the price. That would make this unit as expensive as an electric desk. So much for saving money.
It works for standing right?
Yes, I can use the Varidesk standing. However, most people over 6’1” should not use it. It turns out there is no height adjustment between the keyboard platform and the monitor platform so a taller person would have to look down to use their monitor. That can cause serious neck and shoulder problems. The same reference chart I used above says that someone at 6’2” needs a standing eye height at about 68.6”. I did a little math. If a desk is 29” to start, and I add in the maximum Varidesk height of 17.5”, I get 46” off the ground. I measured my 24” monitor for proper eye height, and that was about 16”. The combined eye height for my monitor on the Varidesk at maximum height is 62”. That’s more than 6.5” lower than it needs to be. So it appears that in addition to monitor stability problems, a height adjustable monitor arm is required in order for a taller worker to use the Varidesk comfortably.
It sucks up your work space
My last beef with the Varidesk is that it takes up my desktop space. I have no place left to write or place documents I may be referencing. It also creates a visible block between you and anyone sitting across from you. Good luck holding a meeting with a Varidesk on your desktop.
My Varidesk review summary
The Varidesk fails on almost every point it attempts to offer as a benefit. It doesn’t allow for typing below the desk top, making it too high for most people. At maximum height, it isn’t high enough to provide for comfortable monitor viewing for taller individuals. Moving it up made my monitor wiggle enough to make me concerned it would fall off. It left me with no usable workspace on my desk, and it hampers conversation with anyone sitting across from me.
While I appreciate the well-run marketing campaigns to promote it, I am left wondering how much design thought went into this poorly executed product.
What did we end up buying?
We bought a couple of S2S Sit to Stand Converters. Not only did the S2S offer a much wider adjustment range, so it fits pretty much anyone, we liked that it could move out of the way and swivel the monitor to facilitate collaboration.