According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting behind a desk for as little as four hours a day increases your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 125 percent. And spending a few hours at the gym every week doesn’t significantly offset that risk. One of the clinic’s first recommendations: Use a sit/stand desk. I work in a home office in my smart home on a near full-time basis and was reluctant to make that investment. The customizable Evodesk XE Pro changed my mind, but not all its options are good values.
Unlike some low-cost solutions that rest on top of your conventional work surface—mine is a six-foot-wide, 30-inch-deep sheet of ½-inch finished plywood sitting atop a pair of 27-inch-tall file cabinets—the Evodesk XE has a silky smooth motorized lift that goes as high as 18.45 inches inches to accommodate your height and personal preference. The microprocessor-controlled 24-volt motor can quietly lift up to 100 pounds in precise increments of 1/10th of an inch.
Prices for the Evodesk XE start at $379, but available options can inflate your build quickly—adding every available option to the desk itself boosts its price tag to nearly $750. I chose what I thought were modest and necessary options: The $49 Pro option adds a lower shelf for my keyboard. Just as importantly, it puts me another nine inches away from my monitor. The $39 Programmable Memory upgrade replaces the standard two-button height control and adds a read-out of the desk’s elevation while it’s in motion.
These options increased the price of the desk to $467, but I quickly discovered that the Programmable Memory option is a complete waste of money. Evodesk says it’s their most popular option, because it can store four height positions: Push buttons 1 through 4 and the desk will automatically return to that memorized height. But it only works if you hold the desired button down until the desk reaches that height. The desk stops moving the instant you take your finger off the button.
Incredulous, and convinced that I was not programming the memory correctly, I reached out to Evodesk about the situation. Their response: “…we do that intentionally on our XE and XE Pro models for safety reasons. We do not want the units to become top heavy and hurt someone.” I suppose you could pile enough crap on top of the desk to make it top heavy at its full height, but I don’t know how you’d be able to see the monitor. If you need to hold the button down anyway, save yourself $39 and just hold the up or down button down (unless that display is important to you).
Construction and other optional add-ons
The default material is recycled wood covered in a textured black or white vinyl, but you can upgrade to rubberwood or bamboo for an additional $39. An optional .006-inch-thick, transparent vinyl skin will protect those surfaces from spills and scratches for $67 more. Your next option is to cover the desktop surface in fancier skins, adding $139 to the price tag. You can choose from more than 80 designs, including faux stone and woodgrains, abstract patterns, wallpaper-like surfaces, solid colors, and even a whiteboard surface for dry-erase markers. There are no-charge options to change the frame color from black to silver or white.
Your final option is to choose a single monitor mount (included in the price tag) or to spring for a dual-monitor mount, which adds $69 to the price of the desk. Beyond that, Evodesk offers a host of accessories, including anti-fatigue mats for your feet, cable-management packages, and extended warranties (the standard warranty is a strong five years). A few adhesive-backed cable-routing clips come with the desk, but these came loose shortly after I stuck them on. Looking at the rat’s nest of cables dangling from the desk, I wish I had opted for one of the cable-management options.
Some assembly required
You’ll need to assemble the desk when it arrives in several boxes, an experience I didn’t find remotely enjoyable. There are a lot of screws to deal with, and you’ll need three different sizes of Allen wrenches (provided) to do the job. Mounting my 30-inch display was particularly difficult—I’d recommend roping someone in to help you with that step. I didn’t try the dual-monitor mount, but you’ll want to be aware that the single mount is fixed: You can’t tilt, pivot, or rotate the display.
On the bright side, even the recycled wood in the basic model is plenty dense to hold the screws tightly in place. I’m particularly impressed with how well the keyboard tray is holding up given my propensity for pounding the keys (I’ve been using the desk for about six months).
In addition to my 30-inch monitor, I have a 14-inch laptop on the desk, along with a pair of Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers and a rotating bunch of other stuff (right now, it’s three compact headsets, a spare battery, a screwdriver, and a cup of coffee). There’s a full-size gaming keyboard and a mouse on the keyboard tray. Evodesk’s motor can elevate the desk from its lowest position to its highest in less than 18 seconds. The motor slows to a smooth stop when you lift your finger off the button or before it reaches its highest or lowest position, so nothing gets jostled.
Keep hands clear while operating
I found the Evodesk extremely stable, even at its highest position and with a 30-inch display mounted to it. It would take a considerable effort to knock the desk over. But you should take care to not leave anything under it. There is no pressure sensor as far as I can tell, and the desk came down with enough force to partially crush an empty aluminum can. This didn’t happen immediately, the can gave way when I touched it, but the desk didn’t back off when it made contact with the can. Getting your arm or hand pinched between the bottom of the desk and its metal legs or the surface of your regular desk could be painful, though it probably wouldn’t cause injury.
I found the keyboard tray problematic in terms of its width. At 27 inches, it’s the same width as the desk, but my keyboard is 18.5 inches wide. With the keyboard centered in front of the display, there’s less than five horizontal inches on the right-hand side in which to move the mouse. The tray’s nine-inch depth isn’t a problem, but I’m constantly picking the mouse up when I need to move the cursor longer distances left and right. A slide-out mouse tray would be a welcome addition.
Should you buy one?
The science seems settled when it comes to the danger of too much sitting—a sit/stand desk can be good for your health. If you’re like me, a motorized model like the Evodesk XE that makes it nearly effortless to change positions throughout the day will encourage you to do just that. This desk is well built and it’s convenient to use, but it’s easy to get carried away at ordering time, tricking out the desk with lots of fancy options and rapidly inflating its price tag.
The keyboard shelf is a must, even though I wish it were wider. The Programmable Memory option is practically useless. I don’t miss having the other options, apart from maybe the cable-management system. But that’s more of an aesthetic issue than anything else. The rest of my home office is a chaotic mess most of the time, so why should my cables look pretty?