I recently upgraded just about everything in my office and as part of that process I went looking for the best motorized standing desk I could find at a reasonable price. I was more excited than a person should probably be about a desk when I stumbled across the Autonomous standing desk. And, because it was so affordable, it’s safe to say that I was somewhat skeptical about placing an order. Would the quality be up to snuff? How reliable could it be? Long story short, I’m very glad I placed that order (and I’ll be placing more in the future).
Oh and by the way, this is the desk everyone keeps asking me about from my ultimate iMac setup video not long ago.
Some people (and lots of companies) claim that standing desks are healthier to use than old-fashioned “normal” desks. They say that sitting is the new smoking. I’m not going to weigh in on that debate in this review because for me the appeal of a standing desk came down to two things. First, I just like the idea of having an option to sit or stand — sometimes it’s nice to switch things up. And second, I’m a tech guy so I’m naturally interested in a desk that does more than just sit there (I can’t help it).
Before we get the the drawbacks, let’s cover everything I like about this desk first starting with the price. The base model for the Autonomous standing desk starts at just $250 which is absolutely insane for a standing desk in general and doubly so for a motorized standing desk. Add to that the fact that you can customize everything about this desk and you’ve got a pretty incredible one-two combination. You can personalize everything from the surface of the desk to the frame to which accessories (yes, accessories) you’d like to add-on.
I chose to go with the bamboo surface paired with a white frame. I also chose to get the ergonomic cutout in the front of the desk. These upgrades cost an extra $150 or so on top of the base price. I’m really, really happy with this combination. The bamboo and the white frame look super-clean — especially when paired with a Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus (which just so happens to perfectly wrap/fit around the back and one side of the desk which works well for people placing their desk in a corner like me).
I didn’t go with any accessories like the wireless charger, bag organizer, speaker or AI personal assistant. Those were all cool options, I just didn’t feel like I needed any of them.
In terms of size I went with the 53×30″ option. I find this very workable for my 27″ iMac setup. I also use a 9.7″ iPad Pro several times throughout the day (all the more so now that I’ve found the best iPad Pro keyboard) and I’ve got plenty of room to use it in typing or sketching modes on the side of the desk. As a person who mostly writes and edits video, this makes for an excellent desk setup. And while I’m happy enough with this desk size, I somewhat regret not going with the larger 70×30 XL option (that’s what I think I’ll order next time around).
One included accessory that was a surprise when I opened the box was the included bunch cable management ties. That was a nice touch.
The built-quality of this desk seems to be outstanding — especially for the price. Over the last few months I have noticed that a few small chips have appeared in my bamboo surface, but in all honesty anything that gets heavily used is going to show some wear. This seems to be a normal and acceptable amount of wear to me.
Aside from the customization, the main feature of this desk is it’s ability to raise and lower itself. This happens via a control panel situated on the front of the desk which has seven buttons and a small numeric screen that lets you know the current height of the desk. Two buttons are for raising or lowering the desk, four buttons are available for preset heights and the last button is for programming in those presets. Personally, I’ll only ever use two presets, but it’s nice that there are more as this would make for a great setup for people who need to share a desk.
The desk moves smoothly and is pretty quiet. It’s also quick: it takes just fourteen seconds to move between my preferred sitting and standing heights.
So there’s a lot to like about this desk. But there are also some quirks and one big annoyance that should be mentioned.
The worst thing about this desk is how long it took to arrive once I placed the order. I ordered the desk on April 3 and didn’t receive it until the very end of May. That’s pretty ridiculous. Even worse, the desk arrived in two different shipments (the frame and the surface shipped separately and arrived on different days). If you need a desk right away this might not be the desk for you. On the other hand, if you can wait for a couple of months, I think you’re going to be really happy with it.
One quirk with this desk is that it wobbles a bit — at least on the carpet I’ve got it sitting on. It’s not noticeable (like at all) while I’m working, but, periodically throughout the day I notice that I need to re-adjust the angle of my iMac because it’s wobbled slightly down from where I had it. This probably sounds worse than it actually is in reality. And it’s very possible that non-Apple monitors won’t do this — of course I haven’t testing any other monitors on this desk so I can’t tell you how yours will fare.
Lastly I’ve got a bit of a gripe: I wish this desk had a bit of built-in storage. Nothing fancy. But a few drawers would go a long way toward making this setup even more usable. As it is, I’ve got to store everything I don’t want cluttering up my desk somewhere else.
Overall I’m very happy with this desk (aside from the gargantuan delivery wait). If it tells you anything I plan on ordering a couple more for the office and studio soon (very soon if I want to get them before the end of the year, ha).