iMovR ThermoDesk Elemental Stand Up Desk Review
*** NOTE: This product was discontinued in November, 2015, replaced with two new options from iMovR: the UpTown and the Upsilon.
Disclosure: iMovR and WorkWhileWalking have mutual ownership interest*
Make it Manual
Crank desks, by definition, are completely mechanical. Unlike their electric-powered cousins, they rely entirely on muscle (rumor has it that Schwarzenegger impressions actually make them move faster), and while this might seem like a knock against them, we’ve actually found the human-powered route to have a few key advantages.
- First: cost. Carve out that fancy motor and the advanced controls, and you’ll wind up with a much more economic base.
- Second: conservation. Even though the power consumption of electric desks on the move for less than a minute a day is miniscule, there is "parasitic draw" for any device that's always plugged into the wall. Manual base users can still claim a greener work station.
- Third: convenience. No cables! We spend an awful lot of our time here at WorkWhileWalking fighting cable spaghetti, and going manual is one of the best ways to cut down on that snarl.
Of course, manual bases definitely lose out to electric ones in terms of adjustment speed and ease. While setting up a multi-user desk, crank might not be the preferred way to go. Shared, high-traffic workstations are adjusted frequently enough to make an electric desk a worthwhile investment. Digital height controllers also help. These electric desk accoutrements can store a worker’s preferred desk height, making it easy to switch between users. Cranks don’t have anything quite as handy - you can always take the low tech route and use tape on a wall to mark favored positions, but it’s not quite the same. Especially when an aesthetically strict coworker removes the tape.
Stand Up Desk Elements
iMovR now makes two manual models: the ThermoDesk Elemental Stand Up Desk we're reviewing here, and the newly introduced ThermoDesk Ellure. For most people the Ellure, which has replaced the Elemental as our Experts' Choice for manual desks, will likely be the more attractive of the two desks. But there's still a significant segment of the market that is always looking for the absolute least expensive piece of equipment that can get the job done, and the Elemental fits that bill wonderfully.
The Elemental Stand Up Desk can cover 20" of vertical stroke - from 27.5" to 47.5" - with the help of a front-mounted, tuckable and removable hand crank. The base is an OEM of the popular Modtable base made by MultiTable. This base has the fastest crank we've seen, adjusting the desk one inch for every two turns of the crank. For comparison, the new Ellure adjusts at three turns-per-inch and even pricier desks adjust at a glacial five turns-per-inch. Even at a sedate pace an Elemental can move at a little over .5” per second, not too shabby. Spin with enthusiasm, and you’ll find that your desk can attain speeds of nearly 1.5” per second, making it quicker than some electric desks (granted, max speed was tested after consumption of a triple espresso).
The Elemental has a dynamic weight capacity of 130 lbs, though users will notice that cranking becomes markedly more difficult once that limit is approached. Static weight capacity is a respectable 250 lbs. These ratings are good, but not impressive. The Ellure, for instance has a dynamic weight capacity of a whopping 200 lbs, with a static weight rating of 390 lbs. These weight capacities are a product of the gearbox design. While the Elemental base is faster than any other crank desk, that speed comes at the cost of a lower weight capacity and higher tension when operating the crank. However, most people only load their table with a laptop, monitor, and tabletop, which is well within both desks' weight capacities. This factor will likely not be a driving factor in choosing between the two ThermoDesk models or other manual desks.
While the base may be ModTable, the Elemental's top is an entirely different creature from the high-pressure laminate boards that MultiTable produces. Elemental desks come paired with iMovR’s ThermoDesk tops. More durable and more attractive than anything else on the market, these high-wear tabletops undergo 3D lamination - a process that protects every surface on a tabletop. Sharp corners are also rounded off, while edges have a sloping “ergonomic” profile. The really exciting part? ThermoDesk tops come with a 5-year warranty - something we’ve never been able to say about any other products in the category. Adding to that, they’re pretty. The 3D lamination process creates a product that looks like a solid piece of furniture grade hardwood, instead of a synthetic laminate or wood veneer laid over particle board.
Elemental tops come in four sizes: Small 40”x24”, Medium 48”x 24”, Large 60”x30”, or XL 72”x30”. The ThermoDesk family has the most extensive color selection of any desk products we've seen, and the Elemental is no exception. Choose from eleven standard colors: light maple, clove mahogany, urban walnut, Hayward cherry, shaker cherry, almond cherry, black, white, beige, putty and a super-elegant "shark gray." An extensive catalogue of over 50 custom color options are also available for large institutional purchases. Match those with either black or silver powder-coated base colors. If you're looking for a shallower desk the Elemental is still one of the few standing desks on the market that offers 24" depths on its small and medium-sized tops.
Don’t stress assembly. Putting together an Elemental requires nothing more than an allen key, a screwdriver (although an electric drill is much quicker and easier), and 30 to 45 minutes of your time. All bases are width-adjustable, and can stretch to accommodate any of the four tabletop sizes sold with it. Pilot holes on the underside of the tabletop make installation as easy as lining up screwholes between the frame and top. Additional pilot holes also mark out the ideal location of a keyboard tray, a highly recommended ergonomic accessory. The pre-drilled holes (unique to ThermoDesk tops) also make installation of keyboard trays easier as well. This is crucial for what iMovR calls '3D adjustability' – that is, the ability to customize your workspace with peripherals to achieve maximum ergonomic benefit. The baseplate hole pattern is specific to ThermoDesk's Stowaway Ergonomic Keyboard Tray.
One quick troubleshooting tip. We’ve had a few customers take a ModTable home, set it up, and start cranking, only to have just one side adjust. In these few cases the culprit was always the same: an insufficiently tightened set of screws on the metal tube linking the two drive shafts from either leg. Crank those screws down to ensure that the tube holds tight to both shafts, and enjoy your return to symmetricality. ModTable's manufacturer has told us that they recommend users re-tighten these set screws every six months. Sure enough, we noticed some of our floor demo units getting loose at about the six month point. The design is less than ideal, and if you're not one for preventive maintenance then you might prefer the Ellure for this reason alone. As we describe in the Ellure review, iMovR came up with a simpler and better linkage mechanism between the left and right legs as compared to the ModTable base's design.
Despite the superior quality and features of the ThermoDesk tops, iMovR priced the Elemental product exactly the same as MultiTable prices their ModTable product. The only difference is in the shipping cost. MultiTable ships their tables via UPS Ground Parcel for $58 (S, M) or $68 (L, XL), whereas iMovR ships their products palletized and by freight carrier, for better protection, at a flat rate of $99 including the base, top, and any other options ordered at the same time, such as monitor arms or keyboard trays. If you're looking for the most economical adjustable height desk on the market, look no further. The Elemental doesn't come with snazzy features like the Ellure's three-inch grommet holes, but it has all the essentials of a good sit to stand desk, with some very nice extras, all at a price that can't be beat.
*Full disclosure: iMovR and WorkWhileWalking have mutual ownership interest. However, we can assure our readers that on this side of the fence we expose the good and the bad of every product, regardless of any financial connection we may have to the manufacturer. iMovR product reviews are done with the same editorial responsibility we have always had reviewing other third party products that we also sell in our stores.
|Delivery Options (Choose One):||Residential-Military-School||Commercial Address|
|Standard threshold delivery||$0.00||$0.00|
|Room of Choice||$149||$110|
|iMovr Thermodesk Elemental||Price|
See ThermoDesk Color Palette for detailed photos