iMovR Upsilon Electric Stand Up Desk Review
Designed specifically for compact spaces (e.g. call center cubicles, Manhattan offices or apartments), the Upsilon is the lowest-cost, electric stand up desk that gets our buy recommendation. With it's high-tech Upstage 24 electric base and advanced 3D laminated work surfaces it gives other desks costing hundreds of dollars more a run for their money. The only true 24"-deep standing desk we've ever seen in the labs (meaning 24"-long feet as well as the desktop depth) the new Upsilon is quieter, more powerful, more laterally stable, more ergonomic and more attractive than existing competitors that use commodity Chinese electric bases and commodity laminated wood surfaces to make their desks.
42" Desk - $568 in solid color, $598 in woodgrain
47" Desk - $588 in solid color, $618 in woodgrain
59" Desk - $628 in solid color, $658 in woodgrain
Standard shipping cost of $99 in the continental United States. Additional costs for AK, HI, Canada. DHL available for international.
All iMovR desk ships within 5-7 days of order. Add up to 5 business days for freight delivery anywhere in the continental US.
iMovR offers a lifetime warranty on the base frame, five years on the 3D-laminated tabletop, and two years on moving parts and electronics.
Two-button up-down controller
23.5" x 42"
23.5" x 47"
23.5" x 59"
Clove mahogany, hayward cherry, almond cherry, shaker cherry, light maple and urban walnut in woodgrains, and black, white, beige, putty and shark gray in solids.
49.5" including desk top
The Upsilon is designed from the ground up for even the most compact office settings. At $568, it's also one of the lowest-price electric desks on the market, but still manages to be stronger and quieter than comparably-priced desks, and have more durable desk tops.
The 24" depth of the Upsilon makes it less ideal for using with a walking treadmill. We recommend sticking with a 30"-deep desk model for treadmill desking.
[8/7/2017]: iMovR’s highly popular UpStage Desk Line (including the Olympus, UpTown, and Upsilon desks) is sunsetting. It is being replaced by iMovR’s new, 100% Made-in-America, Freedom Desk Line (featuring the Energize and Cascade desks). Follow the links provided to read our new reviews.
iMovR is known for making some of the nicest standing desks in the industry, such as their high-end Omega models (Everest and Denali) that integrate the SteadyType™ keyboard tray right into the desktop, optimized for treadmill desking like no other. Their mid-tier ThermoDesk line (Elite, Electra, Ellure) offers plenty of great options for standing as well as treadmill desking. But until now, iMovR has shied away from mixing it up with low-end competitors. That’s all about to change with the introduction of their new Upsilon line. iMovR has brought their classic technology innovations to bear - including 3D-laminated work surfaces and powerful, whisper-quiet motors – in order to create the most affordable electric stand up desk yet… at least one that’s worthy of a strong buy recommendation from our review team.
The Upsilon’s compact design, combination of features, and price point make it ideal for anyone with a limited amount of office space for adding a standing desk. It was designed to work for call center operators looking for an electric standing desk that could fit into their classically tight cubicle spaces. Call centers are typically designed around a 24”-deep workstation. The norm for sit-to-stand desks is 30”-deep desktops, making the adoption of stand up desks for the majority of their highly-sedentary workers difficult. In our experience, at least twenty percent of prospective standing desk users are also looking for a desk that can fit into an equally cozy space in their office or home. Now there’s a desk option for them, too, and with prices starting out at only $568 for a complete desk system we expect the Upsilon to become an extremely popular model.
There are very few stand up desks in the market that offer a 24″ deep tabletop, and even fewer still that are electrically adjustable (MultiTable’s Mod-E model comes closest). In fact, none of the standing desks that are able to accommodate either a 24” or 30” top have matching 24″ feet, because the longitudinal (front to back) instability would be too great when used with a 30” top. The consequence of this mismatch is that the feet stick out a few inches both in front of the desk (posing a trip hazard) and behind it (preventing the desk from being positioned flush against the wall). The UpStage 24 base used in the Upsilon desk does, as the name implies, employ 24″-long feet, making it the first and only true 24″-deep, electric, sit-to-stand desk that we’ve ever seen.
The Upsilon redefines what can be had for the money in the lowest price tier. The width-adjustable electric base, which can stretch from 40” to 58” to accommodate different tabletop sizes, sells for $469 on its own. Tabletops add $99 for 24" x 42", $119 for 24" x 48", and $159 for 24" x 60".
"Cheap" vs. "Intelligently Cost-Reduced" Stand Up Desks
We’ve reviewed the IKEA Bekant most recently ($489), which holds claim to being the cheapest electric desk on the market. It isn’t available everywhere yet, including Seattle, so we haven’t yet been able to lab test it. However, given only the specifications and information gleaned from the IKEA site we’ve had to put a yellow caution flag on the product. Read the full forensic review for more details. Aside from the Bekant, there are a few other low-cost units out there that we’ve reviewed – built on commodity Chinese bases – but none of them have earned the 4-star rating required for us to offer them in our own stores. See our Jarvis review, Uplift review, and S2S review.
Note our qualifier on “commodity Chinese bases.” You won’t be reading any reviews of low-cost stand up desks made in the USA anytime soon. Indeed, products that are made in the USA—such as iMovR’s Everest and Elite models—will fetch a premium due to generally higher machining tolerances, longer warranties and better support from the factory. That’s not to say that there isn’t a spectrum of manufacturing quality coming out of Asia. We’ve toured our share of Chinese sweatshop factories, but we’ve also seen some impressive, modernized factories that fabricate products of exceptional quality, too.
According to iMovR, their product development team searched all of Asia for the best manufacturer for the Upsilon’s base—dubbed the UpStage 24—and in the end were able to get a top quality product that performs at least as well as more expensive US- and European-sourced bases. The factory they selected is in fact the largest manufacturer of linear actuators (the lifting legs) in all of China, with vast experience making electric desk bases for the European market, where supreme product quality is imperative.
In our tests of the pre-production UpStage 24 base unit we determined that it is indeed the quietest electric base we have ever seen—barely registering 40 decibels—taking the crown away from iMovR’s own Electra model as the quietest electric desk on Earth. It is also one of the most energy-efficient with a standby power draw of under 3 watts and an in-motion draw of only 1.8A (unloaded). The 1.45 inch-per-second travel speed of the Upstage 24 base is comparable to, or better than the commodity Chinese bases used on a number of very popular albeit pricier desk systems such as the Uplift 900, Jarvis, S2S, and Geekdesk. Upsilon’s brawny 265 lb lift capacity is in the same league with these others. (More on the importance of lift capacity here.)
Higher Efficiency: Cuts Costs, Not Corners
We were genuinely surprised by the quality and stability of the Upsilon desk—given its extremely competitive price point—so we asked the Upsilon’s product manager to share more about how iMovR managed to get the price so low. We learned that sourcing the right base was one part of the cost-saving equation. Another part involved the economics of manufacturing the 3D-laminated tabletop. The benefits of 3D lamination—pioneered by iMovR in the office fitness industry—are becoming well known. They look better than standard, high-pressure laminated tops; stand up better to scratches, dings and chemicals; are hermetically sealed against moisture damage; and are ergonomically-contoured. iMovR even includes dual 60mm (2.35″) grommet holes on each tabletop; call centers really prefer to have them. As with their other desk products, even the grommet holes are completely 3D-laminated, giving the 3/4″ tops the look of having been made out of natural hardwood. You wouldn't want to cover up these grommet holes with cheap plastic caps.
So how did iMovR manage to make these tabletops for less than their competitors? Conveniently, the 24″ depth of the Upsilon’s tabletops made it possible to manufacture four tabletops out of a single plank of wood on the high-tech, 3D lamination press, dramatically reducing the cost per unit and material waste. It is not possible to “gang up” 30-inch tops in this way, but a handful of 3D lamination presses in the world can do it with 24-inch tops, including the one iMovR makes its tops on.
Hand controllers with digital readouts and memory presets are becoming more and more common in the mid-tier, but on the low end you can usually expect a desk to have only a 2-button controller. And that is indeed the case with the Upsilon – UP and DOWN are as fancy as it gets. That said, it is uncommon to find graduated lift acceleration and deceleration in a desk at this price, yet the Upsilon has exactly that. This is a great feature as it prevents abrupt start and stop movements that could slosh the coffee out of your cup or shove pencils off the edge of your desk.
Built to Last
In targeting call center operators iMovR decided to significantly overbuild the lifting mechanism of the Upsilon, giving it enormous lifting power that no user will conceivably ever need on even the biggest (24″ x 60″) tabletop. Since many call centers are mission-critical, 24×7 operations, they wanted to make sure users never had to worry about a desk getting stuck between sitting and standing. Such a distraction could cause a serious problem for a 911 phone operator or a bonds trader, for example. As we often point out in our reviews the best way to gain reliability in a stand up desk is to use an overpowered motor that will never have to strain under the load. So while you’ll never likely have a panda or an NFL linebacker sitting on your desk, it’s nice to know the motors will remain spritely and cool in normal operation.
As for stability the Upsilon is more laterally rigid than any of the other desks in its price range, and better than many that cost two to three times as much (we’ll be updating all our reviews soon to include videos of how we perform objective stability testing on desks). Besides tighter automated-manufacturing tolerances, the Upsilon’s base gains stability by virtue of its longer lifting legs that can bring the desk up to 49.5″ high. The government “ANSI/BIFMA” standard for adjustable height desks is 48” (too low, in our humble opinion), so that’s the top end for most desks on the market. Where other desks that top out at 48″ are at the end of their telescoping tube segments when used by anyone 6’2” or taller, the Upsilon has an extra inch of overlap at each tube junction, and that makes all the difference in the world (not to mention being an option for users as tall as 6’4″).
The same quality initiative goes for the tabletops. Compared to cheaper wood materials used in products like the Bekant and cheaper lamination technology like the powder-coated paint job on some other low-budget models, the Upsilon’s 3D lamination uses the same state-of-the-art Surf(x) laminate as found on iMovR's high-end desks and conference tables. The Omnova Surf(x) laminates have proven to hold up better against scratches, dings, chemicals and discoloration than any other conventional lamination product such as high-pressure laminates and powder-coat paints.
Upsilon tops are offered in woodgrains like mahogany, cherry and light maple as well as solid colors including a frosty white, deep black and a very elegant shark gray. In our experience the woodgrains and the shark gray are best at making water rings and fingerprints disappear. Over 60 additional custom colors are available for large corporate orders.
Employees who work behind a cubicle often have difficulty positioning their desk into their space. And they have a hard time accessing the back once their desk is installed. That's why the Upsilon is offered with optional caster wheels. These let you easily move your desk around the floor, and can lock in place when you're done. Note that the casters add 2.5” of height to Upsilon, a bonus for tall users. When adding casters we always recommend the iMovR Advanced Cable Management Kit for keeping cables tidied up and out of the way of the wheels.
While most 30″-deep adjustable height desks are advertised to work well with treadmill bases, iMovR engineered the Upsilon strictly as a standing desk. The 24″-long feet, necessary for the desk to fit into tighter spaces, reduces its longitudinal stability to the point that they don’t recommend it for use in treadmill desk applications (which typically require the desk to be raised an additional 6”). We have heard a rumor that iMovR will soon be coming out with a desk that uses a 30" deep version of the UpStage 24 (called, as one might guess, the UpStage 30) that will be more ideally suited to treadmill desk applications.
While the desk's rate of adjustment appears to be as good as mainstream desk offerings, the acceleration and deceleration damping feature steals some of that travel speed during the sit-to-stand adjustments. To us, this seems a worthwhile trade off to ensure smooth movement in the transitions.
The only thing we weren’t able to test on the pre-production prototype is the anti-collision feature, which is currently being added to the controller software. We’ll update this review next month when we’ll be able to test for this. Anti-collision is a common feature on high-end desks but not usually found at this end of the price range, so it’s a nice bonus feature.
Assembly of the Upsilon is up to you. Unlike most of iMovR’s other desks and tables, there is no factory pre-assembly option. That said, it’s one of the easiest stand up desks to put together that we’ve seen, and the pre-drilled holes in the tops make it easier still. iMovR has a great reputation for clear documentation and supportive customer service, which we expect to be the same in the case of the Upsilon.
Pinch an Inch
This is worth a footnote for those who are dealing with cramped spaces in their home or office: It is a common practice in the office furniture industry to incorporate “pinch trims” into tabletops. What this means is that a 48″-wide top, for example, is actually cut to 47″ in order to allow room for moving the desk in and out of a cubicle that is only 48″ wide. This is particularly important for an adjustable height desk as you wouldn’t want it scraping against the cubicle side walls every time you move it up or down. The pinch depth on the Upsilon tops is 23.5″, and the pinch widths are 47″ (on the 48" top) and 59″ (on the 60″ top). The 42″ top is exactly 42″ wide.
*Full disclosure: iMovR and WorkWhileWalking have mutual ownership interest. However, we can assure our readers that we expose the good and the bad of every product, regardless of any financial connection we may have to the manufacturer.
iMovR Upsilon ("UpStage 24") Electric Base: $469
24" x 42" Tabletop: $99 for solid finishes, $129 for woodgrain finishes
24" x 48" Tabletop: $119 for solid finishes, $149 for woodgrain finishes
24" x 60" Tabletop: $159 for solid finishes, $189 for woodgrain finishes
The Upsilon desk ships by FedEx Ground, the next business day after the order is placed. The flat rate fee for shipping anywhere in the continental US is $69. Call for quote for shipping to other destinations (888.959.0025).
iMovR offers a lifetime warranty on the base frame, five years on the 3D-laminated tabletop, and two years on moving parts and electronics.
Check out our comprehensive Comparison Review of Electric Stand Up Desks for side-by-side feature comparisons.