Top Autonomous Standing Desks
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Autonomous Standing Desk Reviews
We have been reviewing Autonomous standing desks ever since they initially exploded onto the scene in 2015 with a $400,000 combined Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaign for the world’s (at the time) “Cheapest standing desk ever made.”
And we mean “cheap” in every sense of the word. Years of quality failures, shipping delays and customer service complaints would haunt the brand, at one point in a mass consumer revolt on social media platforms like Reddit.
Autonomous Inc (f.k.a. “Autonomous.ai”) has since then morphed annually like a chameleon, one day being about robotics AI; the next about standing desks; the next about a wide smattering of anything and everything that’s made in China from skateboards to chairs; the next about enterprise office furniture; the next about $21,000 WFH backyard sheds.
Like the villain in a Bond movie, about once a year founder Duy Huynh comes up with a new plan for world domination. Backed by some serious Chinese family money, resources have never been a problem for the company. Focus has.
The one thing that hasn’t changed with all these flip flops is Autonomous’ inattention to building quality into their standing desk products. In 2021 they smeared a lot of lipstick on the pig, upgrading the look and feel of their website to give the impression of being a top-tier desk producer, and jacked their prices up. If there’s a focus of any kind it is one that capitalizes on the work-from-home boom.
They executed this website makeover without actually changing much about the product quality, the IKEA-esque assembly experience, the stability of the desks or the customer service model. So, while they moved their brand from literally bottom-drawer up into middle-market, if not premium-market in some cases (like the SmartDesk Pro) in pricing, moving it away from the new bottom feeders selling entire standing desks on Amazon for $250 or less, the new prices aren’t really justified.
The Next Act In Autonomous’ Global Domination Play
We recently came across a desk that has been sent around to various vendors in the office fitness industry by Autonomous’ new head of “drop-ship marketing,” in which they’re promoting themselves as a new e-commerce platform — like Amazon or Wayfair — for reaching a purported 1.5 million visitors a month to the Autonomous website. In exchange for a 40 percent cut of the retail selling price, they’ll give just about any company a chance to sell their products to Autonomous’ customer base.
As their own marketing literature describes it, “We’re always on the lookout for new products that will help make WFH life better. We’re open to products from the following industries: Indoor and outdoor furniture and desk accessories, Food, Fitness equipment, Electronic devices (eg: headphones, wireless chargers, etc), even Camping gear.”
Food and camping gear. What does that have to do with active workstations?
They have strayed so far from the standing-desk business once again that we really no longer hold out any hope that Autonomous will ever get its act together on product design or quality construction of standing desks. They’re out chasing the almighty e-commerce dollar, and doing a heck of a job of it, regardless of category. More power to them, but as far as our expert review team is concerned, these are all reasons to avoid the brand, not embrace it.
Below are links to the detailed product reviews we’ve conducted of Autonomous’ SmartDesk line over the years.
Check out our full collection of office fitness equipment brand roundups.
Autonomous Standing Desks
The Autonomous SmartDesk Pro is an upgraded, dual-segment entrant to its line with specs that look impressive on the surface. However, stability is still a concern, a wide height range won’t accommodate short users and there’s a lack of attention to detail all around. Plus, this desk is not cheap. Autonomous has revamped their website, changed the names of many of their desks and increased prices in an effort to change their reputation. The SmartDesk Pro is definitely an improvement, but it still falls behind the competition.
Autonomous has revamped their website, changed the names of many of their desks and increased prices in an effort to change their reputation. The SmartDesk Core helps in that effort with an improved warranty and more desktop options, though there’s still plenty of work to do to bring this desk up to the next tier of more durable, reliable, and higher value standing desks. Despite its new website’s impressive marketing polish, Autonomous still has both feet firmly planted in the “race to the bottom,” commodity-grade category of Chinese-built standing desks.
L-shaped standing desks are a big investment. And some of them, with this one being the prime example, require a tremendous investment in assembly time as well. In a field where choice of desktop sizes and colors should be a primary driver of consumer selection, Autonomous offers only one size and three color schemes. Low-quality components are reflected in the very short warranty, and that should tell you everything you need to know. The question is if you’re already investing $1,500 plus a couple of hours of assembly time, shouldn’t you look for something that’ll fit your space and decor better, last longer and perform better?
The Autonomous SmartDesk Connect Standing Desk starts at $799. It is designed to be a hot desk used with the Autonomous Office app.
Autonomous has discontinued the production of this product. We leave the following review here for posterity and previous buyers. It’s no secret that we’re not fans of the poor general quality of Autonomous standing desks, so we’ll have to just say the SmartDesk First Class is the “Best of the worst.” First Class is a misnomer as this desk represents a mere $50 upgrade over the SmartDesk 2 Business Edition, which doesn’t put it anywhere near the premium desk category. One desktop option and only four color combos is so limiting we can’t understand how Autonomous expects a lot of buyers of their new “signature line” standing desk. Taiwanese linear actuators do give the First Class a definite edge over their other commodity-produced, Chinese standing-desk frames.
Autonomous has changed the name of this desk to the SmartDesk Core and changed the options slightly. The company makes over-the-top marketing claims like “the highest-rated desk in the world” and maintains its bases are of “unparalleled technology.” As far as we can tell, the only things this company is “Best in the world” at is their gift for marketing hyperbole, and finding the cheapest possible components to make a standing desk. Customer complaints on public forums number in the hundreds.
Autonomous has discontinued the production of this product. We leave the following review here for posterity and previous buyers. Platypus, turkey, whatever you want to call it, this is a desk that is not worth a second look. In addition to all its user interface flaws, stability issues and hardware concerns, this desk comes in only three color configurations and one desktop size (53″ x 30″), making it cheap to ship and to stock in inventory but hard to fit your space and decor. When other desks offer hundreds if not thousands of color/shape/size combinations, the extremely limited desktop offerings from Autonomous are another big negative.
Check out our full roundup of electric standing desks