Autonomous Smartdesk Surface for Standing Desks

September 15, 2022
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Autonomous tabletops

Overview

Review Summary

Unless you’re just looking to replace a failed tabletop on your existing Autonomous standing desk we will have to recommend passing on these tops for your DIY standing desk project. They simply have too many negative aspects that aren’t counterbalanced by the few positives. These desk tops are delivered quickly and some models have ergonomic edges, but when all models are only covered by a 1-year warranty, you begin to question whether they have confidence in the longevity of their product. With so few choices in color or size and pilot holes that are only compatible with their own frames, all at a significantly higher price than most commodity-grade desktop manufacturers, you will likely find a better desk at nearly the same price or almost the same desk at a much lower price.

MSRP / List Price $129
Street Price

Classic: 53″ x 29″
-White: $129
-Black: $129
-Walnut: $199
-White Oak: $199
-Bamboo: $299
-Dark Bamboo: $299
XL Classic: 70.5″ x 30″
-White: $399
-Black: $399
-Walnut: $399
Chunky Oak:
-50″ x 28″ Classic: $369
– 70″ x 30″ XL: $629

Shipping

Free shipping to the 48 contiguous United States

Warranty

1 year

Sizes Available

Classic: 53″ x 29″
XL Classic: 70.5″ x 30″
Chunky Oak: 50″ x 28″ Classic and 70″ x 30″ XL

Colors Available

Black, white, walnut, white oak, blond oak, bamboo, dark bamboo

Construction

MDF with powder coating
MDF with laminate
Bamboo

Competition Compare to Other Desk Top and Table Top Surfaces
Where to buy Buy on Autonomous.ai
Buy on Amazon

Rating

Reliability
1.5
Customer Experience
1.5
Quality and Aesthetics
1.0
Ergonomics
2.0
Innovation
1.5
Value
0.5
Positives Autonomous has an effective delivery system in place to get the tabletops to customers quickly. Several of their models do have more ergonomically friendly edges that are more comfortable for arms and wrists.
Negatives High price for a low-quality. Short 1-year warranty. Very limited options. Environmentally harmful bamboo. Pre-drilled pilot holes only compatible with Autonomous' frames.

Bottom Line

1.5
The Autonomous tabletops don't have enough pros to outweigh their cons. They deliver quickly and some models have ergonomic edges, but when they are only covered by a 1-year warranty no matter their construction, you begin to question whether they have confidence in the longevity of the desk tops. With so few options and having pilot holes only compatible with their own frames, all at a higher than normal price, there are better options out there. You can get far superior products at nearly the same price or just spend a lot less for virtually the same thing.

While most people buy their standing desk as a complete system, i.e. getting the lifting base and the desktop together from the same seller, you may find yourself needing to acquire a new desktop on its own. For example, you may already own a standing desk but the top has gotten damaged, or you may want to upgrade to a different size and/or color. Whatever the reason, there are a mountain of options to choose from. Read our Guide to Buying A Tabletop For Your Standing Desk to ensure you know what to watch for when purchasing a standalone top for your desk or table. 

In this review we explore the desktops individually sold by Autonomous, and discuss where they may excel and where they might fall short of consumer expectations.

Autonomous woodgrain
Autonomous is another among many manufacturers of standard, commodity-grade desktops from China.

A New Standalone Tabletop Arrives to Your Door in Days

We have had Autonomous standing desks and other office equipment in our labs for testing in the past, so if you want to see what we think of all their stuff, check out our round-up of Autonomous ergonomic product reviews.

For their standalone desk tops, we did manage to find a couple pros that people will want to consider when thinking about what they want in their next tabletop. 

Firstly, their powder-coated versions will be more comfortable to use than many of their commodity-grade competitors because they are slightly ergo-contoured around the edge, where others just have a hard 90° angle that can leave uncomfortable marks on your forearms and wrists after typing at your desk all day or easily receive damage from chair backs banging into their. The powder coating they use on this model also seems to be a bit better than much cheaper versions like the Uplift Eco, having a better UV treatment and not being as susceptible to spill damage. Not quite as good as laminated tops though.

Their “chunky oak” model does something similar for comfort, giving users an angled edge to avoid sharp corners as much as they can. That softening of the hard edges on Autonomous tabletops does have a tradeoff (which we will discuss below) but it certainly is a quality to look for in an ergonomic standing desk. 

Autonomous tabletops thickness
Most of Autonomous desktops are the standard 1″ thickness, but there is the thick “chunky oak” option.

Another aspect of Autonomous desktops that gets our thumbs-up is their delivery time. There were many reviews we read that noted that they got their tabletop much sooner than they expected. If getting your desk surface super fast is a major factor for you putting your workspace together, Autonomous could be one way to go.

High Price Tabletop with Low Quality Construction

Autonomous’ standalone tabletops are actually a little more expensive than the majority of their competitors. This can actually be a good sign that you are going to get a good product that will last. Their most simple MDF desk top runs at $129 currently. We have seen similar desk surfaces sold for under $100. And even their bamboo tops are about $100 more than comparable products you can get from other manufacturers.

So, is whether that price hike is worth it? When you factor in all the other deficiencies of the desk, you’ll have to form your own opinion. 

The first indicator of poor quality in their desktops is their lacking warranty. Limited to 1 year, you can guess about how long they are confident that their tabletops will last. So if you want to run the risk of having to buy another top all over again after such a short time, that’s up to you. A good warranty on standard tabletops will be at least 5 years, and a truly high-quality desk will put a 15-year warranty on their surfaces.

There are also a very limited number of configurations that you can choose from on Autonomous’ website. Their standard 1-inch thick table tops only come in two sizes – 53″ x 29″ or 70.5″ x 30″. The “chunky oak” is 1.6” thick and comes in 50” x 28” or 70” x 30”.

When it comes to color, the “chunky oak” has no options. The standard desk comes in a black or white powder coat, walnut or white oak laminate, and regular or dark bamboo. However, the larger version only has the white, black, and walnut choices. There are lots of desk manufacturers, both high and low quality,  that offer many more choices in size and color. Ten times more if not a hundred.

Speaking more of their black or white tabletops, powder-coated MDF is one of the cheapest types of desktops to manufacture, if not the cheapest, but is poor quality one is highly susceptible to damage because it adds little or no protection from scratches, dents, or cleaning chemicals. Spill your Coke on it and the paint might just come off if you don’t wipe it up immediately.

While there are some American powder-coated MDF desktops that are much more durable (and come with 10-year warranties, like on the ZipDesk), the performance of the Autonomous powder coat paint is very typical of, if perhaps a little better than most Chinese-manufactured powder-coated tops. 

In the past, we drew on a white powder coated one from Autonomous with a magic marker and could never get it back out. On high-quality desktops like 3D laminate, and even some superior HPL laminates, you could wipe it off easily with 409 or soapy water. So if that is a factor in your decision making, choose their more expensive woodgrain laminate colors, even though they still have the lacking 1-year warranty.

Then there are the bamboo tops. Autonomous doesn’t really hype the “environmental benefits” of the material like most other bamboo standing desk makers do. So that’s good, but still having bamboo wood (even calling it a wood, it’s really a grass converted into wood using massive amounts of chemicals, water, and energy and wreaking all sorts of environmental havoc wherever it’s grown and produced) sourced from China is not good for the environment. To learn more about the truth regarding bamboo’s true environmental attributes, be sure to read our highly-researched article on the “greenwashing” of bamboo products. But beyond environmental nastiness the durability of bamboo tops is notoriously bad. Again, there’s a reason for the short warranty.

Many reviews we have seen have pointed out how easy some of their desks are to damage and cover with scratches. One example of a customer who had the black tabletop from Autonomous for only a day found it covered in little scratches that won’t go away. Be aware that this is a possibility before you purchase.

Autonomous desk scratches
After only a day of use, this desktop from Autonomous was covered in scratches just from moving normal office equipment around on the surface.

Autonomous Tabletop an Automatic Choice?

Given that the only real positive thing about Autonomous’ desk tops is that they deliver quickly and some models might have a comfortable edge for your arms, it just isn’t enough for us to recommend using them in your DIY workstation project, whether it is for a sit/stand desk or fixed-height. The low quality indicated by the short warranty, very limited selection, compatibility issues, and all at a higher than expected price is just too much to overlook.

Don’t forget to learn all you need to know about finding the perfect desktop for your standing desk workstation in our primer – DIY Standing Desk: Choosing the Right Table Top For your Standing Desk.

If you don’t already have a base and frame, make sure you know how to choose one of those as well by reading our guide to buying standing desk bases. Or skip the DIY project altogether and go for one of the better complete standing desk systems available today.


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