iMovR EMMA Electric Monitor Arm Review
- Lab tested
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Truly a groundbreaking development in the arena of ergonomic monitor arms, the new EMMA Electric Multi-Monitor Arm is the most exciting thing we’ve gotten to lab test in a while. And we got to really put it through its paces with a crazy number of potential configurations of displays (up to six, flat or curved, landscape or portrait, and up to 75 lbs each or 150 lbs in total) and laptop mounts. The ability to keep each monitor at the same focal depth is also going to be a game changer for people who really need to be able to focus on all their entire screen area without lag time or eye strain (e.g. day traders, gamers). The bluetooth-enabled controller has promising future app features that we look forward to seeing. While definitely a pricey option compared to mechanical counterbalance arms, there are things those conventional arms simply cannot do nearly as elegantly and swiftly as the EMMA. Exceptionally well prepared installation videos and documentation make assembly a relative breeze compared to other, far more expensive solutions that we’ve seen in the “console” industry (not items you can buy through e-commerce). 100-day satisfaction guarantee and 5-year warranty reflect the quality and reliability of the componentry.
|MSRP / List Price||$880|
Single display: $880
Free FedEx Ground in the continental USA. Options for Canada/Hawaii/Alaska.
Electric dual-stage lifting column (Linak DL12)
1.5 inches per second
“Gesture style” Linak controller with Bluetooth
12 different configurations available of up to six displays and/or laptop holders
Black lifting column and clamp with silver (aluminum) crossbeams and VESA mounts is the standard color. White and Silver lifting columns available for bulk orders only.
Stroke: Dual-stage column is governed to a maximum 16” stroke for superior stability and side-loading safety. There is also vertical adjustment available on both the lower and upper beam to accommodate a wide range of monitor sizes, and make it possible to eliminate any gap between the two rows of displays (see diagram)
120 lbs when using the standard VESA mounts (up to 6 devices x 20 lbs per device).
|Maximum Monitor Size||
For each row of displays there is no max width limitation for only one screen. For dual displays the max width is 80” per screen. For three displays the max width is 40” per screen.
|Number of Monitors Supported||
Can be purchased with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 VESA mounts. Each VESA mount can support a display or laptop holding weighing up to 20 lbs. This weight limit can be increased to 25 lbs per monitor on the beams, and 75 lbs on the center column, by installing the optional Heavy Duty Support Collar.
Bluetooth connects to smartphone app
29 to 61 lbs depending on configuration (see iMovR site for details)
Standby power consumption: 0.1W
|Typical Assembly Time||
Depends on the number of VESA devices (display monitors or laptop mounts) being added to the array, whether you have an assistant to help you, and the size/weight of the monitors. Our staff reviewers timed the assembly time for all the common configurations and boiled it down to this as a liberal estimate: 30 minutes to set up the column plus 10 minutes per monitor, including a time budget for all your cable management and getting the alignment between the monitors (especially if installing two rows) just perfect. Add 5 minutes for each Heavy Duty Support Collar used.
(There is no ANSI/BIFMA certification standard for electronic monitor arms.)
|Competition||Compare to the Top-Rated Mechanical Counterbalance Monitor Arms|
|Where to buy||
See all EMMA Configurations on iMovR
EMMA Single-Display Electric Monitor Arm
EMMA Dual-Display Electric Monitor Arm
EMMA Triple-Display Electric Monitor Arm
EMMA Quad-Display Electric Monitor Arm
EMMA Five-Display Electric Monitor Arm
EMMA Six-Display Electric Monitor Arm
|Ease of Assembly|
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Positives||Handles an astounding number of combinations of displays and laptop holders (i.e. VESA devices), from supporting one giant 75 lb monitor to six 25 lbs monitors. There has never been an ergonomic monitor arm created with such versatility, much less lifting power. The ability to wrap displays around the user such that focal depth is identical across all screens is another first in the industry, eliminated focus drag and eye strain that is otherwise inherit to very wide display arrays and very wide curved monitors. Where 99% of mechanical monitor arms have an arcing motion to them that makes it very difficult to establish a "center" that works for both sitting and standing at your desk, the Emma moves up and down in a straight vertical direction. Bluetooth and smartphone app control is another thing we've never seen in a monitor arm before.|
|Negatives||While many cheap ergonomic monitor mounts are available from China, those prolific vendors have absolutely nothing to offer in this class of ergonomic hardware, at any price. Designed and made in the USA the Emma is a pricier option for a monitor arm. If all you're lifting is one or two regular-sized monitors there are cheaper options in mechanical counterbalance arms. Get beyond two displays, however, and the options for keeping all your displays "ergonomic" (i.e. easily moved upwards for your stretched-out spine when you stand at your desk, and keeping all displays at the same focal depth) become extremely hard to find, and often way pricier than this solution. Installation of a large display array is not trivial, but iMovR has created exceptionally high quality documentation and video guides to make it as easy as possible.|
- New electric monitor arm does what no traditional mechanical counterbalance arm can do, like lift up to six displays and 150 lbs of gear at once (with twelve possible combinations of monitors and/or laptop mounts)
- Unique ConstantFocus™ wrap-around design brings all displays to the same focal depth, eliminating focus lag and eye strain
- Straight up-down vertical movement eliminates the arcing motion inherent to mechanical monitor arms
The time has clearly come for electric monitor arms
The ergonomic monitor arm has been around for over 40 years and is adequate for most single and dual monitor applications where the displays are below a certain weight and size. They’re an especially essential device for eliminating neck strain for standing desk users, who need to adjust the height of their displays every time they switch from sitting to standing. But when it comes to moving a very large monitor such as some of today’s very wide and heavy panoramic curved displays—or more than two displays together—they quickly reach the limits of their mechanical counterbalance designs.
That’s why iMovR created the new Emma electric monitor arm, to handle the size, weight, and a number of displays more commonly being used today. Hypertechnically, it is not the first electric monitor arm in existence—there are all sorts of very costly custom electric monitor lifts used in the “console” industry—but it is the first that has been made available to the average user at a consumer price point.
The most capable monitor arm ever created
We’ve been writing monitor arm reviews for over a decade now, and can categorically state there’s never before been anything like the Emma in terms of the number of displays it can handle, the total weight it can handle, and the ability to wrap displays around the user in a way that eliminates focus lag and drastically reduces eye strain.
With the ability to lift up to six displays with a brawny 150 lbs of lift capacity, the Emma stands in a class of its own. With twelve possible combinations of monitors and/or laptop mounts, the straight up-and-down motion of the Emma eliminates the “arcing motion” that mechanical arms suffer from, which makes it difficult to keep the displays centered on the workstation in both sitting and standing postures.
The only monitor arm we’ve ever seen featuring ConstantFocus™
There are multi-display monitor arm systems out there with a slightly bent crossbar that can bring the outer displays a little closer to the user, but on such a shallow radius that your eyes are still forced to stop and refocus to see information in the outer zones clearly.
Curved computer displays have the same limitation; even the most radically curved screens made today (1500R) would require the user to stand five feet away from the monitor to have equal focal depth at all points. That’s great for watching movies from the sofa, but a typical computer user is sitting only 20” – 25” from their screens.
With Its breakthrough ConstantFocus™ wrap-around design, the Emma keeps all of your displays at the same focal depth. This reduces strain on your eyes’ ciliary muscles and speeds your brain’s processing of visual information. For stock traders, dispatchers, gamers and other users who need to have the fastest hand-eye-brain coordination, no other single monitor arm can deliver the goods.
12 Possible Configurations Is An Understatement
We had several months to test the Emma prototype on our own staff members’ workstations in all sorts of configurations—from triple 32” monitors on one row, to dual 39” panoramic displays mounted one above the other, a single giant 75” display, to literally 120 lbs of (6) displays mounted on two rows.
We even got to test mixed setups of displays in both portrait and landscape mode, laptop holders, and cylinder-clamped mic booms, webcams and lights for the ultimate podcasting studio scenario. For the latter we found this great little accessory, the Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp, that can be used to mount dozens of different accessories to the Emma’s center cylinder pole. (We found this works best when creating a two-row configuration of the Emma, using the top row’s cylinder to mount these accessories.)
Straight vertical pathway with no “arcing”
While the Emma can of course be used on any desk, it was created especially for standing desk users who want to keep their display(s) centered at all times, regardless of their posture and position.
As we cover in great depths in our comprehensive round-up of monitor arm reviews, because our lower spines stretch out when we stand, to avoid neck strain we need to raise our monitors relative to our keyboard height each time we change postures. Virtually all other mechanical monitor mounts have an inherent arcing motion when raising or lowering the displays (with the one exception of iMovR’s Trace Arm). That arcing motion results in the center point of our displays annoyingly shifting to the left or right compared to their position when we’re seated.
Emma moves your monitors straight up and down, with no change in the center point or focal depth of your monitors.
“Gesture Style” Digital Controller with Bluetooth
With Bluetooth built right in, the Emma is controlled with the same up/down gesture controller as is used on iMovR’s Lander Lite standing desks. At the moment this Linak Desk Control app is the only one that works with the Emma, though at least one more is coming soon.
The Linak app is really designed for desk users, with features like a “health coach” that reminds you to change postures at intervals you can set for your own personal goals. But as far as controlling Emma goes it isn’t really necessary to run the app more than one time. While technically every setting on the Emma can be programmed through tiny hidden buttons on the gesture controller, it’s way easier to set up your new arm using the app.
Setup through the app involves two things, really. The first is programming in your favorite heights for the display array for when you’re standing versus when you’re sitting. For most average stature people there’ll be about a 3”-4” difference between the two, which doesn’t like much but it can make a helluva difference in neck strain, so this is important to set properly.
The second thing you’ll want to do is to click off on the liability waiver that lets you change the height of the display array with just a double-tap on the gesture controller. This saves you from having to keep your finger on the paddle the entire time the array is in motion. For UL approval in the US and Europe this liability waiver is required to allow users the freedom to “fire and forget”.
A smartphone app for controlling both the desk and the monitor arm with a single tap for “SIT,” “STAND” or even “WALK” (i.e. for treadmill desk users), and other innovative features, will be released later in 2022 as an upgrade to iMovR’s Ergodynamics App. We can’t wait for that; imagine how cool it will be to tap WALK and have the desk automatically move to office treadmill height, the displays move to the perfect zero-neck-strain height, and the treadmill launch off at your preferred speed, all at once.
The Emma’s linear actuator column is equipped with a PIEZO™ sensor for accurate and reliable anti-collision. You can also program the gesture controller to set a minimum and maximum height limit to prevent accidental collision with the desktop or the ceiling (an important safety feature if small children are around). Note this is the one setting you cannot program through the app, you have to use the handset to program it.
A Couple of Accessories Definitely Worth Noting
Emma’s standard VESA mounts can handle up to 20 lbs of weight each. iMovR does offer a Heavy Duty Support Collar that increases the weight lift capacity up to 25 lbs on the outer monitors, or 75 lbs on any center-mounted monitor. So that’s how you get to the 150 lbs maximum lift capacity spec (six displays weighing 25 lbs each).
The other nice thing about the Support Collar is that it has a set screw to finely set the tilt angle of each display. When adding outer monitors weighing over 20 lbs to the ends of the beams—particularly if also bringing them forward to arc around the user (20” forward reach max)— this is helpful for removing the inevitable sagging of the ends of the extruded aluminum beams in two-row configurations.
Strong as the aluminum beams are, they will twist forward just a bit under such a moment force, so these fine tilt angle adjustments are needed to get all the displays in your two-row array to stay precisely in the same plane and eliminate all gaps between the monitors. (We’ve seen specialty electric monitor arms in the console industry costing many times more than an Emma that lack this fine tuning feature.)
Another accessory made by iMovR that is noteworthy not just for Emma users, but for anyone mounting a very heavy display on any heavy duty monitor arm, is the Steel Reinforcement Plate. While iMovR’s own 3D-laminated and solid wood desktops are safe to use even with maximal loading of the Emma, it is important to note that most standing desks sold these days come from China, where desktop materials tend to be very cheap and could easily snap like a KitKat bar. The reinforcement plate is installed underneath such desktops, typically with Liquid Nails and screws, to strengthen the area where the Emma clamps to the back edge of the desk.
We’ve never seen installation instructions this good
We’ve had to install a lot of monitor arms over the years, even ones for six displays. Most of these come from China and include hard to read instructions; let’s just say it can be a frustrating process sometimes. It took us an hour once for our most experienced monitor arm reviewer to put together a mount for six displays, and only four of the six could be height-adjusted. So we were a little fearful of what a complex beast like an electric six-display monitor arm would be like to install.
iMovR already makes the widest range of mechanical counterbalance arms for standing desks, all of which we’ve reviewed (the Trace, Compass, TopView, ZipView and Tempo lines), and they set the gold standard for ease of installation. Most of them have not just clear printed instructions in highly-readable, full-color format, but they also have professionally produced installation videos the make an otherwise onerous job a pretty simple one for any user.
With the Emma it’s clear that iMovR spent months on developing exceptionally clear installation manuals – with dedicated sections for each of the 12 possible configurations. So if you’re going to install 2 monitors on the top row and 2 monitors plus a laptop mount on the bottom row, you just go right to that page in the manual. Even more impressive is that they also produced 12 installation videos to go with the full-color printed manuals. There’s just an impressive level of attention to the customer experience in all of this, one we’ve never seen with any other monitor arm maker. And let’s face it, at this price point, you should expect nothing less.
We highly encourage anyone considering buying an Emma electric monitor arm to watch the installation video and other “pro tips” videos that you can find on the iMovR site so that you can plan ahead for things like getting extra-long power cords and video signal cables to allow for as much slack as you’ll need when raising the monitors up.
In terms of how much time to budget for installation, there’s the time to actually set up the arm, the time to mount all the monitors/laptops, the time to route all the cables the way you want them, and the time to precisely line up all the displays (especially for dual-row configurations). Our staff reviewers tried numerous installation configurations, and estimate that for the first-time user a good budget for all these things is 30 minutes for setting up the column and beams, and 10 minutes per VESA device. If the optional Heavy Duty Support Collars are installed budget another 5 minutes for each one of those.
Competition and alternative approaches
Way back in 2015 we reviewed the Bild electric monitor arm from Innovative Office Products (IOP), after seeing a prototype of it at the NeoCon office furniture show in Chicago. As we describe in greater detail in the review, this cool looking product unfortunately never saw the light of day. That was disappointing to learn after tested it for weeks in our labs, in all configurations up to a max of eight displays on two rows. Unfortunately they couldn’t quite get the product to work well enough and hit their price target, so the company management ultimately killed it. As a major manufacturer of premium monitor arms, IOP may have just been too early to market. Few people had the need for large display arrays in 2015 as compared to today, and monitors also didn’t get as wide and heavy back then as they do today. IOP saw a niche specialty market in things like command & control centers and radiology departments, but couldn’t have anticipated how common it would become for regular computer users to need a heavy-lifting electric arm.
While there are some electric standing desk converters that have built-in monitor arms, including IOP’s Winston-E and One-Touch converters, these aren’t quite the same thing. They’re also limited to dual or triple displays, and relatively small ones at that. There simply isn’t anything in the market today that is comparable to the Emma.
Of course the alternative, default approach to mounting numerous displays on a standing desk is to get numerous conventional monitor arms, or even combining single arms and dual arms in some fashion. But this gets very cumbersome once you get past two displays; if you need to adjust three or more displays up and down several times a day you’ll probably just live with the neck strain instead. And by that point you’ve really hit Emma’s sweet spot. Once you get to three or more displays it becomes a very cost effective solution, with features that you just can’t get with any combination of monitor arms.
Cable management is always something to take into consideration when you’re adding this many displays and/or laptops to an ergonomic monitor arm. Cable guides along the beams and down the back of the EMMA’s lifting column make it easy to route the cable, but you may need to invest in some extra-long power and video cables to provide sufficient slack for the full height adjustment range of your setup. We recommend adding something like iMovR’s Tucker Cable Management Kit for organizing all the cables and transformer bricks underneath the desktop and reducing the number of power cables going down to the floor to just the one for the power strip.
Entirely designed and manufactured in the USA
Speaking directly with the product manager for the Emma at iMovR, we learned that this product has actually been in development for four years, the last of which was spent primarily on an exhaustive amount of load and stability testing. As our own lab testing verified, the design is really quite bulletproof. And it needs to be given the value of the equipment being lifted and all the safety considerations involved. (While there are certification standards for mechanical counterbalance monitor arms the Emma is bound to set the standard, once one is ever created, for electric monitor arms.)
Unlike almost every monitor arm sold today, the Emma was entirely engineered and is entirely manufactured in the USA. It’s backed by a 5-year warranty and iMovR’s standard 100-day satisfaction guarantee.