iMovR Ensign’s Standing Desk Review
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Perfected ergonomics and designer furniture panache combined? This desk brings it all together like no other we’ve seen because it allows you to pick the configuration that best fits both your sense of style and your ergonomic needs at the same time. The Scandanavian-styled Baltic birch top, curved edge option and optional Fly Deck monitor stand together to form one of the most beautiful standing desks we’ve seen. Plus, it has the trusty Lander Lite base beneath it. It’s a desk that forces you to make very few compromises.
|MSRP / List Price||
28″ x 41″: $1,449
Free shipping in the lower 48 states
Frame: Lifetime Warranty
Precision dual-motor components from Linak
1.6 inches per second
Intuitive gesture height control paddle with Bluetooth sync to free smartphone app
28″ x 41″
|Colors Available||See all 9 stain finishes|
Single-Stage Base: 27.35” – 47.5″
168W nominal when in motion, <0.1W standby
|Typical Assembly Time||
Once components are removed from packaging typical assembly time is 5 minutes. One tool (an Allen key) is included for attaching the feet to the lifting columns. No other tools are required.
|Where to buy||
Buy on iMovR
|Ease of Assembly|
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Suitability for Treadmill Desking|
|Positives||As a piece of designer furniture, like the other limited edition models in iMovR’s nautically-themed Baltic desk line, the Ensign is sure to turn heads in any office setting. The optional Fly Deck provides some extra storage and helps you achieve decent monitor ergonomics in great style. Or you can go without and completely dial in your ergonomics the conventional way using a monitor arm. Assembly is extremely easy since it comes 95 percent factory pre-assembled, and you won’t even need to break out the toolbox; we’re talking no more than 5 minutes to put it all together by yourself. The desktop craftsmanship quality, precision robotics-built Lander Lite lifting base and industry-leading warranty are top-tier. Plus, it’s ready for the future with a built-in health coach and Bluetooth-connected smartphone app.|
|Negatives||The Baltic birch look is clearly coveted from a style standpoint and is incredibly rigid for how thin it is (0.7”), but there’s one drawback to it specifically for our treadmill desking audience. While the extensive height range of the Lander Lite base is usually great for treadmill desk users, the lack of a SteadyType keyboard tray option prevents us from giving it the highest score available for the office treadmill application, versus other iMovR desks that have thicker desktops that can support SteadyType.|
Out of simple necessity, and perhaps a lack of urgency to reinvent the wheel, standing desks generally look about the same. This is fine. The “standard” standing desk does its job well. It’s not bad to look at. But what if you want more than just ordinary and mainstream?
The answer to that question is why we get excited when we see new “designer” standing desk models coming out. The latest is the iMovR Ensign’s Desk. Like the other designer desks we’ve seen lately the Ensign’s Desk respects the standing desk as a new standard piece of furniture in the household or office, yet offers an expression of the owner’s sense of style.
Several years ago a standing desk may have aroused some wow factor simply because it allowed you to stand, looked a little different and was something new. That’s far from the case today as adjustable height desks have permeated all levels of the market.
The Ensign’s Desk and other designer desks allow you to recapture some of that wow factor.
The Ensign’s Desk is all about the look of Baltic birch, being the centerpiece of iMovR’s new Baltic Line of Vincent Leman-inspired designer standing desks. It looks as beautiful as maple hardwood on the flat work surfaces but with the distinctive multi-ply edging commonly found on Scandinavian fine furniture. It is the second of three desks in the Baltic line. The first was the Captain’s Desk, which we also loved for its completely unique design elements. The third will be a top-of-the-line option dubbed the Admiral, due out in 2022.
Moving up from the desktop, the Ensign’s other distinguishing feature is its Fly Deck. Clearly meant to evoke the fly deck on a yacht, this upscale version of a monitor riser looks cool, creates convenient open storage space on the desktop and helps with ergonomics by raising an external monitor or all-in-one computer (e.g. iMac) screen.
The ergonomics of the Fly Deck are obviously less ideal than those of a fully articulating ergonomic monitor arm, but there are a number of reasons why people might not want to use a monitor arm. Usually, it’s a preference for the aesthetics of a clean-looking shelf versus the mechanical look of an articulating monitor arm. Sometimes it’s simply because their monitors can’t easily be mounted to a VESA plate or that they are so heavy as to make it hard to find a good arm to support them properly.
About The Baltic birch
As mentioned above, the iMovR Ensign’s desktop is made from exotic 12-ply Baltic birch. This material comes from the second-largest sustainable forest in the world, in a region spanning both Russia and Finland’s coastlines on the Baltic Sea. Baltic birch provides the look of maple but in a much stronger and rigid form. It’s long been used by makers of fine cabinetry and fine musical instruments because of its durability and how precision machinability.
The birch panels are comprised of a dozen 1.5 mm-thick sheets of veneer bonded together in alternating grain directions. This method of construction creates a void-free core that is exceptionally strong and stable, much more so than a plank of natural hardwood. There are several grades given to the Baltic birch plywood and iMovR uses only the top grade, B/BB.
That top grade means the face and back veneers have to be made from a single veneer sheet that is free of defects and has a light-uniform color. The back side can have a small amount of color-matched “football” patches (these are spots where branches grew out of the tree). There are other standing desks made with Baltic birch, but they’re typically made with lower grades of birch if it’s even genuine Baltic birch.
Generally, if a manufacturer doesn’t disclose which grade of birch they’re using, they’re almost certainly not using top grade material. In fact, in our round-up of Birch Standing Desk Reviews we found that most of the birch desktops being marketed on standing desks were made from the cheapest available slabs of some unspecified sub-species of solid birch, not the fancier (and much costlier) multi-ply Baltic birch that iMovR uses on their Baltic line desks—or that you’ll find on high-end Scandinavian furniture. There’s a huge difference. Cheaper birch species are often used for less-visible drawer interiors to save cost on solid wood desks, for example, because it is a lot cheaper than a hardwood like maple, while still nicer to look at than something like OSB plywood.
As we cover in our article on picking the right desktop, desktop materials vary widely by cost and quality from powder coat, to bamboo, to high-pressure laminate (HPL), to 3D laminate, to reclaimed and solid wood. Baltic birch fits in the solid wood spectrum in price but furniture designers select it for the very distinctive look of its edging and its precision machinability.
Baltic birch also has the advantage of being less susceptible to flex and movement from changes in temperature and humidity, which can plague some hardwood desktops if not properly finished and sealed. If you live in a region that is susceptible to high swings in humidity and temperature—say, by the ocean—and you covet the look and feel of a solid wood desk, Baltic birch may be the perfect choice for you for this reason. It’s no coincidence that iMovR chose this material for their “nautical” line of desks.
Baltic birch has one other less obvious advantage in that it has a lower environmental impact than natural hardwoods like maple, cherry or oak. It grows quickly and takes less than half the raw wood material to match the strength and rigidity of a natural hardwood plank (the 0.70”-thick birch panels used in the Ensign’s desk are actually stronger and more stable than the 1.25” hardwood tops offered on iMovR’s solid wood Lander Desks).
The Ensign’s Baltic birch comes in eight different stains or a natural, unstained finish. iMovR uses GREENGuard-certified, formaldehyde-free stains and sealants, and this is a part of selecting a desk we often emphasize. Using stains and sealants like this isn’t just about the environment, it’s about the user as well—and it’s even about the health of the woodworkers who have to produce the desktop. We often see user reviews with complaints about the smell from stains and sealants on lower-quality solid wood desktops, especially those imported from Asia.
iMovR prides itself on using low-VOC compounds in its finishing processes and even caters to the ultra-sensitive by offering an optional zero-VOC finishing process option on all of its solid wood desks. We are not aware of any other standing desk manufacturer that goes so far to address this small niche of consumers who struggle mightily to find fine furniture products they can tolerate breathing around.
The 28”-deep desktop comes in two variations, a straight edge and a curved edge. The straight edge width options are 41”, 47”, 53” and 59”. The curved edge width options are 47”, 53” and 59”. All sizes come with three 1.75”-diameter grommets and iMovR offers the Rondo Micro to bring power connections up to the desktop with these smaller grommet holes. The Rondo Micro is available with a number of different modules with AC, USB-A and USB-C outlets. (Also, be sure to check out our roundup of cable management kits. It doesn’t make sense to buy a desk that looks like this and then have a snarl of cables underneath it.)
While the Ensign finds a happy place between a desk ruled by design and an ergonomic champion, you’ll have to make some important ergonomic decisions because the desk essentially comes in four configurations that have different tradeoffs between ergonomics and design.
1. Curved edge with Fly Deck. On the design side of the spectrum, this desk looks awesome and has a cool nautical feel. Like we said above, this is a desk that makes people take a second look when walking by.
The Fly Deck brings your monitor higher, helping with ergonomics, but it doesn’t help as much as a fully articulating ergonomic monitor arm would.
To be fair, it is completely plausible to use a monitor arm edge-clamped to the desktop and the Fly Deck together. Many combinations are possible but the important thing to know is you’d never want to mount to edge-clamp a monitor arm to the Fly Deck itself as it will just tilt backward, despite the Fly Deck’s 300 lb rating for centered weight load.
Like any desk with a curved edge, the Ensign’s Desk will limit your keyboard tray options. The curve reduces the amount of space between the crossbar and the user edge of the desktop. This space is already limited with standing desks and the curve magnifies the problem, meaning a keyboard tray will likely not be able to completely stow under the desktop.
The curved edge does have a small ergonomic advantage because the workstation is more arced around the user so you wouldn’t have to reach as far for your mouse. But it’s a very small difference.
2. Curved edge without Fly Deck. This configuration allows you to use an ergonomic monitor arm but has the same keyboard tray compatibility limitations mentioned above.
3. Straight edge with Fly Deck. This configuration allows you to use a keyboard tray much more easily, but it likely means you won’t be using an ergonomic monitor arm and fully dialing in those ergonomics. The desktop is pre-drilled for super-easy installation of iMovR’s Trackless Keyboard Tray.
4. Straight edge without Fly Deck. On the ergonomics side of the spectrum, this desk allows for perfect ergonomics by adding an ergonomic monitor arm and keyboard tray, along with the beauty of a Baltic birch desktop. Again, the desktop is pre-drilled for super-easy installation of iMovR’s Trackless Keyboard Tray.
The decision comes down to whether you’ll need a monitor arm, keyboard tray, both or neither, and how you want to balance those needs with aesthetics.
Designer Desk, Advanced Base
The Ensign’s Desk comes with iMovR’s state-of-the-art Lander Lite lifting base. We’ve too often seen expensive hardwood tops being sold on cheap bases made in China, so it’s comforting to see a desk that’s top-of-the-line from desktop to feet.
The base is available in single-stage (two-segment leg) and dual-stage (three-segment leg) configurations. The single-stage base has a height range of 27.35”-47.5”. This will work for the majority of users, those who are not extremely short or tall. The dual-stage base has a height range of 24”-50”, which will fit all but the very tallest of users.
While the Lander Lite base already exceeds ANSI/BIFMA’s top-end ergonomic height range limits by 3”, for very tall users iMovR does also offer a 6” leg extension kit that would raise the dual-stage base to an incredible height range of 30”-56”. iMovR has long specialized in catering to very tall users because of its origins in the treadmill desk business, where all users are automatically 6” taller when stepping up on the tread deck.
Speaking of treadmill desk usage, iMovR is known for making the only enterprise-class under desk treadmill base, the ThermoTread GT, and for their patented SteadyType keyboard tray to perfect the ergonomics of working while walking. While the Ensign can be configured with the dual stage base and 6” leg extensions to be used with an office treadmill, there is no built-in SteadyType keyboard tray option as there is on any of iMovR’s Lander desks. However, there is a workaround for those seeking complete ergonomic perfection, and that is to pair the straight-edged Ensign’s desk with a SteadyType Exo add-on keyboard tray. Unfortunately, the Exo is not available in Baltic birch, so we’d recommend getting it in black or white to match the legs of the desk.
Both versions of the base come in white, black and silver. Both have the same 225-lb weight capacity and 1.66 inches-per-second transit speed.
The Ensign’s Desk comes with the Lander Lite’s intuitive gesture height control paddle. Tap the paddle up or down and the desk will move in that direction, stopping when it comes to the next of the two pre-programmed height preferences (four if you’re using the app with the desk’s Bluetooth connectivity).
The desk also has a built-in health coach to remind you when to stand at intervals you select. It can remind you by flashing the LED in the paddle controller or sending a notification to your phone, or both. And if you’re unsure about the health coach, this study shows users with this feature increased their standing time by 117 percent.
Quick Assembly (And Disassembly)
Assembly is another strong point for the Ensign’s Desk since it comes 95 percent factory pre-assembled and each unit is individually tested before shipping to the customer.
It is one of iMovR’s Quick-Install desks, so assembly is so easy a child could do it. You simply insert the legs into the receiving sockets already attached to the desktop and connect the cords. No toolbox is required; an Allen key is provided in the box for the only step that requires inserting some bolts, attaching the feet to the legs. See the assembly video to get an idea of how incredibly simple it is to put this desk together.
Importantly, the desk comes apart just as easily (see the disassembly video) and unlike most standing desks, is actually designed to be taken apart for easy transportation between your current office and your next one. For many standing desks that can be an arduous task, as they were never designed to be taken apart. Not only are disassembly instructions or videos not provided to the user, the desks often never work correctly again after re-assembly.
All of iMovR’s Lander, Lander Lite and ZipDesk models are specifically designed to endure repeated disassemblies and re-assemblies, which is a great advantage in these times of WFH-RTO-WFH-RTO pulsations that come with the waves of the pandemic, and the many home and job relocations that so many of us expect to have in our futures.
Warranty and Quality
The Ensign’s Desk is made entirely in the USA and comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame and a 15-year warranty on the motors and electronics, as well as a 100-day satisfaction guarantee.
While some of the Chinese-made competitors like UpLift and Fully (both using a lifting base manufactured by Jiecang) have upped their warranty terms to seemingly match iMovR’s, consumers should be aware that not all warranties are equal. Some insert carve-outs in the fine print that might leave you stuck if ever you run into a component failure. In fact, there’s so much spin going on in warranty terms marketing claims these days that we wrote an article on How To Compare Warranty Policies Between Standing Desk Manufacturers, which we encourage the consumer to read before their final purchase decision.
Our experts’ advice is to always go with the higher-quality componentry of a top-shelf American or European-made base and significantly reduce the odds of ever having a problem in the first place. Keep in mind that desks generally start to underperform before they fail, and loose manufacturing tolerances will lead to performance issues such as grease streaking, squeaking when in transit, and increasing shakiness over time.
iMovR has not sent this desk to be tested and ANSI/BIFMA certified since it is unlikely to go into an environment that would require the certifications, like the government and large enterprise customers. Since it is essentially a Lander Lite with a more rigid Baltic birch desktop, and the Lander Lite itself is fully ANSI/BIFMA X5.5-2014 certified, the Ensign’s Desk surely would pass the test as well. In our own lab testing here at WorkWhileWalking all the Lander and Lander Lite desks have far exceeded the gold standard X5.5 certification tests that we replicate in-house, and this includes the Ensign’s and Captain’s desk models.
It’s exciting to see manufacturers creating a designer desk with state-of-the-art componentry, so users no longer have to make a choice between the two. The Ensign’s Desk bridges this gap well, especially since it has four configurations that allow you to pick which match of ergonomics and design is best for you.
With this follow-up to the excellent debut of the Captain’s Desk, we’re looking forward to what iMovR has coming next in the Baltic Line, the Admiral. For now, the Ensign’s Desk is immediately one of our favorites as it brings style and substance together as few other desks can.
Epilogue: One note to our readers on why iMovR has made the Baltic Line a “Limited Edition,” at least for now. We’ve learned that Baltic birch, like so many raw commodities during the pandemic economy, has become incredibly hard to get. With the boom in home furnishings purchasing going on worldwide, European consumers have been buying so much Baltic birch furniture that there simply hasn’t been enough lumber left over to reach American shores. Coupled with deep ocean shipping capacity constraints and cost increases, the result has been months-long outages of supply of top-grade Baltic birch in the United States for the first time in history. So don’t be surprised if these Baltic line desks do sell out on occasion and have long backorder times until things smooth out in the global supply chain. This all goes to make this desk even more unique and something you’re unlikely to ever see anywhere else.