ModTable Crank-Type Stand Up Desk Review
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The ModTable desk was once the king of low-cost stand up desk. Its quick-adjusting crank mechanism is simple to use and wasn’t tethered to a power outlet the way motorized desks are. But changes in the stand up desk marketplace have resulted in cheaper, more powerful electric desks, and ModTable has since lost its main advantage over other desk options.
|MSRP / List Price||$515|
Ships in 2 – 7 days via UPS Ground
Moving Parts: 2 Years
2 turns per inch
Small Table Top: 24” x 40” x ¾”
|NEAT™ Certified by Mayo Clinic||
|Competition||Compare to All Top-Rated Standing Desks|
|Where to buy||
Buy on Amazon
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Suitability for Treadmill Desking|
|Positives||Beautiful frames and desktops. Very sturdy. Rave reviews from customers. Good instructions and not hard to assemble. Some frames allow width adjustments, too.|
|Negatives||Some users may prefer an electric or counterbalance height-adjustment system.|
[Editors Note March 1, 2021: MultiTable may be the latest casualty of Covid-19, or at least that’s the messaging on their website as of today. Before we add a vendor to the Office Fitness Dead Pool we check a bunch of vital signs. Almost all items on the site are marked as “out of inventory” and unorderable, excepting some replacement parts. Website traffic is zero. As far as we can tell Multitable is no longer running ads. Truth is the company has been in a slide for several years, Covid-19 may just have been the final nail in its coffin as the pandemic’s impact on the ergonomic office furniture industry continues to take its toll. We leave this original review in place for posterity but by all outward appearances this early player in the height adjustable desk industry is no longer in business, unless through its ecommerce site.]
While the majority of stand up desk and treadmill desk users prefer the superior convenience and capabilities of an electric adjustable height desk, crank desks are nevertheless a great alternative to consider if you want to save a few hundred dollars or want a ‘greener’ desk option. People who use crank-operated stand up desks trade the faster speeds and tougher weight capacities of electric desks for a simpler design without the need for motors and cords—place the desk anywhere in the room, without looking for an outlet.
Multitable’s manual ModTable stand up desk has all the right qualities of a crank-adjustable stand up desk—it’s lightweight, (relatively) inexpensive, and is untethered from any wall outlet. But is all that worth the sacrifices you’d be making by going manual? Probably not.
The Fastest Stand Up Desk with a Crank
Let’s start with the base. The ModTable desk features a durable, powder coated, rolled stamped steel frames are available in black, white, or red finish. The hand cranks are “hide-away” types that can fold 180 degrees or be removed completely while not in use. The ModTable can adjust from 27.5” to 47.5” in height, with the desk top included. This falls just shy under the ANSI/BIFMA standard 48″ for stand up desks. This normally wouldn’t be a problem, if not for the fact that the 48″ standard is itself too short for many taller users, particularly ones looking for a treadmill desk. The ModTable’s limited height range means that treadmill desk users will need to pay special consideration to their wrist and neck ergonomics before they move forward with ModTable.
Even if you’ve never used a crank adjustable desk before, it’s very easy. You simply turn the handcrank clockwise to raise the desk, and counterclockwise to lower it. What isn’t easy is doing this many times throughout the day. Adjusting a manual stand up desk takes several seconds longer than an electric desk, and involves considerably more effort than holding down a button. But what sets the Modtable apart from other desks is the simple fact that it is the fastest crank base money can buy. Adjusting at an impressive two turns-per-inch, the Modtable base easily outpaces pricier desks that adjust as slow as a glacial 5 cranks-per-inch. That speed comes at a cost though. The Modtable base can only lift up to 130 lbs. in motion, while other crank desks, most notably the ThermoDesk Ellure, can lift heavier loads of up to 200 lbs. The other tradeoff for the fastest desk in the West is in how much effort it takes to operate. The Modtable crank has a medium amount of tension, leading to slight juddering during adjustment, compared to the Ellure’s buttery smooth crank motion. This means that it takes noticeably more force to turn the ModTable’s crank than the Ellure’s, and users will experience some shaking during adjustments.
Like many adjustable height desks available today, the Modtable frame is width-adjustable, going from 39.5” to 55.5”, and allowing you to custom-set the spacing between the legs when you construct your desk. This allows the same base to be used with tops as narrow as 40″ or as wide as 72″. Be aware however, that at the 72″ size there is a good deal of table overhang to the right and left of the base. Unfortunately, the base does not adjust wide enough to fit a treadmill and a chair side by side. For a workstation that accommodates sitting, standing, and walking, look to the more capacious electric models, like the Omega Everest. Otherwise, you’d have to get creative with the kind of seat that would work on top of your treadmill.
One issue we hold against the Modtable base is the design of the drive shaft connector. This piece is responsible for making sure the legs of the desk adjust up and down in sync. It accomplishes this by fitting over the drive shafts on both legs, making sure that they rotate together and at the same speed. The hole in the connector is round. The drive shafts are hexagonal. As it is the connector just rotates around the drive shafts without transferring any motion. To solve this, MultiTable included two small set screws that have a gripping substance applied to the threads. The gripping substance means you need to use considerable force to adequately set the screws into the connector. We’ve heard from customers who finished assembling their desk only to find that just one side was adjusting. The culprit was always the same: the set screws not being installed correctly. Why MultiTable didn’t simply use a connector with a hexagonal hole to match the hexagonal drive shafts and be done with the matter, as iMovR did in the ThermoDesk Ellure is beyond us.
The Modtable Tops
Modtables come with standard, high pressure laminated, ¾”, rectangular tabletops. The tops come in four sizes: 24” x 40”, 24″x48″, 29″x60″, and 29″ x 72″. Modtable offers four colors of tops: white, black, espresso and honey maple.
The ModTable crank’s table tops aren’t anything to write home about. Their high-pressure laminate covers the top of the desk, and has strips glued to the side. For our money, we prefer iMovR’s ThermoDesk Ellure, a comparable-priced desk that uses a high-quality crank-operated base, but with a superior, 3D laminate forming a seal around a 1.125″-thick table top. That new lamination process produces a more durable top, with improved moisture resistance, ergonomically contoured edges and corners, and a more stylish aesthetic. Add to that iMovR’s 11 standard table top colors (and over 50 custom colors for corporate orders) and you have a table top that surpasses the ModTable’s in every single way.
The ModTable Crank Desk comes with the standard MultiTable 2-year warranty on all moving parts, and a 5-year warranty on steel components. Not that it really needs it; we’ve yet to find a user complaining of any deficiencies. Multitable is a young company (founded in 2011), so we’ll wait and see. But as of now, the ModTable Crank Desk seems to be a reliable product.
Compared to Budget Electric Desks
When the ModTable first debuted, it was hailed as a game-changer: Where a typical electric desk at the time could start at a jaw-dropping $2,000 pricetag, the ModTable could provide a standing workstation for a fraction of that cost. Since those glory days, however, the popularity of the stand up desk and treadmill desk has led to a flurry of innovation and competition, and now the price difference between manual desks and electric desks is shrinking every day. Users can find plenty of convenient electric models at under $1,000 and others, like the Upsilon, that costs just as much. MultiTable, for its part, has not modified the pricing for the ModTable stand up desk in that time, allowing the cost benefits of the desk to diminish. With the rising tide of budget class electric desks, the ModTable is no longer the best option for a low-cost desk. Unless you’re looking specifically for a crank adjustable option, you’re better off opting for the additional convenience and capabilities of a good electric stand up desk.
|ModTable Manual Stand Up Desk||Price & Color Options|
|Topless||$479.00 Silver, Black or White
$799.00 Red or Custom
|With Desktop Included||Desktops Available in White, Black, Espresso & Honey Maple$549.00 Small DesktopUp to $799.00 for Extra Large Desktop$799.00 Small Desktop Red
Up to $869.00 for Extra Large Desktop Red