StandStand Desktop Riser Review
The Story. The Inspiration. The Smile
Harvard professor Luke Leafgren wanted to sit less. Examining the standing desks available on the market, he was put off not only by the high prices but also the fact that these full desks were stationary. He wanted a lower-cost, portable product that would let him stand at home, the coffee shop, or the office. The answer came to him during one of his morning meditation sessions. And thus, StandStand was born.
So goes the origin story for another in the line of low-cost, portable solutions to get people out of their chairs more and more often. It’s an engaging story, one that helped catch the interest of 1,836 Kickstarter backers who together raised just under $120,000 to help bring Professor Leafgren’s idea off the spec page and into people’s homes and offices. Even now, our review unit is smiling nearby, blushing with success.
StandStand probably wouldn’t be grinning so widely if it knew how this review ends.
The Good. The Travel. The Sleek.
We’ve seen a number of products like StandStand in the past, all of them with the noble goal of getting American workers out of their cushy, 14-lever, adjustable chairs. But before we get into our concerns with StandStand, let’s first go over what it is.
StandStand is a fixed-height desktop riser. Assemble the three pieces, place it on your conventional sitting desk (or café table), put your laptop on it and get to work. Couldn’t be easier. StandStand can be ordered in nine-, twelve-, or fourteen-inch heights and is available in either Baltic Birch or, for thirty dollars more, “sustainable” bamboo. StandStand is an all-American product. Designed in Massachusetts, this product is manufactured in Leafgren’s hometown of Superior, Wisconsin by his woodworking buddy from high school who owns a custom cabinetry company.
StandStand set out to offer people an inexpensive tool to raise their laptops closer to standing height and that can be carried from place to place with ease. In this endeavor, we can confidently say that StandStand succeeded. This riser assembles in seconds, collapses down to about the size of a small laptop, and is incredibly light. The average telecommuter should have no trouble finding space for StandStand in their brief case or messenger bag. With its attractive design and a starting price of $69, this riser is pretty easy on both the eyes and the wallet.
But that’s about where the positives end.
The Bad. The Limits. The Pain.
The problem with StandStand isn’t what it does; the problem is what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t take any ergonomic posture or typing factors into consideration beyond “Stand up.”
First off, StandStand’s “work surface” is a stingy twelve inches long by nine inches deep. That space is just big enough to fit a netbook or a compact laptop with a thirteen-inch or smaller screen. You may be able to get away with using a slightly bigger laptop on this platform, but you’ll have at least an inch of overhang to either side. Regardless, when you set StandStand up in your favorite corner café, you won’t find any room to place an external mouse or keyboard, let alone your coffee or paperwork.
Its small, lightweight construction makes StandStand incompatible with adjustable keyboard trays, wrist rests, or monitor arms. Without the benefit of these important ergonomic accessories, you’re just trading lower back pain, fatigue, and poor circulation from sitting for upper back, shoulder, and neck pain from your wrists and hands being bent and scrunched together to type as well as your neck craning down to see the screen. These factors are exacerbated by the lack of any height adjustability. Work with this kind of set up as your primary standing desk for any length of time and you’ll be hurting.
Last, but not least, StandStand claims to be very strong and stable. We found this to be true when evaluating force applied directly down toward the desk surface. In fairness, this is the most important vector to consider. However, life happens. Especially on the go. We were less impressed with StandStand’s stability against horizontal forces. StandStand’s small amount of surface area contact with the supporting desk and its lack of anti-skid pads make it all too easy to shift laterally with an accidental bump. This instability was enough to make us treat our laptops a bit like eggs on a narrow ledge as we tested StandStand, hyperconscious of the location of our hands and other desk items at all times and fearful of the consequences should our concentration grow lax.
Normally we wouldn’t review this kind of product. It is so limited in its capabilities that we hesitate to even call it a desktop riser. But StandStand’s success on Kickstarter and coverage in major publications convinced us to add our two cents to the conversation. Our advice? Save your money and instead spend a few more bucks to get a riser that does a better job of addressing your ergonomic needs. If you work primarily at home or in an office, much of the StandStand’s functionality can be achieved with a Bankers Box or a few reams of printer paper. If you are willing to carefully balance your netbook or small laptop atop StandStand at your local coffee shop, it may work for you as a short-term portable standing desk. But its instability and lack of ergonomic adjustability prevent us from recommending StandStand for any serious work.