TrekDesk II Review
The unanticipated sequel to one of the most poorly-designed, manual height-adjustable desks still on the market, the TrekDesk II appears to be an even greater abomination - assuming its Kickstarter campaign even reaches its funding goal. With the $879 asking price we expect much, much more from a desk product. As it stands, you can get a crank-adjustable desk that looks and works a lot better, for a whole lot less money. Our advice? Run, don't walk, from this ill-conceived Rube Goldberg contraption.
Better than the first TrekDesk, perhaps.
Stippled polyurethane tabletop looks cheap, can't be modified with keyboard trays. Its built in 'features' detract from the desk's usability. Dual crank adjustment is unwieldy and imprecise. Using the narrow metal shelf as a sitting desk is ergonomically harmful, if it's even possible. Costs far more than crank-adjustable desks already on the market that are more attractively and ergonomically designed.
[Update: The TrekDesk II Kickstarter campaign ended on September 14, 2014, having failed to reach its funding goal. For posterity, we are leaving this review on our site]
Editor’s Note: The following is a “forensic” review. We have not yet tested the product in our lab as it is not yet in production. What follows is our review of publicly available information that TrekDesk has released.
For those of you who haven’t read our forensic TrekDesk review, we’ll fill you in: it’s bad. Structurally unstable, with shoddy components and poor ergonomics, the TrekDesk placed itself firmly in the ‘Don’t Buy’ end of the treadmill desk spectrum. So while we were on Kickstarter marveling at the world’s most expensive potato salad project, we were surprised to find that TrekDesk was also fundraising, this time for an even more unsightly, ungainly, and just plain unfathomably-bad desk concept. As you can tell, we’re struggling to find the perfect word in the thesaurus for how bad this Rube Goldberg contraption appears to be, and are still searching.
The TrekDesk II, they’re calling it. The unanticipated sequel to the ergonomic box-office bomb of yesteryear, TrekDesk II looks to address some of its predecessor’s shortcomings, while introducing a plethora of new faults for users to suffer. While the final product has yet to be released, their Kickstarter page does offer a video showing the new desk in action. Think of it as a horror movie trailer of sorts. We’ve pored over this video innumerable times to try and get a clear sense of what the TrekDesk II can and, more tellingly, cannot do.
Fine Furniture or a Toy?
The video first describes the TrekDesk’s polyurethane tabletop which, with its stippling and plastic band, looks more like something designed by Fisher-Price than an executive desk. The new table top is a big step forward from its predecessor’s thin plastic top, but it still falls short. It certainly doesn’t look like something you’d be able to customize with a keyboard tray or monitor arm, which are staples of a good ergonomic workstation.
The desk retains the concave user edge of the original. The cup holders are still there, and they’ve included a smartphone tray and a miscellaneous well for pens and other small items. We’re on the fence about these features, largely because they take away valuable desk space and don’t allow as much personalization by the user. The built-in ‘wrist rest’ (it’s really just a space where the tabletop is raised) is a complete waste of space and doesn’t offer any real benefit: hard plastic is not as comfortable as foam or gel wrist rests and it forces users to position their keyboards farther away from them – exacerbating “computer hunch”.
Twice as Cranky
Crank-operated desks like the ModTable or ThermoDesk Ellure use a single crank to lift the tabletop. But the TrekDesk II requires two independent cranks – one for each leg. Their video says that it’s to ensure a level desktop, but we’ve never seen a crank desk that needed more than one crank to stay perfectly level. In point of fact single-crank desks are not only more likely to remain perfectly level, the linkage connecting both sides of the desk to one crank usually provides added stability to the desk frame – something that seems quite lacking in the TrekDesk II’s design.
With this inelegant crank design, users have to use both hands to adjust the two sides at the same time, at the same turn rate. As a result they’ll find themselves constantly adjusting each leg, making sure that they are at the same height – hope you have a level handy. Moreover, the crank handles on the TrekDesk II are not positioned just under the tabletop, where one would expect them to be, but rather halfway up the legs. This is much too low – users won’t be able to see when their desk is at standing height because they have to bend over or crouch to adjust it. And if you’re on a treadmill you’ll definitely have to stop the belt and bend down rather severely to adjust each crank.
The video states the desk has a 210 lbs. weight capacity, which would put it on par with the vast majority of adjustable height desks on the market. However, the video doesn’t show the desk being raised with that much weight. A desk’s lifting capacity is different from its standstill, static weight capacity. Just because the TrekDesk can hold 210 lbs, doesn’t mean its crank mechanism can lift that much weight, so we’d take that weight rating with a grain of salt.
You Had One Job, TrekDesk
The minimum height of the TrekDesk II’s larger table top is 36 inches, way too tall to comfortably or ergonomically use with standard office chairs. So what are you expected to do? According to the video, use one of the TrekDesk’s two shelves. This sheet of metal, situated between the legs, is the sorriest excuse for a desktop we’ve ever seen. From what the video shows, it’s incredibly narrow with barely enough room to hold a Macbook (forget trying to fit an entire iMac and keyboard under there) and there is no space below the shelf for your knees, because the second shelf is in the way.
Not only that, but the Fisher-Price-style tabletop is in prime position to hit you in the face, so we’re not even sure how one would go about using the TrekDesk in this position. The video certainly doesn’t offer any answers, devoid as it is of any footage of the TrekDesk in use while sitting. Even if you could somehow work on this thing from your chair, we’re certain your neck, shoulders and arms will regret the uncomfortable positions. This shelf is too unusable as a table top to call the TrekDesk II a proper sit-to-stand desk.
Summer Blockbuster it is Not
The Kickstarter page calls the TrekDesk II “The Swiss Army Knife of Desks”. This would be true if Swiss Army knives did nothing but stab their users in the face. It’s a klugy mess that isn’t worth even half of its $879 asking price (which doesn’t include shipping). With the lackluster table top and grossly inconvenient crank setup we’re absolutely baffled that they’re charging more than other crank desks and even some electric desks. It’s nothing short of a wonder: somehow, this sequel manages to improve drastically upon the first, while still being utterly terrible.