UPDESK Lite Electric Adjustable Standing Desk Review
We can't understand why long-time American desk maker UpDesk would cheapen its brand with an entirely made-in-China desk that is likely to have significant reliability problems. From what we can see on the pre-order information page this desk is priced 70% higher than it's most direct competitor, the SmartDesk 2 Home Edition, putting in within striking distance of the least expensive premium American-made desks, so we don't really get where the consumer value is supposed to be with this new private-label offering.
Medium-height individuals who like the styling but aren't likely to use the desk often or with a lot of weight on it, and don't mind a messy assembly job.
$595 pre-order price, including free shipping
Electric, single-motor, single-stage
Not published but can be presumed to be quite slow given single-motor transmission system
Digital with four programmable height presets
One size only - 30" x 60"
One color scheme only, black base, black top.
175 lbs (claimed)
Stylish base angle stands out from other desks. Has two integrated wheels for easy moving (though with its stability issues we cwould caution not to do this with fragile computer equipment on the desk).
Single color and size option (black 30x60), under-powered single motor design that's hard to assemble and likely to fail prematurely, too-short height adjustment range for most users, and generally low-quality, made-in-China product that isn't competitive with other offerings from China, and only $40 less than where premium-quality American-made desks start.
[UPDATE: Sadly it appears that UpDesk was wiped out by a tornado – offices, inventory and all – per this update on the manufacturer’s website and reports from readers who own UpDesk products. We are leaving the reviews of UpDesk’s products live for posterity and for former customers to be able to find information on why they are no longer responding to customer service requests.]
“Home Edition” As a Code Word for “Cheap, Cheap”
Lately we’ve seen some standing desk manufacturers releasing “Home Edition” products that aim to reel in low-budget buyers with an ad for an unrealistically cheap desk. The trend starter was Autonomous with their SmartDesk 2 Home Edition Standing Desk, using their original Kickstarter-launched, single-stage, single-motor version ($348) to lure consumers to their website, where most end up buying the more expensive Business Edition. The ol’ bait-and-switch.
UpDesk has historically focused on premium made-in-America desks, but apparently didn’t want to get left out of the fray for budget desk buyers (largely millennials), to clamor against popular Chinese-sourced brands like Autonomous, StandDesk, Jarvis and UpLift. While other premium standing desk makers like iMovR have dropped Chinese-made bases from their product like altogether, now offering only all-American standing desks, UpDesk has decided to go the other way with sourcing a made-in-China desk to private label as their new UpDesk Home Electric Standing Desk.
In general there’s a wide gap in quality between imported and domestically-made standing desks, which you can read all about in our primer on Made in America Standing Desks. You can also learn about all the factors that enter into the stability of a standing desk with our primer on Why Some Standing Desks Shake More Than Others. And, you guessed it, most Chinese-made desks sacrifice stability for the sake of cheaper components and reduced shipping weight.
However, even within the broad category of Chinese-made standing desk frames there is a very clear dividing line between single-stage, single-motor bases and dual-stage, dual-motor bases (the latter often termed “Business Edition” because Home Edition desks don’t meet the minimum purchasing requirements for most business customers, and they are a lot hardier and messier to assemble).
UpDesk’s Home Electric Standing Desk is single-stage, meaning there are only two tubes in their lifting legs as opposed to three. This keeps costs down but limits the height adjustment range to only 27″-45″, well below the ANSI/BIFMA standard that most business, education and government customers require for standing desks. In other words if you’re too tall or too short you couldn’t even use this desk at all.
The UpDesk Home is also single-motor, with a clunky transmission rod running between the left and right lifting columns. With a single motor doing all the lifting the UpDesk Home is rated at only 175 lbs of lifting capaicty, which may sound like a lot but doesn’t account for all the side-load stresses that the motor must overcome on a typical workstation with the unevenly distribute weight of desktop items being mostly along the back edge (where monitor arms are edge-clamped, or printers sit, e.g.).
The angled design of the UpDesk Home’s base may look cool but it significantly increases motor load compared to vertical leg placement. To make matters worse it places the center of gravity behind the lifting legs. Just looking at photos on UpDesk’s pre-order page the mechanical engineering experts on our review staff predict significant motor-overload reliability issues with this design approach, as well as noise, transit speed and glide-wear concerns.
[Editors’ Update: UpDesk has recently renamed the “Home Edition” desk to the “Lite Electric” desk.]
Probably Not the Best Bargain in Economy Standing Desks
While the $595 price is indeed attractive let’s see how that compares to existing competition. But first, we have to note that this is probably the only standing desk we’ve ever seen in all our years of reviewing office fitness products that comes in only one size and one color: 30″ x 60″ with a very basic black HPL (high-pressure laminate) desktop.
Even Varidesk, with their new exceedingly-overpriced, Chinese-made ProDesk 60 Electric Desk has deemed to offer five color choices in the single size of 30″ x 60″. Other Home Edition desks like the SmartDesk 2 come in only one size (30″ x 53″) but five colors, and options on the base color as well. So this UpDesk is the true Model-T Ford of standing desks, available in any color you’d like as long as it’s black.
The biggest tip off as to the quality of the new imported desk is it’s short warranty term of two years. As we often say, in most cases warranty term is a reliable indicator to the savvy consumer of how long they should expect a product to last trouble-free. While two years sounds great compared to a $348 SmartDesk 2 Home Edition desk with its one-year warranty, most Chinese-sourced electric desks these days are sold with a five year (Varidesk), seven year (Jarvis, UpLift) or even ten year (StandDesk Pro) warranty; all but the overpriced Varidesk for about the same ~$600.
So why spend that much on a no-choices, weakly-powered, hard-to-assemble, and likely highly-unreliable standing desk when you could spend about the same to get one with multiple size-and-color options and a ten-year warranty like the StandDesk Pro?
For that matter, with US-made standing desks like the top-rated iMovR Energize now starting as low as $639, you could go all the way to the other end of the spectrum of quality and choice (literally thousands of color/size combinations, all made-to-order and shipping out in one week), for only two Jacksons more, and get a 10-year warranty with domestic customer support.
Be sure to check out our related review of the UpDesk Pro Commercial-Grade Height Adjustable Desk.