Vari File Cabinet and Storage Seat Reviews
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Vari (f.k.a. Varidesk) now offers more file cabinet models than any other seller of standing desks, though only in black for the most part (others offer as many as 58 different finishes). So like the Ford Model-T, you can match any of the Vari standing desks, so long as it’s “slate” black. As for the general quality of the cabinet, which—like other Vari products—is mass-produced with low-quality materials and components, it is relatively high-priced for what you get, to cover all the television advertising cost and high rate of product returns. We like the many variations on the theme of a basic file cabinet, but the low-quality drawer slides are aggravatingly “sticky” so that cabinet moves whenever you open or close a drawer. This is despite being advertised as “soft close.” While advertised as a matte paint finish, the rough surfaces of the cabinet smudge easily and do not clean up very easily. We can’t recommend these over other cabinets in a similar price range unless you’re really just trying to match the slate decor of your other Vari furniture.
To pair with a Vari Pro Desk with slate or white legs
|MSRP / List Price||$275|
Standard 3-drawer file cabinet $275
All models available in matte black. Only the standard File Cabinet is also available in white
Max User Weight for Storage Seat is 225 lbs; for Locker seat is 250 lbs.
File Cabinet 25.8″(H) × 15.75″(W) × 20.63″(D)
File Cabinet: 62 lbs
|Where to buy||
Buy on Amazon
|Ease of Assembly|
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Positives||Vari has four different mobile pedestal models, some with top cushions to double as a desk-side seat for office guests. A hole in the back makes it possible to run charging cords directly into the lockable top drawer for charging devices securely while you're gone from your office. Lockable front caster wheels give it an edge over some of the other units in this price range. The "slim" cabinet is great for those with really narrow available space. All models arrive completely pre-assembled.|
|Negatives||Like the other Chinese-made storage solutions for standing desks, Vari's are made of lightweight, thin steel and using cheap componentry to reduce cost. While the "soft close" drawer slides would have been in the Positives column, they are actually hard to open and close, so unless your wheels are locked on a non-slip floor and you have a lot of heavy contents in the cabinet to weight it down, the entire unit moves when you go to open or close a drawer. The crinkly matte paint looks good at first but smudges surprisingly easily, and the smudges are sometimes hard to clean off. Only one color, slate, on most of the models, and only one seat cushion color.|
How Would You Like Your Filing Cabinet?
Vari has come out with a line of file cabinets to accompany your sit-stand desk, and recover the cherished storage space that you used to have in your old fixed-height desk. And the line is still growing. In addition to the four units reviewed here they have a new, larger lateral file cabinet rumored to be coming out soon ($595).
As for the cabinet itself there are four styles to choose from today:
Basic 3-Drawer Cabinet (most popular by far)
2-Drawer “Storage Seat” (has a sitting cushion on top)
“Slim” 3-Drawer Cabinet (for tight spaces)
“Locker Seat” (top compartment and deep drawer, with sitting cushion on top)
Except for the basic 3-drawer unit, these cabinets are available in matte black (that they call “slate”); the 3-drawer also comes in white. These match the paint colors of Vari’s desk furniture, like the electric Pro Desk. As for the cushions that turn the cabinets into desk-side seats to roll out for impromptu office visitors, they only come in the same slate color. The cushions snap to the cabinets with magnetic attachment.
As we compare to other units in our comprehensive round-up review of File Cabinets for Sit-Stand Desks, most competitors offer more color schemes to match more decors; one in fact offers 58 different finishes to match their desktop colors (iMovR, made-to-order in the USA). But with Vari producing everything in China and shipping it into Texas by the container load, stocking a lot of colors in all these different varieties was not in the cards.
The cabinets have nice chamfered corners, which is particularly important if you choose to sit on them. Some of the cabinets being sold by the competition do not have rounded edges and can cut into your legs. That’s maybe a good thing to limit their visiting time, if that’s what you want, but the softened edges look nicer than squarish boxes in any event.
The one complaint we heard from several users, however, is that the paint used on these cabinets easily smudges from fingerprints, and the smudges are hard to clean off, detracting from the otherwise elegant look of slate.
These Cabinets Have a Big Hole In Them
A lot of people struggle with desktop real estate, and especially having charging cords running everywhere for all of their devices. So we really like the one distinguishing feature of these Varidesk cabinets, that there’s a hole in the back to run charging cables directly into the top drawer. This is great for keeping your tablet charged when you’re not using it, and safely tucked away in a lockable drawer. The one thing missing, though, is a simple 5 cent cable retention clip to keep the cord from falling back out of the cabinet when it’s not attached to a device. But you can find that easily enough in the hardware store
We’re sure that hole didn’t result in the loss of more than a few ounces of weight, but like the other Chinese-made units under $300 that we’ve reviewed, these cabinets are made with pretty thin steel to save on materials and shipping costs. This gives them somewhat of a flimsy look and feel, and granted a lot of consumers may not care. This is noticeable though in terms of overall manufacturing tolerances, the quality of the caster wheels and locking mechanism, and how easy it is to accidentally ding one of these cabinets. But the most noticeable quality shortcut is certainly the drawer slides.
While advertised as “soft close,” these drawer slides are of poor quality, and actually take a fair amount of oomph to close all the way and to initially open. Enough force is required that the entire cabinet will move on you unless you use your other hand to secure the cabinet. Even locking the front caster wheels will not cure the problem, these drawer stops are that tight. Now, if you’re willing to slide the drawers out, remove the rubber stoppers and shave them down a bit, you can solve this problem, but it may void your warranty. Or just wait for them to wear down on their own, though it may take years.
The other quality concern we have is the strength of the casters. Indeed the 2-Drawer Storage Seat has a user weight limitation of only 225 lbs (that includes the contents in your cabinet), which doesn’t compare well to others that have a 300 lbs max user weight rating, so be careful who you offer the seat to. The Seat Locker for some reason has a slightly higher max user weight rating of 250 lbs.
On the plus side, the standard 3-drawer cabinet is the heaviest of all the low-cost steel pedestals we’ve reviewed, weighing in at 62 lbs where the rest are in the range of 46 lbs (Autonomous) to around 50 lbs (Fully Sidekick and UpLift file cabinets). The other three Vari cabinets are even lighter, though, and all have the same problem with tipping over if a heavily-laden drawer is opened all the way.
Some of the competing units we’ve reviewed utilize a hack of adding a fifth caster wheel underneath the bottom drawer, which keeps the cabinet upright so long as the bottom drawer is the one being opened. iMovR’s being more of a premium office furniture cabinet, it has a heavy ballast weight installed in the rear of the cabinet to prevent the cabinet from tipping over even with the bottom drawer fully loaded with reams of paper. But you get what you pay for, and at this $275 price point you shouldn’t expect that much heft.
Vari is great at marketing. You’ve probably seen their TV ads a million times. But that also means much of the price you pay for a Vari product goes to marketing, and few of their products are priced appropriately for their quality. You’re paying for brand exposure, not real quality. As we’ve seen in so many of their other products, these file cabinets were designed for mass production, and they take a lot of shortcuts in material and component quality. The other aspect of being mass produced is the lack of color choice.
So at the end of the day we like the fact that there are at least four different models to choose from, but we recommend checking out the competition in this category with our comprehensive File Cabinets for Standing Desk Reviews before settling on which one you’re going to buy. If you do buy Vari brand products we always recommend getting them through Amazon. Prices are the same but the return policy is more liberal.