VariDesk Pro Plus 36 Standing Desk Converter Review
- Lab tested
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The Pro Plus 36 Electric is an exceptionally well-made electric standing desk converter. It excels at stability, ease of use and overall design, despite some small issues with the keyboard tray. Electric converters may not be at the stage where they can overtake manual models in terms of popularity just yet, but the electric VariDesk pushes up one big step closer toward that future.
|MSRP / List Price||$395|
|Street Price||Scan for available discount deals|
Free shipping in lower 48 states
5 year warranty
Black and white
|Monitor Arm Mounting Options||
Compatible only with VariDesk monitor arms
Height range: 4.5″-17.5″
|Number of Monitors Supported||
Main Work Surface: 36″(W) x 12.25″(D)
|NEAT™ Certified by Mayo Clinic||
|Competition||All Standing Desk Converters|
|Where to buy||
Buy on Amazon
|Positives||Quiet electric lift mechanism works smoothly, quietly, and without complication. Much more stable than similarly-designed competitors.|
|Negatives||Keyboard tray is shakier than it should be, and not entirely level. Not a terribly high weight rating (for an electric); transit speed is an unimpressive 1”/second.|
The Future is Electric
In the same way that roll-up car windows have fallen by the wayside, we might someday live in a world where manual standing desk converters are a thing of the past. As manufacturers become more efficient and electric designs improve, prices can start to go down, and popularity will go up. It’s simply easier to push a button than it is to physically lift your monitor, laptop, keyboard, and whatever else goes on your tabletop—the heavier your workstation becomes, the more an electric converter makes sense.
Of course, the big way in which manual converters are still superior is speed—it takes no time at all to lift up your spring or gas-assisted converter, but it can take up to 20 seconds to go from sitting to standing with an electric model. We’re not at the point where electric converters are better in every way just yet, but with each new release, we’re approaching that world.
The VariDesk Pro Plus 36 is a big step forward toward that future. A lot of our common complaints regarding electric standing desk converters come down to them not getting the basics right. They’re either not stable, too noisy, or have design flaws that shorten their life or make them ergonomically atrocious. And even when these flaws aren’t present, the prices on these products tend to be prohibitively high for all but high-ranking executives.
The VariDesk Pro Plus 36 is the first product that we’ve tested in this category that does not disappoint in some unexpected and deal-breaking way. While the $395 price tag may still deter some, the quality of this VariDesk model should make it worthwhile for people who want a high-quality electric standing desk converter.
The VariDesk Pro Plus 36: Strong on Fundamentals
The Pro Plus 36 is surprisingly stable, even at its maximum height of 17.5”. This is a rarity among converters of all types, despite being a crucial component of the product’s overall usability. The main work surface has almost no wobble to it at all. However, the keyboard tray showed more wobble than we would like (more on that later).
Practically every aspect of the electric VariDesk is on point. The motor is refreshingly quiet, a quality you and your coworkers will surely appreciate as you go from sitting to standing and back again each day. Its lift speed is nothing to write home about, but not sub-par among electric converters. It moves at roughly 1” per second, depending on how close you are to the 35 lb weight limit (we tested it at 80 lbs and it wouldn’t budge, but it would still lift under 50 lbs.) If you’ve got a heavy iMac (or two), you might run into problems, but for most users, 35 lbs with a little bit of extra capacity should be sufficient.
A nice touch we noticed was that the VariDesk Pro Plus 36 does not “crash” upon reaching its lowest height setting. It smoothly settles with the keyboard tray resting on your tabletop, unlike some other X-Lift electric converters we’ve reviewed. Aside from preventing your over-filled cup of coffee from spilling when you go from standing to sitting, this is a mark of a product that has been tested and refined to get the details right.
The main work surface does not feature any grommet holes. This restricts your options to clamp-mounted monitor arms, and VariDesk only recommends its own brand. Other popular monitor arms will not have enough room to clamp on when the VariDesk is at its lowest height position.
One point of concern is the keyboard tray. It’s attached by short brackets that don’t secure it quite well enough, and it showed more wobble than we would like as a result. It’s particularly noticeable when you press down on the tray, and observe the point where it connects to the converter—the tray definitely tilts downward, which we confirmed with a level. As we’ve discussed before, a keyboard tray that tilts at a negative incline is great for typing ergonomics, but the VariDesk’s tray tilts downward in front rather than in the back—an undesirable positive tilt. This isn’t to say the tray is unusable, as it’s better than some of the cheaper models we’ve tried, but it isn’t perfect.
The Bottom Line
The VariDesk Pro Plus 36 model is the first one in years that our expert review team actually liked, and they liked it a lot. It’s a departure from the company’s typical approach over the last few years of overpricing a sub-par product made in China with little attention to stability or ergonomics. Has the company turned over a new leaf? We’ll reserve judgment on that until we see some improvement in the rest of the VariDesk converters and desks that we’ve reviewed. But at least now, there’s hope.
The Pro Plus 36 is the best electric converter under $400 that we’ve seen so far. While it doesn’t bring any cool new features to the tables, it refines essential aspects like stability, lift mechanism, and installation (it’s ready out of the box). It still lacks the one feature we’ve seen on now electric desktop converter yet but we do see on almost all full sit-to-stand desks, and that’s an anti-collision sensor. From a practical standpoint, this is even more important for preventing crushed objects and fingers above the desktop than below it.
The only other thing we really would like to see improved is the somewhat loose keyboard tray; even better would be an ergonomic negative tilt feature like on the ZipLift models. The field of electric standing desk converters is growing rapidly, and we can only expect to see the bar raised with each new entrant, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and stay abreast of the competition. We have several other low-cost electric standing desk converters being tested in our labs right now that we’ll be publishing reviews of in the coming months.