Versadesk Power Pro Standing Desk Converter Review
- Lab tested
Backed by their “sitty” marketing campaign, the Versadesk Power Pro electric is a standing desk converter that operates on an X-Lift system. For the same price as the Varidesk Pro Plus Electric, you get twice the lifting power with a whopping 80 lb capacity. However, this converter is also slow to rise, and a little unstable at its lowest height setting due to a number of cost-saving choices by the manufacturer.
|MSRP / List Price||$370|
$329 for 30″
Lifetime warranty on the frame, and a 3 year warranty on all motorized parts
30″, 36″, 40″, 48″
White, Gray, Maple, Black, Cherry
60% recycled materials, wood and 14-gauge steel
|Monitor Arm Mounting Options||
Main Work Surface: 30” x 16.25” – 48” x 16.25”
|NEAT™ Certified by Mayo Clinic||
|User Reviews||Amazon Reviews|
|Where to buy||
Buy on Amazon
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Positives||Stable at its highest setting, easy to adjust due to its electric motor, huge 80 lb weight lift capacity. Relative to its competitors many sizes and colors to choose from.|
|Negatives||Shaky and unstable at lowest height setting and with weight over 50 lbs, relatively noisy motor, slow transit speed, and more pinch point and dirt collecting opportunity from its design approach that puts the motorworks at the bottom instead of underneath the top work surface.|
Editor’s note: We recently received Versadesk’s updated model, the Versadesk Power Pro Plus, whose main difference is advertised as a light-up controller with a USB charger. While the Plus does not differ greatly from the original, it does feature an even easier assembly process (no Allen key) and the rubber nubs on the bottom of the keyboard tray that we expected to see in the first place. These rubber nubs soften the impact of the Versadesk descending to its lowest height setting. Stay tuned for a full update.
The Case for Electric Standing Desk Converters
There are already over 75 different models of non-electric desktop workstations on the market (see our round-up of the Best Standing Desk Converters for an overview) and more coming out every month. And increasing percentage of these are now offering electrically-powered models. Beyond the coolness factor, there are some other pluses and minuses to consider when evaluating whether a manual or electric model is best for you.
Certain stand up desk converter designs are faster at changing from sitting to standing height than others. Perhaps surprisingly electrics are in the middle of that spectrum. The slowest are some of the older post-and-base designs that required loosening knobs for both the keyboard platform and LCD mount, moving them to the right position, and re-tightening them, e.g. the Kangaroo sit-stand workstation from ErgoDepot. On the other end of the spectrum are Z-Lift and X-Lift designs that literally take two seconds to change height, such as the Eureka New Gen, MovR ZipLift and Fully’s Cooper standing desk.
Electric models like the Versadesk Power Pro we review here, and others we’ve reviewed previously such as our top-rated Eureka Electric Sit Stand Converter, the executive-styled Winston-E and the ultra-cheap SmartDesk Mini standing desk converter, vary in motor speed and noise signature, but all take significantly more time to change height than sit-stand converters that use gas struts and Bowen cable release paddles (similar to bicycle brakes) for their movement mechanisms. In fact we’ve published so many reviews of electric converters lately that we had to break them out into their own round-up review of electric desk converters.
So who is electric really for? Again, other than the coolness factor, it comes down to two user case scenarios where the trade-off of speed and noise makes the switch to electric worthwhile: 1) people with severe low back pain or other disabilities who might find it difficult to lean over slightly and life or lower their work surfaces, and 2) users that have a great deal of equipment to place on top of their sit-stand workstations, such as multiple heavy monitors and monitor arms. If you’ve got more than about 20 lbs worth of stuff to load on top you should be considering an electric unit.
On to the Versadesk Review
Ironically, many people and even some search engines confuse the Versadesk and Varidesk brands. The reason for this is that when newcomer Varidesk first launched in 2013 they used the Versadesk brand name and were immediately sued by Versatables, a long-time commercial office and classroom furniture maker. Months after launching their product they already changed their branding to Varidesk as a result. (Versatables and Versadesk are the same company, all part of Versa Products, which includes other brands such as American Furniture Systems, Zero Gravity Tables and Vanity Girl Hollywood. There’s a lot of cross-selling of the same products going on between these sites (other than Vanity Girl, which seems completely different), which frankly we find kind of confusing, and haven’t got a straight answer on from the company’s representative.)
Fast forward four years and Versatables decided to launch a direct competitor to the Varidesk Pro Plus Electric. Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense. We find it more than a little amusing that a trademark violation eventually led to the plaintiff deciding to launch into the defendant’s line of business. Given Varidesk’s own rather litigious nature going after more than a dozen competitors with patent infringement shakedown lawsuits, Kahn said it best, “revenge is a dish best served cold.”
Moving on to the Versadesk Power Pro’s design… this is an X-Lift standing desk converter frame with a motor and linear actuator replacing the usual gas struts or spring counterbalance arrangement. As X-lift converters go it has a simplistic keyboard platform, with no tilt for those wanting an ergonomic keyboard angle. The top surface features not one, but three grommet holes. Its lift capacity is stated at 80 lbs, which we put to the test in our lab.
Bottom line, it’s a basic converter +motor that isn’t groundbreaking in any other way. The work surfaces themselves are laminated MDF with edge-banding. Simply put, at first blush it looks like another “me too” product with a heavy brand advertising budget behind it, so let’s see how it differs from all the other contenders in the electric standing desk converter rodeo, point by point.
The first thing we noticed when operating the Versadesk was its achingly slow transit speed. It takes about 20 seconds to move up or down along its entire height range, as compared to other units like Eureka’s new Electric Sit Stand Converter that do it in 15 seconds. While 5 seconds difference may not sound like much it can change your perception of the effort to switch positions from easy to cumbersome. Versadesk doesn’t hide this fact—you can see their converters rising in their popular ad (see below), but it really takes some in-person quality time with the converter to understand how inconvenient it is to wait 20 seconds to go from sitting to standing.
The Versadesk makes a loud and whiny noise while you’re changing your height that you’ll tire of quickly. With products like this, we often caution users to be wary of annoying their coworkers, and during our testing of the Versadesk, we encountered this exact problem when an office worker who is not on our review team complained to us of the noise. There’s a reason that the Versadesk’s noise is excluded from their popular “sitty” video. Plus, the “thud” when the Versadesk reaches its lowest setting isn’t great either.
Noise can be a subjective perception based not only on volume but on how frequency pitch hits the ears, but when we compared the Versadesk Power Pro’s noise signature side-by-side against like competitors including the Varidesk Electric Converter and Eureka Electric Converter it definitely stood out to our ears as the most noticeable.
In terms of looks, the Versadesk has a Rube Goldberg aesthetic, with all the motorworks visually exposed. Cleaner designs, like Eureka’s and Flexispot’s new electric standing desk converters, hide all the motor works underneath the desktop. The other drawback to putting the motor at the bottom of the base is the exposed coiled cable running to the power switch; again, avoided in cleaner designs that spend a few pennies on cleaner cable routing.
The laminated MDF (medium density fiberboard) work surfaces of the Versadesk look nice out of the box, and a large number of finishes are available. You can choose between basic black, white, grey, or one of two woodgrains, which means that matching your office decor should not be a problem. And the high pressure laminated (HPL) work surface itself, while it looks decent, is of a lower quality than lamination technologies used by competitors like Flexispot, iMovR ZipLift and the Cooper use in their converters. The Versadesk’s material looks more like your high school’s lunch table (Versatable makes those, incidentally)—but at least you can get it in five colors.
Versatable offers a lifetime warranty on the frame and a three year warranty on all motorized parts—the lifetime part is fantastic, but the three year part is mediocre. If and when your Versadesk stops moving, you’d better hope it’s because a frame weld broke if you’re looking for help from the manufacturer after three years.
On the first sample we received from the company we had some serious concern about its shakiness at its lowest height level. Like many standing desk converters, the keyboard tray did not rest directly against the work surface. This isn’t ideal, but it is fine if the stability of the product is sound. However, the keyboard tray of the Versadesk was banging into the desktop as you typed or rested your palms on it, making the whole experience uncomfortable and potentially damaging to the desktop.
We received a second unit from Versadesk some time later on which this problem was resolved with the addition of hard rubber pads on the underside of the keyboard tray, so that’s good. But we have to caveat that these pads could be made from a softer material to lessen the “banging” into the desk on final descent, especially with higher loads on the desktop. With more than 50 lbs of equipment we found the shakiness of the descent combined with the accelerated banging into the desk on these hard rubber pads to be a bit unnerving. In general, the banging into the desk thing is something we noticed repeated mentions of in user comments posted online, e.g. on Amazon.
But there’s a bigger problem with the Versadesk’s lowest height setting. When the work surface descends as far as it can go, it’s stopped by two pillars that collide with the underside. The motor detects that it can’t push the work surface any lower, and subsequently turns off. This is a fine design in theory from an engineering perspective, as it means that you never have to worry about the motor becoming out of sync with the position of the work surface.
The problem is that the pillars collide near the back of the surface, and they’re not particularly broad, so the whole surface tilts forward slightly when it should be staying perfectly level. This is indicative of low tolerances in the design or the manufacturing, or both, and over time could even lead to excessive wear on the frame of the product (the X-Lift mechanism itself tilts forward, which should never happen). It also contributes to the issue of the keyboard tray bumping into the desktop. See our review of the Eureka Electric Converter for how their design engineers tackled the soft landing problem much more elegantly. And for that matter the Varidesk Electric converter’s mechanism is also superior in this regard; not surprisingly designed and manufactured by Designa, the same company behind Eureka.)
Like every other electric standing desk converter we’ve tested so far the Versadesk also lacks anti-collision detection that you’ll commonly find on full-sized electric standing desks. In our experts’ view this is a serious issue because there are more pinch points and opportunities for things blocking the movement of a standing desk converter sitting above your desk than there are for serious damage to a chair or garbage bin below your desk. But on this count Veradesk is no better or worse than all the other electric competitors currently being sold.
The good news is that we weight tested the Versadesk to make sure the manufacturer’s claim of 80 lbs was accurate, and to our delight, it was. Rare is the converter with a weight capacity over 40 lbs, and the Versadesk still functioned at 80. There was significant shaking, and the motor sounded strained, so we wouldn’t recommend testing this upper limit too frequently, but it was nice to see that the product worked as advertised. Anything over 50 lbs seemed to cause the lift mechanism to shake, however.
Ergonomics and Usability
The Versadesk is ergonomically adequate—it doesn’t offer any unique usability features, but there’s nothing wrong with it either. Being an X-lift design stability is middle of the road, so typing at the highest setting feels fine but not amazing (Z-lifts tend to be the most stable). The keyboard tray does not offer user-controlled ergonomic tilt, and in fact, in the seated position it actually droops a little, tilting the wrong way. We have a similar complaint of most Varidesk models.
There are four sizes available: 30″, 36″, 40″, and 48″. Combined with their five available colors, the Versadesk is actually quite customizable. This gives them an edge in the market, especially in relation to other electric standing desk converters, as they are more likely to have a product that fits the decor and space requirements of any given office.
One small annoyance is the three grommet holes. The grommet holes intrude 5.25” into your workspace, and they feature plastic protectors that extend above the top of the worksurface, not flush with it. If you have a larger laptop, you could end up resting it on top of one of these grommet hole covers, which then tilts your laptop. While the covers are removable, doing so reveals the raw, un-laminated MDF inside, which can be ruined with a single coffee spill near any of the grommet holes.
The ergonomic problem with where these grommet holes are drilled is that they significantly shorten the depth of field distance between your eyes and the LCD screens, so if you were to use a grommet hole monitor arm(s) just beware that you’ll be limited to fairly small-sized LCD screens if you don’t want to get eye strain and neck strain from constantly swiveling your neck left and right to see the edges of your screen(s).
Some users complain about the lack of depth on the keyboard tray, and indeed unless you use a relatively small keyboard you may find that you have no room to rest your wrists when typing, a definite ergonomic issues. 7.75″ of keyboard depth is a bit shallow when compared to other electrics with depths of 12″, for example.
Unboxing and Assembly
The Versadesk was packed securely, with cardboard reinforcing the inside of the box to help prevent shipping damage. As our review staff have become packaging nerds through seeing so many products, the packaging was one of our favorite parts here.
Minor assembly was required—essentially, you have to attach the keyboard tray to the main unit. Unlike some cheaper models that are mainly sold exclusively on Amazon, the attachment process was pretty easy and did not require an additional person to hold the tray in place. The only tool required is an Allen key, which came with the unit. You also have the option of removing the keyboard tray if you only plan to use the Versadesk with just a laptop.
The Bottom Line
The Versadesk Power Pro does what it purports to do, but it has some design deficiencies when compared to other products in the same price range. In a vacuum, any one of its flaws would be forgivable—the slow transit speed, the motor noise, the shakiness at the lowest height setting and at weights over 50 lbs, and the cheap laminate feel—but together they make a product that doesn’t hold up well in side-by-side comparison with other conventional, manually-adjusting units as well as the newest breed of electrics that we’ve reviewed.
Still, the simple fact that the Versadesk Power Pro is an electric X-Lift converter with an 80 lb lift capacity means that it has a niche in the market. But for about the same money you can get yourself something like the newer, precision robotics-built Eureka Electric Converter that outperforms it on stability, noise, speed and overall aesthetics and design.
See also our review of Versadesk’s Ultra-Thin Office Treadmill, and upcoming reviews of the Versadesk PowerLift Standing Desk and Versadesk Sunrise Electric Desk Riser. Note that the Versadesk Pro was included in our expert reviewers’ recent round-up of the Top Stand Up Desk Converters Under $350.
- Weight Capacity: 80 lbs
- Min. Height: 5”
- Max Height: 20”
- Colors: White, Grey, Maple, Black, Cherry
- Monitor Arm Compatible: Yes
- # of Monitors Supported: 1+
- Main Work Surface: 30” x 16.25” – 48” x 16.25”
- Keyboard Tray: 30” or 36” x 7.75”
- Base: 30″ W x 15.5″ D
- Type: Electric
Lifetime warranty on the frame, and a 3 year warranty on all motorized parts