VIVO DIY Standing Desk Frame Review (V102E)
- First Look
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One of the cheapest standing desk frames available, we can only barely recommend this frame for a medium-sized user on a super-low budget. It will enable correct ergonomic positions because you can add a keyboard tray and monitor arm, but the experience won’t be pleasant because of persistent and infuriating controller errors and horrible wobbliness at standing height. Overall it is a flawed design with extraordinarily poor quality construction.
Usable for building a standing desk for medium-height users on an extremely tight budget.
|MSRP / List Price||$249.99|
White frame: $249.99
Single-motor, single-stage electric lift
1.5 inches per second
Programmable digital handset with three height-favorites buttons
Frame length adjusts from 40″ to 61″, which VIVO claims can accommodate desktops from 41″-85″ in width and 24″-44″ in depth, but our DIY experts would not recommend this lightweight base for anything larger than an average sized desktop.
Black and white
Lightweight steel lifting columns, lightweight feet
Height adjustment range: 28.7″-48.5″
VIVO does not publish their power consumption specs.
|Typical Assembly Time||
Despite the 5 minute assembly video, in reality expect to spend at least an hour or two putting together the 57 parts that come in the box. Helpful to have a cordless driver with an Allen key bit for some of the steps.
|NEAT™ Certified by Mayo Clinic||
|Competition||Compare to Other DIY Standing Desk Base Frames|
|User Reviews||See reviews on Amazon|
|Where to buy||
Buy on Amazon
|Ease of Assembly|
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Positives||It's cheap. It has a three-year warranty, which is poor in a vacuum, but more than other standing desk frames we've reviewed in this price range. US-based support, which is uncommon for these Chinese brands.|
|Negatives||The single-stage legs and outdated single-motor design mean this desk base will be unstable, perform poorly, likely fail prematurely. It also won't be ergonomically suitable for shorter and taller users. Assembly is difficult because of the poor manufacturing quality. There are persistent issues with controller errors and motor performance.|
When your primary objective is to make the very cheapest stand up desk lifting base possible
As cheap as labor is in China it still costs money, so if you’re trying to get your retail price down by $5 to beat out your competitor you come up with ways to shave pennies. Most commonly using lighter weight components to cost less in raw materials and are cheaper to ship, and allowing “sloppy tolerances,” which pertains to the cost of the machinery and components as well as the training of their workforce. But first and foremost is shifting labor from the factory worker out to the American DIY builder. After all, they’re into DIY because they like building things, right? So it’s not uncommon to receive a box with 60 – 90 parts that you’ll need to assemble. And pray that all the parts are there, they’re the correct parts and that the bolt holes actually align and the threads aren’t painted with overspray making the bolts impossible to insert.
If you’ve searched around for standing desks on Amazon it is impossible to miss the VIVO brand popping in top listings, because Amazon sorts their search results by sales volume (once they get the sponsored ads for that search term out of the way). Empirically, cheaper products outsell more premium items, and so it should be no surprise at all that top listings in most categories—standing desks being no exception—are Chinese brands featuring the lowest prices, and commensurately the lowest-quality products.
Brands like FEZiBO, Flexispot, SHW and VIVO dominate these listings. And always with seemingly high average user ratings, which you should never ever rely on as they tend to be filled with fake reviews (even CBS’s 60 Minutes did an expose on Chinese “fake review factories“) or written by consumers who’ve never had a competing product to compare side-by-side against to actually understand their strengths and weaknesses. Many of the 5-star reviewers haven’t even received the product yet, just patting themselves on the back for taking action on improving their health, and declaring how much they look forward to building their new homemade standing desk. Always click on the 1-4 star reviews to learn what the real story is behind a product (see below).
It’s important for the consumer evaluating these products to understand that these manufacturers are basically in a constant battle with each other; a “race to the bottom,” as it were, to see who can create the cheapest possible selling price and make it up in volume. Component quality is as low as it can go. Warranties tend to be weak if they even exist. And getting support in the USA can be incredibly frustrating.
One way that VIVO does stand out from most of its Chinese peers is that it actually has a real office in Illinois, with at least a few support personnel answering the phones M-F in the US time zones (7am-7pm CT).
First Look Review
This is a “first look” synopsis on the VIVO Stand Up Desk Frame (DESK-V102E). The product is in the queue for full lab testing but we are sharing known information here in advance of the final published review.
Starting at $249.99, this is one of the cheapest DIY base frames we’ve reviewed, competing most directly with the FEZiBO standing desk base frame kit. But as we often discover with standing desks in this range, there are reasons for the low-low price.
It should be said here that we normally don’t review products that are only sold on Amazon, which was the case with VIVO and several of its competitors until recently. Amazon customers tend not to search outside of the platform, unwittingly relying on “verified user reviews,” and not even bothering to search for independent reviews like ours via a Google search. However, two things have changed. When a product is sold on Amazon the seller must fork over a 15% marketplace fee to Bezos. When competition is this stiff a lot of sellers have chosen to either raise their prices commensurately on Amazon, advertise to attract users directly to their own website, or as in the case of VIVO clearly both.
There are fundamentally two reasons that users add the word “review” to their search terms. Lucky ones are doing research ahead of a planned purchase. Unlucky ones made a bad purchase and are looking for places to leave as many bad reviews as they can, to vent their frustration. So sure enough, as these low-quality products started getting sold outside the game-able Amazon platform, searches for “[brand] reviews” have been on the rise in this budget standing desk frame category. And so, we are now reviewing more of these low-end bases that previously were not commonly sold outside of marketplaces like Amazon (with obvious exceptions like Autonomous’ SmartDesk base frames that sell primarily outside of Amazon’s platform).
A (very small) leg up on FEZiBO
This electric desk leg kit competes head-to-head with FEZiBO’s single-motor desk frame, another major Chinese brand sold predominantly on Amazon. As we note in our review of the FEZiBO, it takes the record for being the lightest standing desk base on the market, at a featherweight 41 lbs, complete. That is very sparing use of some very thin steel alloy, indeed. The VIVO V102E lifting base we review here seems a relative welterweight at 55.7 lbs.
Basic physics tells us the higher weight and lower center of gravity of a standup desk built with the VIVO frame should be more stable at standing heights and with larger tops as compared to the FEZiBO. However, this isn’t saying much. Good electric table bases, especially those made in the USA, weigh substantially more and can handle larger and heavier desktops, as well as taller and shorter users than these to low-price leaders. But as you’ll read below, this VIVO base turns out to be the very antithesis of stability, despite being heavier than the FEZiBO.
The lifting legs on the VIVO are single-stage, meaning it is made with only two tube segments instead of the usual three that you find on higher-cost bases. This design reduces stability when the desk is raised and limits the total height adjustment range, a.k.a. stroke, to just 20″. Translation: this means that these bases aren’t suited for shorter and taller users and definitely won’t work for a treadmill desk user. For comparison, other frames we’ve reviewed from IKEA, UpLift, iMovR, etc. that have dual-stage bases generally have a stroke of 25″ – 26”.
The height adjustment range is 28.7″ to 48.5″. DIY desk builders should be aware that the 28.7″ minimum height on the single-motor base, after adding an inch-thick desktop, will bring the bottom of the desk no lower than about 30 inches. All but the tallest of users will detest this from an ergonomics and comfort standpoint. The workaround is to install an under-counter keyboard tray with its own height adjustment feature, but good ones will run you more than this entire desk base costs.
The single motor desk base design incorporates a hex-shaped transmission rod between the motor and the legs. With such low machining tolerances on the metal and plastic parts of this base, it is easy to assemble everything correctly and still have a slightly misaligned transmission rod. Plus these rods have a tendency to gather dust and dirt over time and get gunked up, just like on manual crank standing desks that were more common years ago, before electric became the predominant technology.
The upshot is that the feeble motor has to work increasingly hard to move all the gears in the mechanism, and soon fails. Even with the three-year warranty, it’s still going to be a huge hassle to get a replacement motor and rebuild the entire desk once it has already been constructed. At which point you are bound to toss this base entirely and just buy a good one to replace it.
The listed 10 percent duty cycle puts this desk in line with most electric standing desks emanating from China and means you can run this desk up and down for two minutes before the motor overheats and needs 18 minutes to cool back down before it works again.
We do appreciate the amount of detail VIVO provides compared to most of their Chinese-owned peers, though it certainly isn’t remotely as detailed as DIY standing desk plans generally require. Things like duty cycle and lift speed (1.5” per second) often aren’t published on products this cheap. So we’ll give VIVO a half-hearted kudo on that point.
Power consumption is not something they generally publish, VIVO being as bad as the rest of them in this regard, which can be a problem for corporate customers in California where standing desks are required by law to have low standby power consumption. Just another reason why corporate customers tend to buy American-made standing desks that are ANSI/BIFMA certified and have all the published specs. (We will measure and publish the power consumption as part of our final review after lab testing.)
A welterweight warranty, too
Again, it’s hard to avoid comparisons to their most direct competitor. VIVO offers a three-year warranty for this frame. That’s a lot better than the ultra-cheap FEZIBO desk frame, but not great. Check out our primer on How To Compare Warranty Policies Between Standing Desk Manufacturers for more information, but the best standing desk manufacturers are now providing 15-year warranties on motors and electronics.
In perhaps a bit of a bad omen, VIVO actually lists “swearing/threatening customer support” among the things that will void the warranty. The fact that this has apparently happened so often that it’s been written into the official warranty language suggests that dealing with VIVO customer support is not a great experience.
Unfortunately, it seems from user reviews on Amazon that those who purchase this frame might be dealing with customer service quite a bit. Consistent issues include: Poor product packaging and consequent damage in transit, difficult assembly, horribly bad stability and hugely frustrating controller errors. These issues should be expected to some degree with a desk in this price range, but they’re still unnerving to see with such frequency.
What to expect when assembling a VIVO electric desk lifting base
VIVO claims this frail frame will work for desktops from 41” to 85” wide. We simply can’t imagine large desktops bolted to this desk base being anything but a super wobbly experience, as many users reported they found in their own experience. Again this goes back to basic physics. The frame doesn’t have enough steel, the feet are too light, and the crossbar doesn’t stretch enough to support large desktops, and the motor is too weak to lift a commensurately heavy top and all the equipment on top of it. At best it might be a suitable base for smaller desktops like 30″x48″ or 30″x60″—as long as the user is of middling height.
Check out the assembly manuals and the installation videos on the VIVO site for an idea of what assembly might be like. These assets, plus the reviews, paint a fairly typical picture of Chinese standing desk base assembly. Expect the holes to not line up quite right, paint over-spray to clog the threads, and a general lack of clarity on what you’re supposed to be doing.
The desk frame has a stated lifting capacity of 176 lbs. Again in contrast to their head-to-head competitor FEZiBO which claims the exact same lifting capacity of 176 lbs but then in the fine print in the assembly manual states that this is the “static load” max (meaning when the desk is not in motion). The FEZiBO’s desk base’s dynamic load limit is 132 lbs. That’s the only spec that matters since no one builds a sit-stand desk to keep it at only one height. So along with the thicker steel and heavier base, the VIVO theoretically has 44 lbs of weight lift capacity over its competitor in real-world conditions. On the other hand, it lacks the FEZiBO’s anti-collision detection feature, though this is rarely a deal-breaker for DIY standing desk builders.
Of course, we’ll test both of these desks when we get them in our lab and determine which was being most honest about their performance specifications.
Be sure to read our primer on Do Weight Ratings on Electric Desks Really Matter? to learn how to calculate the minimum lift capacity for your dream workstation.
The VIVO’s hand controller has memory height presets and a built-in timer to remind you to stand throughout your day. It does not have Bluetooth and a smartphone app as we’re starting to see on the premium bases these days. We’re getting closer and closer to the day when no one will want to build a standing desk without Bluetooth anymore, given the Bluetooth-synced electric monitor arms, office treadmills, presence sensors and other parts of the active workstation of the future that are hitting the market this year. Of course, this feature is more likely to be found on the premium, American-made bases for now.
Bone-crushing user reviews
Before laying your money down on a VIVO desk base (or a full VIVO desk with top, for that matter) be sure to check out the 1-4 star reviews that blend into the overall 4.6 star reviews that VIVO boasts on Amazon. We don’t write horror novels around here but if we ever were so inclined we’d start by reading the 1-star experiences that verified customers submitted to Amazon.
The same issues are consistently reported: The motor is noisy and often quits working. Damage in transit is common, indicated the packaging is poorly designed. The desk wobbles severely. One user reports “The wobble is so obnoxious and severe that lifting that my arms from typing results in shaking my monitor and laptop…I literally avoid using my desk because of the wobble.” Who needs that?
There are also vast complaints about the electronics, more than we’ve seen on any other standing desk. We should note that standing desk hand controllers are generally very simple electronic devices; the software and electronics in this one seem truly and utterly flawed. Many customers report that the hand controller on their VIVO desk doesn’t work correctly, gives frequent errors requiring unplugging the desk to reset, and even the saved height favorites settings changing on their own every day. Also commonly reported is that the lifting columns can easily get out of sync with each other.
Customer support is generally reported as being friendly but the rounds and rounds of swapping components to get a desk working are, at the end of the day, just not worth the difference in cost between this base and one of decent quality.
Don’t take our word for it, here is a tiny sampling of the frustration users have felt after buying this product and putting in all the effort to build their standing desk only to soon be deprived of its enjoyment:
Like its direct competitors such as FEZiBO, this single-motor VIVO standup desk base is likely to fail prematurely on you for all the reasons stated above.
With such a fluffy frame and high center of gravity, any desk built on this base with an average-sized desktop will likely be a shaky affair at standing height. This could be somewhat mitigated with a thicker desktop that could add some rigidity to the desk, but with only 176 lbs of total lift capacity including the desktop that’s just going to lead to even earlier motor failure.
We found similar quality issues in a variety of VIVO standing desk converters we reviewed in the past. This brand just is not known for its design savvy or manufacturing quality, and we’re disappointed to see that in all these years this hasn’t changed.
OK, so that’s a lot of negative commentary. Are there any good things to say about the VIVO single-motor lifting base? Well, it’s very cheap. Though not as cheap at the FEZiBO, which can be found for as little as $179.95.