ZipDesk Desk-in-a-Box Standing Desk Review

September 12, 2020
  • Lab tested
BEST VALUE
review of quick install standup desks

Overview

Review Summary

When you need a desk as fast as possible, and are willing to pay a little bit more to not have to worry about product quality, reliability, durability or lack of cutting edge features. What you trade off is size and color personalization, but those desks take longer to built-to-order and ship.

MSRP / List Price $679
Shipping

Standard for free shipping, if ordered through iMovR.com, is FedEx Ground from Grand Rapids, MI. Faster shipping upgrades available.
Also sold through Amazon Prime, with delivery options based on stock availability per locale, including same-day in major markets.

Warranty

Ten years “top to bottom” including all components

Lift Type

Dual precision electric motors

Transit Speed

1.4″ per second

Controller

Fully-programmable digital LED with 3 height favorites, anti-collision, anti-tilt and Bluetooth transceiver

Sizes Available

Compact desk: 23.5” x 47”
Standard desk: 30” x 53”

Colors Available

Base is available in black, white or silver
Currently only black and white tops are available, but more coming in the future

Minimum Height

22.65″ (575 mm)

Maximum Height

47.7″ (1237 mm)

Weight Capacity

265 lbs

Connectivity Features

Bluetooth transceiver for future smartphone app

Product Weight

Compact desk: 90 lbs.
Standard desk: 110 lbs.

Shipping Weight

Compact desk: 51″ x 29″ x 7″
Standard desk: 56″ x 36″ x 7″

Power Consumption

300W power supply (international, i.e. dual voltage)
Standby power is only 10mW with deactivated Bluetooth, 60–80mW with activated Bluetooth

Typical Assembly Time

8 minutes

ANSI/BIFMA Certified

ANSI/BIFMA x5.5-2014 Certified
ANSI/BIFMA G1-2013 Compliant

NEAT™ Certified by Mayo Clinic

Yes

Competition

Compare to other Standing Desks Under $800
Compare to other Top-Rated Standing Desks
Compare to other American-Made Standing Desks
Compare to other Quick-Install Standing Desks

Where to buy Buy on iMovR

Rating

Ease of Assembly
4.5
Stability
5.0
Safety
5.0
Reliability
5.0
Customer Experience
5.0
Ergonomics
4.5
Innovation
5.0
Value
4.0
Quality
4.5
Aesthetics
4.0
Positives The only factory pre-assembled standing desk that ships in a single box, the ZipDesk arrives quickly and sets up in only 8 minutes with no tools needed. Even though it's built for fast parcel shipping it is a "no excuses" tech-forward product with exceptional component quality (American-made) and 10 year warranty to match, advanced features like collision and tilt-over detection, Bluetooth sync, and a fully-programmable digital controller. ANSI/BIFMA X5.5 and Mayo Clinic NEAT certifications are only things you'll find on far costlier commercial-grade standing desks, so it's impressive to see on a product under $700.
Negatives The trade off is color and size options. The ZipDesk comes in three base colors (black, white and silver) but only two top colors (black and white for now, more "swatch colors" coming soon), and two sizes: compact and standard. Since these are shipped from stock there's a practical limit on versions as compared to parent iMovR's made-to-order desks that come in tens of thousands of size, shape and color combinations. The powder-coated tops are not as nice as iMovR's 3D-laminate and solid wood tops offered on the rest of their products, but they are 3D-ergocontoured and a great value at this price point.

Bottom Line

4.5
Designed and built in the USA. Top-quality base technology and an industry-leading 10 year "top to bottom" warranty. Unique in the industry as the first "desk in a box" we've ever seen. And that means it can ship fast (even same-day through Amazon Prime in some markets) or even be picked up at a retail store. Plus it's one of the fastest desks to set up, being almost completely factory pre-assembled (8 minutes, no extra tools required). This is also a great desk to be able to break down just as easily, transport and set up again in your next office - maybe after you're done working from home and want to go back to the corporate campus. ANSI/BIFMA and NEAT Certification are a solid indicator of the ZipDesk's durable and reliable componentry and stable user experience, matching up with our lab-test results.

Is It Really the “Fastest Standing Desk Ever Created”?

Of all the innovations we’ve seen in standing desk designs since we first started publishing our lab-test reviews back in 2013, the ZipDesk’s “desk-in-a-box” concept is one of the most subtle yet potentially impactful on our industry. Why, you ask?

Conventional standing desks take some time to receive and assemble, and require some significant patience before you’re actually standing at them—assuming no problems transpire during assembly, such as missing parts or faulty components. Full stop.

When we’ve surveyed our readers as to why they haven’t yet adopted a standing desk, this in fact turns out to be the top reason they’ve procrastinated: they’re daunted by the prospect of an arduous assembly process. Not the budget (there are plenty of affordable standing desks these days), not getting permission from their employer or spouse, but trepidation over how difficult it might be to build the desk and how long it will take. They may have concerns about having enough floor space in their office to work efficiently, whether they have the right tools on hand, and being able to recruit someone to assist them with the task.

The second most common reason is concern about product quality, which relates to challenges with anything in the assembly process that might go wrong, how to diagnose and resolve the issue, shipping back heavy parts, and how helpful or unhelpful technical support and customer service are going to be.

In contrast, the ZipDesk can arrive extremely quickly—literally the same day it is ordered in markets where Amazon Prime has inventory or a retail office supplies store carries it (or worst case, one day to a few days by FedEx, depending on where you live)—and it sets up easily in less than ten minutes using just the one Allen key provided in the box. Hence the name and the claim of being “the fastest standing desk ever created.”

Arrives 90% Pre-Assembled, in One Box—Why This Matters

The reason that this “desk-in-a-box” design is remarkable is that standing desks are typically delivered either on a freight pallet—with 3 to 7 business day transit time from when they actually ship out—or in two or more cartons shipped via a parcel carrier like FedEx or UPS. Products that don’t Ship-In-One-Container (“SIOC” in logistics industry parlance) can’t be stocked at Amazon. The automation in these gigantic centers was never designed for two or more separate cartons to be received, stored, shipped all together, and have a single tracking code.

Because of this, when you search for “standing desk” on Amazon almost all of them are seller-fulfilled, not shipped out of an Amazon Fulfillment Center. The few that are shipped by Amazon are generally…

  1. Very cheaply made in China, and have short warranties to match
  2. Require significant assembly on the part of the customer
  3. Use antiquated, unreliable mechanisms like crank handles or single-motor drives
  4. Often only have only a single-stage base with a 20-inch stroke, so not usable by very short or very tall users

The multiple-carton problem plagues retail stores like Staples and Office Depot, too. Try to stock a standing desk that comes in two cartons and pretty soon there’ll be a whole bunch of separated desktops and bases in the warehouse, never to be united again. Consequently, you can’t walk into a major office furniture retailer today and drive home with a standing desk; they’ll always direct you to their website for buying. And that also means you can’t see the desk in person and try it out before you buy it.

All that has just changed with the introduction of the ZipDesk‒the first full-featured, cutting-edge standing desk that both ships quickly and sets up in a flash.

When You Absolutely, Positively Must Have a Standing Desk, Right Away

Pretty much the only option that has existed until now for the restlessly-eager standing desk buyer has been to drive to their nearest IKEA, pick up an Idasen or Bekant standing desk kit, schlep it back to their office and begin the laborious task of assembling something with dozens of parts and complicated instructions.

IKEA’s reputation for a high failure rate at installation or within the first few weeks of use of their electric desks is something that most buyers find out about only later because they were too rushed to research their purchase in advance. We’re talking about products that have 2 to 3-star ratings on IKEA’s own website, and even lower on ours. These are not very durable desks, and it’s not uncommon for customers to have to return them to the store and try again… so they’re deceivingly anything-but-quick to get going with, at least half the time.

The creators of the ZipDesk (more on that below) had a simple goal in mind: to design a desk that could be reliably delivered in a single, ruggedized parcel—or picked up at a retail store—the same day it’s ordered or within a few days. But that’s just the beginning of the story.

The team behind the ZipDesk’s development knew that buyers might be skeptical of the component quality and ease of assembly of a desk that ships quickly in a single box. With predecessors like IKEA, Autonomous, Tranzendesk and others hocking very low quality, albeit inexpensive products, it’s a rational concern. Their solution? Have the desk ANSI/BIFMA tested and certified, and place a 10 year top-to-bottom warranty and 100 day satisfaction guarantee on it, to give buyers complete confidence in the purchase.

If you don’t know what ANSI/BIFMA Certification is be sure to read our primer on it here. In a nutshell, one reason you pay 2x-3x more for office furniture sold by “commercial contract furniture” companies like Steelcase or Herman Miller, it’s because their products have been tested rigorously for high durability, stability and reliability, always at an independent laboratory. We’re talking 10,000-cycle testing, not some IKEA would ever do with their products.

99% of standing desks sold online, and virtually all of those that are imported from China, are not legitimately ANSI/BIFMA X5.5-2014 certified. Beware of those that nebulously claim that they’re “built to” ANSI/BIFMA standards, “compliant with ANSI/BIFMA ergonomic standards,” or claim to use a certified base. There’s no such thing as BIFMA certification for a standalone base, just for a full desk system including the desktop—it’s the entire system that’s tested (because physics matter). We hate to be such buggers on this point but if durability is important to you then demand to see the actual BIFMA certificate. If the vendor doesn’t post a copy of the certification report on their website they’re probably stretching the truth, caveat emptor.

Bottom line: a documented ANSI/BIFMA X5.5-2014 certification is like the old Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, ensuring buyers that the product is extremely well built and designed to last much longer than the usual fare you’ll find online. As of this writing, the only truly certified desks we’ve found that you can buy online are the iMovR Lander and Lander Lite, the UpLift V2, and now the ZipDesk.

Commercial Grade, High Tech Componentry

robotic precision standing desk
One can easily distinguish between robotically-precise weld joints and the hand-welded quality on less expensive, Asian-manufactured standing desk bases.

To create a desk that will withstand the rigors of ANSI/BIFMA testing the ZipDesk team sourced a state-of-the-art electric base that is manufactured with robotic precision, and has advanced features like a digital handset with three programmable height favorites, a hefty 265 lb lift capacity, built-in anti-collision sensing, and a Bluetooth transceiver.

Why Bluetooth? We’re starting to see this trending as a standard feature on premium standing desks like the iMovR Lander and Lander Lite. Although we haven’t had a chance to test the app ourselves, we are told there will be a free downloadable app for controlling the ZipDesk from your iOS or Android smartphone in the near future. We’ll expand more on that once we can test it ourselves. But it’s nice to know that the ZipDesk is “future proof,” unlike the majority of standing desks that are still being sold without Bluetooth.

Compared to other popular standing desks you can buy online, like the Jarvis, StandDesk or Autonomous, you can really tell the difference in the quality of the precision linear actuators (the lifting columns). Even under full rated load they operate as smoothly and quietly as any other “contract” (commercial grade) desk you could buy from one of the majors at 2x-3x the price. The laser-cut precision and robotic weld joints are clearly evident on the base componentry, and translate to a longer useful life as reflected in the extraordinary 10-year warranty.

The desktop, on the other hand, is pretty plain. It’s nicely shaped and ergo-contoured, and powder coated with the most advanced process and paints available in the USA. It’s certainly nicer than the less durable powder coat finishes we’ve commonly seen on imported competitors’ desks, but not as nice as 3D lamination, much less solid wood options like you’ll find on iMovR’s made-to-order desks.

During our lab testing of the ZipDesk we thought we had run into a flaw with its anti-collision detection circuitry. When it comes to testing standing desks that have anti-collision features we always have to caveat that the vast majority of electric standing desks either don’t have the feature, or if they do, it doesn’t work very reliably. It’s a tricky thing to get right, as you can read all about in our primer on anti-collision technology for standing desks.

As we learned after a call to the ZipDesk’s product manager, it actually has a user programmable sensitivity setting for its “Intelligent System Protection” (anti-collision detector), with a range from 0 to 8 (ok, we missed it in the documentation). All we had to do was up the sensitivity with a few simple taps on the handset and the desk was detecting obstructions in its path and then backing off just perfectly. Better than 95% of the desks we’ve ever tested. But there’s more…

The ZipDesk’s controller is fully featured with LED readout, three height favorite memories, collision and tilt-over detection, and Bluetooth

We learned that the ZipDesk also has a “G-sensor,” or tilt-over detector, as a failsafe in case the anti-collision detector did not kick in when the desk surface was moving downward. The sensitivity for the G-force sensor is also user-settable‒from 0 to 8‒ensuring that even if the desk hits and object and there was insufficient spiking of motor current to set off the anti-collision detector, there is no way the desk is going to fall over by accident and possibly damage any of your desktop accoutrement like computer gear or picture frames.

The combination of anti-collision detection based on current sensing and tilt detection based on G-force sensing should set any buyer’s mind at rest in terms of safe operation of this electric desk. We’ve tested $3,000 desks that did not have this kind of Volvo-esque “belt and suspenders” safety mechanism.

We Clocked Assembly at Under 8 Minutes

The task of putting together a ZipDesk is indeed trivial, as you can see in this step-by-step assembly video. The desktop arrives with the frame, power supply and handset controller already attached. All you need do is insert the lifting columns into their receiving sockets and flip the securing levers to lock them into place, attach the feet to the columns using the provided Allen key, and connect the pigtail connectors between each leg and the power supply. No mechanical skills or power tools required, “a kid could literally do this.”

How does that compare to a typical standing desk assembly process? An experienced desk installer with power tools and basic familiarity with how desks are typically assembled can put a typical desk together in about 45 minutes. Double that estimate for someone who’s not into DIY furniture, does not have the ideal power tools, is intimidated by a bag with 48 screws and bolts and a cryptic assembly manual, or is trying to do all this in a constrained space.

ZipDesk put together a great little video to contrast the experience of building their desk versus a typical competitor’s‒in this case an UpLift V2 desk. We would corroborate the claim that it takes about 10x longer to assemble a traditional standing desk with, in the case of many popular models sold online, a Jiecang-brand or other Chinese-manufactured base.

The other stark contrast in the assembly experience is that each ZipDesk is QA tested at the factory before getting boxed up, so the odds of the desk not working properly after assembly are theoretically infinitesimally low (we won’t say “zero” because UPS and FedEx can destroy titanium-coated diamonds, given the chance). In our experience and our readers’, “a desk of many parts” not only takes much longer to assemble but failure rates, particularly with Chinese-sourced componentry, can be as high as 8%-10%. Higher for IKEA desks.

So it’s not just the time investment at question here, it’s really the entire customer experience from the time the box arrives until you’re standing at a functional desk.

ZipDesk’s 23andMe Results

ZipDesk didn’t just appear on the scene out of nowhere, it’s actually a spin-out from iMovR, the company with more standing desk and treadmill desk related patents than any other innovator in the industry.

Whereas iMovR’s state-of-the-art desks are known for their tens-of-thousands of customizable configurations and on-demand production, ZipDesk is the opposite. Only two sizes are offered—a compact desk at 23.5” x 47” and the standard desk at 30” x 53”—as anything larger would exceed the cubic limit of FedEx and UPS. And whereas iMovR offers 22 different 3D-laminate and 36 solid-wood finishes, the ZipDesk, at least for the moment, comes only in a choice of black, white or silver for the base, and black or white for the desktop. We’re told more exciting “swatch colors” will be introduced over time for the desktops.

zip desk review

So that’s 12 color and size combos as compared to tens of thousands for iMovR desks. The emphasis with the new ZipDesk spin-out is to offer the most popular sizes and colors but directly out of inventory as opposed to being manufactured on-demand (which takes one week for 3D-laminates and 3-5 weeks for solid wood). If these sizes and colors are too limiting for your decor, and you can take a couple of weeks to receive the personalized desk of your dreams, check out iMovR’s top-rated Lander, Lander Lite, Energize and Cascade desks options.

With all their experience in manufacturing more standing desk and sit-stand table models than any other company, it still took the iMovR design team more than three years to perfect the design of the ZipDesk and its ultra-ruggedized packaging. Apparently, many prototypes were damaged in the real-world test of surviving a trip through the FedEx and UPS sortation hubs and delivery vehicles before the final product was pronounced ready for release in June of 2020.

One of the challenges in the design of the ZipDesk was meeting iMovR’s rigorous standard for both lateral and longitudinal stability, which due to their roots in treadmill desks is higher than most any other sit-stand desk manufacturer’s. Invariably, this means more steel has to be used, and therefore more shipping weight. And indeed the ZipDesk performs admirably in this regard, with the clamp-down receiving socket design being absolutely rock solid, as well. Comparing to other iMovR desks we’ve tested, the ZipDesk was slightly more stable than the Energize, nearly identical to the Lander Lite, and slightly less stable than the top-of-the-line Lander Desk.

In addition to the home office and small business market, with the ANSI/BIFMA certification ZipDesk is also targeting the enterprise market, and particularly call centers, hot desk “concierge” spaces, co-working spaces and the like, where only smaller desks are needed, and often quickly. They also have to work with a wide range of users, including the very short and very tall, so the dual-stage, BIFMA-compliant ergonomic height range is a huge plus over cheaper desks you could receive in a week or less off Amazon.

Lastly, like all iMovR desk products the ZipDesk is NEAT Certified by the Mayo Clinic, giving employees that extra confidence that employees that use this desk will experience tangible health benefits. No other standing desks that can be purchased online can boast of NEAT certification as yet.

Considerations For the Post-Pandemic Age

As we write about in our blog post on What Employers Urgently Need to Know About Kitchen Table Ergonomics, many companies are now subsidizing a standing desk for their employees’ home offices. But some employers have hesitated either because of financial stability concerns (i.e. in the event certain employees may get laid off in the uncertain economic future) or concern that these employees may never come back to campus if they decide they like working at their standing desk at home better than their old fixed-height desk at the office, and they don’t want to invest twice.

The ZipDesk is a unique solution for these employers in that it can be easily disassembled and re-packed in the original packaging for safe transport back to the office, either in their cars or via FedEx or UPS. And if it does come back to the office employees need to be concerned about meeting the common requirement for ANSI/BIFMA certification on their furniture, since it is fully-certified and G1 compliant for ergonomic height standards. The Mayo Clinic’s NEAT certification on this desk is another bonus for corporate, government and educational employers.

In terms of desktop durability we recommend that everyone who uses a standing desk read our primer on How to Clean, Sanitize and Disinfect Your Standing Desk Workstation in the Age of Coronavirus. Being a powder-coated top the surface will not stand up as well to hospital-grade disinfectants as iMovR’s other desks that are made with healthcare-grade 3D-laminated surfaces, but can be cleaned and sanitized with Clorox Wipes, like most other desk products. Since the tops are ergo-contoured, not edge-banded, there are no glue seams to dry out (or collect germs).

Bottom Line

While definitely a niche product in terms of appealing to customers in a hurry for a high-quality desk option, this is a no-excuses product. Hi tech features like the Bluetooth-enabled controller and robotically-built linear actuators, and the 10 year warranty reflective of its component quality is sure to make the ZipDesk a first-choice desk for many. The 100-day guarantee period is another thing that ZipDesk incorporated from its iMovR DNA.

So is it worth the premium price over other desks? That comes down to how much you value your time. In terms of comparables, the compact ZipDesk ($679) is roughly the same price as the similarly-sized, similarly-powered and similarly-ranging iMovR Energize XT Compact ($713). Both desks are made-in-USA with 10 year warranties. Both only cost about $0.20 a day if you assume they don’t outlast their warranties.

With the Energize you’ll be assembling the desk yourself, though it’s really only about a 20-30 minute endeavor. And you’ll have a very simple LCD digital controller with two height memories instead of three. The desktop is 3D-laminated in one of 22 colors versus powder-coated in one of only two colors. You won’t have Bluetooth and the future smartphone app on the Energize. For that feature you’d need to upgrade to an iMovR Lander Lite Compact ($799), which is also 90% factory pre-assembled just like the ZipDesk.

Of course, with any of the iMovR desks you’d have a vast array of desktop size, profile and color choices, and more base options to choose from, including 6” height extenders for very tall users or to pair with an office treadmill. You’ll just have to wait a couple of weeks to get your desk. So it really all comes down to speed and convenience versus full customization.

Oh, and in terms of actual speed of the desk, i.e. the time it takes to transit from sitting height to standing height? The ZipDesk tested out at 1.4 inches per second (ips), versus 1.5 ips on the iMovR’s Freedom desks (the Energize or Cascade), and 1.6 ips on all the Lander models. All these desks are in the same performance class in terms of transit speed.

See our comprehensive round-up of Quick Install Standing Desks to see how the ZipDesk compares to other models in terms of setup time, and our round-up of American-made Standing Desks to see how it compares to other domestic competitors. Also see how the smaller format, 24″x47″ ZipDesk compares to other Best Compact Standing Desks. You can find all the standing desks we’ve ever reviewed in our Top Standing Desk Reviews round-up.

Full disclosure: ZipDesk (an iMovR company) and WorkWhileWalking have mutual ownership interest. Learn More

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