Reinventing the wheel is tough — perhaps that’s why the wheel’s design hasn’t changed since the tail end of the Neolithic. And while the traditional desk isn’t necessary a wheel, it’s a piece of furniture so heavily rooted in the fundamentals that we balk at the mere thought of its so-called evolution. I mean, how do you improve on a piece of architecture that’s little more than a slab of wood and a few legs to hold it up?
The standing desk is a leap forward for desk ergonomics, though. Right now, there exists a girth of research highlighting the health benefits you’ll receive if you stand for a portion of the workday as opposed to sitting. The alternate posture is said to improve blood flow, strengthen muscles, and alleviate unwanted back pain often associated with prolonged periods of sitting. There are likely even more benefits than the current data suggests, too, many of which help boost productivity in the workplace.
The UPLIFT Desk is one of many in a crowded field of electric, height-adjustable desks. However, whereas its competitors shine in terms of robust customization and features, UPLIFT’s offering excels because of its modest price tag and lack thereof. It does no more than intended or need be — but it does it really well.
Out of the box
For review purposes, we opted for the base model of the UPLIFT Desk, which consists of a single pair of telescoping base legs and a laminated, mahogany top. The company offers a welcome breadth of laminate builds to choose from — along with solid bamboo and reclaimed wood offerings — each of which you can then customize with additional accessories such as built-in monitor arms and keyboard trays at an added cost. The options are plentiful, allowing you tack on as much (or as little) functionality as you see fit.
The UPLIFT Desk arrived in multiple packages, though none were particularly cumbersome to move despite their hefty weight and awkward appearance. We unboxed each component one by one, and following the included set of instructions, assembled the desk within two hours using a manual screwdriver and a little bit of floor space. A set of electric tools and another pair of hands could have surely expedited the entire process, but it wasn’t a necessity given just how straightforward and simplistic the desk’s overall design is.
If you can build a coffee table or bed frame from IKEA, you can handle setting up an UPLIFT Desk. Alas, you’ll have to do without the köttbullar and smörgåskaviar.
Everything came together once the UPLIFT Desk was properly assembled and placed within our spacious workspace — the bull pen where 50-odd desks sit neatly amid rows lined with Nerf darts. The model we reviewed measured 60 x 30 inches, which feels much like an industry standard given nearly every other standing desk we’ve run across is similar in size and stature. Regardless, the smooth, inch-thick plateau granted ample space for all work and non-work necessities. An all-in-one PC sat front and center, with a 13-inch laptop, several mugs, and a notepad at the sidelines. It even provided enough space for my frivolous knickknacks, which included a small tree and a bar of soap (don’t ask).
If you can build a coffee table or bed frame from IKEA, you can set up an UPLIFT Desk.
Space isn’t the only appeal, though. The desk’s polished, professional design rendered it fairly inconspicuous when nestled beside other desks in the office, even if the reddish top stood in contrast to the maple desktops peppering the room. UPLIFT uses a discrete design to achieve this level of subtlety, essentially allowing you to pack the desk’s vital electronics underneath at either side of the durable C-frame. In fact, if it weren’t for the seven-button keypad that sits flush with the front of the desk, you would never suspect it could do anything other than sit there, motionless.
Houston, we have lift off
The joy of the UPLIFT Desk is its ability to elevate above the crowd in a matter of seconds, with little effort on your part. The desk fluctuates between 20.5 and 50.3 inches and does so using the aforementioned keypad, quietly emitting a slight hum that never rises above 45 decibels. The etched buttons on the keypad facilitate all the motion, allowing you to go from the lowest configuration to the highest in just under 20 seconds using one of two arrow keys.
The rest of the buttons serve as part of the one-touch digital memory system, a convenient tool that lets you program four different buttons to a specified height of your own choosing. Once set, you merely need to press one of the preset keys and watch as your desk automatically elevates to the desired height. A digital height display even showcases the current elevation — just in case you were curious.
Sheer convenience isn’t without drawbacks, however. The UPLIFT Desk exhibits a slight wobble when sitting at max height, one that doesn’t necessarily impede its performance but leaves us somewhat cautious when placing tall items, or those more prone to tipping, on the desk’s surface. We wouldn’t recommend placing a vertical monitor on the desk or using it to get your Jenga on at full elevation. Like politics, some things are best left for the kitchen table.
A tale of two desks
The UPLIFT Desk is an excellent piece of furniture in many respects, yet there is an elephant in the room: West Coast-based company Ergo Depot, which manufactures standing desks that are remarkably similar to that of UPLIFT. We recently had the company’s Jarvis desk in for review, and upon close inspection, we noticed that the frame components for the two desks are identical aside from the branding. Moreover, both companies sell standing desks starting at $599, with nearly the same selection of laminate tops and optional accessories. Other facets, such as the return policy and warranty, are also identical.
Deciding between the two desks really just comes down to personal preference and minor discrepancies. The bamboo Jarvis desk offers a beveled edge, for instance, while UPLIFT provides additional alternatives in the form of reclaimed wood.
When it comes down to it, UPLIFT’s offerings are some of the best currently available. The UPLIFT Desk effortlessly combines form and functionality at a cost that’s approachable, while leaving off the bells and whistles associated with higher-end standing desks such as the Stir Kinetic Desk M1. The extensive customization and practical aesthetic just round out the highlights — and did we mention it rises on command? We’ve seen more expensive furniture that lacks such convenience.
We might like to see some additional, built-in resourcefulness — take the dry-erase surface of the UpDesk UpRight, for example — but the blatant lack of such unconventional features is actually appealing in its own right. The UPLIFT Desk does exactly what it sets out to do, and more importantly, does it well. My back is starting to feel better already.
- Hassle-free assembly
- Adjustable height
- Solid, well-built construction
- Economically priced
- Handy, one-touch memory
- Offers little more than adjustable height
- Minor wobble at highest elevation