Xdesk Terra standing desk review

We give a standing ovation for Xdesk's Terra, our favorite high-tech desk

Xdesk's Terra is the finest standing desk available today.
Xdesk's Terra is the finest standing desk available today.
Xdesk's Terra is the finest standing desk available today.

Highs

  • Gorgeous bamboo top
  • Extremely sturdy
  • Fastest rising desk on the market
  • Three programmable height presets
  • Quiet, smooth operation

Lows

  • Must continuously hold button to raise desk
  • Expensive ($1,500+)

Whether it’s a corporate businessman slogging away in the corner office or a whippersnapper in kindergarten sticking her gum to its underside, the tried and true desk has very different uses for different people. Yet until recently, it was about as flexible as a rock. Where a desk sat, it stayed as firm and as hard as a kindergartener’s used Hubba Bubba gum.

Innovation did finally find its way to the basic desk in recent years thanks to some simple technical engineering, leading to the modern standing desk. Instead of sitting for eight hours, a standing desk offers the opportunity to stand up and stretch a bit, inciting productivity and improving one’s health.

Texan manufacturer Xdesk is one of the companies pioneering this revolution. No stranger to the mechanical desk industry, Xdesk isn’t merely a purveyor of your typical, mass-produced sit/stand desks. The company custom builds each model to its customer’s desires, adding unique features and accessories to make a truly one-of-a-kind desk. To get a first-hand taste, we custom-designed our very own Terra standing desk. But with the standing desk market more robust than ever, is Xdesk’s Terra worth its Texas-sized, $1,500 price tag?

Customization made easy

Since Xdesk doesn’t rely on mass production, our first assignment with the Terra was to create a custom configuration suited to our liking. We opted to stay relatively modest with the available additions, adding just a matte black finish to the frame and a handy power management system. Our additions totaled an extra $296 — but price tags can soar dramatically if you go add-on crazy. For instance, opting for a Dark Bamboo Finish, the Black Matte Frame, Xdesk’s artistic Artisan Bar, an ergonomic keyboard platform, and a Harmon Kardon Integrated Sound System jacks the price up to roughly $2,700.

What if you want all of the available features? A desk configuration with every single add-on — including the Xdesk Fit Treadmill System and third-party, “white-glove” assembly — rockets the price to an astounding $5,703. But hey, this is something you’ll use five days a week for the foreseeable future. There are worse investments you can make. Besides, a super-abundance of customization options is yet another reason Xdesk is head and shoulders above the competition.

The Xdesk Terra truly shines thanks to its superior build quality, gorgeous design, and sturdy construction.

The actual process of customizing the desk is a breeze, with each option or addition laid out in an easy-to-read, clear graphic. From the specific color of the fresh bamboo finish or aluminum frame to the exact number of grommets and additional monitor arms, Xdesk’s build process leaves everything up to the buyer.

Aside from the power management addition and black matte finish, our trial desk featured a medium bamboo finish, a standard crossbar, a 63-inch width desktop, one centered grommet, and the NextSpace Keyboard Platform — a solid addition for anyone not only looking to stand, but to stay a few more feet away from their monitor. We also selected U.S. standard 120-volt electrical hookups. Once submitted, the desk took roughly four business days to manufacture before being sent on its journey to our office in Portland, Oregon.

Out of the box

Though Xdesk offers third-party assembly help for an extra fee, setting the desk up personally didn’t take much more than 20 or 30 minutes. Following the detailed instructions sent with it, we first attached the two lifting columns to the corresponding bar underneath the desk by screwing each leg in with an included Allen wrench and screws. Once attached, we then secured a floor support to each lifting column before connecting each of the desk’s included cables. After flipping the desk over, plugging it into the wall, and initiating it (pressing the up or down button to move it), our standing desk was ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

These steps are easier said than done. Complete assembly of the Terra did bring out a few beads of sweat on our brow. We also recommend having someone to help when it comes time to flip the desk over, because the sum of a Terra’s parts make it fairly heavy. The same goes for moving around the two boxes it comes shipped in. Bottom line, this thing is heavy.

Build quality

The Xdesk Terra truly shines thanks to its superior build quality, gorgeous design, and sturdy construction. Perhaps nothing encapsulates this more than the desk’s natural bamboo top, which is not just stunningly beautiful but also one of the most durable we’ve seen. We opted for the medium bamboo finish, though depending on the style of your office (or wherever you plan to set up the Terra), the dark and light finishes are just as eye-popping.

Its smooth finish and slightly rounded edges evoke the elegant aesthetic of Apple’s iPhone, capturing an artistic element not typically seen in office furniture. Moreover, this isn’t your typical Scandinavian DIY material. Rather, the Terra offers woodwork you’d eat off of without thinking twice. It’s clean, sophisticated, and wildly dapper. Did we say it looks good?

The Xdesk Terra truly shines thanks to its superior build quality, gorgeous design, and sturdy construction.

In addition to the beautiful top, the Terra’s architectural frame is as solid as they come. The aircraft-grade aluminum and powder-coated finish make the desk as stout as possible yet do little to take away from its elegant design. Even the adjustable legs avoid looking out of place while either standing high or situated low; Xdesk smartly matches their color to the included floor supports to achieve the desk’s sleek appearance.

Looks are good and all, sure, but what good would a desk be if it couldn’t hold more than a lightweight laptop? Xdesk’s Terra has lifting capacity in spades. Rated to hold roughly 315 lbs of computing hardware, speakers, potted plants, or whatever strikes your fancy, you’d have a hard time bringing the desk crashing down.

During our review, we had an HP all-in-one desktop in the center of the Terra, an Apple MacBook Pro to its left, a medium-sized plant to the rear, and various coffee cups, notebooks, and oak bottle alcohol infusers strewn about (don’t judge us). Needless to say, it carried these items (totaling no more than roughly 10 or 15 pounds) without even the slightest hint of bowing or cracking.

NextDesk Terra
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

That’s hardly testing the desk, however, so I decided to physically sit on the Terra (I weigh roughly 180 pounds) while a colleague raised the desk. The Rick-toting Terra climbed to its apex of 50.8 inches in height, performing admirably without strain.

While this speaks to the Terra’s weight rating, it shows its bamboo finish is more than just a pretty face; it’s also strong as hell. It wasn’t until a second person began climbing on the Terra-turned-jungle gym that it began to show signs of stress. Don’t worry, we stopped before anything catastrophic happened.

Raising the desk

Every standing desk excels at being an ordinary desk, so perhaps the true barometer for judging the Terra’s worth lies in performance of its adjustable height system. Rising at a blistering (for standing desks) 1.7 inches per second, the Terra obliterated the Jarvis and UpLift desks during a few in-office speed tests — and it wasn’t even close. Moreover, the transition speed is incredibly tame, registering at roughly 60 decibels, which is about as quiet as someone having a normal conversation. Because it lacks mechanical relays of any sort, the desk won’t ever click or make any other racket while being raised or lowered.

Aside from its industry-topping speed and minimal sound output, almost every other facet of raising the desk pleased during our review.

Aside from its industry-leading speed and minimal sound output, we were pleased with almost every other facet of raising the desk during our review. The push-button interface proved easy to understand, featuring buttons to move it up or down, a button to program specific heights, and three buttons reserved for presets. Even pre-programming different heights was an intuitive process requiring nothing more than raising the desk to a desired level, hitting the (S) program button, then selecting 1, 2, or 3.

The joys of raising and lowering the Terra didn’t occur without one nitpick, though. Once we programmed various heights into the desk’s memory, getting the desk to raise or lower to this predetermined level required constant holding of the corresponding buttons. This may not seem out of the ordinary on first glance, but when compared to the UpLift desk, which adjusts to a height with but one click, we were left wondering why this feature wasn’t included. It’s not terribly hard to hold a button for roughly 10 seconds while sitting/standing next to it, but for around $1,500 (or a lot more), automation would be nice.

Conclusion

With the standing desk market more saturated than ever, Xdesk’s Terra provides prospective buyers with a gorgeous — albeit expensive — alternative to typical run-of-the-mill electric desks. Its bamboo finish, which is one of the finest surfaces we’ve seen, adds an incredible elegance to the Terra and really makes it stand out (pun intended). Xdesk’s numerous customizable add-ons, wide range of available colors and stylings, and ease-of-assembly make this one of the finest standing desks available anywhere — as long as you’re willing to pay.

Despite the things the Terra does well (and it does a lot well), we can’t help but fret about how expensive it is. Don’t get us wrong, the bamboo finish and available extras give it some oomph, but equally functional standing desks cost anywhere from $500 to $800. The $1,500 seems to be a real ask for Xdesk.

That said, if you’ve got the money and desire a workspace that’s as much a piece of art as it is a standing desk, there’s nothing finer than Xdesk’s Terra.

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