Standing desks are all the rage these days. Especially since it has been determined by scientists and studies everywhere that sitting all day is as dangerous as smoking. Those studies fellow editors basically say that we are screwed. Unless you stand and edit. There are a ton of standing desks these days but it isn’t always an option to go out and buy one and replace an existing desk. That’s where the VARIDESK comes in.
The VARIDESK is simple in concept: It’s a mechanical platform that sits upon an existing desk than can be raised and lowered by gripping the levers on the side and pulling it up. It’s relatively affordable as far as standing desks go as a good standing desk can get expensive, the IKEA option notwithstanding.
If you have the option of getting and/or using an actual standing desk would you ever want to go for the VARIDESK instead? Probably not but when I was presented with a nice big desk included in my current edit suite rental space I opted to keep it. After years of having a standing desk at my home edit suite I came to quickly miss a standing option. An internet search brought me to the VARIDESK.
This image from the VARIDESK website is so very nice and tidy.
The reality of an edit system will most likely be much uglier when it is raised as you’ll probably have cables all around. Some cable management would help I’ll just have to be sure it can still raise without pulling anything.
There are several options to choose from and they have come out with more since I bought my VARIDESK. I knew I didn’t want a keyboard lift so the question of model came down to size. My normal system consists of two monitors attached to an old Mac Pro: a 30 inch Apple Cinema Display and a 27 inch HP DreamColor though in the images I’m using an iMac as I have one of those in the suite for testing. After reading over the specs for the $350 VARIDESK Pro I had hopes that it might just hold both monitors but it did not on its 36 x 23 inch work surface. And with only the single monitor the VARIDESK Pro was too big for the desk. I contacted the folks and VARIDESK and they were happy for me to ship it back and swap it for the smaller $325 VARIDESK Single and its 30×23 surface. I actually ended up selling the Pro to the editor upstairs. I wish they had made the VARIDESK Pro 48 at the time as it is 48 inches wide.
This is a detail of the mechanism on the side when the VARIDESK is lifted. It is a well built product.
The smaller VARIDESK Single is almost too small but that’s probably my own fault. For input I like a mouse on the left, keyboard in the middle and trackball on the right.
As you can see all three input devices fit but just barely. It’s still usable and I use it all the time in the standing configuration.
With surface area out of the way what about height? Even though it’s called a VARIDESK it really is only one height and not fully adjustable like most sit-stand desks. When you begin to raise the VARIDESK you can stop the height at any point during the raise but it has to be at full height to have it far enough forward to usable. When I raise the VARIDESK I slide the monitor all the way back before I grip the two levers just underneath the top. Pull those levers to unlatch the mechanism and the entire top plate goes up and out to raise the VARIDESK. Depending on what you have on the VARIDESK it might be heavier than others but the mechanics of it (there’s arms and springs and levers) make it relatively easy to use even with the weight of the monitors. Everything snaps in place with a satisfying thud. You can hear the springs doing their job.
I usually have to slide the monitor around a bit to get it just right but it takes only a few seconds to go from sit to stand. And a few seconds to go back to sit again. The VARIDESK website answers a lot of the questions you might be asking. There’s several more models available now that weren’t out when I bought mine so you do have options ranging from $275 for a laptop designed VARIDESK up to several models at $400.
When lowered the VARIDESK is much more tidy looking. The smaller iMac keyboard is sitting in what can be some storage space under the surface. I should route my audio monitoring unit to sit under there.
What’s not to like? Unfortunately my second monitor does not raise with the VARIDESK but that’s not really the VARIDESK’s fault. I’ll sometimes put it on a box to raise it up. I really need to get a swing arm to mount it on and attach that second monitor to the desk. One expense begats another expense. The biggest downside is that at the sitting position the VARIDESK raises the monitor several inches from where it would normally be which means, when sitting, I have to look slightly up. I’m no ergonomist but that’s probably not the best posture you can be in. But I guess you really should be standing anyway. You at least get a new little storage area under the VARIDESK that you didn’t have before. And you better like black as that’s the only color.
The verdict? If a standing desk isn’t possible then the VARIDESK provides an good option to add standing to your edit suite. I really like mine.
- Pros: more affordable than most standing desks, well built, variety of sizes
- Cons: raises monitor several inches when on seated position
- Cautions: you might have to rearrange speakers and thing to add one to your desk, be careful of cables when raising and lowering any standing desk