Does a standing desk really make a difference? Hands-on with the UpDesk PowerUp

SteelSeries Apex M800 Desktop

I’ve always been intrigued about the idea of a standing desk, but I’ve never been motivated to actually try one until recently. As someone who sits at a desk and blogs about Mac and iOS for a living, I was particularly interested in seeing what type of benefits such a desk could offer.

Enter the PowerUp from UpDesk, a Nashville-based company that specializes in standing desks. The PowerUp, as its name alludes to, is a motorized standing desk that can lower and raise with the press of a button.

I’ve been testing out the PowerUp for the last few weeks, and have collected some thoughts and observations about the setup. Does it really make a difference in my day to day Mac and iOS blogging workflow?

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Ordering and shipping

UpDesk features several “off the shelf” models that customers can order and have shipped in 1-2 days. The company also touts a build to order model, which allows you to further customize your desk. Like ordering a custom Mac, build to order options will take extra time to ship.

I ended up opting for an off the shelf UpDesk PowerUp with a white top. As someone who’s used Apple Store-like maple desk tops for the last few years, I was looking forward to trying something different from a color perspective.

UpDesk offers three different sizes for the PowerUp: Small (48″), Medium (60″), and Large (72″). Of course, I decided to go with the biggest option available. The motorized PowerUp standing desk starts at $890.00 and comes with a 5-year limited warranty.

Arrival

A few days later, the PowerUp arrived at my doorstep via FedEx in two separate boxes. The first box was absolutely ginormous, and I really don’t understand how the FedEx guy was able to carry this to my door. I suppose he used a dolly. I hope, for the sake of his back, that he used a dolly.

UpDesk Boxes

I say that, but I ended up carrying the UpDesk from my front porch to my office. It was a feat that I later regretted, as I felt like I pulled a muscle in my back from doing so. Note: have a friend help you move this desk, especially if you opt for the large version.

Unboxing and installation

The first large box contained the desk top, and the smaller box contained the legs and all of the tools needed to assemble the desk. Unboxing this monstrosity was actually pretty easy, and I was able to put it all together all by myself, moving it from the front porch to usage, in a little less than 40 minutes.

Most of the pieces are already preinstalled. It’s just a matter of connecting the legs to the 1.25″ thick laminate desktop, attaching the control box, and connecting the wires from the motor to the control box.

Updesk Screwing in legs

I was impressed by how all of the pieces fit just right. This isn’t your typical “build your own furniture” setup from a big box store, with pieces that just barely fit in the right places. Every piece fit just so, and the nuts used to attach the legs went on without any problems whatsoever.

Specs

  • Touch-of-a-button adjustment
  • Electrically powered lift system
  • Durable 1.25″ high-pressure laminate desktop
  • 375lbs. lifting capacity
  • Height adjustable from 24.5″ to 50.5″
  • Twin-lift: each leg has its own motor (1.5-inches/second)
  • 20-minute out-of-the-box set-up
  • Includes cable management channel
  • Accommodates treadmills
  • Includes energy-saver control switch
  • Reinforced steel footings
  • Several Different Colors
  • 5-year limited warranty

Performance

UpDesk states that its twin-motor setup can raise the desk at a rate of 1.5-inches per second, and I find that the PowerUp lives up to those claims. It only takes me a few seconds to get from my preferred sitting height to my preferred standing height. Needless to say, that’s a pretty awesome feature to have. There is an audible hum that comes from the motor when adjusting the desk’s height, and while it’s certainly not whisper quite, it’s not unreasonably loud either.

UpDesk move

While it’s possible to move the desk up and down by pressing and holding the up or down button on the control panel, there are three buttons that can be configured with pre-set heights. Configuring these presets is as easy as tapping the set button followed by one of the three preset buttons when at a desired height.

To move the height of the desk in either direction, you’ll need to press and hold the button, which is a smart system that will prevent any needless accidents. This applies to both the manual and preset controls.

Build quality

The build of the PowerUp is solid. The 1.25″ desktop surface is laminate, so it’s not real wood, but it’s extremely heavy and durable.

I’ve already had experience spilling things on this desk, and inadvertently dragging rough surfaced items across the desktop, and haven’t encountered any permanent stains or nicks thus far. I will say that the white surface makes dirt and dust show up much more than any other color would, so if you don’t want to have to deal with constantly wiping off the desk, then I suggest you pick one of the other four colors that are available.

UpDesk

What’s on my desk?

 

My overall impression with the PowerUp’s build quality is a positive one. Nothing about this desk says that UpDesk cut corners in any way. Even the outsourced components are selected well. The leg motors, for instance, are sourced by Linak, a Danish company who specializes in high quality linear actuator systems.

The legs in particular are very heavy and durable, as they should be since they have to not only handle support duties, but handle the raising and lowering aspect as well.

Changing the way I work

I wanted a standing desk, because yes, I was sitting way too much throughout the day. But I’m not naive enough to think that a standing desk will cause me to become this super-healthy person. Nothing replaces good old-fashioned exercise, so set some real expectations for what a standing desk can do for you.

UpDesk Standing Tall

UpDesk includes two cable management channels, but I still find cable management to be a challenge with my setup

I can say, however, that using this desk for the last few weeks has changed the way that I work for the better. It’s not only changed the way I work, but it’s changed my perspective — and I mean that literally.

It’s so nice to have a piece of furniture that can transform and serve a new purpose with the touch of a button. The fact is no one should sit all day, and neither should they stand all day. A standing desk like the UpDesk PowerUp affords you the opportunity to do both with a single piece of furniture.

UpDesk Review

I also like the fact that I opted for the large version of the PowerUp. It’s been a long time since I’ve owned a desk this big, and the desktop real estate that it adds is something to behold. I could likely fit three curved LG UltraWide 34″ monitors on this desk. Not that I would, but I could.

I honestly can’t comment on any health benefits that I might derive from using a standing desk, but I can tell you this — anything is better than sitting for 8 hours a day. Regardless of if you own a standing desk or not, you should get up every so often and take a walk, even if it’s just around the house.

I find that I’m more willing to take breaks when I’m already standing. I also tend to move around more when I type, doing little mini exercises while maintaining my productivity.

Recommended standing desk accessories

I definitely recommend that you wear a comfortable pair of shoes while standing, as this will reduce fatigue and potential foot pain. Here are some other fun accessories that could spice up your standing desk experience:

Of course, UpDesk features its own line of accessories to enhance the experience as well.

Things to consider

With a starting price of $890, the UpDesk PowerUp is on the pricier end of the spectrum, so it’s not going to work for everyone’s budget. There are lots of cheap standing desk options on Amazon, but remember that you get what you pay for. UpDesk is backing its product with a 5-year warranty for a reason.

It’s also important that you go into this with realistic expectations. Nothing is going to replace actual physical activity, so don’t think that just because you’re standing for a couple of hours a day you’re all of the sudden going to be healthy.

Another thing that you should consider is cable management. Although UpDesk does include a couple of cable management channels, these will only do so much if you have a lot of cables hanging from your desk. You’ll also need to watch how the cables are organized, because raising the desk could cause items on your desk that are tethered to cables to fall if they get caught on something.

As I previously mentioned, if you don’t want to have to wipe off the desk’s surface on a daily basis, opt for a color other than white. I love the vibrant look of this desk in my office, but there’s no denying that it’s a dust and dirt magnet.

I wouldn’t couldn’t go back

Are there health benefits to using a standing desk? There have to be if having one motivates you to move when you weren’t moving before. Should standing while working be your sole source of exercise throughout the day? Definitely not.

There’s been some controversy over the standing desk phenomenon. At first, they were treated like some sort of health savior. Then the naysayers fired back and proclaimed that standing desks might actually do more harm than good.

The fact is that anything can be harmful if overdone. It’s not good to stand for 8 hours straight, just like it’s not good to sit for 8 hours straight. Use moderation. That’s what makes the PowerUp so nice, because it can transform in seconds between the two.

Whatever the case may be, there’s no way that I’d ever want to go back to a “normal” desk. UpDesk has added a fun new dimension to my daily routine that just might make me a little more active. For that I am appreciative.

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Comments

  1. chrisl84 - 7 years ago

    Wish I had one

  2. There are no downsides to standup desks if you use them right (on the picture above you do NOT use it correct :) In Sweden (and prob more) these are mandatory at offices (if the employee wants it). Also, you can buy them way cheaper than $900 dollars at IKEA. From $229 (SKARSTA with manual winding) and up.

    • Jeff Benjamin - 7 years ago

      Wow, so an employee can just demand it?

      • abbewe - 7 years ago

        Unfortunately yes, my colleges demand stand desk and they go it in Sweden :)

      • Smigit - 7 years ago

        I believe employees where I work can also request them and they will get them. It’s a case of trying to encourage good OHS practices and they’d probably prefer not to cop a lawsuit from someone over back pains etc because they denied a request for a more ergonomic desk.

        I have one myself actually but currently don’t use it standing up. Might down the line when I can free it up a bit by moving some test PCs to a workbench and reduce the amount of cables I have to deal with when raising it.

  3. Mr. T (@t87) - 7 years ago

    Jeff, you have reviewed the keyboard, the display and now the desk they are sitting on. Next I would like to read a review of the potted plant behind your MacBook Pro.

    😝😝 (just kidding, great work!)

  4. Michael A. Spikes - 7 years ago

    I have a standing desk just like yours that I got from IKEA (Bekant desk) and can attest to the fact that it does help keep me from being totally stationary throughout the day. However, I found my desk for only $250 from the as is section. I would wholeheartedly recommend it.

  5. cameronhood - 7 years ago

    The greatest invention since the French Fry. Mankind could’ve had these 500+ years ago, on a hand crank; why didn’t we? And we’ve been torturing kids in school long enough. This thing has GREATLY increased my productivity, my health, and most certainly my back. I have the Ikea one. Wonderful, could NOT live without one now. EVERYBODY needs to get one immediately, and they should be in every school, everywhere, period. Tax Trump to get the money.

  6. Choose a desk with height pre-sets, the convenience is worth the extra expense. A good anti-fatigue mat is also a must, and feels great slipping off the shoes. When setting up, take the time to get your cables organized and out of sight by attaching everything to underside of the desk, including powerbar. It takes some effort, but it’s worth the trouble if you want a clean look — I just have a single power cord and ethernet cable coming down alongside one of the legs.

    • Jeff Benjamin - 7 years ago

      Nice suggestions. I have some cable management stuff coming :) And yes, those presets are a must, as is the anti fatigue mat.

  7. Looks really nice. But what I’m really interested in is what monitor are using? I have a LG 34 curved and I’m super happy with it but this is a different model. Would you mind telling me which one this is?

  8. ifunography - 7 years ago

    Been using standup desks for almost 3 years now and it’s one of the single best decisions I’ve ever made. As a programmer I also spend long hours wired in and it was causing lots of strain on my back and shoulders and highly detrimental to my posture.

    Mine is home-built, so not quite as fancy as this or others out there but it works just fine.

  9. quarterswede - 7 years ago

    I’m fortunate enough in my job that I can sit and stand and walk a lot. If I was working from home this type would be something I’d buy.

  10. Josh Nicholson - 7 years ago

    Last year I bought a Jarvis Bamboo motorized sit/stand desk at http://www.ergodepot.com/Jarvis_Desk_Bamboo_p/jrv-b.htm. Starting at $599, it has TONS of available customizations and higher build quality than the UpDesk you’ve reviewed (the model I got is solid real bamboo wood). I got a sweet ‘wing-top’ solid bamboo model with digital memory pad, cable management kit, and anti-fatigue mat for about $800 all in.

  11. japaneseravenlonewolf - 7 years ago

    thanks for the excellent review. Ordered mine last week, should arrive in two days. Looking forward to using it, as I sit far too much at work, then at home.

  12. Larry Warner (@warnerl) - 7 years ago

    “As someone who sits at a desk and blogs about Mac and iOS for a living”. Sitting at a desk is exclusive to Macs and the IOS operating system?

  13. Brian (@bmcgraw) - 7 years ago

    Do you have any flexibility, as to the placement of the control panel? My personal preference would be to have it further away than where it is positioned in the pictures above.

    • Jeff Benjamin - 7 years ago

      You can really install it wherever you want. There are predrilled holes on the left and right side of the desk, but those are just suggestions. You can put it anywhere that it can safely reach.

Author

Avatar for Jeff Benjamin Jeff Benjamin

Jeff produces videos, walkthroughs, how-tos, written tutorials and reviews. He takes pride in being able to explain things in a simple, clear and concise manner.