Autonomous SmartDesk 2 Business Edition REVIEW | Mac Sources
SmartDesk 2 Business Edition
Most affordable high quality smart desk in the market
For almost a decade, I’ve struggled with assembling the perfect workspace to maximize both my productivity and comfort levels. For me, that’s a delicate balance between space and clutter control. I need a desktop that can accommodate a 34-inch Ultrawide monitor, 15-inch laptop with a stand, a pair of AudioEngine speakers that measure nearly 11 inches for each speaker, and some random accessories. In the past, I’ve focused on getting large shell-style desks that are designed for basic office productivity and not the hub of a tech reviewer. So, after countless redesigns and back-breaking office moves, I finally decided to give a standing desk a try. I had be en hesitant to work with a standing desk simply because I have a lot of cable clutter to control and standing desks are very open by design. I had my concerns about managing the cables with this type of desk, but as you will see in this review, it is possible to have perfect cable management alongside a sleek, stylish standing desk.
When I decided to move forward with a standing desk as the cornerstone of my workspace, I opted to go with the SmartDesk 2 Business Edition from Autonomous. Autonomous provides standing desk solutions that are also budget-friendly making it possible for anyone to own one. The SmartDesk 2 — Home Edition has a starting retail price of $299 while the Business Edition starts at $399. Each style provides the user with semi-modular options to customize the desk to match your decor. There are three different finishes for the stand and five different desktops to choose from.
I opted for the Grey Frame with a White XL top. The top I selected is made from high-quality MDF wood and covered with polyurethane. While the desk is quite sturdy once it’s assembled, the desktop itself does get dinged up easily. I would recommend using a desk mat or XL mouse pad to help alleviate any potential damage issues with standard use. All of the tops are actually constructed out of MDF wood with the exception of the bamboo finish, which is made from natural bamboo.
The base stand is constructed with steel and can support up to 300 lbs (Business Edition). The 2-pillar base is designed with free movement in mind and is adjustable to accommodate desktops up to 70 inches in length. Each SmartDesk is equipped with an electric motor system (single or dual motor depending on desk edition) that operates with less than 45 decibels of sound. The base raises and lowers the desk with the programmable control pad. Users can raise the desk up to 51" and lower it to 24" (heights vary based on desk edition). The motor features a travel speed of up to 2.3" per second so that you aren’t waiting all day for the height to change and as it approaches it’s requested height, the motor will ease into the destination so that it’s not a jarring stop.
One detail to keep in mind is that assembly is required. Autonomous makes the process rather pain-free because the desktop has pre-drilled holes for all the attachments, but the desktop and base legs are really quite heavy. My advice is to begin with the end in mind and try to have some help when you are ready to put your desk into its final resting place. Furniture sliders come in quite handy when moving the desk around and I would recommend if you don’t have a second set of hands that you turn to sliders to help you move it so the legs don’t have unnecessary strain on them from getting caught on carpet or other obstacles.
The first thing you will notice is that the SmartDesk 2 Business Edition is shipped in two boxes — the table top and the base. Due to the weight of these items, I recommend having help moving and unboxing the pieces. The table top and base are well-packaged with plenty of styrofoam wrapping it inside the heavy cardboard exterior. Paper instructions and hardware are provided. The only thing I really pulled in from my toolbox was a ratcheting screwdriver because it makes it easier to assemble and tighten the screws in place. I recommend laying the table top down on the ground (maybe with some of the cardboard underneath it) and attaching the pieces of the base to it. Then, turn it right side up once everything is tightened into place.
As I mentioned above, Autonomous provided pre-drilled holes so that accessories and base pieces are easy to attach. While this is incredibly helpful and makes for a quick assembly, I do wish that there was an option to have the control panel installed on the left side of the desktop. I am right handed so I personally like having it on the right side, but I could see some people wishing for a left-hand option. All in all, I believe it took about 45 minutes to complete assembly.
As far as sturdiness goes, I would rank this desk as a 9 out of 10 (10 being the best). The only reason that it doesn’t get a perfect 10 is because there is some vibration noted when the desk moves up and down. I haven’t perceived that this is an issue with any of the equipment I have resting on top but felt compelled to mention it. I have the desk sitting on semi-plush carpet and it holds up really well. The weight of the desk and its inhabitants provide some stability and the two pillar legs distribute the weight evenly. I’ve not been concerned about the stability of the desk at all.
Once assembly was complete, it was time to start planning the rest of the workspace. Thinking about the end result, I thought the best place to start was to decide on the levels I wanted the desk to rest at. That way, I would be able to program the control panel and so that I could then plan the cable management. There are four programmable buttons on the control panel and I decided to use up two of them — one for a standing height and one for sitting. The other two I left open in case someone else decided to use the desk. To program the buttons, you first get the desk to the desired height and then press/hold the “M” button until the LED screen flashes. Select the number position you want to save that height to. I manually moved the desk into a comfortable standing position using the arrow keys on the control panel and then added that height to the #1 on the control. Then, I did the same thing for a sitting height and added that level to the #2. Programming the control panel took less than 5 minutes.
The next step in my desk setup process was to place all the computer hardware and accessories that I wanted included on the desk without the cables so that I could make sure the placement was what I wanted. The only downside to permanent cable management solutions is that if you want to move anything around after the fact, it can cause chaos with the rest of the design. So, it’s really important to carefully plan ahead and be certain you are happy with the setup before you run cables.
Once I was happy with the placement of the devices, I dropped cables down the backside of the desk or through the two pre-cut cable holes on each end of the desk. Then, using various cable clips and Velcro cable ties (good option because they are secure and not as permanent as plastic zip ties) I grouped cables together and routed them into an open slot Cable Raceway from StarTech. This one piece of cable management paraphern alia makes the entire cable management design work and it’s the perfect accessory to an open-design desk like the SmartDesk 2. The cable raceway completely hides the cables away. This little miracle is what makes having a standing desk possible for me. I’ve never had a desk without some sort of wires strung out in a visible manner until now.
The only issue I ran into was finding the lack of an options to mount a PC under the desk. I have a NAS device that I didn’t want to store on my desktop (it ended up there anyway) and I thought stowing it under the desk would be a good way to hide it away, but unfortunately, Autonomous didn’t really design the SmartDesk 2 with that customization in mind. You can add a mount and feel comfortable that a PC or NAS device would be secure if attached to the desk as Autonomous claims that the desk has a bearing capacity of up to 20kg. “If the total CPU and CPU holders are less than 50lbs, out SmartDesk will still work stably.” (quoted from email with Autonomous support) My concern was that the vibration of the desk while moving might wiggle screws out of place. As of writing this review, I haven’t tested this mounting option out so I can’t comment on whether or not it works.
With the years of home office teardowns and rebuilds I have never felt like I was happy with the finished product until now. And that is thanks to the SmartDesk 2 — Business Edition. I have generous workspace thanks to the 71″ XL desktop and my desk area is clean and feels airy. The cable clutter is now non-existent and I have been standing up multiple times per day which makes me feel like I am doing something good for my health. I have noticed that I have been more productive since updating my workspace to include the SmartDesk. I can now adjust my desk as high or low as I need it.
The ability to switch from sitting to standing with the push of a button is wonderful. And even though a cable organizer wasn’t provided with the desk, the desk’s design made it possible for us to create a solution for my cable clutter woes that were distracting and causing me to be less productive. Thankfully, the workspace redesign featuring the SmartDesk 2 — Business Edition is a fix that finally allows me to feel at ease and I finally have the desk setup I’ve wanted for the past 7 years.
Originally published at https://macsources.com on June 3, 2019.