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Varidesk Single: This sit-stand desk has a few ergonomic issues

Michael Ansaldo | May 14, 2014
If you haven't heard yet, sitting will kill you. The posture in which most of us spend the bulk of our day has been linked to every life-threatening malady from heart disease to diabetes to cancer. One study found those who sat 8-11 hours a day had a 15 percent higher chance of dying within three years than those who sat less than 4. And that's to say nothing of the risk for chronic postural problems and overuse injuries.

If you haven't heard yet, sitting will kill you. The posture in which most of us spend the bulk of our day has been linked to every life-threatening malady from heart disease to diabetes to cancer. One study found those who sat 8-11 hours a day had a 15 percent higher chance of dying within three years than those who sat less than 4. And that's to say nothing of the risk for chronic postural problems and overuse injuries.

Because most of our sitting is done in the workplace, a popular tool to combat this deadly habit has been the sit-stand desk, which allows you to vary your posture (it's said that the best posture is one that's always changing) and reduce sedentary time. The problem is they're expensive, frequently complex, and not every workplace offers one as an option.

The Varidesk is a compelling alternative: a height-adjustable platform that sits on your "fixed" desk. Unfortunately, some significant design flaws limit its usefulness.

Simple setup

The Varidesk comes fully assembled, and setting it up is as simple as unboxing it and hoisting it onto your desk. However, the single-monitor model we reviewed (dual-monitor models are also available) is a cumbersome 41.8 pounds, so that may be a two-person task. There's no hardware to secure the Varidesk to your current workstation — it's designed to balance its weight — so once it's positioned, it's merely a matter of loading your monitor, keyboard, and any other peripherals you want at hand. The most laborious part of setting up is making sure all your cable lengths will accommodate both sitting and standing positions.

The Varidesk Single has a spacious 30-by-23-inch work surface that can hold up to 35 pounds, which was more than ample for my 24-inch widescreen monitor, keyboard, and mouse. It's also sturdy; if, in a moment of lapsed ergonomic awareness, you lean your weight on the Varidesk, you can be confident your monitor won't crash to the floor.

To change the height of the Varidesk, you release levers on either side of the platform and manually raise or lower it to one of 11 preset positions. It lifts with little effort thanks to spring assistance, but lowering it takes some muscle, especially to get it in the bottom-most slot. This is not a stealth maneuver, though: The clanging as you release the side levers and lock the platform into place is guaranteed to alert any coworker within earshot that you're changing position.

Rise up!

Varidesk trumpets that its adjustable height desks can get you from a seated to standing position in three seconds. Technically that's true, but because the monitor and keyboard can't be adjusted independently, getting to an ergonomically correct standing position — and back to a seated one — takes considerably longer.

 

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