If there’s one thing I hate, it’s sitting at a desk for hours on end. As a photographer, video editor and blogger, I’m tied to a desk quite a bit. Fortunately, standing desks are a thing now and their popularity has led to significant competition that has really driven prices down over the past couple years. Last summer, I got an Uplift Desk and have loved every minute of it.
The Uplift Desk is great – but it was not cheap at around $800 for my configuration. Autonomous contacted me a couple months ago and offered to send me a desk to review. While their new SmartDesk 2 starts at $299, the option I configured ended up being $524 for the dual motor version, walnut surface and accessory kit. As such, it was more feature-rich on paper than the Uplift Desk I already have.
For the price, I expected a perceptible drop in quality from the Uplift; however, I was impressed with the everything from the packing, to the instructions, assembly and overall performance. The components themselves appear to be rather standard across other standing desks, including the Uplift. I assembled both desks myself and they required about the same level of use of basic hand tools and time to put them together.
It took about 45 minutes to assemble the desk itself and then another 15-20 minutes to add on all the accessories and tidy up the wiring underneath it. You definitely want to get an extra pair of hands in for the heavy parts, which mainly means handling the desk surface and any moving/flipping you need to do with the fully assembled product.
The control panel used for lowering and raising the desk is similar to what I have on my Uplift Desk. You get up and down arrows to let you manually raise and lower the desk in one-tenth of an inch increments. When you find the right sitting and standing positions, you can save those as presets. There are four possible presets, so if two people share the desk, you can have a pair of presets for each person.
The accessory kit that is an optional add-on for the SmartDesk 2 gives you a Bluetooth speaker, USB hub, wireless charging point and two bag hangers (along with mounting hardware for everything) for around $75. You can plug the Bluetooth speaker and the wireless charging point into the USB hub if you want to use its power distribution and easily run the wires. Otherwise, you’ll need to run more power down the desk to an outlet.
The speaker sounds good enough – about like a typical $40 Bluetooth speaker – and is conveniently out of the way. The bag hangers and USB hub are very handy to have as well and certainly add enough value with the speaker to justify the $75 price for the accessory kit. I didn’t have a wireless charging device to test the wireless charge point, but it also has a USB port if you want to plug in there as well.
The walnut surface really looks great and goes well with the dark hickory floor in my house. In addition to several different finishes offered by Autonomous with the SmartDesk 2, you can get a DIY kit that doesn’t have a top surface. This cuts down on the price and makes shipping more manageable. It also allows you to choose a more custom material and finish to fit your style or budget.
In researching the company as I worked on this review, I came across a number of negative reviews for the first edition of the SmartDesk. I didn’t run into any of the problems with assembly or functionality with the desk I reviewed. The desk has a very polished and pro feel to it from top to bottom. I took Autonomous’ 300lb capacity as a challenge to ride the desk. I weigh about 210lb and, while it moved a little slower, it smoothly moved me from sitting to standing preset positions as I laid on top of the desk. You can see proof near the end of the timelapse embedded above.
All in all, I’m a big fan of the Autonomous SmartDesk 2. Having used a competitor to Autonomous for about 9 months, I feel like the SmartDesk 2 stacks up with the same level of quality and satisfaction I get out of a more expensive desk. The Autonomous SmartDesk 2 easily earns a high recommendation from me.
You can find out more about the SmartDesk 2 and other options here at Autonomous.ai.