Better still, the Evodesk XE doesn’t replace your work desk. It sits on top of it, turning any flat surface you work at into a powered transforming standing desk.
Of course the motors, design and such don’t come cheap. The XE starts at $399 and goes way up from there.
I spent a bit more than a month using the Evodesk XE as my primary workstation at home, playing games, surfing the interwebs and doing lots and lots of writing both while sitting and standing.
Before I get into the review, an important point: There is no indication, despite the early marketing, that this was designed for gamers or really has any elements that make it better for gaming. That said, maybe it's the sort of thing you've been looking for.
Beyond having to assemble the XE, setup was extraordinarily simple with the base model. Once put together, I simply moved all of the crap from my desk to a nearby flat surface (most people call this surface the floor) and plopped the contraption on top of my desk.
I was a little concerned at first because I use a glass desk and I wasn’t sure if the extra weight of the XE while holding my monitor would crack the thing. Fortunately, it didn’t and now more than a month in it seems completely fine.
The XE I was sent came with a bamboo desktop as well as a bamboo keyboard and mouse extension. The extension sits pushed back even with the regular desk top and about two inches below it. A matte black steel support piece holds the two together. To the left of that metal is a small plastic control panel about the size of a remote control. On it are up and down buttons, four numbered buttons for assigned heights and a memory button for assigning those heights.
A black metal column juts out of the rear of the desktop to hold a single monitor in place.
That column can telescope up and down to adjust the height of the desk and your monitor. When extended for standing, you can look under your XE to see the giant "E" shaped base that stabilizes the entire thing on your desk. The center of that E is much thicker than the two outer feet and includes an indented area where I like to pretend I keep my magical rings.
The desktop is made of recycled wood and can support about 100 pounds. It’s about 27 inches wide by about 18.5 inches deep. The keyboard extension is about 27 inches wide and about 9 inches deep. My Logitech G-series mechanical keyboard is 17.5 inches wide, which doesn’t leave a lot of space in either direction for mouse movement. But more on that later.
I have my desk raised about 16.5 inches up, which makes the monitor nearly touch the supports for my shelving. The maximum height is 18.45 inches, according to Evodesk.
When it’s fully lowered, the keyboard rests about two inches above my desk. That’s because the XE’s design doesn’t allow you to extend below the desktop. I suspect this is to ensure safety and stability, but it’s a bit of a bummer for folks used to using a keyboard that rests on a tray that slides out from under your desk.
Since the desk is powered, it also has a sizable brick, but I didn’t find hiding it among my nest of wires and other bricks under my desk too difficult.
In theory, there’s a lot to like about the XE. At the top of that list is how amazing it is to watch your desk, monitor, keyboard, speakers, mouse and maybe a cup of coffee, smoothly slide up to a standing position at 1.5 inches a second.
The fact that this device is powered and that the movement is so smooth, though not completely noiseless, is a huge plus. That’s because you can, at the spur of a moment, decide, ‘Hey, I’ve been sitting too long today. I need to stand for a bit.’ And all it takes is a push of a button. By the time you get your butt out of the seat and maybe push it back a bit, your desk is standing at attention, waiting for you.
This is certainly important for first time users of a standing desk, as I found out in my first week of use. It turns out that standing all day in one spot can get a little tiring and make your feet, your back and other muscles ache a little.
I was able to mitigate that with the excellent Topo standing pad from Ergodriven, but I also needed to ease into its use. Being able to switch effortlessly from a standing to a sitting desk was wonderful.
Tinkering with heights is super easy too. You control the position of the desk with arrow buttons and once you find a height you like you can easily program it into one of the four memory spots. I’m only using two, myself, one for standing and one for sitting. But if someone else used this desk, those other buttons would fill up quickly.
That this whole thing sits on top of my existing desk is also fantastic. I don’t need to go out and buy another desk; I don’t have to reconfigure my room. I’m good to go after maybe 15 minutes of setup. And the XE is very pretty.
The version I’ve been testing is the Evodesk XE Pro (that means it has the keyboard extension) with medium-finish bamboo desktops and clear surface protector, dual monitor mounts and a programmable memory controller.
It’s a marvel to behold.
The not so good
In general, I think the Evodesk brings a lot to the ... table.
I’ll pause here to allow your belly laughs to die down.
But getting the setup you want doesn’t come for free. The baseline Evodesk XE starts at $397 right now. The keyboard extender costs an extra $49. Those bamboo desktops an extra $39. The protector an extra $67. The controller an extra $39. And the dual monitor mount an extra $69. That brings the entire thing to $642.
Suddenly, the XE doesn’t seem like the cheap way to go for a standing desk.
This approach of an add-on for your existing desk also takes away a lot of your flatspace. Suddenly your working desk space drops to essentially the size of that 27-inch wide by 18 inch deep desktop. Sure you can use the remnants of space left on either side, but it’s dipped down considerably from your XE.
One of two chief concerns I have for the XE is the size left for your mouse movements. My son, who absolutely loved the look and approach of the XE, was completely turned off by how tiny that room is for your mouse. It’s maybe a quarter of the size most gaming mats provide. I was able to play games with it and frankly, I came not to notice it, but I’m sure that won’t be the case for everyone. I also discovered after playing for hours standing, that the position of the desk was wrong in a way that it made my wrist and forearm ache. Ache enough to stop playing. I’m sure with some testing I can figure out the sweet spot, but it looks like it won’t be the same one I use for writing.
One major benefit I discovered was the ability to quickly play Street Fighter 5 on my computer with my fight stick while standing. Sure, I nearly shook the everything off the floating desk, but it was fun!
My biggest concern is the support for and mounting of the dual monitors. I first tested the XE with a single monitor and beyond a tiny bit of shake while typing, it seemed fine. But the thing is, I use three monitors; two of them have become a norm for my daily work.
So I added on the Evodesk solution for the dual monitor mount and was deeply unimpressed. Essentially, the kit provides you a single cross bar upon which to mount two monitors. That means there’s no way to adjust the viewing angle of the monitors. And if that weren’t bad enough, for some reason, the two monitors when mounted seem to naturally skew slightly away from each other. The left monitor ever so slightly angles to the left and the right monitor ever so slightly angles to the right. It’s a minor difference, but it bugs the hell out of me when I use it. I find myself sort of leaning or scootching my chair back and forth and I work.
I contacted Evodesk weeks ago to ask if it was perhaps a faulty product or some installation issue, but haven't heard back. While Evodesk does sell much more capable looking, adjustable monitor mounts, it doesn’t appear that they are supported by the XE, which is a big problem.
Not only does the addition of the dual monitor mount add a viewing issue, it slightly increases the wobble of the desk when it’s extended. This isn’t too surprising, I suppose, and I personally never found to be an issue.
Fortunately, when resting, the desk is as solid as any desk would be, whether you have one or two monitors installed.
To buy or not to buy
As someone now sort of interested in the concept and convenience of easily shifting between a standing and a standard desk, I love the idea of the XE.
The price isn’t terrible. The mousing size seems to be something I’ve mostly adjusted too and the wobbling doesn’t really bother me. But that dual monitor issue is a complete deal breaker for me.
If you’re in the market for a convertible standing desk and don’t want to buy an entirely new desk AND you only use one monitor, you should take a look at the Evodesk XE.
If you have any interest in using more than one monitor, though, give the desk a pass.