Published on — February 27 2015
Austin based NextDesk produces a range of high quality adjustable standing desks, with the emphasis very much on style and design. Extensive use is made of aluminum for the framework and on its flagship product Air, even the top is aluminum.
Its Terra desk was voted best standing desk in 2013 by thewirecutter.com however the huge increase in sales following this award has brought its own set of challenges.
Many buyers report long delays in receiving their desks, going well beyond the promised delivery date – in some cases running to months.
Setting problems aside, what's the main attraction of these workstations?
Who will these desks appeal to?
Even an entry level Terra model will set you back almost $1500 and once you get into some of the top end desks, you may need a budget of $3000 – $4000 to get what you want. So, for many the main barrier will be price. On the other hand, those happy to spend this sort of money on a moving top desk will find its functionality, weight capacity and adjustment range will accommodate them whether tall or short built.
Let’s look at the finer details of the NextDesk range.
Product technical details
There are three different ranges of adjustable height desk, Air and Terra are freestanding, with two legs as standard and a four leg Pro alternative. Solo is designed for wall mounted use, although there is an alternative – Solo Plus, a single column floor standing version.
NextDesk Air is the top of the range model and is a great looking product with an unusual top. This is machined from a solid piece of what the company terms ‘recycled aircraft grade aluminum’ just 1/4 inch thick giving it a beautiful appearance and having a sheet of reinforced clear glass on top. This product only has a single top size 63.50” x 31.50” possibly due to limitations in the manufacturing process.
NextDesk Terra has a lower spec work surface. Instead of the aluminum/glass top it comes with a bamboo top in either a light, medium or dark stained finish. Top sizes come in two choices, 63.50” x 31.50” and a larger 79” x 31.50”
Apart from the tops both desks use the same frame, motor and controls system.
What do the desks come with as standard?
- Push-button power height selection with 3 memory presets and LED readout
- Dual microprocessor controlled lifting columns
- A pair of18 volt DC motors fully concealed, one per leg
- Recycled aluminum frame painted in either black gloss or white as standard as well as silver gloss, silver matte and black matte at extra cost
- 15 feet of expandable cable cover to house power and data cables
- Desk tops include a pair of grommets set on 31.5” centers at the rear of the top, Terra has an alternative single centered grommet if preferred
- Grommet covers are finished to match the aluminum finish of the desk
- Lifting capacity 315lbs
- Height adjustability range from a low of 24” to a maximum 50.5” at a lift speed of 1.7” per second
What’s different about Pro models?
Users frequently comment about a lack of stability on the two leg version when at full height, the alternative four leg Pro version should take care of this. Mind you it will set you back an additional $1200 for the upgrade, a considerable on cost.
On the Air Pro and Terra Pro the feet at the base of the legs are larger and there is a leg near each corner of the desk. Pro desks are braced for additional stability with the Artisan bar. This is an elegantly formed curved flat aluminum section fitted side to side between the legs and sitting 10” from the floor.
Pro models have an additional 2 motors, making one for each leg all operated by the same single control unit as the two leg versions. The addition of the extra legs and motors doubles the lifting capacity to a mighty 630lbs, although impressive it’s difficult to imagine when you would need such a huge capacity.
What accessories are available on Air and Terra?
- Artisan bar in place of standard crossbar to help keep desk rigid, (standard on Pro)
- Keyboard platform
- NextDesk Pulse – software to help you get most out of your desk
- Power management block
- Vanity cover for rear underside of top to help conceal cables
- Harmon Kardon sound system
- Single and double monitor arms
- Treadmill base to convert to walking desk
- Under desk CPU holder
So much for the freestanding desks, what about the wall mounted model?
For people who don't have the space or budget for the main units there is a smaller version intended for mounting to your office wall. It’s a single upright, one motor desk where the main column is fixed direct to the wall. It needs to be attached where there is a vertical stud in the wall structure to give proper stability.
There are two top sizes 30” x 24” and 36” x 24” in the same bamboo finishes as the Terra. Lifting range is the same as the other desks via a single motor concealed in the leg and operated by the controller common to all models.
Lastly, a more recently introduced version Solo Plus offers a freestanding version based on the same lifting column and control gear supported on a splayed ‘I’ frame leg. Plus has a single top, 36” x 23.5” with rounded corners. Additionally it lifts between 21.75” and 47.33” so not suitable for people over 6 feet tall.
Lifting capacity on both Solos is 250lbs, that's impressive for a small top desk.
Air and Terra carry a 3 year warranty with Solo and Solo Plus only having 2 years warranty. For what are undoubtedly premium priced workstations this doesn't express much confidence in the product by the manufacturer. Especially when you consider that products costing under half the price of these desks have more than double the warranty period, 7 years in the case of Jarvis.
There’s little doubt that NextDesk’s products are of a high quality and well engineered. If you are seeking a desk with great looks, it’s difficult to look beyond the NextDesk Air with its minimalist aluminum top. And if you prefer natural bamboo for your work surface you're basically getting the same structure in the NextDesk Terra as the all aluminum Air.
Of course all this great design comes at a cost and these desks certainly aren't cheap. Not only that, accessories are very much at a premium price too.For example the power management block costs a hefty $99, difficult to justify when you can buy the same thing on the web for around $30.
Even if you aren't fazed by the price of the product, it’s hard not to ignore the serious customer service issues. Delayed deliveries, incorrect parts shipped and a frequent lack of response from the company when things do go wrong are still common occurrences. Here’s a recent discourse from the comments on TheWireCutter that's typical of the sort of frustration experienced by buyers.
NextDesk says it has recently taken steps to address these problems with a move to new premises and the hiring of a new COO as well as additional staff. Let’s hope it gets its act together and fixes these issues, because its products remain attractive and prospective buyers shouldn't have to worry about poor service.
Where to buy online
All NextDesk products are sold via its web site at NextDesks.com