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Have I gone full computer station hipster? Maybe.
You see, I have been siting at computers either playing video games or doing work for the better part of my life now. Most of that time of course has been with poor posture. It starts to take its toll and you start to look for ways for your body not to be mad at you.
Enter the standing desk. They offer numerous health benefits, and might help you feel like you are doing something other than just sitting around all day. This crazy world of standing while being on a computer is more complicated than you might think.
There are 4 types of standing desks:
- Height Adjustable Standing Desks
- Standing Desk Converters
- Non-adjustable Standing Desks
- Desktop Risers
*Do note, these are only types of standing desks, other types of desks can be found here.
Let’s dive in.
- Height Adjustable Standing Desks
- Standing Desk Converters
- Fixed-Height Standing Desks
- Desktop Risers
Height Adjustable Standing Desks
These can be considered the real deal of Standing Desks. It is what most people probably think of when they read the name. You have a desktop surface, and legs that allow it to move up and down so you can sit, or stand. Crazy!
There are all sorts of sit-to-stand desk brands out there these days, some better than others of course, but here are some main points to consider when you are looking:
To me there is nothing worse than a desk that shakes when I type. With the mobility and internals of these desks, you can get some shake when you are using it regularly, as well as when you are adjusting the height of the desk.
Gears and Internals
The most popular standing desks use electric motors to move the desk up and down, but there are hand crank types out there as well. If a desk is made with cheaper parts, they can wear out quickly leaving you to repair your desk or sadly in search of a new one. Since most of us do not want to buy a new desk on a regular basis, it is best to do research on the internal mechanisms to ensure they are good quality.
How high or low can the desk actually go? When you are imagining the desk, it is easy to picture it going as high and low as you want, but rest assured, there are limits. Measure your chair and elbow height and compare to the specs of the desk. The last thing you want is a desk that is almost comfortable to sit and stand at.
It may not sound like a big deal, but how long it takes the desk to go from sitting to standing height will more than likely affect how you use it. If it takes 30+ seconds to switch, that is long enough to remove you from your work (or game) that you will probably put it off. If you are putting it off, then are you really using the desk well? If your are looking at a hand crank option, please think on this point. Adjustment speed should not be underestimated.
Regular desks have limits and so do stand up desks. The limits for a standing desk can be a bit lower than you might think. 150 lbs – 300 lbs is the weight limit range you are probably going to be looking at, depending on the make and model of course. Make sure your monitor setup, pc case if it is off the ground, and whatever accessories are not going to exceed that limit. Most people wont exceed those limits, unless you plan on riding it (note: you should not ride it).
The actual table top that you will be using also has some considerations to be aware of. Aside from the obvious color and material it is made of, you should consider the size and shape of it. While looking at the options it may be easy to assume they are all the same size curved rectangles. That would be incorrect of course! There are many options including L-shape, curved, U-shape, and you can always add your own top to the adjustable leg base.
Standing Desk Converters
While these are not my favorite thing in the world, they certainly have a time and place where they are the best option to get the job done. There are a few different styles to consider:
Freestanding Lever Platform
These things usually come assembled and sit right on your existing desk. This might be ideal if you are at work and can’t exactly bring in an entirely new desk. They work on a lever which takes the whole thing from your current desk height up to standing height. Genius! Some models will even sit on the edge of the desk and drop your keyboard lower than the desk height, acting like a traditional keyboard tray.
This style is a bit different than the Lever. There is a base with some weight to it that is attached to a column no less. The platform then slides up and down on it. Pretty simple. You can get them as a freestanding option (no attachment to the desk), as well as ones that mount to the front or to the back of the desk.
On a Swinging Arm
I have primarily seen this style of adjustable arm based platform in doctors offices and hospitals. However in this case instead of being mounted on a wall, it attaches to your desk via a clamp. The adjustment on these is usually just lift to the desired height and it’s off to the races. These have the added benefit of being able to move closer or further away from the desk as well as up and down.
Fixed-Height Standing Desks
A fixed-height standing desk is a desk that is always at the standing height. It does not adjust, it doesn’t do anything special. The plus side to this is that they are are often the best looking desks as they don’t have a lot of design restrictions. Moving on, right? Not so fast, there are still options to be had here:
You may not use it for drafting, but these desks can be fixed height and fit in seamlessly with the design of your computer station. They should have an adjustable tilt on the desktop itself, which you probably won’t be using, but you could in some odd use cases.
Regular Desk Options, but for Standing
You start to see more of your regular computer desk options come into play in this category. There are executive style standing desks with drawers, desks using metal, and even some fixed height portable options made of cardboard. There is certainly a lot of variety here.
Probably the simplest solution to getting on your feet while at the computer is a riser. It is simply a platform that is raised up off the existing desktop surface. There are both fixed and adjustable height options, and can vary in width and length. It is a good way to get started if you have uncertainties about working or gaming while standing up. It is also a nicer looking solution than that cardboard box, not pointing any fingers here. Let’s look at the options:
Fixed-Height Desktop Risers
Well, it is all in the name here. These are no adjustable solutions to a standing desk that sit right on your existing desktop. They can be pretty stylish and blend in to your existing computer station.
Adjustable-Height Desktop Risers
Again as the name implies these solutions offer a way to adjust the height of a platform that sits on top of your existing desk. These are going to adjust in a more manual fashion than the fancy electric motor desks by using telescoping legs or even a wood slot and peg system.
These are usually more compact in nature, offering only enough space for a laptop to be used. They can often double as a sitting solution as well.
I personally have one of these that go by many different brand names. It has been a solid solution to using my laptop while standing. It gave me the standing experience I wanted so that I can make the full dive into a complete standing desk solution.
There are many types of ways to obtain a standing desk. Choose the best option for you to get started and take the plunge. Just get started. After all, we aren’t getting any younger.