Autonomous SmartDesk Review

Autonomous SmartDesk Review – My #1 Standing Desk Recommendation

TLDR; Looking for an affordable, sturdy, easy-to-assemble, and incredibly well-designed standing desk that can be adjusted with the push of a button? The Autonomous SmartDesk is my #1 standing desk recommendation.

Autonomous SmartDesk Review Snapshot

4.5 Rating

autonomous-smartdesk-2-cropped

PROS

+ Simple to assemble
+ Sturdy
+ Can support tons of weight
+ Sleek design
+ Very affordable

CONS

– Heavy (i.e. hard to frequently move from one office to the next)
– Easy to scuff the surface if you’re not careful

Disclaimer: Autonomous.ai provided me with a SmartDesk 2 for the sake of this review but did not influence my opinion of this product in any way. And in fact I purchased an additional unit and a MyoChair desk chair after reviewing this unit.

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My 15+ year quest to optimize my workstation all began the first time I saw this picture of Walter Murch editing Cold Mountain while standing:

walter murch at standing desk

The idea intrigued me.

Would standing more often be the key to better productivity, less brain fog, and having more creative energy throughout my (long) days?

As a feature film & television editor (my current show being Cobra Kai on Netflix), very early in my career at the ripe age of 25 I reached the point of exhaustion and borderline burnout from sitting in a dark room for 60 or more hours per week, and I desperately needed a solution. I wasn’t sure if standing was the answer, but I intended to find out.

That was over fifteen years ago, and I haven’t owned a conventional desk chair since. I’ve been a “standing editor” for as long as I can remember now. But when I first started this journey, standing desks were not easy to come by, not to mention height-adjustable at the push of a single button! (when I cut Burn Notice I had to hand-crank my desk from sitting to standing) After experimenting with several different ways to “hack” a standing desk, I purchased my first motorized, height-adjustable desk in 2007…and it cost me over $3000!!!

Luckily in the last fifteen years our culture has (finally) come around to the idea that sitting is killing our creativity, and there are now countless, borderline overwhelming options for height-adjustable workstations that can raise and lower at the push of a button. Now as one of the leading voices in the standing desk movement in Hollywood, I’m asked repeatedly via social media and email:

What standing desk do you recommend?

 

After trying out various options myself throughout the years as well as talking to others who have tried brands from GeekDesk, Ikea, UpLift, TBC Consoles, and many more, I can confidently share that the Autonomous SmartDesk is my #1 recommendation for a standing desk that is affordable, sturdy, and would look amazing in just about any creative office space (or even in your kitchen…you know who you are).

smartdesk large top photo

Below I have broken down my review into the following categories:

  • Ease of assembly
  • Ease of setup & use
  • Design
  • Sturdiness
  • Affordability

Is the Autonomous SmartDesk easy to assemble?

The Verdict: The SmartDesk is very easy to assemble.

No doubt whether you’re working from home or slowly easing back into office life, the thought at the top of your mind is, “Will this be a pain in the butt to put together?” I was incredibly impressed by the engineering of this product and how simple it was to assemble. As a freelancer in the ‘gig economy’ I move from one office to the next every 4-7 months. And for years before companies and production houses would provide me with height-adjustable workstations (luckily they have become standard issue), I would lug my workstation from one job to the next. Therefore ease of assembly is a HUGE factor when I purchase a desk.

It took all of 45 minutes to assemble my SmartDesk, and that was allowing for extra time because I wanted my 10-yr old son to be part of the process (technically he would be using this unit, not me).

They provide all the tools right in the box (you really just need an allen wrench), and the directions are very simple to follow even if you’re not terribly handy.

Autonomous SmartDesk base assembly photo

Autonomous SmartDesk table top assembly photo

Autonomous SmartDesk height selection panel

Is the Autonomous SmartDesk easy to use?

The Verdict: The SmartDesk is very easy to set up and use in minutes.

Ok, I get it. It’s a desk. Not terribly complicated on any level, right? It has legs and a top, and it goes up and down. Big whoop. But I’ve tried height-adjustable workstations that have convoluted control panels with confusing buttons and presets that just don’t work.

Once the Autonomous SmartDesk was assembled, it took all of fifteen seconds to understand how to reset it to factory settings (to level it), then raise and lower via up and down arrows, and then most importantly use 1 of the 4 custom presets for varying heights.

Furthermore, as this unit was ultimately destined to become my 10-yr old son’s home workstation for virtual school, I simply handed him the instructions to set up his own height presets so he could adjust between his preferred sitting and standing heights. He figured it out in about 2 minutes.

autonomous smartdesk nighttime photo

Is the SmartDesk Well Designed?

The Verdict: The SmartDesk is the sexiest standing desk I’ve ever used.

Throughout my years of searching for the perfect height-adjustable workstation I’ve come across some real clunkers. The hand-cranked option provided to me for four straight seasons while editing Burn Notice definitely comes to mind. But I’ve also seen various other models that have sacrificed design for the sake of affordability.

Despite the fact that the SmartDesk is the most affordable standing desk I’ve come across, the design is incredibly sleek. It doesn’t matter whether you’re building a workstation in a high-end creative office space with million dollar clients, or if you’re trying to shoehorn your workstation between your dining room table and kitchen island, the simple yet sleek design profile of this desk will fit in anywhere with any decor. It’s sleek yet minimal, and with a variety of color options you simply can’t go wrong. It will fit in anywhere.

An additional concern with many standing desks is that the higher you raise them, the more cable clutter you create, thus creating a really ugly view for clients when you adjust from sitting to standing. Luckily the SmartDesk is designed in such a way that you can easily thread your cables out of the field of view, and they even supply cable management straps so you don’t have to provide your own.

Is the SmartDesk Sturdy? Can it support lots of heavy equipment?

The verdict: This desk is built like a tank.

Most people looking to make the transition from sitting to standing simply have to move their laptop or iMac to their new desk, and maybe a desk lamp and a few pictures. But for those who work in the media industry like me, you most likely have two large monitors, a mixing board, your main CPU unit, multiple hard drives, speaker monitors, and more – literally over a hundred pounds of equipment – which for most standing desks can be a real issue (especially for a brand I won’t mention that starts with “I” and ends with “Kea”).

zack arnold standing on the sturdy SmartDesk

According to their spec sheet, the Autonomous SmartDesk is capable of lifting over 300 lbs at the press of a button. I can share that after testing it myself, if there’s a reason you need to stand on your desk, you can do so confidently (but you might scare the crap out of your wife…fair warning).

To emphasize one more time: I’ve never come across a standing desk this affordable that is built this well. At this price point, most other desks are made from a material one step above cardboard.

THIS. DESK. IS. SOLID.

Is the Autonomous SmartDesk affordable?

The Verdict: The SmartDesk is the best bang for your buck.

This is where I’m the most pleasantly surprised about the Autonomous SmartDesk – it’s also the most affordable in its class. Given everything I’ve already expressed above, this unit could be DOUBLE the price and still considered affordable compared to its competition.

See for yourself based on the current market prices (as of publishing this article):

  • Autonomous SmartDesk 2 Home Office (29″ x 53″) – Starting at $379
  • IKEA BEKANT (47″ x 31″) – Starting at $399
  • UPLIFT Standing Desk (V2) (42″ x 30″) – Starting at $599
  • GeekDesk Model 4 – Small (47″ x 31″) – Starting at $749

I own a GeekDesk, and I’ve used or seen the other two competitors. None of these come as close to the quality of the Autonomous desk.

AND IT’S THE CHEAPEST OF EVERY OPTION.

Seriously. This desk is a NO BRAINER.

Looking for an affordable, rock-solid standing desk? The Autonomous SmartDesk is my #1 recommendation for creative professionals.

At a solid 4 ½ stars, I cannot recommend this desk enough for someone looking to make the transition from sitting to standing at their creative workstation more often. The only reason I didn’t give this desk a full 5 stars is that after repeated use from both my son and daughter for 8 hours per day, we found that the shiny surface had a tendency to get scuffed a bit, and it would require more than a simple wipe-down to get back to factory form. To be clear, it wasn’t permanent marks, it was just easy to mark it up with the rubber pads on keyboards, mice, and from erasers that might slip off the paper. Otherwise I can see this desk withstanding just about anything you throw at it.

If you are looking for a height-adjustable workstation that is:

  • Easy to assemble
  • Simple to set up, create presets, and adjust easily
  • Well designed (and frankly sexy)
  • Able to support a lot of heavy equipment
  • The most affordable in its class

Then the Autonomous SmartDesk is the best, most affordable standing desk I can recommend for creative professionals interested in taking their creativity and productivity to a whole new level.

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Interested in building the regular habit of movement throughout your otherwise sedentary day?

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Further Listening & Learning:

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, and the creator of the Optimize Yourself program. He helps ambitious creative professionals and entrepreneurs DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time, your energy, and your creativity so you can produce higher quality work in less time (and ultimately become a productivity ninja). “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people, things, and passions in your life…all without sacrificing your health (or sanity) in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”