Last November, Nathan Stretch made the switch to a standing desk when he purchased a NextDesk Terra Electronic Adjustable Height Desk. Here’s what Nathan had to tell us about his experience:
Here’s my setup. Couple monitors, couple computers, a standard (but very comfortable) “Staples Special” chair, and a NextDesk Terra. Not the best pictures, but hey — I work at night; I take pictures at night. All those cables under there… I had grand plans when I ordered my height-adjustable desk that I’d measure them all out, order longer ones where necessary, then run them through the cable-management sleeves that come with the Terra. (The same sleeves that you can see hanging from the bottom of the desk, still neatly bunched up in their original elastics.) Turns out all my existing cables reached standing height (at least, given my towering 5’8″ stature), and thus that project was shelved. But if cable management’s your thing, the Terra does that!
I’m extremely happy with my decision to move to a standing desk, although not necessarily with the NextDesk specifically. The ability to switch from sitting to standing and vice-versa in seconds is fantastic. I’ve found the standing option not only great from a health perspective, but also very convenient for many tasks that involve a lot of moving to and from the desk. Also, the height adjustability has turned out to be handy for other things besides just switching between sitting and standing. I’ll occasionally just lean back and watch TV or a movie on my monitor; with this desk I can lower the whole thing to a more convenient viewing height (and a more convenient footrest height!) with the touch of a button. I also tend to eat at my desk occasionally, and have found that it’s handy to have it slightly higher than normal for that. (If you’ve ever tried to type on a laptop at the kitchen table, you may have noticed it was a bit high. Turns out ideal table height > ideal desk height.) So, I love having an adjustable height desk. Next I’m planning to add a low-profile treadmill, so I can work sitting, standing, or walking!
Now, about the NextDesk Terra specifically: I chose the extended surface (79″ x 31.5″ for an extra $300), with black legs, and the “dark” bamboo option. (The dark option is more of a medium brown than truly dark. You can see the edge of my mahogany stain filing cabinet at the right of the second picture for comparison.)
The good: it rises and lowers very quickly; it has three customizable preset heights; it’s made with sustainable materials; and I can’t imagine any competitor being superior in looks. Also the extended surface is very generously sized, although with a price to match (much like the desk itself).
The not so good: while the bamboo surface is indeed hard, as advertised, it’s certainly far from indestructible. Mine has accumulated several nicks and scratches. That said, any desk made of wood will be prone to scratching when introduced to a harder material — the metal tip of a dropped pen for instance. While the desk rises very smoothly, it tends to shudder while being lowered. I’m not certain whether this is normal or just my model. Since it works well enough, I haven’t tried to contact the manufacturer regarding the shuddering, since my attempts to contact them on other issues in the past have been less than successful.
More on that in a moment.
I’ve heard some owners mention that the Terra can wobble at standing height during vigorous typing and such, due to its being supported on only two legs. I expect this would be common to most standing desks, which tend to share the same dual support structure. Personally, though, I haven’t been bothered by it. If you’re intentionally looking for it, you can see the desk wobbling a bit when you type at standing height, but you have to really pay attention to even notice. It certainly hasn’t been a problem for me.
What has been a problem, unfortunately, is basically every interaction I’ve had with NextDesk, the makers of the Terra. Here’s the basic summary:
1. Being in Canada, I wanted to check shipping and any applicable import costs with NextDesk prior to ordering. I was repeatedly promised that this information would be sent, but had to follow up many times by phone and email over a period of weeks to get an answer to this simple question. Every time someone promised to get back to me by a specific date, it came and went with no contact.
2. The other thing I wanted to check before buying was whether the height preset buttons needed to be held down while the desk was moving to the preset height. I was clearly and explicitly assured by the NextDesk sales rep over the phone that the buttons did not need to be held down. In fact, he laughed at hearing that some competitors’ desks did require this, saying that it would kind of defeat the purpose of preset buttons! (A sentiment I shared to some extent.) The only problem is… the Terra’s preset buttons DO need to be held down. So best case, their salesperson was completely misinformed and didn’t bother to check his facts. Worst case, he blatantly lied to me to make a sale. Generally I would give the benefit of the doubt; however…
3. After setting up the desk, I sent an email to the salesperson who gave me this misinformation, pointing out his error and asking what sort of remedy he suggested, since hands-free height adjustment was one of the key selling features for me. (Ideally I was really hoping that I’d simply received an old firmware version, or something along those lines.) No response for several days. Emailed again. Again no response. Called and left him a message. No response. I’m sure I could have kept trying and eventually would have gotten through to someone, but at this point I decided it wasn’t worth the time. Apparently now that they’ve got my $2000, NextDesk no longer has any interest in communicating with me. Until…
4. I wrote a review of the Terra and my experiences with NextDesk
on my blog
. That didn’t get an official response either, but a few months after it went up, it got an interesting comment. A glowing review of the NextDesk Terra, by “Natalie.” It mentioned things like their sustainable materials, optional keyboard tray, and wiring sleeves. In fact, it pretty much hit all the key points in their sales brochure. Also, it turned out Natalie’s IP address was located in Austin Texas, where NextDesk’s headquarters is located. What’s more, “Natalie” had posted the same comment, word for word, on several other NextDesk-related blog posts around the net. I suppose she might just really, really
like her desk…
5. That about covers it. Oh, also the documentation that came with the desk was atrocious, but looking at their website it appears it has been improved. Kudos for that.
So, all around, the Terra seems like a decent desk. Yes, the preset buttons have to be held down, but it moves between sitting and standing heights in approximately five seconds, so it really isn’t that much of an issue. The shuddering when it’s lowered is a bit strange, but doesn’t cause any problems. (I can have a full glass of water on the desk with no worries.) It’s nice and big and attractive. I’d say as long as you don’t really care about the kind of company you’re supporting, you’re not worried about product support, and you don’t mind spending twice as much as a GeekDesk Max
for a comparable product, then I’d recommend the Terra. It’s a nice desk.
Nathan Stretch is the founder of SearchTempest.com, a site that lets users search multiple craigslist cities, eBay, Amazon, and others, all with one search, and AutoTempest.com, which lets you search all the top US car classifieds sites at once. Nathan’s sites are all about making people’s lives slightly more efficient, so it’s not surprising that he’s interested in an efficient workspace as well.
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