I work from home as a database consultant. For years, I’ve had two desks in my office – a normal sitting desk, and a standing desk over in the corner. Every now and then, when I was feeling ambitious, I’d disconnect my laptop, shuffle over to the standing desk, and work from over there.
But because I had to move my laptop over there, and I didn’t have the same monitor/keyboard/trackpad, and I didn’t have my recording gear over there…I almost never bothered. The standing desk went unused.
A few months ago, I took the plunge and bought a $3,500 NextDesk Terra Pro for three reasons:
Reason #1: I can raise my whole desk to a memorized standing height or sitting height with one touch. When the urge strikes me, I can just hold down a button, push my chair out of the way, and work standing up. I don’t have to guesstimate what the right height is – I just set it once, and it goes back there every time.
This works wonderfully:
I find myself switching between sitting and standing a couple times per day. When I’m working with clients over video, standing up is so freeing. I even find myself stepping forwards and backwards to use my arms in different ways on the webcam. When I’m working on code or a blog post, I’ll usually sit down. Time to record a quick video? Up it goes.
I’ve even polished my setup so that my cameras and lighting all rise and fall with the desk. (My microphone is on a boom stand on the floor, though – I don’t want my typing/clicking to travel through the microphone stand and affect my audio.)
Reason #2: The Terra Pro has four legs, so the monitors don’t shake. Four legs means more stability, which means no wobbly, shaking monitor screens – even when the desk is raised to a high standing height. I type hard and fast (insert joke here), and it really pisses me off when the monitor shakes.
I didn’t buy the Terra Pro’s monitor arms – those didn’t get particularly good reviews – and instead I went with a Monitors in Motion Boa II. It’s a super-sturdy two-monitor stand that is machined out of aluminum. I’m not a big fan – it’s sturdy, but it’s not strong enough to hold my 32″ monitor vertically no matter how hard I crank down on the allen bolts. I’ve had to support the monitor with my little Tascam audio recorder, which works, but doesn’t exactly look boss. Would not buy the Boa again.
But hey, on the bright side, no shaking of the monitors whatsoever – even though my office is carpeted.
Reason #3: I’m a sedentary geek. I’m 40, and let’s face it, the more I get up off my lazy ass, the better.
What I Like About the NextDesk Terra Pro
Assembly was easy. Took me maybe thirty minutes by myself, and I’m not exactly known for my mechanical prowess.
The motors are solid. Some afternoons, my little dog Ernie likes to sleep on my lap, so I’ll lower the desk to the seated position, put my feet up on one corner of the desk, put Ernie on my lap, and surf the web and do emails. Because the NextDesk has individual motors in each desk leg, I worried that the uneven distribution of weight would cause problems. Doesn’t seem to.
The “artisan bar” is a good foot rest. I find myself standing with one foot on it all the time. If you’re considering the less expensive Terra desk, don’t bother with the artisan bar because it’s too far at the back of the desk. For the Pro and Air Pro desks, though, it’s awesome.
What I Meh About the NextDesk Terra Pro
I keep shuffling my chair mat and my standing mat around. I know, first world problems, but I can’t work for an extended period of time while standing on my chair mat, and I can’t roll my chair around on a cushy standing mat. I end up with my chair mat on the floor, and then whenever I wanna stand, I pull my standing mat on top of it.
Holy cow, the Terra Pro is expensive. I’d held off on this purchase for quite a while because I kept comparing it to a $3,500 laptop – which one would I rather have more? It’s a good desk, don’t get me wrong, and I don’t have a single complaint about how it’s constructed, but it seems like it’s about $1,000 more expensive than it needs to be.
Granted, you can get a base Terra Pro for about $2,700, but you won’t:
- Add $300 for the wider 79″ desk – you want this if you’ve got two big monitors.
- Add $150 for the silver matte finish legs – I know this sounds stupid, but they look way better than the default black legs.
- Add $150 for the vanity cover cable management – you’re going to be powering this desk up and down all the time, and you don’t want a bunch of cables moving around where your legs go.
Skip these options:
- Power management – it’s a slender surge protector screwed to the bottom of the desk. Just buy one and do that yourself to save $80.
- Keyboard/mouse tray – this makes sense for seated desks, but not standing ones. You’re going to want to lean on the desk while you work sometimes, and you can’t really do that with the tray option.
- Sound system – the pictures make it look like there’s no cables, but there are plenty of cables. Those speakers are so 2000. Take that $200 and spend it on a pair of tiny but mighty Audioengine monitors.
Shipping is way slower than NextDesk says. I’d read reviews saying they promised shipping by day X, and then the pallet actually left the factory weeks later. That happened with mine as well. That wouldn’t be such a big deal if it arrived in a series of small boxes, but it arrives on a pallet carried by a freight truck. That requires a lot more planning for us downtown high-rise dwellers where we can’t just put a pallet on the elevator without building approval.
Bottom line, all things considered: it’s awesome. I love it, and I’d totally buy it again.
Annotated Photo of My Office Gear
A – BenQ BL3200PT 32″ monitor – really love this. 2560×1440 resolution, USB 3 hub built in.
B – Asus VE248Q 24″ monitor – meh, just alright. Side monitor for Twitter and Hipchat.
C – Coffee.
D – Tascam DR-60MD MKII audio recorder – for better audio on my training videos, I use a professional microphone (Audix SCX1-HC) on a boom stand above my desk. The audio recordings go into the Tascam on SD cards, and then after I finish recording, I merge the Tascam audio, Mac screencast, and GoPro video feeds together using Final Cut Pro.
E – Microsoft Sculpt Bluetooth Ergonomic Keyboard – I don’t need a number pad, and I want the trackpad as near to my hands as possible, so this thing is perfect. Plus I hate wires.
G – Audioengine A2+ Monitors – look great, sound great, very compact.
H – LimoStudio photography bulbs in CowboyStudio stands – these bulbs are crazy bright and put out very natural-looking light. Best of all, they’re not hot, so I can leave them on during recording without breaking a sweat.
I – Boom microphone stand with an Audix SCX1-HC microphone mounted above view.
J – Orcas of Queen Charlotte Island by Blaine Billman – print of a very detailed pointillism piece we picked up in Alaska.
K – Peephole #1 and Peephole #3 by Sas Christian – I’ve adored Sas’s work for years, and I’ve slowly built up a little collection of paintings and pencil drawings. These were the first two paintings of hers I bought.
L – Apple MacBook Pro 15″ – the brains of my desk operation, but it’s not actually on my desk. I don’t need access to it since I do everything via the Bluetooth keyboard/trackpad and the monitors, so it’s over on a separate cabinet.
M – Blackmagic Design MultiDock 2 – holds the 1TB SATA SSDs where my work-in-progress training videos go. I used to work off hard drives, but now that I’m using multiple GoPros as cameras, the sheer amount of video files required means I need a lot of fast storage. This plugs directly into one of the MBP’s Thunderbolt ports.
N – Elgato Thunderbold 2 Dock – plugs into the other Thunderbold port and drives my monitors, Ethernet, more USB3 ports, etc.
O – GoPro HERO4 Blacks – I used to use HD camcorders, but I’ve switched to the GoPros for better 4K video and smaller size on my desk. Sounds crazy to record 4K talking head video, but the end result is much better then HD camcorders. I’m using Luxebell Skeleton cases to mount the GoPros on small tripods, plus keep the USB and SD ports exposed.
Not annotated: Herman Miller Aeron chair – bought this back in 2010, and it’s held up extremely well. Get the Forward Tilt option if you’re the kinda person who leans into their work.
I have used a cobbled together standing desk for about a year.
I am about to give it up because I am finding standing all day a bit much. Chalk it up to getting old.
I don’t think I can go with a gonzo setup like yours, but something that allows for a mix of standing and sitting would be helpful.
Yeah, I can’t stand all day either, even with a good standing mat. The variation seems to be the key.
couple of other tips I’ve come across from others during my own standing desk journey…
– foot bar is clutch, alternating feet helps tremendously
– walk around when possible (e.g. conf calls w/out video feed)
– flexing your butt will activate your core and help with posture and overall comfort
– a lean-to stool can be a nice compromise by taking some of the weight off your legs while not totally destroying your posture
– start slow and build up endurance (take breaks as needed…better to err on the side of too many breaks than too few)
As a low cost alternative, I recommend a GeekDesk. You can buy a frame without the top for $525. I did that and put an IKEA desktop on it. I’ve had it for five years now and it has never let me down. I also put a treadmill under it. The treadmill has a couple of rollers so I can get it out of the way if I so desire.
You can check out a picture of my setup here: https://flic.kr/p/pr2ZpM Please excuse the cables, I have since cleaned up that mess…
Hi Rick. What model treadmill is that? I bought one years ago and had to disconnect the arms and control box from it to put it under my desk. It’s a pain to move around and the control box is huge. Thanks!
Hi Anne, It is a LifeSpan TR1200-DT3.
Rick – yeah, I’d seen a friend’s GeekDesk, but the way I lean on my desks and type pretty hard, I wasn’t happy with the monitor’s movement.
Yea, I can see that being an issue if you have monitor arms. As you can see, I have a platform for my displays.
I also went for a GeekDesk, by buying just the frame/legs/motor and putting my own desktop on it. I’ve had it for ~2 years and it’s worked flawlessly.
I usually work pomodoro-style: 2 sitting, 1 standing.
I contributed to the kickstarter for Standdesk.co ($650) and years later I have the legs for it, but not the top yet. The construction is fairly solid and I hope beyond hope that it doesn’t shake (I pound my keyboard), but it has only two legs and I’m not sure yet since I don’t have the top. We’ll see. Your setup looks great, but $3500 does seem steep.
Anne – ooo, that looks interesting. I’ll be curious to see how the wobbling goes.
I just recently watch a setup breakdown by Troy Hunt and his choices for a boom arm and I thought his choice that mounts to a desk might alleviate your issue with having to adjust your mic.
HTH. Troy goes into good depth on his setup and reason.
BJ – thanks! His setup is dictated by his lack of video, though – my training videos feature my talking head, and I don’t want a big microphone in the way.
Ah yes, that would be an issue then, wouldn’t it. 🙂
Thanks for doing this topic! Right now I have a DYI version and am looking at the ready desk as a beginner option.
Not adjustable, but oh well, not expensive either…
Here’s mine. I really like it but note the crank, no motors.
yes yes, but what KIND of coffee?
There are some great ideas here. Thanks for posting. And the extra effort for the mic, lighting, and picture quality are appreciated in your videos. Well, maybe not ALL the picture detail…
Receiving by freight is always fun. I had a similar experience when I ordered my smoker. 400 lbs of steel earns you the “It will be there sometime later this week” estimate. Of course, the delivery is that much more exciting.
BUT AH WANT YOU TO SEE MAH POREZ
I am wondering what type of cabinet your Mac is on. It’s not annotated, but it looks cool and matches your desk. I am putting together a new home office and your setup is very useful. Thanks!
Thanks! That’s an Ikea cabinet like the Galant roll-front cabinet. (It’s a prior model.)
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The Audioengine A2 speakers are not monitors in any way. Their sound signature is far too colored to be considered a pair of studio monitors.
Nick – OK, thanks for stopping by!
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Stay away from the bamboo top. I’m on my third top in less than 2 year and this one is also cracking like the others before it. It’s also super, super soft and easily scuffs up even if you’re careful. For a nearly $2,000 desk one would expect to get more than a year or so from the product before the desktop requires replacing. Super frustrating.
Hmmm, that’s odd – I gotta wonder what you’re doing to the top? I’m still on the same top, and I absolutely love it. What would you have gotten instead?
Nothing, that’s just it. I’m a graphic and web designer, and baby all of my equipment. Pics here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ir2dbdc9jqnw7dw/AABdiOLfnmbBq2qRv3CchZ1Ua?dl=0
The dents were from a camera lens Didn’t fall hard or from a high distance, just slipped out of my hand. Is that normal?
I love the look of the bamboo which is why I originally went with it. I work in a controlled environment as well without severe temperature swings. I am in Utah so maybe the dry air has something to do with it? I just don’t know.
I’d definitely go with a solid top like the air were I to order again. I’m inquiring with them to see if I can change to a different desktop and waiting to hear back from them.
Oh yeah, camera lenses are HARD. I’ve dropped a big zoom lens onto a solid teak hardwood floor, and I actually put a dent in the floor where the brass UV filter ring hit it. Lens bodies are designed to protect what’s inside. 😀
Were it my zoom lens I would agree. It was my cheap 50mm 1.8. Regardless, the dent is the least of my worries. sigh
I appreciate your review here. I spent about $1500 on a uplift desk and every time I press a keystroke while typing my laptop wobbles. So what I had to do is put my laptop on its on stand. I just want to make sure this Terra Pro doesn’t wobble at all? I’m very reluctant to spend $3k on one after already investing $1500+ on a desk that makes me nauseous.
I don’t have problems with, or at least notice, any wobble in my desk when it’s extended. If it does wobble it’s pretty menial. Keep in mind I’m 5’9″, so I never fully extend it.
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