POST UPDATE: The UpDesk Elements has been discontinued. This product was manufactured by Linak, which is a leading manufacturer in the standing desk category. UpDesk replaced the Elements with a lower end UpDesk Lite product. This is currently manufactured by OEM Suzhou Waltz Intelligent Co. Ltd. If you would like to learn more about this OEM, we have reviewed the Titan Fitness WA2 which is also manufactured by Waltz.
The UpDesk Elements is a stand out in the mid-range category. UpDesk is one of the few desks that feature high-quality electronics, glide systems and motors. Unfortunately, like all of the desks I have tested to date, it isn’t perfect. Today we will be taking a closer look at the top 5 UpDesk Elements problems. If there is a good solution I will list it; this includes finding alternatives that are better if they exist. Hopefully, through this process, you will be able to learn if the UpDesk Elements is a good fit for your needs.
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Stability at Standing Heights
Stability of a standing desk is one of the most important aspects to consider. While some users might not care as much as others, unstable desks drive me crazy. I always go back to the scenario that has happened to everyone. We have all experienced a wobbly restaurant table. Your focus on the conversation at the table switches to “How Do I Fix This Table!” The problem with standing desks is you cannot wedge napkins or a stack of coasters under the foot. These wobble issues will likely impact your work and some might even discourage you from standing at the desk.
The UpDesk Elements features DL5 columns from Linak, with over-engineered feet that are produced elsewhere. While these two components have created a fairly stable desk at lower heights, the lack of a traditional cross support proved to be too much to overcome. The UpDesk Elements scored a 68/100 during my stability tests.
The first test I performed on the UpDesk Elements was the wobble test. Without the use of a traditional cross support, or upper cross support, the UpDesk showed signs of wobble at 40” tall. Once the desk rose beyond 43” the motion became bad and would likely impact your work. The UpDesk Elements is one of the only desks I have seen to not include a traditional cross support or an upper support system. While the columns from Linak are fit well with proper glides and perfectly married together, it’s impossible to avoid wobble motion once the desk is raised beyond 40”. This is a big miss in my opinion.
The second test I performed, on the UpDesk Elements, was the front to back rocking motion test. The UpDesk did better here and didn’t start to show signs of motion until 42”. Once you raised the desk beyond 44” the motion became bad and could also impact your work. The main reason for the rocking motion beyond these heights was due to a lack of overlap within the columns.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix for the UpDesk Elements as it stands now. As mentioned above, you can’t simply add items under the feet to improve the stability. While the UpDesk Elements has a lot going right, including the use of heavy-duty feet and high-quality Linak column, no traditional cross support between the legs makes the wobble motions inevitable.
If you prefer a desk that doesn’t include a traditional cross support, we have only tested one option that performed well. The Uplift Desk by TheHumanSolution uses a wedge design on their inverted columns to improve lateral stability. With this design, they are able to reduce the wobble motion found on the cross support less style standing desks. Unfortunately, with the use of an inverted column, the rocking stability on the Uplift Desk isn’t quite as good.
The best alternative for stability is the VertDesk v3 with its use of a traditional cross support. While the VertDesk v3 won’t offer as much range as the Uplift Desk, it is our best performing desk for stability. Its wobble motions are almost completely minimized through the entire range of motion up to 47” tall. The VertDesk v3 also offers an additional 2.75” of stroke with the gear system when compared to UpDesk. This allows for more overlap in the columns, which reduces the front to back rocking motions as well. Overall, we haven’t found a better stability performed than the VertDesk v3.
No Collision Avoidance
Something that you may not have considered is the safety element with standing desks that are electronically operated. Chances are you want a strong desk that can lift a lot of weight and do it quickly. The side effects of this are the crushing element of the desk. Depending on how fast the desk moves, it can be difficult to stop the desk before it crushes furniture or even worse fingers. This is especially true with desks that have one-touch memory. Luckily manufacturers have thought of this and almost all of them include some sort of anti-collision.
Considering the price point of the UpDesk Elements, I was a little surprised to find out that it doesn’t offer collision avoidance. Because they have decided to pair the DL5 columns and CBD6S control box, they are unable to offer collision avoidance. Only when you pair the CBD6S box with the Linak two-stage columns can this function be activated.
If you would like to stay with the UpDesk brand, you will have to upgrade to their Ultra PowerUp Series for anti-collision. This is a $200 upgrade and will push you out of the mid-range category, taking you beyond the $1000 mark (with shipping fees). This series features the two-stage Linak columns that come standard with PIEZO anti-collision technology. PIEZO is a hardware-based technology, they include built-in sensors that are found within each column. When something hard is collided with, the desk stops and will reverse the motion to prevent additional damage.
There are other alternatives in the mid-range that don’t cost as much as the Ultra PowerUp Series. In fact, almost all of the desks we have tested in the mid-range offer some type of anti-collision function. While some are better than others, each includes some form of anti-collision is better than none at all.
The best line of defense is to be cautious when using your standing desk. To date, there isn’t an anti-collision product that is perfect. When dealing with important furniture items, small children or animals, be aware of your surroundings is important. Using one-touch height adjustment features are cool, but you are relying solely on your desks anti-collision function. Most will not recognize soft collisions, which include fingers. Remember, your desk can lift hundreds of pounds and the same power exists coming down.
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The old saying “You pay for what you get” is certainly true with the standing desk category. There are a lot of very cheap options that enter the market on a regular basis. The UpDesk Elements is one of the most expensive options within the mid-range category. While you get a lot of really good things for that price, it is still lacking in certain areas. For the price of the UpDesk Elements, I would expect a wider range of motion and better overall stability. The 28” to 48” height adjustment will fit a wide range of people, but there are less expensive alternatives that offer better range. Secondly, for this price point, you would expect to have one of the most stable desks.
UpDesk doesn’t currently offer a less expensive alternative for their electric standing desks. This means that you will likely need to look at another brand if the $800+ price tag is too high. Fortunately, there are good alternatives that exist for equal or less money.
My post 4 Best Standing Desks Under $1000 is a good place to start. The UpDesk Elements is on the list, but there are three other alternatives that each do something better. For a similar price, the ModDesk Pro features a 26” height adjustment range. While it isn’t quite as stable, it includes electronic and glide components that are equal in quality.
Both the VertDesk v3 and Uplift 900 will offer price points that are 20-30% less than the UpDesk Elements. While the Uplift Desk won’t feature as nice of components, it does have a larger range of motion and better stability. The VertDesk v3 offers equal quality components to the UpDesk and also offer significantly better stability at standing height.
Foot Design and Finish
The foot design of a standing desk is incredibly important. It is like the foundation of your home and anything subpar will cause a lot of structural issues further up in the home. That is the case with standing desks, as low-quality connections in the feet lead to issues as the desk is raised to standing height.
The build quality of the UpDesk Elements is definitely not a problem. Honestly, it is way overbuilt. I appreciate a solid foot. Unfortunately, during the process of adding heavy gauge steel to the bottom of the foot, they didn’t realize what the welding did to the top of the foot. In order to make the heavy gauge steel stay in place, a ton of heat is required during the welding process. As the welding is done, the heat transfer to the top of the foot ruins the integrity of the steel. While most will attempt to grind this smooth again, it doesn’t appear that was addressed with the UpDesk’s foot. This left awkward weld marks that I would expect on much less expensive desks. It’s also disappointing because the columns from Linak are, honestly, perfect. They are the best that I have seen in the class, and the feet ruin the experience.
If you don’t care that much about attention to detail, this certainly won’t be a deal-breaker. As mentioned, the actual build of the foot was solid. The feet are heavy and the threaded inserts provide plenty of threading for a solid connection to the adjustable foot glides. From a stability standpoint, the feet will help more than they will hurt.
If you are a stickler for the fine details, this will likely sway your buying decision. Because the UpDesk Elements is over $800 and one of the most expensive options in the mid-range, I had higher expectations. While it is something I believe could easily be fixed during production, I am not sure how high it is on their priority list. Almost all of the other options in the mid-range offer a better alternative to the UpDesk feet. The only exception being the VIVO 103E, because of quality control issues they had inconsistent paint issues.
Exposed Worm Drive on Motor
Selecting an electric standing desk with a solid motor is important. Having the ability to consistently lift moderate to heavy loads is a daily requirement for power users. Lower quality motors will often be underpowered or have inconsistent speeds depending on the load applied. Other issues to be aware of include poor wiring, exposed components and internal components.
The Updesk Elements features dual motors that are made by OEM, Electroc-Parts SpA based in Bossolasco, Italy. The company was founded in 1983 and from previous experience making DC motors. This company’s specialty is DC motors and gear motors, so it’s not a surprise Linak has partnered with an industry leader for their motors.
The UpDesk’s motors are good quality; this includes the gears used on the motors made from high-quality acetal plastics. The problem is that the worm drive and gear are exposed. While there is a plastic cover used over the motor box, it isn’t enough to seal off the worm drive, gear and internal motor from outside contaminants. This opens the door to issues down the road.
Considering the quality of the motor, I would have thought the OEM would have considered this. I was surprised to find that this portion of the motor was fully exposed to contaminants. There are a lot of alternatives that offer better sealed motors. The Bosch motors we found on the ModDesk Pro and IKEA Bekant Standing Desk were fully enclosed. Even the motors from the low cost Chinese TiMotion brand on the Autonomous Desk were fully enclosed.
The UpDesk Elements is one of the best desks we have tested from the mid-range. Because of the price point, I think that should be expected. Unfortunately, it has some big misses and some of those are likely to be deal breakers for you. The stability issues at heights beyond 40” are likely the biggest of all the problems. Others like the foot finish are things that can potentially be overlooked. At the end of the day, the Linak columns used in the UpDesk Elements are some of the best you’ll find. Depending on your needs, the UpDesk still has the potential to be a good fit.