Today we are going to be taking a closer look at the Autonomous brand’s entry-level product, the Home Edition series. Featuring a single motor system with TiMotion electronics, the Home edition retails around $249 + $49 shipping. This is definitely one of the least expensive options out there. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”. That couldn’t be any more true with this product as my experience with the Home Edition was one of the worst to date. With that, let’s take a closer look at the Autonomous Home Edition standing desk.
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The original OEM manufacturer for the Autonomous SmartDesk 1 was the leading standing desk frame company in China, JieCang Linear Technology. They are the OEM for the brands Uplift Desk and Jarvis Standing Desk, which we have recently reviewed.
The current OEM manufacturer for the Autonomous Home Edition is Aoke Furniture. Aoke has been in business since 2012 and is based in the harbor town of Ningbo. Aoke currently manufacturers all of their frame components and uses TiMotion for all of their electronic components.
Autonomous Home Edition Review Links
– Specs / Pricing / Features
– Assembly Process
– Stability Testing
– Foot and Frame and Column
– Glide Systems
– Testing The Specs
– What I Like
– What I Don’t Like
– Final Thoughts
Founded by Duy Huynh in 2015, the Autonomous AI SmartDesk is fairly new within the standing desk category. Their first Kickstarter campaign launched in May 2015, and the Indiegogo campaign in June 2015. Both crowdfunding campaigns were successful; Kickstarter reaching 570% of their goal and Indiegogo 1257%. They originally marketed their product as the “World’s First Smart, Connected Office Desk” and offered the AI as an add-on. The AI system would learn about the user and automatically adapt to the way they liked to use the desk. It was also advertised to offer hands-free voice-operated commands. The first basic SmartDesk 1’s started to ship out August 2015. Due to bugs in the system, the AI modules didn’t ship until March 2016 and shortly thereafter were recalled. Currently, it appears Autonomous has shifted gears to work towards becoming the low price leader within the standing desk category.
Product Specs (per our testing)
Height Adjustable Range: 29.125” – 47.875”
Travel Speed: .78” per second
Noise Level: 62-63 dB
Weight Capacity: 220 lbs.
Adjustable Width Base: 46” – 72”
Adjustable Foot Glides: .5” adjustment
2020 SmartDesk 2 Home Edition Pricing
There are currently six different surface options and three different frame colors. The bamboo surface is 52″L x 29″W and 53″L x 29″. The pricing for all options vary.
Starting at $339.00
- Single-stage column with 18” travel range
- Four-button programmable switch standard
- Telescoping base to fit multiple top sizes
- Anti-collision technology
- 220 lbs. weight capacity
- .78” per second adjustment speed
- 1 year warranty on everything
I only ordered the base option for the Autonomous Home Edition. The packaging for this model was almost exactly the same as the Business Edition. It was well packed in a single box, with cut foam to hold all of the components safely in place. I received the frame without any damage and as well as it was packed I can’t see many opportunities for any.
The assembly process for the Autonomous Home Edition was fairly straight forward. The upper frame support and feet attached to the columns without an issue. The real pain point was the hex rod and support tube assembly. It’s important to note that you won’t be able to use the frame on desktops that are smaller than 46” wide. Because of the design of the support tube and the columns, the frame cannot be made any smaller than 45.5” wide and function properly. I found this out the hard way and had to use a larger top.
It is important, with all standing desks that use a hex rod, to fully insert the hex rod into the inputs on each leg. If you fail to do this, the hex rod will not fully engage with the bevel gear and the desk will not move. Getting the hex rod inserted in the motor side was a piece of cake and I can’t really see this being a pain point for many. The problem is the opposite of the motor side. What you cannot see from the outside, is that the actual input for the gear is set back about .5” from the edge of the hole you see from the outside. When you push the hex rod into the hole, it will likely stop at the .5” point. If you stop here, the hex rod will turn, but it will not move the leg up or down. You should actually push the hex rod through to the other side of the input. Doing this will ensure that you have fully inserted the hex rod. Getting the hex rod past this point is the hard part. In my experience, the best way to do this is to use a wrench (one is included in the box) to turn the hex piece counterclockwise until you can push it through the input to the other side. Because a support tube is being used, the hex will not flex easily so it can require a bit of effort. You never want to do this by moving the column (leg) up or down, doing this can potentially make your desk uneven.
In all, the assembly took me about 40 minutes to complete. This includes attaching the frame to the desk surface and completing the assembly of the electronics. The assembly process of the Autonomous Home Edition could take users up to two hours depending on your skill level. I highly recommend using a cordless drill if possible.
As I have mentioned in all of my reviews, stability is one of the most important aspects of a standing desk. We have had standing desk users contact us after purchasing products like the IKEA Bekant, asking how to fix its stability problems. Unfortunately, there isn’t much DIY that can be done to fix electric standing desks stability problems post-production. The best solution, if you think stability will be important to you, is to find a desk that is stable from the factory. If a desk is inexpensive like the Autonomous Home Edition, there are likely areas the manufacturer cut costs. That was definitely the case with the Autonomous Home Edition and it ended up being one of the least stable products we have tested.
Left to Right: The wobble test on the Autonomous Home Edition didn’t go well, with stability issues starting as low as 34”. While this motion was noticeable, it didn’t take long for it to become bad. By 37” the wobble became bad enough that I believe it would impact your work efficiency. This height will impact users that are 5’2” and above. By the time I reached 40” the desk would continue to wobble even after I stopped pushing on it.
Front to Back: While the rocking test was better than the wobble test, it wasn’t by a large margin. With rocking motions noticeable around the 35” mark, by the time the desk reached the 39” height they became bad. Beyond the 43” mark the motions were terrible and would significantly impact your work. At 45” tall you could see overlap in the columns created even more problems. By this point, the desk was all over the place.
Note: It’s very important with adjustable standing desks to fully tighten all hardware. If there is hardware that is not completely tight, the movement experienced when extended to standing height will be exaggerated.
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The Autonomous Home Edition features electronics from the Taiwanese company, TiMotion. While TiMotion is based in Taiwan, they actually produce many of their electronics components in China. We have extensive experience using the TiMotion brand with our VertDesk v1 product. It was this experience with TiMotion that ultimately led us to change to LogicData for the VertDesk v2 and v3 desks.
The Autonomous Home Edition is currently using the TC11 control box from TiMotion. This is the same control box that we used on the VertDesk v1 and the NewHeights Eficiente LT. Unfortunately, this box caused a ton of headaches for our customers during the time we offered it; from an annoying buzzing sound that came from the control box to many of the control boxes arriving dead. These problems are well known by other standing desk suppliers in the industry as well. TiMotion is known for making a pretty product, but behind the curtains, it is low quality.
Opening the control box you will find that TiMotion is using a two-board system. This is because they have decided to use circuit boards that are mass-produced for many applications. Higher-end brands such as LogicData and Linak use single-board systems that are specifically engineered for their electric standing desk application. You will also notice that the TiMotion TC11 an excessive amount of white caulk on the power supply. This caulk is likely used to help keep the large components they use in place. Vibrations from the desk can loosen these components or even allow them to break free. You will not find this type of caulk used in the high-end brands mentioned above.
The Autonomous Home edition also uses a similar single motor as the one previously used on the VertDesk v1. The Autonomous Home Edition uses the slower version, the 5540M-10000-010, a 26V 2600RPM motor. The VertDesk v1 used the 5540M-1000-004-1, a 24V 3800 RPM motor. Both of the motors have issues with their encoders, which prevent the desk from properly resetting after a power failure.
The common procedure for a standing desk to reset is to lower the desk to the bottom position. This prevents the desk from overextending itself and potentially breaking the internal gears and components. The reset process is a slow transition as the control box looks for the absolute bottom, which then allows the desk to calibrate itself from the lowest setting. Unfortunately, TiMotion motor encoder errors don’t allow the desk to lower, so it only goes up and then gets stuck at the absolute top position. The only way for these single motor desks to reset when stuck at the top is to manually lower them to the bottom height. This requires you to remove the motor and hex rod, then manually lower the desk frame back to the lowest position and reinsert the hex rod at the lowest position. It creates a huge headache, requiring you to flip the desk over. Whenever this happened to our customers, we would just send out new LogicData electronics to fix the problem. Unfortunately, the Autonomous Home Edition doesn’t have a new provider of electronics. This means you will be stuck with this problem for as long as you own the desk.
It’s important to note that Autonomous is only willing to warranty the Home Edition for one year. I think this speaks volumes for their level of confidence with the TC11 and 5540M-10000-010 motor combination.
Foot and Upper Frame Build Quality
The paint finish on the Home Edition’s foot was nice and consistent throughout. I thought they did a nice job with the welds as well. My only concern was the tapped steel used for connecting the adjustable foot glides. This design was very similar to the Business Edition and didn’t provide a very solid contact point for the glide. With only a few thread lines available and the steel being stretched thin during the tapping process, this definitely creates a less than ideal situation for connecting the glides to the foot. Like your home, the standing desk can only be as solid as the foundation it is built on. With a poor connection to the glides, this a definite concern for me with regards to stability of the desk.
The upper frame was well built and very similar to other products I have tested in the past. It’s clear that the Aoke has taken their design idea from the JieCang brand. The same expandable frame is being used across many of the brands manufactured in China that do not use a traditional cross support. Aoke has done a good job, creating a solid upper frame with a consistent paint finish throughout.
The only concern I have with this frame design is the inability to add accessories like keyboard trays or CPU holders. The T base design positions the upper support in the middle of the desk. This only leaves you with a small amount of space to properly mount to the underside of the desk surface. If you want to mount products that require a deeper surface area, you will likely have to create some type of shim to span across the upper supports.
Column Build Quality
Like the foot and upper frame, the columns were well done. They had consistent paint throughout and didn’t appear to have any defects. The Autonomous Home Edition uses a square column design instead of the more popular rectangular shape. I don’t see much of a difference from a structural standpoint though.
Opening the frame, I was able to take a closer look at the glide system. The glides were the same material used on the Autonomous Business Edition. The glides were made with a lower quality plastic than products like the UpDesk Elements or the VertDesk v3’s Delrin. After opening two different Autonomous Frames, I have found that their glides are always very dirty. Any build-up of dirt will likely cause issues later on in the life cycle of the product. We haven’t had a chance to cycle test any of the Autonomous products yet, so I can’t speak on how long they will last.
After reviewing three different Autonomous products, one thing I have found interesting through all of them was their gear system. We have found that many of the Chinese manufacturers like to copy the higher-end manufacturers. This isn’t a bad idea, considering they are at the top of the food chain, producing what is considered the best in the industry. The problem is that copies are generally never as good as the original. The Aoke products have made their best attempt at copying the Ketterer gear systems. While they look very similar from the outside, they are not even close when it comes to how they function. Ketterer has the smoothest gear operation we have experienced through our review process. Second place would go to Linak who isn’t very far behind; Linak just doesn’t have the experience making gears that Ketterer does.
The gear that I pulled from the Autonomous Home Edition had a lot of similarities to that of our Ketterer gear used in the VertDesk v3. Because the Home Edition uses a hex rod and single motor system, it also requires a bevel gear at the top of each of the spindle gears. This bevel gear allows the hex rod to transfer the horizontal power from the motor to the vertical spindle gears in each of the columns. While the spindle portions of the gears looked similar, the bevel gears were not even close. This is where there is a clear difference in the engineering of Aoke vs. Ketterer.
When I operated the Autonomous Home Edition, it never had a smooth feeling. Instead, it had a vibration that could be felt and heard while the desk was in motion. Without any weight on the table, it also made small hops when being lowered. Looking at the quality of the bevel gear, this was obviously where the issue originated. The Ketterer gear, on the other hand, was smooth through all transitions. The second difference was the size of the bevel gears, with the Autonomous bevel gear being huge. It was at least three if not four times as large as the bevel gear on the Ketterer spindle gear. Aoke has clearly not been able to copy the very small components from Ketterer.
One year warranty on all components.
Testing The Specs
Height Adjustment Range: 29” to 47”
True. I found that the desk went from 29 1\8” to 47 ⅞”.
Travel Speed: 1” per second
False. I was never able to get the desk to move faster than .78” per second.
Noise Level: N/A
The Home Edition averaged 62-63 dB while in transition.
Weight Capacity: 220 lbs.
False. The Home Edition was able to lift quite a bit more weight than the 220 lbs. Load advertised. Because there isn’t an overload protection system on the desk, you won’t have any limitations. I would strongly urge you to stay below this capacity, as the bevel gear system used wasn’t the best quality I have seen. If you overload the desk this is the weakest point and if it breaks the desk will not function properly.
What I like about the Autonomous Home Edition
$339 Price Point
At only $339, you will be hard-pressed to find a less expensive option. While the saying “you get what you pay for” is true here, for those that are on a tight budget this is probably one of the best low-cost options.
Consistent Paint Finish and Welds
I have to give Aoke credit where it’s due. The paint finish on the silver frame that we received was really good. For the price, I was actually really impressed with the quality of the welds throughout the rest of the frame as well.
Programmable Button Standard
The standard programmable switch is a nice touch, especially considering the frame was only $298. Many other brands will offer this as an upgrade and it can cost upwards of $69. Because the Home Edition is extremely slow, the one-touch function on the programmable switch will definitely come in handy for those that don’t want to press and hold the up/down button.
What I don’t like about the Autonomous Home Edition
Stability Issues Above 37”
The Autonomous Home Edition ranks as one of the least stable desks I have tested. With wobble motions becoming bad as early as 37”, if you are 5’2” and up you will be impacted by this.
With extensive experience with the TiMotion brand, I can say that this is a huge red flag. Not only have we used TiMotion, but our VertDesk v1 used the same control box and a very close motor system. Both of these caused major headaches for our customers during the time period we offered them.
While the actual spindle gear on the Autonomous Home Edition appeared to be solid, the bevel gear was not. When the desk was in motion you could feel and hear the vibration created from this low-quality bevel gear.
Slow Adjustment Speed
The Autonomous Home Edition is the slowest desk that I have tested to date. Prior to this test, the Vivistand Quattro was the slowest at only .84”/ second. The Autonomous desk was able to beat it out, with an adjustment speed of only .78”/ second.
One Year Warranty Period
With only a one year warranty period on the entire desk, this is well below the category average. It should come as no surprise that the only other desk we’ve tested with a similar warranty came with a $300 price tag.
I have to say that I was less than impressed overall with the Autonomous Home Edition. While expectations for a product that retails around the $300 should be tempered, it’s hard for me to recommend this desk. With one of the worst warranties in the category, the slowest adjustment speeds and stability problems for most users, there really isn’t a lot of reason you should buy it outside other than the price. While it is likely to work for some amount of time, the one year warranty doesn’t give me much faith it will last for very long. If this investment is a big one, I highly recommend looking at something more expensive. While you will have to spend more on something better quality, that product will likely outlast the low-quality Autonomous Home Edition.