Varidesk continues to expand their product offering. I have reviewed several Varidesk standing desk converters but this one perked my interest a bit more than the previous products. The reason being is that this is Varidesk’s first attempt at an electric product. The growth in the standing desk market has allowed for several popular niche markets to emerge. One of them is electric standing desk converters. I am not a big fan of electric standing desk converters because I have often found that there is little to gain by putting electronics on a desktop converter. Since Varidesk waited so long to come out with an electric product, I was really interested to see what they came up with. This review will go over all aspects of the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric so that you can decide if it will be a good product for you.
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Varidesk Pro Electric Review Snapshot
- Push button height adjustment
- Ships fully assembled
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Good stability
- Infinite position lock
- Large keyboard area
- Large monitor platform
- Slow and inconsistent lifting speeds
- Poor build quality
- Short warranty
- Lack of ergonomics
- Safety concerns
Pro Plus™ 36 Electric Manufacturer
The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric is a product by Varidesk, LLC. Varidesk was started in 2013 by members of Gemmy Industries. Varidesk has established themselves as one of the most recognizable brands in the standing desk market through massive advertising campaigns. Their company focuses on providing easy-to-use products with customer friendly policies.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
– Quick Summary Video
– Country of Origin
– Specs / Features / Pricing
– Return Policy and Warranty
– Build Quality
– Making Adjustments
– Task and Keyboard Space
– Wire Management
– What I Like
– What I Don’t Like
– Bottom Line
VariDesk Pro Plus™ 36 Electric Quick Summary Video
Country of Origin
Made in China
Overall Weight Capacity: 40 lbs.
Unit Weight: 63 lbs.
Shipping Weight: 81 lbs.
Overall Dimensions at Lowest Height: 36”W x 32.5”D x 4.5”H
Overall Dimensions at Highest Height: 36”W x 32.5”D x18.5”H
Base Dimensions: 29”W x 21.5”D
Monitor Platform Dimensions: 29.5”W x 23.75”D
Monitor Platform at Lowest Height: 18.5”
Monitor Platform at Highest Height: 4.5”
Keyboard Tray Dimensions: 36”W x 12.5”D
Keyboard Tray Lowest Height: .75”
Keyboard Tray Highest Height: 14.75”
Distance from Upper Platform to Keyboard Tray: 3.75”
Distance from Monitor to Front of Keyboard Tray: 24”
Push Button Height Adjustment
Digital Number Display
Infinite Height Adjustment
Includes Power Hub with 3 Standard Outlets and 2 USB Ports
Dual Platform Design
Keyboard Tray Cable Management
Cord Clips and Velcro Strips for Wire Management
$495.00 with Free Shipping
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After months of testing 40+ adjustable desktops, the results are in!
Varidesk offers a full refund, for up to 30 days, when returning the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric. Varidesk will arrange for the return pick-up if you purchased the product directly from their website. If you make your purchase through a 3rd party site, like Amazon, then you will be responsible for the return shipping charges. You do not need to hold on to the original packaging to return the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric. Varidesk will send you a box if you need one.
The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric is backed by a 5-year warranty that is provided by Varidesk. Shipping costs arising from warranty claims will be paid by Varidesk for the first year that you own the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric. Shipping charges on claims made after one year will be paid for by you.
Our Pro Plus™ 36 Electric shipped the next business day after placing the order. It arrived three days later via FedEx Ground. The product arrived in a flat, rectangle box that weighed over 80 lbs. You will need to have two people on hand to move the box and to take the item out of the box to be placed on your desk. The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric had a different box design than the previous models I have ordered. The entire top of the box folded open to fully expose the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric. This made it much easier to take it out of the box, rather than having to slide it out of the end. The item had good packaging and was protected very well. I did not see any damage due to shipping.
The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric ships fully assembled. You just need to take the item out of the box, place it on your desk, plug it in and you are ready to start using it. One minor change, that will actually save customers some aggravation, is that Varidesk chose to use a different sticker on the monitor platform for the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric. I have always had a tough time removing the sticker on previous Varidesk models, even with multiple applications of Goo Gone. The new sticker on the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric is plastic and comes off without leaving the paper still stuck to the platform.
The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric is going to be on the low-end of build qualities for an electric standing desk. The product uses a custom designed double x shaped base that produces a straight up and down movement pattern. Aside from the platforms, almost all of the components on the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric are on the low-end of the spectrum. The one thing I like about the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric’s build is that the unit has a clean, sleek look. I will go further into further detail with specific areas of the build quality below.
Control Box and Switch
There is not a control box on the Pro Plus™ 36. A control box is basically the computer for the desk. The control box regulates the power going to the motor. It is also used for things like overload protection, collision avoidance, soft start/stop features and other customizable options found on electric desks. Instead, the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric has a simple power adapter that is found on many different types of basic electronics. There is an up and down switch with a digital display. The digital display shows numbers from 1-100 but they do not correspond to a specific height in a standard form of measurement. It is just an arbitrary number system used to determine what position you prefer.
The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric uses a basic DC motor from China. The quality is on the low-end and I have to question whether or not this motor has enough power to last the long haul. The movement speed is incredibly slow with nothing loaded on the platforms. There are also noticeable changes with the amount of noise coming from the motor, depending on how high the platforms are or how much weight is on them. The weight rating is only 40 lbs. These factors lead me to believe you are rolling the dice with this motor.
The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric has a basic spindle gear that is driven by the motor. As the gear turns, it changes the shape of the x pattern on the base to move the platforms up or down. A couple things that I noticed on the gear that are causes for concern are the lack of casing for the gear and the large amount of excess grease. High quality gears will have some type of case to protect the gear from dust, dirt and debris. The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric’s gear is exposed so there is a much higher chance that the gear becomes damaged due to outside elements. High quality gears require very little grease to operate smoothly. An excessive amount of grease is a sign of a low-quality gear that does not operate smoothly without it.
I have found the noise level on the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric to be inconsistent. It is as quiet as 50 decibels on the lowest end of the adjustment range with nothing on the unit. But, when it is fully loaded, the noise level can be as high as 70 decibels when at full adjustment speed. Most of the electric desks we have tested are around 60 decibels, so the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric is going to be one of the louder desks we have tested.
The base on the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric is much smaller than the platforms. You only need a space slightly larger than 29”W x 21.5”D. You will need to have quite a bit more clearance around the desk to allow for the platforms. You will need 36”W x 32.5”D of space to allow for the entire converter. One good thing about the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric, when compared to other Varidesk converters, is that it moves straight up and down. This means that the clearance needed stays the same at all heights.
The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric does not have any mobility. This is a product that is meant to be placed in a designated spot on your desk and left there. It is too heavy to be moving around your office. It also has rubber stoppers under the base to keep the unit from sliding. The stoppers, combined with how heavy the unit is, make it difficult to move to a new spot on your desk.
Adjusting the Pro Plus™ Electric
The only adjustment on the Pro Plus™ Electric is height adjustment. There is an up and down button on the front of the unit. Pressing the button will make the platforms raise or lower. There is a 14” adjustment range. It took me 18 seconds to fully raise or fully lower the unit. I found this time to be consistent when loading it with 40 lbs. This means that the Pro Plus™ Electric moves at an average of .78” per second. That is the slowest average speed we have seen on an electric desk, but that really doesn’t tell the whole story. The movement speed on the Pro Plus™ Electric is incredibly inconsistent. This is due to the x shaped base design Varidesk chose. The geometry of the base means that the height increases at a slower rate as you get higher. This would be fine if the Pro Plus™ Electric had a control box to send more power to the motor as it gets higher, but it doesn’t. The speed just slows down rapidly. Here is what I mean: The overall time to go from the lowest height to the tallest height is 18 seconds. In the first 9 seconds, the height increases 11”, but in the last 9 seconds the height only increases 3”. For the first 9 seconds, it is moving at an average of 1.22” per second. For the final 9 seconds it is moving at .33” per second.
Another concern that I have is that the unit shudders about 3”-5” from the lowest height when moving the unit in both directions. When you get to this spot, the unit shakes back and forth slightly and then gets back on track. I could not figure out what was making the unit do this. At first, it felt like something from the motor but the more I did it, the more I thought it may have been the base itself. Here is a short clip to show what I am trying to describe:
I am impressed with the stability on the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric. Stability is an area that the Varidesk Pro Plus 36 struggles with so it was nice to see that this wasn’t still a problem with the electric version. The straight up and down lifting pattern really helps to shore up most of the issues found on the Pro Plus 36. At standing height, the keyboard bounce and monitor shake are minimal. There is a small amount of side to side tilt on the monitor platform. I do not think any of these factors will impact your work. The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric is also stable at sitting height. The keyboard tray lays flat on your desk so there is no keyboard bounce and a minimal amount of monitor shake. There was a bit of a deduction to the general stability category due to the shuddering that the unit displays, as discussed above.
|Sitting Wobble (10%)||Standing Wobble (15%)||Sitting Bounce (10%)||Standing Bounce (15%)||Sitting Shake (10%)||Standing Shake (15%)||General (25%)||Total Score|
The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric is going to have the same problems with ergonomics that most fixed dual platform converters suffer from. The fixed nature of the platforms mean that the unit is not dual ergonomic. Not being able to change the space between your keyboard and monitor makes it difficult to create an ergonomic position for a wide range of people. You will need to add a monitor arm to the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric to make it dual ergonomic. Another problem is that the minimum keyboard height will increase your normal typing position by ¾”. This may cause some people to have an upward arm angle while in the seated typing position. The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric is also not going to be a good option for tall people. It will work for people up to about 6’1” but taller people will want to look for another option.
There are a couple positive aspects to the ergonomics on the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric. The unit does have infinite position lock so you are not limited to a predetermined number of height options. You can choose any height you’d like. Another positive aspect is the monitor viewing distance. The recommended ergonomic viewing distance is 20”-40”. I found my viewing distance to be about 30” so I was comfortably within the recommended range.
The monitor platform on the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric is a large rectangle with a section cut out in the front. This cut-out is not as pronounced as the manual version so there is much more room for tasking and placing objects. The platform is large enough for dual 24” monitors and you will still have space left over for tasking. The finish is smooth with nice angled corners. I think this platform design is better than the platforms I saw on the Pro and Pro Plus™ manual versions.
The keyboard tray on the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric is very large. The center portion is even deeper than the outer edges. I was able to use my oversized ergonomic keyboard without a problem. There was still plenty of space to place my mouse on either side of the keyboard. The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric does not limit you to compact or standard sized keyboards like other models do. I also like that Varidesk went away from the curved front edge on the Pro Plus™ 36. It makes the mouse positioning more comfortable in relation to your keyboard.
The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric has a few different tools for wire management. The first is found on the vertical plastic piece in between the keyboard tray and monitor platform. There are two removable plugs that allow you to run cords underneath the monitor platform from your keyboard and mouse. The second tool is the cord clips on the underside of the monitor platform. These help to keep your cords near the underside of the monitor platform and away from pinch points. Varidesk also includes some Velcro strips with the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric that help to organize cords that you run off the back of the unit.
I have two safety concerns with the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric. The first is the numerous pinch points. Most similarly designed products will have the danger of pinch points. This risk is increased when the unit is powered by an electric motor. This unit has a decent amount of power and is certainly capable of hurting someone or damaging items that have been caught in a pinch point. My second concern is that the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric does not have collision avoidance. Collision avoidance is a system that stops the desk from moving when it makes contact with something. The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric will not stop when making contact with an object.
What Do I Like?
Push button height adjustment
The biggest attraction to the Pro Plus™ Electric is that it is adjustable by simply pushing a button. This is great for people that can’t use a manually adjusted converter or for people that prefer electric.
Ships fully assembled
The Pro Plus™ Electric is one of the only electric standing desks that ships fully assembled. You just need to plug the cord into the unit and you are ready to go.
30-day money back guarantee
Varidesk’s return policy will always be an upside to their products. Being able to return the item for a full refund without even paying shipping costs means that you can try the item risk free.
The Pro Plus™ 36 Electric has good stability at all heights. I was not concerned for the objects on the desk and I did not notice any movement while working that would negatively impact my experience.
Infinite position lock
One advantage that electric converters have over many manual converters is that they offer infinite position lock. The Pro Plus™ Electric is no different. You can choose any height you’d like. You won’t be forced to choose a position higher or lower than you prefer.
Large keyboard and monitor platforms
Both platforms are very spacious. You will not be limited to single or small monitors. You will also have plenty of space for tasking without being limited on what keyboard and mouse combinations you can use.
The initial release of the Pro Plus™ 36 Electric came with an unimpressive 1-year warranty. Varidesk has since increased the warranty to 5 years. This includes the motor and electronics. I think this is a pretty big deal since I am not a fan of the quality of those components. Being able to get a replacement unit if yours fails is reassuring.
What I Don’t Like
Slow and inconsistent lifting speeds
The Pro Plus™ Electric is slow and at some points it is painfully slow. It is not reasonable to expect an electric product to be as fast as a manual one. Manual Varidesk products adjust from their lowest height to their tallest height within a second or two. But, it should still be a fairly quick and smooth process. The inconsistent speeds do not allow the adjustment to be quick or smooth.
Poor quality electronics and motor
I am having a really hard time justifying going with the Pro Plus™ Electric over a manually adjusted one. One of the best qualities of the Varidesk line of converters is their simplicity. They are all constructed with simple designs and basic parts. There is not a lot that can go wrong to make them unusable. That all changes when you introduce electronics. This is especially true when they are low-end. The low-end electronics and motor are my biggest concerns because these are the most common parts that fail on electric standing desks. If either one of them fails, the unit becomes unusable. They are both difficult to replace, if you are able to get replacement parts. Since the weight limit is only 40 lbs. and the adjustment speed is so slow, there is very little to gain by going with the Pro Plus™ Electric over a manually adjusted product.
Lack of ergonomics
The Pro Plus™ Electric will not be ergonomic for a large segment of people. The increased keyboard height when seated will be a problem for short people. The height adjustment range will only work for people up to 6’1” when standing. The lack of dual ergonomics will also be a problem because not everyone will be in an ergonomic typing position while being at the correct monitor viewing angle.
The safety risks on the Pro Plus™ Electric are more concerning to me than manual converters because of the power from the motor. The pinch points become more dangerous. There is also the added risk that the desk makes contact with something and continues to apply pressure because the unit does not have collision avoidance.
I was really excited to get a chance to see Varidesk’s first step into the electric desk market. After using the Pro Plus™ Electric and tearing it down, I have mixed feelings about it. There are things that I really like. I like that Varidesk chose a straight up and down lifting pattern because it produced a stable product. I like the spacious keyboard tray and monitor platform. I also like that it ships fast, arrives fully assembled and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. The problem I have with the Pro Plus™ Electric is that the downsides are pretty glaring and may overshadow the positive aspects for a lot of people. The slow and inconsistent lifting speeds, along with the poor-quality components are too hard to ignore for a product that costs nearly $500. At that price point, you are starting to get into the range of some of the most popular electric desks like the Uplift, Jarvis or even our VertDesk v3. I hope this review has made it easier for you to weigh the positives and negatives on the Pro Plus™ Electric so that you can decide if it is the best product for you.