Standing Desk Fantasies

Standing Desk Fantasies

As I save money up for the impending living room cafe conversion, I’ve decided to switch around the office with a temporary standing desk that was in the basement office. I’ve been working in my living room for the past couple of years now, so the basement office doesn’t get used very often.

The Old Setup

Old Office Desk Setup My old office desk was a 48×36 inch surface that I’ve been using since I used to have 20″ CRTs. The extra depth (3 feet!) was important to get enough work space. After switching to LCD and buying some sweet Ergotron monitor arms, I ended up with a HUGE workspace and plenty of space. The desk remained free of clutter because I put up a bookshelf to my right where I keep all the junk that USED to be on the desk, and made sure to keep it clear. The cutting mats I got to use as a giant mouse pad, and are printed dark/light on either side for when I need to take product photography. So why change? After coming back from GiveCamp 2014, where I spent a lot of time moving around a large space between projects, I suddenly developed an aversion to sitting. It also helped that my green bungie cord chair was starting to fall apart, so sitting in it was becoming rather uncomfortable.

The New Setup

Standing Desk Setup

The new/old setup is using a $20 IKEA LINNMON table top on VIKA KAJ adjustable-length table legs; the GERTON legs are the new version. The table top is significantly more shallow (24″ versus 36″), but the desk space is all usable because of the monitor arms. For the curious, here’s what’s visible in the picture:

  • A 1200DPI monochrome laser printer, an inexpensive Brother HL5370DW network printer.
  • Two old Dell monitors: 20″ at 1600×1200, and 27″ at 1920×1200. They used to be exclusively on my PC, but then I discovered that I liked OS X Mavericks for multi-monitor better; they have finally gotten it mostly right. Windows 8.1, by comparison, limps along on its clunky mixed-mode UI with 90s-style desktop management. The Mac has become my main workstation now…who’d have thought this would ever happen?
  • Two Ergotron LX monitor arms. The Mac is driving the monitor on the left, and the PC is driving the monitor on the right. The entire suite of monitors is controlled from one keyboard/mouse using Synergy with the Mac acting as the input server. I can move my mouse cursor between machines without thinknig about it; it helps to remap the Apple Key (aka “Super”) to Control on the Windows side so I don’t have to think about using COMMAND-C versus CONTROL-C for copy/paste operations.

  • There’s a Thermaltake USB3 hard disk dock just behind the left monitor arm; it’s used to backup to bare 3.5″ hard disks.

  • The keyboards are a Logitech K811 bluetooth keyboard on the Mac, and a CoolerMaster CMStorm Tenkeyless mechanical keyboard using extra-stiff MX Green key switches. It is awesome.

  • I’m still using an Apple Magic Mouse here, but I’ve since replaced it with a sexy Logitech T630 bluetooth mouse. The advantage is it’s much smaller and can connect to two devices quickly. It also has way better “glide” action, and can have its acceleration curve flattened using ControllerMate. The Magic Mouse just makes me angry every time I use it, so it’s on the secondary Mac notebook (my old 2007 MBP17) with yet another Logitech keyboard, the solar-powered bluetooth K760.

  • The PC also has a Logitech G700s gaming mouse, which is merely OK. I will probably replace it with a new Logitech Anywhere MX, which is my favorite overall desktop/mobile mouse. The only reason I’m not using one now is because my old one wore out; they have a history of developing rotten click action after about two years, so I’ve been making-do with the G700s until my displeasure subsides.

  • I have a cheap-o Nady MM-242 4-Channel Stereo Mixer, which I use to mix output from the Mac’s bluetooth audio and the PC into the input for my old hand-me-down Pioneer VSX-26TX Receiver. The Bluetooth audio is converted to line input by a Logitech wireless speaker adapter. I used to have the XBOX 360 plugged into this too, which is why I needed the mixer, but even without that it’s convenient for adjusting the balance between the Mac and PC audio.

  • The webcam is a Logitech C910, which works also on the Mac when the built-in webcam doesn’t cut it. It’s on the PC for Skype video conferences.

One issue I had is that all my crap is exposed under the table, so I bought a cheap pull-down roller blind at Home Depot, had it cut to width, and then mounted it on the underside of the desk. If it ever unwrinkles, I’m going to try painting it the same color as the wall behind it. It is a marginal improvement. Standing Desk Setup

The Future Setup

This table will be replaced by a new motorized standing desk from Steven Yu’s $399 Stand Desk Kickstarter. It’s already fully-funded on Kickstarter with 24 days still to go, so you can still jump in on it if you’re in the market for a desk. I’m thinking of getting this color scheme in white/platinum, though there are other options available: Stand DeskThe desks are expected to ship in November 2014, and they look like a solid bit of engineering. I must admit that I’m backing this also from a desire to support Asian American entrepreneurism…hopefully it works out! The other standing desk that I was considering was the Terra from NextDesk, which is highly regarded for its aesthetics and functionality, if not for its $1500 price tag. Personally I don’t like the leg design that much for either desk; the Stand Desk design has an advantage of not having the lower cross brace so it’s a little cleaner in appearance, though I was concerned about its stability without it. I emailed Steven to ask about its stability, and he assured me that it was very very stable without wobbling; their FAQ mentions that they had 16 beta testers who didn’t complain, but the amount of wobble would very depending on application. Hmm. The assembly video give me some clues about the stability of its construction. Here’s a still from the video: Stand Desk AssemblyMy armchair impression is that it is PROBABLY stable enough from the horizontal flange things locking into the top crossbar, which looks like folded sheet steel so its rigidity should be good. There may be some wobble given the mechanical play that is likely required in the moving legs, but even my new-old Steelcase Leap V1 chair has some wobbly bits (cough armrests), but in practice it’s very stable. My cheap-o standing desk now is actually pretty unstable by itself, so it’s braced against the wall using two rubber feet that hold it in place when I’m leaning slightly against it. As a result, it is supernaturally stable…so long as I am leaning against it to anchor it against the wall, which I do anyway thanks to my bountiful stomach. I won’t have that option with a motorized sit-to-stand desk. The new desk will be 60″ wide by 30″ deep, which is larger than the space I currently have. However, I plan on moving the printer and filing cabinet that it’s sitting on downstairs to a secondary working office. Having the standing desk upstairs actually doesn’t quite work with my floorplan for the living room cafe, as it breaks the concept (and takes up the space for a giant TV), but we shall see!

Extra Pictures!

Other Angle Closeup New Chair


7 Comments

  1. mj 6 years ago

    why 3 monitors? I know some folks use 2

  2. Author
    Dave Seah 6 years ago

    mj: Usually it’s nice to have one monitor showing the “guts” view of what you’re working on, and one for referencing what you’re working on. In my case, I’m running two machines: the monitor on the right is for the PC running Windows. The monitor on the left is connected to the MacBook Pro.

    In practice, I use one of the monitors for a web browser when I’m doing web development. The PC is being used for monitoring the web application I’m writing, the Mac is being used for the main text editor, with the left-most monitor monitoring the server/using terminal. The rest of the time the PC might be running a game, playing full-screen video, or running video conferencing software.

  3. mj 6 years ago

    OK – cool – hope the new standing desk you ordered works out – seems very great value for the $.

  4. Karen Feldman 6 years ago

    You have a high-tech solution here, and I guess you use a lot of screens. For people who just have one monitor and a simple computer, I suggest the simple Kangaroo liftable desk-surface from Ergo Desktop. It sits on your desk, and when you want to stand up, you just lift it up. They suggest tightening and extra support but I simply stand up, lift up the surface, and keep working. No new desk to buy. I love mine. The only problem is that I’d like to add a treadmill but then I need a whole other desk (like you have pictured).

    I have my Mac stored on another table next to my desk, and just use a cordless keyboard and mouse plus my big monitor. So it’s really tidy and nice.

  5. Eric 6 years ago

    That’s funny Dave, I just got done reading your shipwire vs Amazon posts and have also been feeling like pulling the trigger on that Kickstarter stand desk.

    Anyway, just wanted to ask you for a summary of what you learned about international shipping now that you have been doing it for a while. It looks to me like you are still using Amazon fulfillment as well. So I’m guessing you are shipping to two warehouses. Is that right?

    Great useful blogging about shipping. Thank you!!

    – Eric

  6. Derek Bumpas 6 years ago

    Hey Dave,

    Did StandDesk come through for you?

  7. Author
    Dave Seah 6 years ago

    Eric: I’m basically using Amazon Fulfillment (warehouse 1) and Shipwire (warehouse 2, pennsylvania). I’m finding international fulfillment to not be worthwhile due to the cost of shipping being a major deterrent and source of losses due to lost packages. I may convert the shipwire operation to wholesale.

    Derek: Haven’t gotten it yet! They’re supposed to ship the next batch sometime in November. Fingers crossed!