Bring your office into the modern era with the NookDesk Smart Desk.
If I asked you to reminisce about your childhood, would any of your memories revolve around Legos? What is it about the toy that captures our hearts? Is it the high-quality interlocking pieces of plastic, is it product/image recognition, is it the opportunity to have an outlet for our creativity, or is it simply that we get to physically build something? Regardless, the toy has survived when so many others have faltered. The telegraph.co.uk website “The Cult of Lego: why are people so in love with the colourful bricks?” stated that “Legos appeal to almost every individual, of any age, attracted by the idea of building things. And the appeal lies partly in the fact that the potential to build something is never-ending.” In fact, the current CEO, Mr. Knudstorp, says that “People just love to make things. It’s deep in every human being.” Perhaps this is one of the reasons that build-it-yourself furniture is so much fun. When I moved off to college and needed new furniture, when my wife and I needed a new entertainment center for our first home, when I needed new office furniture (bookshelves/desk) in my home office, and when my boys needed their first big boy beds, I channeled the spirit of Legos into cams and screws. So, you can imagine the Pavlov conditioned response that I experienced when I was introduced to the NookDesk Smartdesk.
I navigated to the NookDesk website and was immediately enamored with the prospect of building my own smart desk. Akin to personalizing a car, I loved that I could choose the color, the dimensions, and the accessories to fit my own needs/wants. With so many options for customization, I did not feel that I was missing out by purchasing any given tier of the desk. The base model was not a disadvantage, as there were certain locations/situations that the extra shelves would not work. Perhaps you already have a monitor stand, speaker stands or perhaps you do not have a desktop to necessitate the desktop stand. You can choose between a solid wood laminate (Carbon Black, Polar White, Slate Grey, Barnwood, Blackwood, Driftwood, Elm, or red elm), plantation oak (light/medium/dark rubberwood) or bamboo (light/medium/dark bamboo) tabletop. The Barnwood/Blackwood/Driftwood/Elm/Red Elm were available for a small upgrade fee, whereas the oak and bamboo were available for higher fees. I personally chose the Red Elm, as this was my favorite of the color options. Once your favorite countertop color was selected, I needed to choose my preferred desk length (48, 60, or 72 inches for Laminate and Oak or 63 and 79 inches long for the Bamboo top). Similar to the color options, you will need to add upgrade fees for the increased length desks. For my office, the 60 inches long by 30 inches wide desk was a perfect choice. With tabletop color/length selected, I then had to choose between white polar/carbon black/silver metallic hardware. Even though I settled on the metallic silver color, I was pleased to find that I could freely choose among these options without incurring any additional fees.
Once the above steps were completed, the desk was ready to order. If desired, I could have stopped at that point and enjoyed my smart programmable desk, with all of the performance specifications listed on their website: *Power-adjustable height with over 200 positions, *Low-profile push-button height controller | Available in Programmable, *Best-in-class 1.5 inches per second transitions, *Best in class 300 lbs frame weight capacity, *Best in class maximum height: 49.5”, *Min height: 23.75”, *NookSync™ guidance system ensures precise & level movement, *Dust, air, and moisture resistant frame design, *Frame and motors are backed by a no-nonsense 3-year limited warranty, *Optional Extended Warranty Coverage for an additional 2 or 4 years for 5 or 7 years total. For a single charge of $711 or a $21.33/month fee, the Nook Desk would have been mine. However, the accessories continued to excite/entice me! You can free up some desk space, by adding a lower shelf for ~$100 and you can choose to add an upper shelf for another ~$100. Each upgrade costs just under thirty cents per day, over the course of a year. Interestingly, the website noted that the additional space above your tabletop added 576 inches of space or roughly 40% extra space to your desk. The next upgrade was a no-brainer. I chose the very inexpensive upgrade to the programmable controller over the standard controller. For less than the half the price of a modern video game, I gained the ability to have four programmable heights, an LED height indicator and an up/down button option. You can choose to add a Freeport surge protector or to upgrade this further to have an additional bank of USB power ports. Each tier of upgrade added to the overall price of the desk, similar to the car analogy from above. I added the freeport plus but opted against adding the Harmon Kardon sound system.
The next steps proved to be truly exciting, as I was able to choose comfort upgrades. I opted for the silver colored ergo swing-arm (black/white available) monitor mount, to free up space on my desk, to match the color of the lifting column hardware and to allow my monitor to swivel to my desired location. I only use a single monitor but I have multiple friends who think I am crazy for not utilizing two monitors. I absolutely loved this experience because of the variable configurations. If you want a basic mounting arm, you can buy that. If you want the ergonomic swing arm, you can buy that. If you have two monitors, you can buy the ergo double monitor arm. Additionally, you can upgrade/enhance your desk accessories as you upgrade your tech. Perhaps you decide to buy a second monitor and desire to mount it next to your other monitor. This kit will allow you to do that, simply by purchasing the other arm style. You can choose to mount your computer tower to the bottom of the desk and to get it up off the floor. Since my office is located in the basement of my home, I felt that this was a necessary upgrade. I did not add the fatigue mat upgrade, which in retrospect was a mistake. I also did not add the casters to the base of the desk, which proved to be a good personal choice. Lastly, I did add the steel cable tray and silver flex cable to my build, to eliminate clutter. It would not make sense to have such an amazing piece of tech to then clutter up the surface with cables. You can match the tray and flex cable to the same colors as the lifting hardware. For the price of roughly $4 per day, over the course of a year, the desk of my dreams was shipped to my home within a few days.
It is hard for me to decide which aspect of this review was more exciting, the ordering/customization or the actual build. I waited 72 hours and came home from work to find a note alerting me to a package at UPS. Similar to the choice by Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade, I chose wisely. When I arrived at the pickup center, the attendant asked what type of vehicle I brought and sighed with relief when I told her a pickup truck. Luckily I had chosen to take my Chevy Silverado instead of our Nissan Leaf or my wife’s Dodge Caravan. I was not prepared for six packages, two of which were 60 inches long and the tabletop was 30 inches wide. I suspect that I could have loaded this into our Dodge van, with the Tow-N-Go seats folded down, but I was jubilant that I chose to take my truck. I brought home the boxes, unloaded each of them and had to ask my wife to help with the tabletop. The hefty weight of the boxes gave credence to the NookDesk claim of highest weight capacity in its class. I unloaded the boxes and stored them overnight in my downstairs living room/game room until I could clean out my office. The next day, I moved three bookshelves worth of books, moved the bookshelves into my children’s bedroom and then started the construction of the desk. The first box measured 61 inches long by 17 inches wide by 16 1/4 inches tall and contained the Instruction manual and large bubble wrap bundle full of components. Cutting into the bubble wrap, I found the Freeport plus box (12 3/4 inches long by 6 3/4 inches wide by 2 1/4 inches thick), shelf brackets for the upper/lower accessory shelves, USB-C accessory Freeport, accessory shelves (11 3/4 inches wide by 59 1/2 inches long with a predrilled 2 1/4 inches diameter cable port), and the cable tray. One side of the tabletop was completely smooth, whereas the opposite side had predrilled small pin holes.
With the biggest (non-tabletop) box opened, I next turned to the conveniently labeled 9 3/4 wide by 26 7/8 long by 5 inches thick “Lifting Columns” box. Inside of the box, I found two very heavy mechanical lifting arms. Inside of the 6 1/2 by 29 1/2 by 5 inches tall “Frame Components” box, I found the two table legs and the 23 inches long by 1 1/4 inches square table support arms. Each of the steel components had predrilled holes, that would accommodate plastic screw guides. You can use the twelve frame screws to attach the frame to the upper section of the lifting arm and the eight-foot screws to attach the feet to the lifting arms. The kit conveniently included two hex keys. The first key was used for the frame/foot screws and also for the set screws, and the second key was used to attach the desktop screws. Attaching the foot pieces and the upper support and frame beams to the lifting column took about 15 minutes. I opened the “Desktop” box, placed the desktop down and aligned the lifting arm assembly with the metal inserts. It was at this step that I made a very bad mistake. Instead of grabbing the smaller desktop screws, I grabbed the foot screws, which looked similar in the instruction manual. They did not turn well and I thought that the screws were supposed to be a snug fit. Interestingly, I was able to screw the larger screw about 1/4 way into the metal insert before the insert spun freely and stripped the wood on the underside of the table. I was very angry, but this emotion quickly changed into embarrassment about my mistake. I was glad that I only messed this up on one side of the table and also that I had wood glue to fix the issue. I removed the metal insert, filled the hole with wood glue, added two toothpicks along the edge and screwed the insert back into the table. Between the wood glue and the toothpicks, the insert again remained snuggly seated within the drilled holes.
Thinking my mistakes were behind me, I screwed the other support arm/lifting arm structure into the tabletop and effectively skipped step 4/5. I did not install the frame rails before installing the second frame assembly and I had to remove the second arm, install the frame and then replace the lifting arm. Without any issues, I aligned the rails, installed the set screws and then added the center support brackets. While the table remained face down, I aligned the control handset with the predrilled holes on the tabletop, then the distribution box. The instruction manual conveniently labeled a cable wiring diagram and provided cable management clips. The optional rear cable tray was easily installed, just behind the distribution box. With the desk nearly completed, I asked my wife to help me turn the desk back upright. We both marveled at the quality of the craftsmanship and the visually appealing coloration of the silver frame against the red elm desktop. Since I chose to add the upper and lower platforms to my order, I followed steps U1 through U6 to attach the upper panel and then steps L1 through L7 to attach the lower panel. To install the accessory shelves, you will have to loosen the support arms and slide the side brackets over them. Install the back vanity panels with the accessory panel screws, then attach the platform to the brackets.
The structure of the desk was quite attractive and robust, irrespective of the included tech. When you factor in the lifting arms, the greater than 200 possible height positions, expandable design, 300 lb weight capacity, minimum height 23.75″ and maximum height of 49.5,” a rate of change of 1.5 inches per second and the variety of accessories, the desk becomes more than a piece of furniture, it becomes a centerpiece. You can adjust the height of the desk to any desired position and lock in the value by holding the S button, then any of the preset numbers. Set the low point, set the high point, display the values in inches or centimeters. The company promises a commendable 3-year warranty on the frame and motors and this can be expanded by 2-4 years. I truly enjoyed the building process, despite my mistakes. I look forward to adding the monitor mount and the desktop mount over the next few weeks and will write a second review at that time. For now, I am more than pleased with this product and would not go back to a standard desk.
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