In the last three days, I’ve been walking and standing more than I do during a regular work week by what feels like 100 percent. I’m pretty sure most journalists here would agree with me. Like nearly everyone else, I sit at a desk, day after day, sedentary behind a computer. This isn’t a singular experience in the least, and our increasingly desk-bound jobs have been the key motivation behind the standing desk revolution.
The health benefits are obvious and many: It helps your metabolism, your joints, muscles, and bones. And even if you work out, gym time can’t necessarily combat the amount you sit.
But what standing desk is the right desk? There are tons of manufacturers out there, and to be honest, you can fashion some sort of standing contraption for yourself that does the job. But I had the chance to meet with two very different standing desk companies at CES, and they each gave me a look at two extreme ends of this market.
Stir lies squarely in the high-tech end. I noticed the Stir from across the room because honestly, as I told its CEO and founder JP Labrosse, I’d been eyeing one for awhile. Labrosse formerly worked in Apple’s iPod division, as well as for a major solar technology company, and his background hasn’t been lost in his latest project.
Stir isn’t just a standing desk; it’s a smart standing desk. The sleek unit learns from your habits—when you like to stand, at what level you like to stand, etc. It’s motorized, so it self-adjusts.
It even has a function that motivates you to stand… meaning, yes, the Stir sort of decides when you need to get off your ass. (Relax, it’s an optional mode.) In practice, Labrosse aptly describes this as feeling sort of like a breath: I placed my hand on the desk to feel it make a gentle lift-and-sigh sort of motion.
Obviously the Stir comes with customization options, so you can determine at what level you want it. You do this via Stir’s palm-sized, built-in touchscreen, which sits in the lower left third of the desk. The display also shows you data on your standing; how many hours you’ve been on your feet versus on your butt. You see the calories burned here, too. Additionally, there are two concealed areas for all your various chargers and cables.
Labrosse says he wanted to make Stir out of personal need. He wanted a standing desk, but he wanted one that was compatible to him, one that responded. So he made it.
Of course, such utter convenience does not come cheap. The desk costs $3,890, another $299 if you want set up included.
It’s the Ferrari of standing desks.
At the opposite end of the spectrum—well, let me explain the spectrum before I continue. Opposite end doesn’t mean bad; it means that while Stir is high-tech, this particular product is simple. Simple, but it works. I met with StandStand at CES as well, and while I knew the company had helmed a successful Kickstarter, I didn’t want to research the product so I could be surprised.
And I was: When I turned the corner into StandStand’s booth, I immediately saw the small, simple, wooden platforms. They looked like standing doll desks, actually. After Stir, it might seem like a letdown, but in fact the convenience factor was immediately apparent. “People don’t stay at one desk all day,” explained Lindsay Noll, part of the StandStand team. “You get up and move and go to different places.” True: When I’m working from home I use no fewer than three surfaces a day, more if I leave the house and work elsewhere.
Founder Luke Leafgreen told me the idea for StandStand actually comes from a much higher-tech standing desk solution he configured. Leafgreen has a treadmill desk which he fashioned. (I am admittedly jealous; it sounds amazing.) But he said that when his job became more about leaving the home and being on site (he’s a resident dean at Harvard, so he meets with students often), he wanted a more mobile solution, something he could take to dorms or a coffee shop.
StandStand comes in three different sizes, so depending on your height and the height of your table, you’ll decide what StandStand you get. It’s sturdy, and elegantly simple. Even the packaging is good-looking, with a handle for you to easily cart StandStand around; it even won an award.
The units start at $69 and go up to $99.
Of course, my affections for Stir weren’t entirely swayed by StandStand. The fact that it has built-in charging ports and a touchscreen display are bonuses not lost on me. But right now, it’s rather telling that I’m in an airport, using a StandStand… because I can neither afford Stir nor can I lug it around with me.
But it’s an ideal world, and these two standing desk options can easily simultaneously exist; they complement each other really. The Ferrari and the Volvo, but you know, for making sure your body doesn’t disintegrate into a pile of mushy muscles and bone dust.
Photos via Molly McHugh