Review: The Autonomous Smart Desk 2 is a perfect mix of function and value [Video]

Standing desks have made impressive headway into home and professional offices in recent years as the market has been flooded with different options. One such brand making a mark is Autonomous, who claims to have made the world’s best convertible workspace.

As someone who spends hours at a time slouched in a chair in my home office, I was anxious to finally see what the standing desk phenomenon was all about.

The Autonomous SmartDesk 2 did not disappoint.

Finding the right standing desk

Upon visiting the Autonomous website, you’re faced with a variety of options when it comes to designing your own smart desk. Prices start at $299 with five different desktop materials and four separate designs. The smaller 53- by 30-inch top comes in three different shapes, including two cutouts that allow you to “belly up” to your workspace. A larger 70- x 30-inch XL size only comes in a rectangle but offers significantly more space.

Material choices include white and black paint or stained walnut, light oak and bamboo. Each top is made of solid wood and is supported by metal platforms that are also available in three colors.

Autonomous offers two different “editions” for each desk, the home model has a single motor that supports 220-pounds of capacity and raises up to 47-inches in height. Meanwhile, the business option brings dual motors, an 80-pound increase in capacity and the ability to rise another four-inches. A one and five-year warranty are available with each respective model. There are also optional accessory kits that include USB chargers and built-in speakers.

When it was time to choose, I opted for the 70- x 30-inch XL table top in Walnut with a business edition platform and black legs. My thinking went something like this: I have a 27-inch Retina 5K iMac as my main workstation with a 4K Dell monitor that is equal in size. That alone eats up roughly 55-inches of space before any speakers or nicknacks are considered. My needs simply called for more room.

In the end, the total for my setup came out to $599.

Hands-on Video

Setting up the Autonomous Smart Desk 2

My new standing desk arrived in two separate (and heavy!) boxes via FedEx a few days after I finalized the order. Autonomous does a nice job of sealing said boxes for the journey to your doorstep with hard reinforced cardboard corners protecting your investment from any bumps along the way.

Although the individual legs and tabletop were heavy, I was able to move them to my office without any issue. A physical specimen capable of lifting large sums of weight, I am not.

I was unsure of what to expect once I got everything out of the box but the total setup time ended up taking me around 20 minutes. The platform ships in three heavy-duty metal pieces that must be screwed together and then extended to match up with your table top. From there, eight screws go directly into the wood connecting the two. An included allen wrench is used to tighten bolts that keep the extendable portions of the legs from moving at all.

The Autonomous Smart Desk is controlled by a seven button panel that is wired to the under-mount “brain.” A wire runs to each motor, which provides power and direction for raising or lowering the desk. An LED display shows the current distance of your desk off the floor, as well offering programming.

There are four presets that remember your desired desk height for easier transitioning from sitting to standing. A simple press-and-hold of the memory button lets you save the current height for later.

Managing cables and expectations

One of the biggest struggles for a standing desk user is hiding power and I/O cables. On a standard setup, it’s much easier to keep these pesky necessities out-of-sight, but when your workspace sits four-feet off the ground, it becomes more difficult.

Autonomous addresses this situation in two ways. First, are the included 3M zip-ties that I became a huge fan of during the setup process. It’s a simple add-on but one that I actually hadn’t seen before. On one end of the zip-tie is a square 3M pad that can be attached to just about any surface. This allows you to place each one wherever you need, which doesn’t constraint your setup like some preset cable management solutions.

Two metal grommets are also included in the box, but I didn’t find those to be as useful. If you leave them as-is, there is just enough room for a single cable to slide through. Unscrewing the larger portion of the grommet basically leaves you with a metal trim and little functionality.

If there is any aspect that was disappointing about the Autonomous, it was power management. You’re left to provide your own surge protector which causes two problems. Leaving a surge protector on the floor gives you a whole mess of cable running vertically up to your setup. Conversely, there is the option of mounting a power source to the bottom of the desk (my solution), but like any time you add a third-party to the mix it can be a bit hairy.

I would’ve liked to have seen Autonomous include a built-in surge protector and under-mount cable management solution on the Smart Desk. Yes, it’s a luxury but given how the rest of the product experience shaped out, I would’ve expected this type of consideration.

Transitioning to the standing desk lifestyle

Once my standing desk arrived, I wasn’t really sure how to get started with my new-found work environment. It turns out that you’re better off easing into standing a few hours a day. My first week was spent with a sore back and periodic headaches. A few adjustments along the way (like wearing shoes) really made a difference as I found my stride.

Overall, welcoming the Autonomous Smart Desk into my workflow has been a positive change. I’ve noticed that I have more energy for extended periods of time and generally feel better overall. While this isn’t a direct reflection on the product quality, there is without a doubt a number of benefits that come with owning a standing desk.

Should I buy this standing desk from Autonomous?

For as little as $299, you can add Autonomous’ Smart Desk 2 to your setup. That’s an aggressive price point and one of the best values that we’ve seen in this product category. Value aside, the materials and functionality were both top-notch, earning a resounding endorsement from 9to5Toys. On top of that, the potential health benefits of standing for a portion of your day make this money well spent in our book.


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