Stand up or sit down with the PowerUp Series II desk (hands-on)

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/ Updated: 15 March 2014, 10:48 am AEDT
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In today's always-on, super-connected workplace it's harder than ever to get out of that chair and simply take a break. Worse, sitting for hours at a stretch not only doesn't burn many calories, it might even be a serious health risk. The problem is standing all day at the office is a big commitment and frankly it's a relief to kick your feet up once in a while. Don't worry though, the $899 UpDesk PowerUps Series II motorized desk gives you the option to sit when you want and stand when you should.

Design and features
Made by UpDesk which is based in Nashville, Tenn., the $899 PowerUps is certainly not an impulse buy. That said, this desk is no ordinary piece of office furniture. The PowerUps' two metal legs actually contain electric motors which raise or lower the desk's flat surface on command. Spanning a range of 25.5 inches to 50.5 inches, the PowerUps' height accommodates all degrees sitting and standing positions.

UpDesk PowerUp Series II
Use the control panel to adjust the height. Sarah Tew/CNET

A control panel complete with a digital LED readout is located on the desk's right, bottom lip. The panel houses arrow buttons for raising and lowering the desk manually while the current height is listed in inches on the display. The feature I like best though is how you can save up to three different height values and map them to buttons on the control panel. For instance I was able to set personalized heights for sitting, standing, and one perfect for afternoon coffee time (slightly taller than standing mode).

UpDesk says that the twin motors of the PowerUp Series II can support up to 300 pounds. That'll cover the weight of normal office equipment just fine, but you might want to think twice about dropping old CRT monitors, console-style TVs, or engine blocks on the thing. Thankfully the desk uses a standard two-prong plug that connects to 120V AC outlets. There's also a cable management channel for guiding cords and reducing clutter (placed on the underside).

UpDesk PowerUp Series II
The desk lowers to sitting positions when you want a break. Sarah Tew/CNET

The basic model of the PowerUp, the small size (48x30 inches) I tested, starts at $899, but UpDesk sells a medium (60x30 inches) and large (72x30 inches) version for $949 and $999, respectively. You also have color options of Maple (shown here), Mahogany, Black, and Orange (medium size only, for $949).

Outlook
I can say that I've definitely enjoyed the few weeks I've spent working with the UpDesk PowerUp Series II. Of course I'm not exactly sure if I'm experiencing powerful health benefits, though I have been standing much more than I am used to. I also can't deny that the quality of the desk itself is high and feels sturdier than my officially issued work surface.

To be entirely truthful, the PowerUp doesn’t match the sleek modern styling of the Stir Kinetic Desk. Still, the Stir costs a whopping $3,890 and is packed with sophisticated body-sensing electronics plus an embedded touch screen. If you’re looking for a complete, adjustable, and motorized standing desk solution, however, the PowerUp Series II beats the pants off cheap, static solutions from Ikea and the like.

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Where to Buy

PowerUps Series II (Maple)

Part Number: PowerUps Series II Maple/SML
Pricing is currently unavailable.