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Your chair is killing you, or so recent studies would have you believe. Sure, you could just prop up your monitor on a box and work while standing, but eventually, you may want to sit back down again. This prompted a raft of sit-stand systems, that let you easily switch between sitting and standing.
Today we’re going to be looking at Ergotron’s WorkFit-S Dual with Worksurface+, a $499 sit-stand workstation that latches onto any existing tabletop.
As per our usual standard, this is not a sponsored review: We bought the WorkFit-S and paid for it in full, and I’ve been using it for my everyday work for several weeks now, and intend to keep using it as my main workstation. In other words, this is my honest opinion of a product I really do use — and it’s not perfect.
We’re also giving this workstation away — a brand new unit, of course — to one lucky MakeUseOf reader!
A Stand-Up Desk, Without The Desk
To put the WorkFit-S in context, it helps to take a step back and look at some of the other sit-stand options out there. A few of the WorkFit-S’s closest competitors are made by Ergotron itself:
- The Ergotron LX Dual Side-by-side Arm is a $220 mounting system with two articulating arms, each of which can hold a 24-inch monitor. This was my previous system, as shown in my awesome workstation post. The LX Dual wasn’t meant to be used as a sit-stand system, but because it is so flexible, I was able to use it in this way. I had to build a simple stand to put my keyboard and trackball on, though, and switching between sitting and standing was a clunky process. That said, the articulating arms do offer far more ways to move your monitors around.
- The Ergotron WorkFit A Dual is a $400-ish system that sits somewhere between the LX Dual and the WorkFit S: It uses a similar articulating arm, rather than a standup column. That means it has a smaller footprint on your desk, but also makes it a bit less sturdy.
- If you only use a laptop, you may want to look at the $235 Ergotron WorkFit-P Sit-Stand Workstation, which is basically just a simple flat surface that raises and lowers using Ergotron’s typical high-quality hinged arm design. This didn’t work for me, as I use a desktop machine with two 24-inch monitors.
All of these solutions require you to provide your own tabletop or desk. If you’re looking for a more complete system, two other Ergotron products merit mention:
- The $697 WorkFit-C Single HD Sit-Stand Workstation is a wheeled cart that holds your computer, keyboard, mouse, and a monitor. There’s a dual-monitor version too – the WorkFit-C Dual Sit-Stand Workstation — but it has several shortcomings: It is built for smaller computers (my computer is massive), it looks like something you would see at a hospital, and it’s far more expensive than the WorkFit S. Finally, I’m not sure what would happen if a cat suddenly landed on it, which is a very real possibility in our household.
- The $607 WorkFit-D is a complete desk, which seems quite similar to other sit-stand desks (which we will get to in a moment), save for one important point: It is not a motorized product, instead using the spring-loaded balance mechanisms Ergotron is known for. This may be a sensible solution, only I wanted something that does roll around, and is easier to ship.
Of course, Ergotron is not the only company offering sit-stand systems. Other notable competitors include:
- The Terra Desk, a $1500 hulking beast of a motorized desk with a bamboo top and a solid aluminum construction. Yes, $1500 – and good luck trying to ship it internationally.
- The GeekDesk v3, another electric option that starts at a saner $749 price point. It suffers from the same disadvantages as the WorkFit-D and Terra Desk – bulky, difficult to ship, and doesn’t wheel around.
- The Furinno Adjustable laptop table – this simple $54 product can work, if you use just a laptop. This can be an interesting option for someone just getting started – but if you have a massive dual-monitor desktop workstation, this is not even an option.
Long story short, I ended up going with the WorkFit-S Dual because it came at a relatively sane price point, didn’t cost the earth to ship internationally, let me add my own table-top (for setting a base height and making it easily movable), and featured solid construction.
Some Assembly Required
The WorkFit-S Dual comes in a big box weighing around 44lbs, and you need to put it together. The default product only supports monitors up to 22 inches wide. Since my own monitors are both 24-inches, I had to buy the additional $46 Hinged Bow attachment, which came in a separate box. This attachment lets you tilt one of the monitors at an angle, like this:
More importantly, it is a required component if you want to mount 24-inch monitors.
The WorkFit-S Dual came with detailed assembly instructions. The main pillar comes as a single unit, but you need to connect the monitor arm (the hinged bow, in my case), the keyboard tray, the legs, and the mini-desk surface.
All of these go together using a combination of Phillips screws and two different sized Allen (Hex) keys. The Allen keys were the weakest point in the assembly process: The WorkFit-S itself is solidly built and exudes quality, but Ergotron decided to bundle it with a really cheap and shoddy Allen key. The key actually stripped while I was using it, and at some point, just stopped working – I couldn’t use it to screw anything. I had to go and buy a regular Hex bit for my ratchet screwdriver, which then made short work of the remaining screws:
The entire assembly process was relatively straightforward (barring tool annoyances), and took around an hour or so, mainly because I wanted to take it slow and make sure I don’t mess anything up.
With the workstation assembled, I latched it onto our Ikea dining table, which I commandeered for the first few days of testing the system (later on, I built myself a custom desk). I then mounted both monitors, only to have the whole thing promptly sink to its lowest setting. This was expected: Like other Ergotron products, the WorkFit-S works using a counterbalanced spring system. In other words, you have to calibrate it.
The entire assembly moves up and down, but you can also move the screens up to 4 inches up or down independently from the mini-desk and keyboard stand. This makes for two adjustment points. The top point uses a heavy-duty bolt:
This controls the resistance of the entire mechanism, and is easy to reach and use. By increasing the resistance, I was quickly able to make the desk and screens stay at the exact height I wanted them, even when fully loaded and while resting my arms on the keyboard tray.
The lower adjustment point is harder to reach, and controls just the resistance of the screens:
I was able to reach it using the larger of the two included Allen keys. It wasn’t convenient, but fortunately, I did not have to make too many rotations to hit the correct pressure setting.
After a few minutes of fiddling, I was able to move the whole assembly up and down easily and have it stay right where I wanted it — and move the screens independently, too. The spring tension did not loosen over time, and judging by my long-time experience with the LX Dual arm (which uses a similar spring-tension system), I expect it to keep working indefinitely.
Working While Dancing
This section is going to be blissfully short, for one simple reason: The WorkFit-S works. Correctly assembled and calibrated, switching from sitting to standing is just a matter of standing up and pulling the WorkFit-S up.
The mechanism rises in a single, smooth motion, and stays right where you want it. The monitors are at eye level, and if not, you can quickly adjust them too. At the right height, your arms just naturally fall on the keyboard and mouse tray at a 90-degree angle. The hinged bow lets me tilt the secondary monitor inwards, creating a gentle arc.
In a nutshell, it is really comfortable, and is everything I’d hoped for in a standing workstation. I am able to work for long periods of time, and rest a coffee cup and my smartphone on the mini-desk. There is virtually zero wobble while I type.
Working While Sitting
Working while sitting, I am sad to say, is a less ideal experience. My office chair has arms, and when wheeling up to the workstation, it collides with the roomy keyboard tray:
This is very annoying, as it keeps me from getting close enough to the monitors. Alternatively, I can lift the keyboard tray a little bit and lower the screens – then the screens are correctly positioned and I can get close enough, but the keyboard is far too tall, forcing me to hold my wrists in an unnaturally bent position while typing.
The solution I found was to use a simple folding plastic chair we had lying around the house (Ikea, again). This chair has no arms, which means I am able to scoot close enough to the monitors:
Another nice touch is that the keyboard tray actually flips up, so you can push it partially out of the way if you want to put the keyboard on your lap. This lets me work on our sofa:
It is when sitting down that I really miss the LX Dual’s articulated arms. With the LX, I was able to easily push a monitor out of the way when I didn’t need it, and put the remaining monitor right in the center of my field of vision. With the WorkFit-S, I basically have two monitors, no matter what. The hinged bow lets me push one off to the side, but the remaining monitor is woefully off-center:
Like Salad Greens: An Acquired Taste, But It’s Good For You
In more ways than one, you could call the WorkFit-S a finely balanced solution: Literally, thanks to its sophisticated spring-loaded mechanisms. But also figuratively, as it sits in at a medium price point. It is not perfect; it is well-built, and it works. Working while standing can take a little bit of time to get used to, but it’s far healthier than sitting all day long. Being able to easily switch modes is what truly makes it practical. If you are looking for a sanely priced sit-stand option, this is it.
MakeUseOf recommends: Buy it.
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