Review: the NextDesk Terra

A review of my purchasing experience of the NextDesk Terra, a motorized stand/sit desk with a bamboo surface.

Update: I have (finally) received a refund for the part returned. More information at the end of this post.

At my last office, I was blessed with a stand/sit desk (specifically, an Anthro Elevate Wrap). Being able to choose standing as an option when that “I-need-a-stretch” feeling comes on is a luxury — a luxury that I didn’t expect to take so seriously. After leaving that office (I now work from home), I started searching around for a stand/sit desk of my own.

After a good amount of research, I chose a NextDesk Terra. The Anthro was a nice desk, but it was made of particle board, blocked stretching out your feet when seated, and was awkward to place in a room due to its shape. The NextDesk improved on all of these shortcomings — made of bamboo, had no lower support beneath the cross-beam, and was rectangular.

I have to say that I’m happy with my purchase. The desk is very sturdy and looks beautiful (and the surface is much stronger than my previous desk — it isn’t scratched by sliding around my mouse or keyboard).

Not everything was sunshine and roses though — here are a few things that caught me by surprise.

The process

NextDesk custom manufactures their desks. Read: your desk will take a while to be delivered. I purchased mine on September 24, and it was delivered 24 days later on October 18.

I had heard tales of their customer support being unresponsive — but for me, it was the opposite. It was a little odd though — on multiple occasions, I emailed their customer support and they would call me in response.

NextDesk also uses freight shipment companies. For me, this meant that the desk was left on a wooden pallet in the street in front of my apartment. The desk as shipped weighs 215 pounds, and the box is not sealed — it will fall apart if not carried flat; and it also doesn’t fit through doors if carried flat.

The desk

The desk itself is beautiful. The frame is made of solid (and heavy) aluminum. It’s not difficult to figure out how to put it together, but the directions aren’t very helpful.

The motor and lifting columns seem to be the exact same as the Anthro I previously used. The control device goes into a “sleep” mode when the desk hasn’t moved in a few seconds — and when it does, you can hear the relay tick off.

The controls are very sturdy; the buttons are rubber on a plastic display, set inside an aluminum block. The buttons must be continually pressed for the desk to move, including the preset buttons (I assume this is a safety feature).

The desk comes with sticky-backed zip-ties to tidy up your cabling. They’re nice, but I’ve had two pop off so far in the two weeks I’ve owned the desk.

The accessories

Of the available options, I purchased the Vanity Cover, one Ergonomic Monitor Arm, and the Power Management. If I had to do it over, I would purchase only the Vanity Cover.

The Vanity Cover (a cable tray for the back of the desk) is made of a cheaper, thinner metal than the rest of the desk. It’s not visibly noticeable (only noticeable to the touch). It’s an elongated “V” shape, opening to the bottom of the desk and to the cabling holes in the top of the desk (I purchased my desk with the two-hole option). It works well, but not with the NextFlex cable management feature (factory-installed on the desk). Be prepared to remove the Vanity Cover and NextFlex parts immediately — the NextFlex doesn’t have an opening at the bottom of the desk; if cables are run from the top of the desk, they cannot enter the Vanity Cover. To unscrew the NextFlex cable shield, the Vanity Cover must be removed.

The Ergonomic Monitor Arm is actually a Concerto Arm. It feels cheap to the touch (plastic covers) and isn’t strong enough to support an Apple Thunderbolt Display. I have returned mine, and am planning on purchasing a Boa in its place.

The Power Management is a joke — I expected something custom manufactured, running the length of the desk, and opening to the Vanity Cover. Instead, it’s a Belkin Low-Profile Surge Protector shoddily (but sturdily) screwed onto the bottom of the desk. Compared to the price on Amazon, the NextDesk option is marked up by 226%.

The desk itself is well designed — it seems like someone with a business major took the original design and tried to productize the model, adding additional “options” and not considering how they would actually interact.

Would buy again.

Update: I have since returned the monitor arm purchased with the desk in favor of a Boa. I had a bit of trouble getting a refund for the part returned — I shipped it back to them per their instructions but did not receive a refund. After calls and emails were not returned, I filed a complaint with the BBB. The CEO of NextDesk contacted me directly and I had a check in hand within 24 hours — though in total, it took 32 business days (48 calendar days) to receive the refund (instead of 7 business days as their terms of service shows).