HomeReviewThis is not how to fix your back

This is not how to fix your back

This desk goes up and down

In May 2021 I damaged my back. It didn’t take much. A small jump up and down was the final nail to my “bad back” coffin. I couldn’t walk for 3 days, followed by being in chronic pain for almost 18 months. Spinal injections did the trick for me. I’m pain-free again. Frankly speaking, the only reason I retained sanity in this pain-riddled period was thanks to cycling. Somehow, my suffering never transferred to that activity, which I can only be grateful for. This story comes from a person who has always been cautious about prolonged hours spent at a desk.

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Maidesite – getting the posture right

Not the desk in question

Despite what the Maidesite ad leads you to believe, a motorised desk won’t be the pain relief that you are looking for. Maidesite desks are not the cure, but a prevention method. Looking after your ergonomics at work is the important part. Having access to a motorised desk is just one of the methods of looking after your body.

Maidesite makes awesome desks (Maidesite UK | Maidesite DE), so getting one is undeniably one of the coolest ways to enhance your work environment. What’s wrong with a “normal” table? Adjustable desks are not a fad. When it comes to ergonomics it’s hard to fix a design that fits all humans at the same time. Realistically speaking, lowering an adjustable chair to fit your desk height is the least ergonomic approach you can take when striving for your comfort. And yet – we all make this sacrifice.

All adjustments in a typical chair serve one purpose: to mould the chair to your body and provide the optimal and most comfortable sitting position. Adjusting that further to fit your position to a random table you got online will ruin this. This is where adjustable desks come into play.

The “big deal”

Maidesite S2 Pro Plus

If you have the time and the money, you could order a bespoke desk measured and built to your posture (I built one for myself). It will be expensive (if you don’t do this yourself), and you have to experiment a fair bit to get these right. Even then, if you change your chair, chances are, the ergonomics of the desk will need evaluation again.

Motorised desks like the one from Maidesite are about 2 things:

  • allowing you to experiment with height until you find the height you like
  • switching back and forth between sitting down and standing effortlessly

The multi-user use is just a side benefit. I will agree with anyone saying that motorised desks are “pointless” as once you find your height, you are very unlikely to use the feature again. They are also the best tools to find out what your perfect height is, while being less expensive than tailored furniture.

Once you have the perfect height, you will be actually thankful for the flexibility the desk offered rather than complain about two motorised legs you don’t use often enough.

Assembly

The Maidesite S2 Pro Plus (Maidesite UK | Maidesite DE) arrived in two boxes. One with motorised stand in bits and the other for the surface (optional). The box with a motorised unit is very heavy. Ideally, it’s a 2 person lift. The desk surface is heavy, showing good quality material covered by the veneers but easy enough to carry. It’s worth noting that the boxes were well secured, especially reinforced corners for the desk surface. Shipping damage should be exceptionally rare.

The assembly is well explained, and other than getting the orientation of one component wrong, I had no problems building it up. It comes with all the tools you need to complete the job, but a dedicated set of Allen keys or something like this Wera Toolset would speed things up.

I particularly appreciated the options to mount the controller unit on both sides of the desk (pre-drilled holes) and the inclusion of castor wheels alongside fixed feet. Within 30-40 min I was ready to test the desk.

First Steps

As soon as the Maidesite desk was quietly travelling up and down, a new thought popped into my head. Can it hold my weight? I’m a chunky mothertrucker and with 93kg on the clock – I will present quite the challenge to 2 motors inside. Funnily enough, it wasn’t the frame or the desk I was worried about – it was the wheels that feels a little too flimsy for what the frame was supposed to take. These might be overkill, but I’m tempted to swap them out for something I can trust. After all, I’m an engineer. I like safety margins to be big.

Note that the final max load depends on the model selected so check your specification before loading up your desk. Versions with a single motor have half the load capacity.

I could tell that the motors laboured a little, as the quiet pitch of the motors changed, however, the desk lifted me to the desired height without hesitation. I’m surprised overall by how quiet the desk is while moving. It’s a pass, and while I’m not going to use the desk to hoist myself randomly across the flat, you can load it with your biggest screens and be sure that it won’t drop on you.

If you are serious about standing at the desk, there is one more thing you should consider, especially if you suffer from flat feet like me. Standing on flat surfaces without correct footwear becomes very quickly unpleasant and anti-fatigue mats are a life savers for me at work. I will consider having one just for this purpose, so I don’t have to wear footwear to be comfy. Without one, I can last about 10 min before hating on my soles.

Controller

While personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the touch interface without tactile feedback, it looks smart and modern and I’ll press the buttons sporadically. It comes with 4 memory profiles which are plenty for a single person’s use but probably not enough to accommodate 2 or 3 people hot-swapping the desk. Thankfully, you can use a height display to memorise your favourite height should you run out of memory presets.

A really cool thing is that you can add an offset to your current height, so if you fit custom feet to your Maidesite desk (M8), then you can calibrate the unit to show you the correct distance from the surface the desk is standing on. The display is very accurate too. You could use this as a digital ruler.

The biggest disappointment is however the USB-A port included. It’s nice to have a charging port, but limiting it to USB-A at 0.8A feels inadequate in 2023. As the desk is mains powered, a 1-2 port USB-C PD charger would not be impossible to implement and would remove the clutter from the desk’s surface. Sure it has a charger, but don’t get your hopes high.

Maidesite has got back to me on the issue of the charging port, and there are working on a USB-C version as well. There are no details as to when we would see it, but I’m glad they are considering it.

The inclusion of timers is a nice touch. It’s easy to forget about breaks when sitting in front of the computer for hours. I usually have my Amazfit GTR3 Pro to remind me of it – but watch timers are easy to dismiss. Vibrating desks are much harder to ignore. That alone should prompt you to take a 5 min recess, do some office-friendly stretching and return to work in a new position. Your body will thank you later.

The finish

The top that comes with it is veneered and available in different finishes. While it’s a chipboard on the inside, the quality of it feels nice and leaves a very good impression. The same goes for the assembly parts. Maidesite made sure the legs are sturdy and well-constructed. The desk has no play when assembled correctly and simply looks smart.

On the Maidesite website, not all the combinations of desk sizes and finishes are available. It’s a shame as I wanted to have the biggest desk available in an “old wood” finish – which was not possible. I hope they will address the limitation in the future.

Modding?

I already think of ways, I could change the desk and make it more mine. The 1st mod is to splice the power cable and add a power strip under the desk, so there is only one lead coming out from the desk and I can power up my essentials. Amazon already has some interesting splitters in case you don’t want to cut the main wires yourself. A mains extension lead like this would add extra sockets to plug your electronics and add charging ports too (including USB-C).

Power sockets added by me

I know, I could simply connect the desk to an extension lead mounted underneath the desk, but using a splitter is more elegant as I can turn off all my devices at once without powering down my desk.

Down the line, I could consider taking the controller apart and see how could I turn this desk into a connected one. It’s an over-the-top idea, but I could learn a thing or two about adding a DIY solution like this. While setting the desk height from an app or even voice controls would be cool but very impractical, knowing who is at the desk based on presets used could introduce interesting automation moving forward.

Final thoughts

Maidesite won’t cure your back. It will get you a decent motorised desk or a frame to get your work environment to work for you. It’s not the most exciting gadget to have in your array of toys, but having back problems wasn’t particularly exciting either and I wish I did more to prevent that. Maidesite (Maidesite UK | Maidesite DE) can definitely change the way you work for the better – so love your body and treat yourself a little. Got questions? Let me know in this Reddit thread.

🆓📈💵 – See the transparency note for details.

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