Standing desks are all the rage, but not everyone can afford a fancy model that electrically shifts from a sitting to a stand-to-work height at the touch of a button. Most of us are stuck with traditional fixed desks.
That’s where desk converters come in. These rigs rest atop a regular desk, and you can raise and lower them depending on how you want to work. Such devices incorporate a platform for your monitor, along with a separate surface for a keyboard and mouse. Presto! You have a fully functional standing desk, often at a more manageable cost.
I’ve written about desk converters before (see “Cheaper Alternatives to Expensive Standing Desks,” 8 April 2016) and had not planned to revisit the topic. But a new Ergotron product caught my attention because it solves problems I’ve seen in other such converters. Attaining perfection is difficult with gear of this ilk, partly due to varying user tastes and needs, but the WorkFit-TX Standing Desk Converter comes closer than any other I’ve ever seen. It isn’t cheap, though.
Let’s take a tour of the WorkFit-TX’s features and how they make it stand out from the pack.
Up, Up and Away
Like other desktop converters, the WorkFit-TX relies on a lever system for manually raising and lowering the apparatus. This may be a bit of a workout for you given the WorkFit-TX’s bulk and weight.
This fact alone is not a reason to pick the WorkFit-TX out of the Ergotron hardware line since the company sells other converters that work similarly, but it’s worth pointing this out given the arcing behavior of competing products.
That’s Deep, Man
Typically, you place your monitor atop a table-like platform that rises and lowers along with the rest of the apparatus. The WorkFit-TX’s shelf is wide enough to accommodate two displays, and also optionally accommodates a metal stalk onto which a pair of displays can be mounted. Nothing new here.
But the WorkFit-TX platform is also deep. For many people, especially those of us who are getting older, this depth is crucial because too-close screens can be hard to read. I’ve found such a close-up arrangement optically untenable, which keeps me from using other converters from Ergotron and its competitors.
The monitor platform’s depth serves another purpose, Ergotron told me. Users have asked for extra room to accommodate smartphones and tablets, spread out work papers, deploy personal tchotchkes, arrange peripherals, and more. There is plenty of space for all of that here. However, the WorkFit-TX lacks an integrated slot or stand for keeping a smartphone and/or tablet at a comfortable viewing angle, which is a cool feature found on other Ergotron converters.
Keep a Low Profile
The WorkFit-TX’s platform can seem awfully imposing in its expanded position for use while standing. But, in a design refinement, Ergotron figured out how to reduce the profile of the platform when it’s in the lowered position. It doesn’t exactly vanish from view, but it doesn’t overly dominate the desktop and add to the inherent claustrophobia of a work cubicle.
We’d Like Your Input
When using a standing desk or desk converter, you’ll need somewhere to put your keyboard and mouse (or trackpad). Some standing desks offer just one large surface to hold everything: your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and so on.
That’s usually poor ergonomics, since your lower arms should be bent at about 90º when typing and the screen should be straight in front of your face. Given most people’s bodies, that requires separating the keyboard and the screen by a good bit. (The lack of separation is one of the glaring ergonomic problems with laptops, and even more so with an iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard.)
With desktop converters, a more common arrangement is to provide a separate tray for the input devices at a lower height than the monitor’s platform. Typically, the tray is locked at that height. On the WorkFit-TX, though, you can adjust the keyboard tray via its own lever system, dropping it to as much as 3.5 inches (9 cm) below the desktop. This is important since many fixed desks are too high for comfortable and healthy typing.
The tray is also tiltable. That is, you can angle the edge closest to you slightly upward, via flip-out feet beneath the platform. You might find this weird, but such a tilt is a godsend for people who need to keep their wrists straight or angled slightly down. (The way most keyboards are higher in back can be uncomfortable for those who have trouble keeping their wrists cocked up while typing.)
At 28 inches (71 cm), the WorkFit-TX’s keyboard tray is also wide enough to accommodate a keyboard with enough extra with room for comfortable rodent manipulation, which is not true of many other converters. Even so, it helps if you use a smaller keyboard like Apple’s Magic Keyboard. The tray is 8 inches (20 cm) deep, which provides plenty of room for mousing.
Just as important, the WorkFit-TX’s device tray is thick and sturdy—unlike others that are flimsy and tend to flex—and it’s firmly attached to the rest of the apparatus so it won’t wobble.
The tray has one design element that annoyed me: a raised lip at the far edge that my Magic Mouse kept hitting. I was relieved to discover I could remove the lip with a Phillips screwdriver.
Now for the Bad News
The WorkFit-TX, though thoughtfully designed, isn’t for everyone. Its extra-deep monitor platform, though a boon in many ways, means the converter might be a tight fit on the shallow desks found in many office cubicles. It’s 27 inches (69 cm) deep and 32 inches (81 cm) wide, and it weighs a whopping 58.5 pounds (26.6 kg). Generally speaking, the WorkFit-TX is a bit of a beast, which some won’t like.
Also, at $499, it’s pricey for those without corporate expense accounts. See my earlier article on converters for a number of more affordable options. Also, check out Ergotron’s WorkFit-Z Mini; it has some of the issues described in this article, but at only $199, it’s worth a look.
If swapping out your current desk is an option, for about the cost of a WorkFit-TX, or a bit more, you can find full standing desks, the kind that raise and lower at the touch of a button. I have a standing desk at the office of my day-job employer, and I prefer it over any converter.
But for those who have decent-sized fixed desks and a bit of extra money, the WorkFit-TX is the best sit-stand converter I’ve seen so far.