Tech review: the next best thing to a standing desk - the Altizen desk converter
Designed in Asia, Altizen delivers a slick and stable monitor mount that elevates, lowers and changes the panning angles of your screens at the touch of a button. It even warns you when you need to change position
For digital natives who are constantly glued to their PCs or laptops, the Altizen – a designed-in-Asia “desk converter” – may be the next best option after a standing desk to transform a standard table into a height adjustable one.
Hardware and installation
Unlike clunkier rivals that require the use of manual levels or cranks, the Altizen incorporates a motorised mechanism that lowers and raises the work surface at the push of a button. Even when pitted against other motorised desk converters, the Altizen stands out with its clean lines and an appealing design. The beige laminate of the fibreboard-based work surface is a little plain, though the Altizen itself is available in black or white.
The Alitizen requires assembly before use. This includes separately attaching the base plate and work surface to the “pillar” or body using the furnished screws and Allen key, and fitting the monitor mounts (or laptop holder) in place. This is less complicated than it sounds, as core components such as the motor used to adjust the height of the desk and the control panel are already pre-installed.
There are three variants of the Altizen: the Altizen Laptop with a special ledge for a laptop, the Altizen Single Monitor and the Altizen Dual Monitor. All models are based on the same work surface, base and pillar components. Assembled, the entire rig weighs a hefty 29kg (minus the weight of any monitors), which Altizen says is necessary for stability.
While I would advise always having some help when handling heavy loads, I had no problem unpacking and setting up the Altizen by myself. The entire installation took just over 30 minutes.
Software and features
The Single and Dual Monitor Altizen comes with adaptors that allow your individual monitors to be panned slightly to the left or right, or angled to face downwards or upwards. This is an excellent feature, ensuring the ability to set an ideal viewing angle. Moreover, its distance from the work surface can also be adjusted by pulling on a retaining pin on the pillar, and sliding the movable cradle up or down the notched grooves to a comfortable height.
There are four buttons on the control board embedded at the edge of the work surface: two are for adjusting the vertical position of the work surface, and a preset button for raising it to the preset height (and back). The final button toggles the blue indicator light at the top of the pillar as a busy indicator, though I didn’t find it useful as it wasn’t intuitively obvious to others what it meant.
Overall, the controls were easy to use and well thought out. Simultaneously pressing the “up” and “down” buttons registers the current position for the preset height button. Pressing the preset height button when the desk is already at its preset height will return the work surface to its lowest position. The team also built anti-collision detection into the desk. Hitting a can drink deliberately placed under the work surface, for instance, caused the lowering work surface to stop, then lift up slightly to remove the obstacle.
The real magic happens with the Altizen is paired with its free companion app. The app can be used to wirelessly control settings such as height and the brightness of the blue indicator light. Crucially, the Altizen app lets you track your usage of the Altizen, either sitting or standing, which happens automatically with the sensors built right into the smart desk.
Usability and effectiveness
Having used both motorised desk converters from competitors and fully-fledged height-adjustable desks, I can attest that the motor of the Altizen is among the quietist I have heard. Even when standing next to it, you will be hard-pressed to hear it lowering or raising the work surface.
Despite two 27-inch LCD monitors mounted, the work surface was extremely stable. Altizen recommends a maximum weight of 15kg, but my (bad) habit of leaning slightly on the table with one elbow barely caused a wobble. What I like best about the Altizen is the relatively generous size of its work surface and how it sits almost flush with the table top when lowered.
Finally, a discreet indicator will flash a reminder after prolonged sitting. According to its creators, this feature is designed to help users who suffer from backache from sitting still for too long.
The Altizen is a highly functional desk converter with smarts and beauty. The downside is its rather steep price; the Altizen Laptop, Altizen Single-Monitor and Altizen Dual-Monitor cost US$1,039, US$999 and US$1,069 respectively. However, there is no doubt in my mind that it is the best desk converter that you can buy today.
The Altizen can be ordered online and ships worldwide out of Singapore. Freight charges may apply.