The Autonomous SmartDesk Pro may not be the most exciting electric sit-stand desk going around but it’s a well-built, sensible choice for most home offices.
the good bits
Spacious work surface
Quiet electric motors
Wide range of height options
Fairly simple construction
the not so good bits
Non existent cable management
No collision detection
Autonomous SmartDesk Pro Electric Sit-Stand Desk
As more people spend more time working from home, a lot more is being asked of the humble desk. While previously a case of “good enough”, the rise of sit-stand desks has meant there’s now pressure on manufacturers to impress and innovate to stay ahead.
It’s already a busy market but Autonomous are entering another option in the game, the SmartDesk Pro. A company with history in this genre (for better or worse), their latest offering is a £700/$599 electric sit-stand desk that does away with the bells and whistles
Before we can talk about the Autonomous SmartDesk Pro, we have to build it. Arriving in just two packages, unlike the EZ Desk Carbon Edition the SmartDesk Pro’s work surface is one solid piece. This means a large, but thin first package with the frame components in second surprisingly compact box. Laying it all out there’s surprisingly few parts to deal and while there’s easy to follow instructions included, I’d have backed myself to piece it together blind too. If you’d rather follow along, there’s a step by step video tutorial on the Autonomous YouTube channel too, which is a nice touch.
While it would probably have been easier with a second set of hands, I took on the build solo and faced relatively few issues. For the most part it’s a pretty standard flatpack build with predrilled holes and that economy of parts showing its benefit. The steel frame and solid MDF top do form a surprisingly heavy pair though and it’s not the smallest desk going so it may be worth having a second pair of hands to help with the final flip.
Once it’s built it’s clear Autonomous isn’t reinventing the wheel with the SmartDesk Pro. This is a pretty standard design as far as desks go with nothing unique about its worktop or frame. It’s not offensive to look at though with rounded off edges softening it off for a home office space and a pretty compact footprint with legs that don’t extend outside the shadow of the desktop.
There’s a choice of colours for both the desktop and frame, my unit was all black but there’s white or faux wood options too. Strangely shoppers in the US are also treated to a solid bamboo option and it’s a shame this isn’t available in other regions too. The matte coating features a finely textured surface that’s pleasant to run your hand over, though I have noticed a couple of scratches appear from a few weeks use. Thankfully these haven’t made it through to the actual MDF underneath so aren’t obvious, but it’s a slight cause for concern about potential longevity of the desktop.
There’s nothing remarkable about the Autonomous SmartDesk Pro’s design, there’s no gimmicks or particular points of difference. Simple is fine if it’s executed well, not everyone needs built in charging docks or LED lighting. But this minimalist approach makes it particularly disappointing to find a complete absence of cable management. This is such a crucial area of a sit-stand desk and feels like a total oversight here. Autonomous do sell at $39/£37 cable management tray as an added extra (which was included with my sample unit) but this really should be included as standard on a £700/$599 desk, you’ll find £100 IKEA options with proper cable channels so there’s no excuse in my book.
There is plenty of room for something too because the frame itself is impressively low profile. The Autonomous SmartDesk Pro runs a dual electric motor system so there’s no exposed moving parts like with the EZ Desk Carbon Edition and the entire underbody is clean and organised. The structure only extends around 4cm down from the desk surface which meant I never banged a knee into it though I can’t help but feel a little consideration here could have factored in some nicely hidden cable management.
A simple design with no standout features means there aren’t too many ways the Autonomous SmartDesk Pro can particularly impress. That said, the same logic also means there aren’t too many areas it can lose points either (beyond the cable management I’ve moaned enough about). Overall it quietly goes about its business and as far as desks go it does a good job overall.
I was pleased with the standard of parts and build quality is strong across the board. The desktop is thick enough to feel premium without being comically girthy for the sake of it, it meant I had no issue attaching a mic arm to the side.
There’s more transatlantic desktop differences when it comes to sizing, the 135cm x 74cm surface is the only option in the UK while the US can also enjoy a more compact smaller top or an XL variant too. The UK’s ‘Classic’ size feels about right though and offers plenty of room to work. It comfortably fit my two 27” arm-mounted monitors and I think I’d be happy adding a third without it seeming cramped or spilling over the sides.
I particularly appreciated the extra depth offered by the SmartDesk Pro’s worktop. As a streamer there’s a range of gear fighting for real estate around my keyboard (the Logitech G815), a RODECaster Duo, Elgato Stream Deck and HD60X Capture Card, BEACN Mix Create, lights, a Nintendo Switch, the list goes on and yet everything had room to do its thing without tripping over each other.
The Autonomous SmartDesk Pro offers excellent flexibility with two particularly quiet electric motors on hand to change up the working height on command. Together they only produce 40db of noise, which Google tells me is like a quiet library, so even if you’re sharing a space with others you could happily send it up and down all day without annoying people. I ran tests on my stream and the SmartDesk Pro wasn’t loud enough to be picked up by a condenser microphone bolted to it. There desktop has a slight acceleration and deceleration on its way to a snappy top speed, it helps smooth things off and I was happy leaving a full cup of coffee on my desk before setting it on the move.
A simple control panel bolted to the bottom of the desktop offers up to four one-touch preset positions as well as manual control up and down. While not a unique feature, these presets bring a great quality of life boost, for example the EZ Desk Carbon Edition only allows for a high and low position preset so the flexibility of positions for two people is great for home workers.
At this price point it’s a real shame to see no form of collision protection on the Autonomous SmartDesk Pro. Like a cable management solution (sorry for bringing that up again) this is a simple feature that should really be included as standard.
An area Autonomous has pushed things out however is the range of heights possible with the SmartDesk Pro. It’ll drop as low as 26” from the floor while rising as high as 52”. That’s a considerably wider gap than on others I’ve tested, particularly on the top end. I’m a pretty regulation 6ft tall and didn’t need to max out the SmartDesk Pro’s top range to settle on a comfortable position for typing while standing. Likewise being able to drop the desk surprising low was ideal when coupled with the Playseat Trophy racing seat.
Allowing the SmartDesk Pro to reach its full height and subjecting it to deliberate bangs, wobbles and shakes I was impressed at how stable it remained. Even with two heavy monitors, two lights, a microphone and two cameras all being arm mounted off the edge of the desk it didn’t show any major wobbles.
While it’s certainly not the most exciting desk on the market, Autonomous has created a great option for most home offices with the SmartDesk Pro. The deep working area offer loads of room and above average range of travel unlocked by those impressively hushed electric motors is worthy of applause.
It’s not all perfect though and there are core features missing that a £700/$599 desk really should be offering out of the box. Even with that in mind however, it’s hard to look past the strong build quality and sleek, if not a tad boring overall design. If you’re happy with the simple life and just want the freedom to move between sitting and standing while you work the Autonomous SmartDesk Pro becomes a smart choice.