Autonomous SmartDesk 3 Review: great idea but poor execution

On paper, the SmartDesk 3 seems to be a surefire success with its AI-inspired vision of what a standing desk can be.

However, Autonomous largely fails in execution. The durability and clean looks of this desk cannot compensate for its underwhelming touchscreen device and scarce add-ons.

The desk itself is reasonably priced which is one of the things we liked, very minimalistic and clutter-free which is always appreciated in an office space, and lastly, we can’t really complain about the construction and build quality. It uses the same Jiecang frames manufactured in China as many of the major standing desk brands.

Despite having basically all the right specs – good weight capacity, good height adjustability, and a solid frame – it isn’t a desk I would recommend and actually would say if you want to go with Autonomous to have a look at some of the earlier models.

Recommended reading for choosing a standing desk:
The Best Standing Desks
The Best Standing Desk Converters
Cheap Standing Desks that Won’t Break the Bank

Autonomous SmartDesk 3 Overview

Product Specifications

Type: Dual motor electric system
Weight Capacity: 300lbs
Lift Speed: 2.3”/s
Height Range: 24” to 51”
Desktop Width: 53”
Depth: 30”
Number of Legs: 2
Leg Centering: Center
Casters: None
Manufacturing Location: China
Noise Output: 38dB
Warranty: 5-year warranty and a 30-day trial

Our Overall Rating: 2.3 out of 5 stars (2.3 / 5)

Xdesk Air – Pros & Cons

The Pros

  • Solid, sustainable construction
  • Clutter-free design
  • Weight cpacity and height adjustability

Cons

  • Desk not extendable
  • Very limited customization options
  • Built-in touchscreen device has a fixed location
  • AI feature is gimmicky
  • Inconvenient lifting mechanism

Check Out the Autonomous Website

Solid, Sustainable Construction

This is the third iteration of the Autonomous standing desk, so it is expected that it succeeds in the most essential aspects. The platform is made of industrial-grade steel to ensure a durable and stable build. It also features a solvent-free powder coating and a meticulous, five-layer paint finish.

And as for the desktop, it utilizes medium-density fibreboard (MDF) cores along with veneer that’s sturdy enough to resist scratches. This is a great property to have when you move your devices, documents, and various accessories around the desk on a constant basis.

Plus, the MDF cores help keep the surface leveled and improves the user experience. Additionally, we haven’t seen many complaints regarding the stability of the desk when raised or lowered.

The MDF cores are also worthy of note for their resistance to excess heat and moisture; these conditions won’t cause them to easily break and bend.

And finally, the MDF cores have a low ecological footprint. Why? It’s because they are primarily made of wood chips and sawdust, both of which are mere byproducts of lumber mills. In fact, these raw materials help keep the total production cost of the motorized standing desk down. At under $500, the Autonomous SmartDesk is a definitely among the cheaper standing desks.

Autonomous SmartDesk 3
Overall as a basic standing desk the Autonomous SmartDesk 3 is perfectly adequate.

Clutter-Free Design

For a model advertised as the future of standing desks, the Autonomous SmartDesk 3 seems to stick to tradition with its overall look. For one, it’s only available in three neutral colors fit for any office space: classic white, titan black, and grayscale.

We would have preferred more color options, but still, it offers a clean aesthetic that is simple, elegant, and would fit in any office.

There’s a minimalist appeal to the SmartDesk 3 — rounded edges for added comfort, a mere inch of thickness for a sleek surface, and the standard centered leg positioning. Even the seven-inch display that is mounted in the desktop doesn’t stand out.

Weight and height adjustability

We must say, that despite this review being largely critical of certain features of the desk, you definitely can’t complain about the Autonomous SmartDesk 3’s weight capacity and height adjustment.

In fact, along with the SmartDesk 2, the SmartDesk 3 has the largest adjustable range among all the standing desks we have compared. With a lower range of 23″, an upper of 50″, and a total adjustable range of 27″ – this standing desk is good for people of all heights.

In terms of weight v\capacity, it is not quite the best of the best, but still, with a capacity of 300lbs, it is certainly nothing to laugh at. There are only a handful of brands which offer more than this, like the very well respected (and slightly more expensive) Fully Jarvis.

What Users Didn’t Like

Desk Not Extendable

Unfortunately, the minimalist design approach of the SmartDesk 3 extends to the desk width. As much as we appreciate its impeccably smooth, scratch-resistant surface, we can’t help but wonder why Autonomous didn’t make it an extendable desk — all you get is the 53-inch width. The predecessor, SmartDesk 2, comes in various widths which in the end allows you to choose a desk to fit your office and not the other way around.

Its single-size width is an oddity that’s only comparable to a number of standing desks: the 55-inch wide Vivo Desk-V100M, the 66-inch ApexDesk FlexPro, and the 60-inch Varidesk, to name a few.

The number of standing desks with extendable desks outnumbers those without, and for good reason.

People benefit a lot from adjustability. For example, the RA Products New Heights Levante has a starting width of 36 inches. It can match the 53-inch width of the SmartDesk 3, and can even surpass the SmartDesk 3 and go up to 72 inches. Fifty-three inches is just too far from the usual maximum width of about 70 inches in our opinion.

Autonomous lack of features.
I get the feeling that Autonomous was really trying to make a step forward in standing desks, but while making a desk that can order you a pizza or make you a coffee – they forgot the other things people like such as being able to choose the width of their desk, or specific add-on features.

Very Limited Customization Options

To be fair, Autonomous seems to listen to its customers. Grommet holes were offered as an add-on when they released the SmartDesk 2. With the release of the SmartDesk 3, the company ditched grommet holes in favor of cable trays, which makes sense given the number of devices one could have on the desk.

But there are simply aren’t enough add-ons and accessories.

In contrast, the Uplift 2-Leg Desk offers a ton of customization options. You can get both grommet holes and cable management accessories, each of which comes in three different colors — and there are at least 20 other options to browse through.

The add-ons from Uplift are admittedly pricey, but it doesn’t change the fact that the SmartDesk 3 pales in comparison. If you get rid of the built-in touchscreen device, the desk is as basic as it gets for a standing type. This makes it all the more disappointing that Autonomous barely provides ways to enhance their much-touted AI-powered standing workstation.

Fixed Position of Touchscreen Device

Speaking of AI, the built-in device isn’t located in an ideal section of the Autonomous SmartDesk 3. There is no option to have it on the right side; it’s always going to be on the left. Those who are right-handed or just prefer using their mouse on the usual right side of the desk won’t have an issue with this.

But for left-handed people who might be more comfortable using a mouse on the left, the embedded device will almost always get in the way. Autonomous should have taken this aspect into consideration, especially since they removed the traditional controller altogether.

The screen is built into the desktop too, and unlike most desks that place the controller on the front edge of the desk, the Autonomous uses up valuable desktop space for their AI feature.

AI Feature is Just More of a Novelty

What Autonomous is marketing here as an AI-powered standing desk is really just a standard model with a tablet attached to it. It does not earn its title of being a smart piece of furniture, unlike the household appliances that are in fact part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

In my opinion, nobody really needs to have another device filled with apps when there are already smartphones, tablets, and other computer devices lying around one’s home or office space, and being able to connect your desk to an app like with the iMovR Lander just seems so much more intuitive to me.

The screen can remind you to drink water or to stand after a given period, can tell you about your upcoming meetings, but you can get the same notifications on your smartwatch or phone.

Inconvenient Lifting Mechanism

Many other standing desks come with the usual controller so you can adjust the height with a single push of a button. On the other hand, the Autonomous SmartDesk 3 forces you to place your fingers on the built-in tablet and making swiping motions every time you want to change the desk position. There have been some complaints that the software doesn’t always respond when you swipe up or down.

Likewise, the SmartDesk 3 sometimes keeps moving even when you’ve ordered it to stop. What Autonomous should have done instead is to keep the traditional controller and allow users to use their own devices for height adjustments through Bluetooth connectivity – again what the Lander and even Xdesk allow (Xdesk has the Xdesk Pulse computer programs).

Autonomous SmartDesk 3 AI
The touchscreen IS the feature of this desk. Although I appreciate the effort, it seems to do a worse job than a smartphone, and less adaptable.

Is the Autonomous SmartDesk 3 for You?

This standing desk costs under $500, which makes it an affordable standing desk for sure. For a little bit more you can get the ApexDesk Airdesk which we think is better, or for even less you can get the Jarvis, which has so many customizations available.

Still, the Autonomous SmartDesk 3 is an okay choice if you’re looking for a stable and sturdy height adjustable standing desk; its positive points are its sustainable materials and overall construction.

There’s just not a lot going on for this standing desk and the supposed world-first AI features. At best, the Autonomous SmartDesk 3 offers a good deal of durability with a neutral look befitting office spaces. At its worst, it’s an uninspired standing desk with an unreliable, and poorly executed touchscreen device.

Why You Can Trust Us

All our articles are the result of many hours of research, comparisons, study, and writing. If you'd like to know more about our research and writing process you can do so here.

Our team consists of professional writers and researchers as well as medical experts that help to review and approve every article on PainlessMovement.com. To learn more about our team, please see the About page.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.