NextDesk Terra Electronic Adjustable Height Desk Review

Since I spend a good chunk of my time hacking on SearchTempest and AutoTempest, and a good chunk of the rest of my time playing Starcraft II and such, I end up at my desk for a large part of the day. I decided it would be a good idea to get an adjustable sit/stand desk so I don’t spend that entire time sitting on my butt.

I did a bunch of research and ended up deciding on the Terra from I’ve come across some significant pros and cons regarding both the desk and the buying experience that weren’t mentioned in any of the (relatively few) reviews I found online, so I figured I’d share.

NextDesk Terra


First the good. It does what it’s supposed to do. I got the extended version (73″ across) and it’s large, but not at all unwieldy or unattractive. It raises and lowers quite quickly (apparently fastest available), and has three electronic presets. There are a number of color options available, and you can customize things like where you would like the controls to be, cable management options, keyboard tray or no, etc. There is a tiny shudder to the up and down motion, but I certainly wouldn’t worry about anything on the desk shifting. Essentially it does what it’s supposed to do well.

The cons primarily have to do with the buying and assembly experience, but there are a couple to do with the desk itself that I will mention first. The main one is that the height presets have to be held down while the desk is moving to the preset height. This is not the case with their main competitor, the GeekDesk Max. What is particularly irksome about it is that I explicitly asked their salesperson about this before purchasing the desk, because I know some other competitors do have preset buttons that need to be held down. He assured me that their presets do not need to be held, which is simply not true. I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt and say he just made an incorrect assumption, but since I’m making a rather expensive purchase based on his word, I expect better.

Now, the NextDesk does adjust height quite a bit quicker than the GeekDesk, but when you don’t have to hold the button you can spend the time moving your chair, standing up/sitting down, and getting back to what you were doing while the desk is doing its thing. Since that time is much shorter but essentially wasted with the Terra, it’s essentially a tie as far as which I’d prefer. However, the GeekDesk is almost half the price. (The presets are still useful though. It’s nice to set your heights then not thinking about it, rather than always fiddling with the height trying to find the level that feels right.)

The other thing I’ve found with the desk itself is that a small chunk (perhaps 1/4″ x 1/8″) of the surface coating has apparently flaked off at some point. The solid bamboo surface of this desk is something that’s supposed to set it apart from the competition, so you don’t like to see the finish disintegrating almost immediately. (I have no idea when it came off, but I certainly haven’t dropped anything on the desk or anything like that.)

One other thing to be aware of with the surface too is that its color appears significantly lighter in person than in the color swatches on their website (or even the physical ones they mail out). Obviously the website ones will depend on the calibration of your monitor, but even looking at the swatch they mailed with the desk, my “dark” surface looks much closer to the “medium” color swatch. (Although when I took a picture of the desk with the swatches on it, it looked closer to the “dark” swatch in the picture, which explains why they look that way!) So this certainly isn’t a knock or anything, just something to keep in mind – it will most likely appear lighter in person than you would expect from looking at the swatches.

Finally, the process of buying and then assembling the desk definitely had some stumbling points. The good first though – they shipped the desk very quickly, and it was packaged extremely well. Essentially no chance of damage during transport, and it shipped in two separate boxes (for the top and the frame), which made things a lot easier to manage since it’s obviously large and potentially unwieldy otherwise.

However, even aside from the misinformation about the presets, I found their support to be somewhat underwhelming. To start with, I asked a simple question about shipping costs (I’m in Canada, so it’s cross-border shipping). Several times my emails went days or even weeks with no answer, and eventually I just gave up on the email conversation and resorted to phone calls. (And then I was promised callbacks on specific days which never came, again requiring me to follow up later.) I also asked them where the controls are positioned because I planned to set my working area up to the right side of the desk and wanted to make sure they wouldn’t be in the way. They told me that I can have it wherever I want, but if it’s not specified they put it about 6 inches from the edge. That sounded perfect to me, so I didn’t specify a position when ordering. That was a mistake, as the desk arrived with the controls installed about 18″ from the edge instead (right where my leg wants to be). I drilled some new holes and moved it, but shouldn’t have had to.

Then of course there was the presets thing, and when I wrote to complain about that after receiving and assembling the desk, I never received a reply. (It’s been about 2 weeks now.) And finally, their instructions are extremely poor. Again this certainly isn’t a reason not to buy the desk, but if you do get one, definitely read through them a couple of times before getting started. There were a couple parts where I had to do some dis-assembly because something that had to be done in an earlier step wasn’t specified until later (or at all). For example, the two legs are interchangeable, but the cables that run out of them to the central control box cannot be adjusted once the legs are attached. So if you don’t pay attention to which way they’re going when you attach the legs, you’ll end up having to take the whole thing back apart to fix it. There were also a couple guess and check steps, like the initialization process: “Press the Down button once or twice, holding it down.” Uhh.. ok. (I pressed it twice, holding it down the second time. That didn’t work though, so I tried pressing it once, holding it down. Still nothing. So I unplugged the desk, plugged it back in, pressed and held once, and it worked. Instructions fail.)

So, if you’re looking for an adjustable-height sit/stand desk, this one IS worth a look. Just be extremely explicit about how you want things set up, and be aware that regardless of what they say, the presets do need to be held down. Personally I would prefer not to support a company that treats customers this way, but there is quite a lack of premium electronic height-adjustable desks out there at the moment. That said, the GeekDesk is certainly worth a look, as might be this NewHeights desk. The main reason I wrote that one off in my research initially was that the presets had to be held down…

Hope that helps! Are any of you using an adjustable desk already? (Or just a standing desk?) What do you figure a company’s response should be after misleading a customer like this (assuming it was a mistake)?

Update – July 2014:
I wanted to update this post, as I just had a really good experience with Priya at NextDesk customer support. I finally decided to see if I could get warranty support for the shuddering issue mentioned in the comments, since it seemed to be getting worse. The response from custom support email was instantaneous this time, and she took me through a set of calibration steps, then when that didn’t help, readily shipped me a new leg along with a return shipping label for the (presumably) defective one. It looks like the company may be maturing, which is great to see. Hopefully this new leg works out!

Update 2 – Septembar 2014
They seem to be trying hard, but so far the first replacement leg they sent me was also damaged, and the second was the wrong color. I also still haven’t received any shipping labels despite asking repeatedly, so I’ve got a growing collection of desk legs littering my office…

27 thoughts on “NextDesk Terra Electronic Adjustable Height Desk Review

  1. David McGuigan

    Hi Nathan, thanks for the writeup.

    So I’m conflicted. I had been leaning towards the Terra because of how it looks, but the wobbliness issue for me could be huge. I use 3 27″ monitors ( may set up all 5 ) and I feel like that could significantly contribute to the wobbliness issue. Also I’m 6’1″ tall so if the height of the desk affects it too…

    Is there any chance I could get you to load up your desk with some heavy stuff, put it at a higher height than is comfortable for you, and have a friend stand stationary and take a video of the text on the monitor to see how much it moves? Any noticeable wobbliness would be a reason for me to go with an Anthro instead. If not I understand. Thanks again!

    1. Nathan Post author

      I’m not exactly eager to help these people sell their desks, given my experience. That said, this sounded like a fun challenge, so I tried it. I put my chair, which probably weighs at least as much as a few monitors, on the desk along with the rest of my setup, cranked it up all the way, and videoed myself typing. No one else here at the moment, so had to place the camera on a table, angled up at the monitor. Any wobble was completely undetectable in the video. I could perceive a slight wobble in person, but hopefully the fact that it didn’t show up on camera at all give you an idea of the magnitude. If you send me an email at [email protected] I’ll send you the video, but I don’t expect it will be much help since like I said, you can’t really see anything moving.

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  3. JRF

    Looking through the assembly manual I noticed some pretty obvious errors, and I don’t even have the desk.

    The video on the NextDesk site showing it moving (I only found one) had the person holding the button for the duration of the move.

    I’m leaning toward NewHeights at this point because the bottom horizontal on the leg is essentially as wide as the table top, and the front-to-back dimension of the leg vertical appear much larger than others I’ve looked at. The combination should provide better stability, I’m thinking.

    Also, they (and GeekDesk as well) sell the legs without the top. I’ve got an Ikea Galant desk I like the top of just fine. The two chairs (monitor stands) and footstool + atlas (keyboard stand) I have on top of said desk are geometrically correct, but somewhat lacking in flexibility and aesthetics.

    1. Nathan Post author

      Ha, you should see the instructions it shipped with when I bought it. The online ones have actually been improved significantly since then. (And unfortunately there weren’t any videos showing the use of the presets at that point either.)

      Regardless, ya, if you’re already have a desktop you like, it doesn’t make much sense to buy a desk that comes with another one!

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  6. TreyJames

    Nathan – Just wanted to say thanks for the time you’ve taken to communicate your findings. I spent most of last week surfing for a sit-stand and just last night ran across NextDesk. I called their sales line today to request some wood color samples and found the gentlemen I spoke with to be very pleasant. Emotionally (largely due to their Applesque website and videos), I had decided to go with this desk.. until reading your review, that is. So, thanks for the curveball. Actually, I asked the guy about stability and he assured me that it was very stable and would not wobble. Given that I use a relatively heavy Cinema display and tend to lean on my desk, wobble-factor is my largest concern with any of the sit-stand desks. Now that you’ve had the desk for a bit, how significant do you find the instability to be?

    Bummed and back to square one.

    PS. next time I call NextDesk, I’ll see if “Natalie” is around.

    1. Tempest Nathan Post author

      Ya, I know the feeling. Frustrates me too, because I could really see someday wanting to buy another of these desks, if the experience with the company hadn’t been so bad. Aside from the premium price, it really does seem to be one of the best (if not the best) options out there.

      I personally haven’t had any problems with the wobble. When I specifically watch for it I can tell that it’s not perfectly stationary while typing at standing height, but I have to really pay attention to even notice it. Weight isn’t an issue either. I actually tested sitting on mine while raising it and it handled it like a champ. 🙂

      So, I guess the issue would just be how comfortable you are buying from NextDesk. If you’re interested, I actually just wrote a guest post for that largely focuses on these questions. I’ll post a link here when it goes up.

  7. Candis

    Thanks so much for this review and for posting other brands on this review. I was falling in love with the Terra but that $1844 price (before shipment) was a little bit discouraging. I find the GeekDesk Max to be a little more reasonably priced and I think it may even have more of a surface size. I’m not interested in a wobbling desk either. I plan on getting the 27″ iMac and I want to make sure that badboy doesn’t wobble over! Do you recommend the GeekDesk over the Terra or should I reconsider more on the Terra?

    1. Tempest Nathan Post author

      Hi Candis,

      Sorry, missed this comment originally. I’ve read good things about the GeekDesk Max. The main reason I chose the Terra instead was the significantly faster raise/lower time. Since you need to actually hold the button down on both desks while the height changes, it’s helpful to have it happen quickly.

      That said, I couldn’t recommend buying from NextDesk to anyone given the several negative experiences I’ve had with the company. Given that and the significant price difference, I would probably go for the GeekDesk Max if I had it to do again. (I believe the largest surface sizes for both are pretty similar.)

      1. Christopher

        Actually, you don’t have to hold down the programmed-height buttons on the GeekDesk Max (we have two at the office I work at). It has four of user-programmable preset height buttons.

        (You do have to hold down the up/down buttons though, of course, if you are not moving the desk to one of its user-programmable heights.)

        1. Nathan Post author

          Really? In that case, I will seriously consider one for my next desk (no pun intended). Probably wouldn’t even notice the longer raise/lower time if it meant I didn’t have to stand there holding the button while it moved.

  8. Natalie

    Hey guys,
    Thanks for the post! I use the NextDesk Terra that you mentioned above and I just wanted to say that I LOVE it. It was a bit pricey, sure, but I think well worth the cost. It looks good, it is made with sustainable materials, it has an adjustable keyboard tray and monitor arm, and it has a sleeve so all the wires from my desk are completely hidden. I’ve looked at other desks out there– less expensive desks– and they don’t have all of these features (particularly the environmentally friendly materials– that was important for me.) So yes, to me it was worth the price. Just wanted to let people know!
    Thanks for the review!

      1. Drew McManus

        Absolutely brilliant. Nothing quite like transparency in comments! Many thanks for pointing this out.

        I’m torn between ordering a NExtDesk and Steelcase Airtouch and this review has been very helpful. I’ve eeb in touch with NextDsk on the phone and was underwhelmed at their sales staff.

        When I asked if the MSRP is the best price they can do, I got the expected reply about how great their desk is to competitors (and in all fairness, it probably is based on reviews I’ve read) but when I asked to see a line item for production costs and the profit margin in order to determine if it met my criteria for a fair profit margin, I got double-speak.

        I do want my providers to be environmentally conscious but they also need to be transparent so that didn’t sit well with me.

        I also wasn’t fond of how there is no cable management system mounted to the read of the unit running most of the length as a standard feature. Instead, it’s an add on and for those who need to keep a number of items plugged in or run power supplies on the surface, that’s a real hassle for an already expensive desk.

        Thanks again for a great review and equally useful discussion thread.

    1. Tempest Nathan Post author

      Too bad no one affiliated with NextDesk has seen this post. Otherwise, I’m sure they would have responded to my concerns about being misled during the sales process (which I also sent by email without reply). Ah well, I’m glad you’re happy with your NextDesk. Since you already live in Austin and are so excited about their products, perhaps you can get them to give you a job! (Of course, if that happens, naturally you’ll want to disclose the fact that you work for them when you post endorsements of their products.)

  9. Tempest Nathan Post author

    Loving how my gripe post about NextDesk false advertising and shoddy instructions have probably helped them sell a couple desks! 🙂 Honestly, it IS a decent desk. Just wish everything had been up-front to begin with.

    1. Andy Andersson


      Don’t fell too bad, I imagine your gripe post lost them far more sales than it generated.

      I read many reviews and people gushed about these desks. I was sold. I then talked with the crack sales team at NextDesk and I was quickly unsold.

      Since I only wanted some frames, I asked them for the price of a base alone and was told $1,300 each. Since base & top together cost $1,500, I was surprised so I asked for the price of a top alone and was told $600. I the asked about the $400 uplift. They told me that shipping the two pieces individually involves more production labor than if said unassembled pieces are shipped separately. I sniggered at this utter nonsense, thanked them politely and hung up.

      I wanted to buy some, I really did. The Made-in-the-USA and environmentally friendly materials were so seductive. But, my experience of their attempted price gauging and total disregard for the intelligence of their potential customers combined with their false advertising (also take a bow Natalie) and your struggles to get them to respond mean we shall look elsewhere.

  10. Peter S

    Hey – I wanted to chime in on my personal experiences with the Terra.

    I received one last week, and found setup to be pretty straightforward, actually.

    What’s really disappointing to me though, and what is preventing me from recommending the desk to others (and contemplating sending it back) is that the tabletop is not nearly as stable as it should be or as I was expecting. With a 27″ imac on the desk, normal-intensity typing causes the monitor to wobble back and forth. No adjustment to the desk can totally fix the wobble/stability of the tabletop in use, which is especially noticeable the higher the surface is raised into a standing position.

    I have an “adjustTables” electronic adjustable desk at my work office, and while the construction is remarkably similar (2 legs and not 4, legs are about 2/3 to the rear of the table, motor is mounted to the underside of the desk surface), it is much, much more stable. I can pull/push hard with my hands on the edge of the desk and not have it wobble at all. This is NOT my experience with the Terra.

    1. Tempest Nathan Post author

      Hey Peter, thanks for the comment.

      Certainly if I’d put a bit more thought into it before starting the assembly it would’ve gone more smoothly. Just figured the instructions could easily be more idiot-proof. But I agree that that isn’t a major issue.

      I have also found the desk is a bit more ‘wobbly’ than I would expect, especially at standing height. I’m only 5’8″ too, so if you’re taller the effect would likely be more pronounced. That said, I don’t find regular typing is enough to make it wobble. Maybe it depends on the surface. Mine’s on medium-pile carpet. Maybe that dampens the wobble somewhat? (Although I would expect hard floor would be more stable, if anything.)

      Ha, now that I’m paying attention actually, I do notice the slightest motion of my monitor as I’m typing. I’ll probably never be able to un-see that now… 😛

      1. Matthew Montgomery

        Are either of you using the keyboard platform? I am looking for a motorized desk and wondered in the case of the Terra if the keyboard platform had some bearing on the stability.

        1. Tempest Nathan Post author

          Mine doesn’t have a keyboard platform. Can’t stand the things myself. Besides, when you can adjust the height of your desk it removes some of its use.

          1. Matthew Montgomery

            Me either. I went with the Nextdesk and while the wobble is present. I am really not finding it a problem in practice. Overall I am pleased.

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