My home office – monitor arm

Third blog in a row about my office, this one is about the brand new monitor arm I got. This one took me by surprise as I did not think it would make such an impact on me.

Disclaimer: I’ve bought all my gear myself with my own, hard earned, money. So no sponsorship here! Which is why I can give you the good and the bad.

The last package to arrive is the monitor arm. I took a single one, as I only have one screen, my laptop screen functions as my secondary screen. I have used 2 dedicated screens in the past and this is something I want to go back to. Multiple big screens (27″ and up) are a lot more practical than my small laptop screen.

The monitor arm can be attached as a clamp or drilled through the table. The foot of the support column can be changed so the stand can be attached how you like. The part on the underside is a metal clamp and I could easily see how that would damage my brand new table. I have placed the second foot, which has a rubber sole, between the metal clamp and the underside of the table.

Underneath the table

With the column installed, I can attach the arm at the right height. This part feels a little unstable as I need to clamp it on the column. This did have me worried as I installed the arm, but it has not moved since I set it up.

The clamp on the column

Finding the right height can be a challenge though as the arm can’t easily be moved up or down once it’s been installed. If I loosen it up, I’ll need to adjust the height with the screen attached to it. Which I can assume is tricky and has the risk of the screen falling. That’s why I put it at the same height as my screen was when it was standing on it’s base. That way, I knew it was at a comfortable height.

When I prepared the screen to be attached to the arm, I was slightly worried that the arm would not be able to carry the weight of the screen. This fear proved to be unfounded as the Asus ROG PG279Q is really light and most of the weight is in the foot. The arm can easily hold the screen up and after I tightened the bolt that controls the tilt, it hasn’t budged from the angle I placed it in.

The Asus ROG is a great screen: it has nice colours and a good refresh rate, but I do wish I had taken the 4K version instead of the 2K version. 4K just looks a lot more smooth and is easier on the eyes. Especially when looking a whole day at code, mails and stack overflow. Maybe also a bit for gaming. But mostly for the code.

Attaching the screen to the arm did provide a problem. The mechanism would be super easy to use if the part that holds up the screen would stick out of the back of the screen. If you take a good look, the attachment is sunken into the case of the screen. This part slides over the end of the arm, so it’s really easy to install… normally. With the cool triangular design (that you never see), the sliding mechanism is blocked by the triangular part of the back. I attached the sliding mechanism to the arm and asked my wife to hold up the screen, while I screwed it to the attachment. Luckily, the screen itself is very light, but it was a tense moment anyway.

Screen attached to the arm

The arm can’t easily be adjusted in the height. Tilting and turning the screen side to side is very easy and I notice I use it to show my wife something if she’s standing next to me so she can more easily see what’s on the screen. The screen has a nice viewing angle, but staring directly at a screen instead of at an angle is always more fun.

Cable management is pretty easy although the plastic holders are a bit of squeeze for my HDMI cable. I made sure there is a bit of room on the end so I can turn my screen left and right without pulling on the cables. There is one cable that is not in the cable management, but that’s because my display port cable is not long enough to fit into the cable management holders.

There is one detail that annoys me. When I put the table in the standing position, I notice the screen wobbles if I type or touch the table (put a glass down, for example). When I type more slowly, it doesn’t happen, when I type harder or faster, it wobbles more noticeably. It’s subtle, but I notice it when I write while standing up. I know it’s the vibrations through the table and I can’t do anything about it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any less annoying.

Now that my screen floats above my desk, I noticed that I have a lot more table space. The place that the foot of the screen took up is quite large and now it’s available for documents, my phone and keys. Maybe a microphone if I want to upgrade my audio setup. It’s a decent arm and I love the additional space on my desk, but next time I would look for an arm with a more sturdy base so it won’t wobble.

My home office – the chair

Last week, I wrote about the sturdy SmartDesk 2. This week, I review the comfortable new chair I’m sitting on while typing this. Oh, spoiler alert, the chair is living up to it’s expectations.

Disclaimer: I’ve bought all my gear myself with my own, hard earned, money. So no sponsorship here! Which is why I can give you the good and the bad.

The ErgoChair 2

The two ErgoChair 2 chairs were next to arrive, about one and a half month after ordering them. Before, I had a very comfortable Markus chair from Ikea (not the exact model as I bought mine about 8 years ago). It was a very comfortable chair, but I have to say that the ErgoChair 2 is an upgrade all around.

It started when I assembled the ErgoChair. The instructions are very clear and a lot of thought has gone into the assembly process. In a little over half an hour, I was done with one chair. The star of the show is the superb tool that is supplied. It makes tightening the bolts a breeze. No need to awkwardly grip the little metal tool that is normally supplied, with this tool the bolts are tightened in a flash.

The supplied tool

During assembly, I did make a silly mistake: I put the arm rests on backwards on the first chair. Luckily I saw my mistake as I put the cushion (with the armrests) down. Besides my little derp moment, assembly went as smooth as it could have.

Now that I’ve used the chair for the past 2 months, I can say it’s very pleasant to sit on. Almost everything can be adjusted. From the height of the chair, the headrest and the incline of the back, to the tilt of the cushion and back tilt tension. I’m not sure what that last one does, but it’s impressive. They even have a very good instruction video on what you can adjust and how to do it, because I didn’t even mention all the settings you can tinker with.

There is one minor point: the armrests. Like the rest of the chair, it’s very customisable. I can adjust the height and move the armrest itself horizontally in all directions. Here is my biggest annoyance so far: the armrests just slide around. Most adjustments such as moving the armrest or the headrest up and own, happen in stages. I can feel the clicks and stands as I move them. Not so when horizontally positioning the armrests. This is most distracting when I move my arm from my keyboard to my mouse or the other way. Then the armrest can change positions without intending to do it.

The top of the armrest is made of a soft kind of plastic which is nice to the touch, but some fabric or fake leather with a cushion would have been more comfortable. Especially when sitting in the chair for hours during a workday. I think it’s strange they did not use the same material of the cushion to make the armrest more comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, the armrest is still comfortable and I love the chair. There’s a lot of thought put into this to make it as comfortable as possible. If the good folks at Autonomous add some cushion to the armrest, they’ll have the perfect chair.

Up next week: the monitor arm, again from the good folks over at Autonomous.

My home office – the desk

Since I’ve moved into a new house about a few months ago, I’ve upgraded my office quite a bit. Since writing about your office setup is such a big hit ever since Covid-19, I decided to add mine as well. I know I’m a bit late to the party, but then again, I only recently got all the parts in. So lets start with the standing desk.

Disclaimer: I’ve bought all my gear myself with my own, hard earned, money. So no sponsorship here! Which is why I can give you the good and the bad. I’m going to start with the new desk setup: a standing desk, ergonomic chair and monitor stand, all ordered from Autonomous. I ordered these parts 11th of June 2020.

My standing desk

The first item to arrive is the SmartDesk 2 Premium. Actually, that’s not true, the cable trays arrived after 2 weeks or so, but without the table, they are pretty much useless. Combined with the table though, they are really convenient. The tables arrived about a month after I ordered them.

A SmartDesk arrives in two packages. One is the table top, the other are the legs, the electronic buttons and all the screws. Putting it all together is very easy. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. Except a Philips head screwdriver, all tools are supplied.

Assembly is almost a one man job. It starts with attaching the mechanical legs to an iron frame. Then comes a bit tricky part of attaching the frame to the table top. It’s a bit trial and error to get it aligned with the pre-drilled holes, but it’s not that hard. Then comes the part where I needed help: flipping the table. Because the legs are mechanical, they weigh quite a bit and the large surface of the table makes it unruly to grab. I think I could manage to do this on my own, but it was so much easier when my wife gave me a hand.

The cable trays can very easily be attached when the table is still upside down. I’m very happy that I ordered them as they are a great place to store excess cables, power strips and laptop chargers that don’t need to move every week.

For even more cable management, there are some zip ties with a sticky edge so I can attach the cables from the buttons to the underside of the table without them hanging in the way or taking up space in the cable trays. The only downside is that after about a month, the glue on my wife’s desk gave out. It’s easily fixed with some super glue, but it’s annoying to do after the table is in the upright position.

Left: the loose cables – Right: the fixed cables
Drag to see more of the pictures

Attaching the power cable for the legs and cables for the buttons is just plug and play. They look like pc power cable plugs, so they only attach one way. The console has up and down buttons, 4 numeric buttons (1 through 4) and an M button. After plugging in the table for the first time, I have to press the up and down button at the same time to reset the height. If there is ever a problem, this is how the table resets. Setting the table at the right height, is very easy. I just press the up and down buttons until it has the right height.

Programming the height is a bit strange and I did have to look it up. I first tried to press the number for a few seconds, but that did nothing. The correct way is to press the M button for several seconds until the height on the display starts blinking. Then I press the number I want to program. So I set the table at sitting height, pressed the M button until the display starts blinking and then pressed 1. Now button 1 is set to my sitting height. I did the same, but for standing height, for button 2. Now that these 2 heights have been programmed, it’s a breeze to operate.

The materials of the table are sturdy and have a high quality feel to it. I think this table will serve me well in the years to come. There are a lot of small, really nice touches. The two that stand out for me are the two holes drilled into the table for cable management and rounded edges that are really comfortable when resting my arms.

Next week I’ll write about my thoughts on the ergonomic chair that I ordered.