There is an adage in sports that says to become the best; you must beat the best. Having the courage to challenge the best is not good enough. You need to have the courage to lay everything on the line to even give yourself a chance at succeeding.
In sports, determining the best is a rather simple process: two teams competing against each other in a championship game, winner takes all. In the free market, it is not that simple. Instead of two teams vying for victory, there could be dozens of companies offering similar products and laying claim to be the best.
Whether it is the best is debatable, regardless, VARIDESK® has been the pioneer in desktop converters. With what must be a huge marketing budget, VARIDESK is all over the internet and television earning a significant share of the desktop converter market. Although they do not get the attention VARIDESK does, there are several excellent alternatives to consider. Greg Knighton, writing at The Breakroom Blog, lists several there and provides very reasonable justifications for his opinions.
One desktop converter unit that is not listed on the BTOD site, yet comparable to Varidesk, is the Helium Surface from RightAngle Products. We have been asked to compare the two converter kits side-by-side. What follows is the result of that comparison. (Click to read all about the Helium Surface.)
VARIDESK vs. Helium Surface
To begin, we have a VARIDESK ProPlus 36™ and a Helium Surface sitting side-by-side with each as though it is sitting against a wall.
The VARIDESK ProPlus 36 is 30-inches deep. The Helium Surface is 23.5-inches deep. The 6.5-inch difference is noticeable. The VARIDESK hangs 6-inches over the edge of the table.
When both converters sit at their lowest level, you see the height difference between the two: the VARIDESK sits a little shorter than the Helium. As we see in detail a little later, a person short in stature has an advantage over a tall person when using the Varidesk.
Both the Helium Surface and VARIDESK converter units arrive fully assembled. Remove the units from their respective boxes and place them on a desk. In minutes, both units are ready to go.
Both converters operate similarly: each use handles located under the monitor platform. When you squeeze each handle, each converter unlocks, and then you raise or lower the unit.
How they move is entirely different. The Helium uses gas cylinders to adjust the height with infinite positions within 13.8-inches. The Helium holds whatever position it is in whenever you release the handles. The Varidesk, however, uses springs that release a set of pins that allow you to select one of only 11 different positions.
As you lift the VARIDESK up, it moves away from the desk in a reverse “C” shape. The higher you lift the unit, the further away from the table it gets.
One unusual aspect about the VARIDESK is the difference between the last two pin holes, positions 10 and 11. When you move the Veridesk from the tenth position to the 11th, the height does not change. The unit slides even further away from the desk.
After raising both units to their highest levels, there is a larger disparity in the distance. The VARIDESK has about a 19-inch overhang compared to the 9-inches from the Helium.
The Helium Surface also moves away from the desk as you lift it higher. However, that distance is not as great when compared to the Varidesk.
One thing stands out you as you adjust the height of each unit: the noise. We used a sound level gauge to measure each unit. The gas cylinders on the Helium render the unit a relatively quiet 64 decibels.
According to the Purdue Chemistry Department, 64 decibels is equivalent to a regular conversation in an office or restaurant.
The VARIDESK is demonstrably louder, 80 decibels, which is comparable to a garbage disposal.
Purdue determines that 80 decibels are 2.5 times louder than 60 decibels.
One negative aspect to the Helium Surface is that it does not provide proper ergonomics for people who are taller than 6’2”. To help offset this, the Helium offers a keyboard tilt option with a 20º positive to negative range.
The VARIDESK also provides limited ergonomics for taller people. Unlike Helium, however, it does not have an adjustable keyboard tray.
Work Surface Area
We used letter-sized sheets of paper to gauge the size of work surface for each unit. At first glance, the VARIDESK seems to provide a broader work surface area than the Helium Surface. However, when using the paper for scale, we determined that the VARIDESK edged the Helium Surface by a small amount.
The VARIDESK provides ample room for a mouse on either side of the keyboard, whereas the Helium does not. However, that advantage is mitigated because the VARIDESK does not have the Helium’s tilt adjustment.
Each converter unit offers options for a monitor. The Helium has a grommet hole for use with the Hover Series mounting system. The VARIDESK provides their Dual Monitor Arm VARIDESK Universal Clamp.
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There is not much separating the Helium Surface and VARIDESK ProPlus 36. Each requires no assembly and are simple to set up. The VARIDESK provides a little more work space, is available two more colors, and is less expensive.
The Helium is more ergonomic, much quieter to operate, and provides infinite positioning compared to the VARIDESK. Plus, the Helium works well in confined spaces.
Probably the most significant difference between the two desktop converters is brand recognition. VARIDESK is known worldwide and the first of its kind. However, keep in mind that fame does not equal quality. Some alternatives compare favorably to the VARIDESK, and we believe the Helium Surface is one of them.
What Do You Think?
Do you think we are too harsh? Let us know in the comments.