By Ron Brown
ScanCo PowerTable 258 Computer Desk MT5800
Price: Varies according to size. Model reviewed is the most expensive in the line at $289.00 plus shipping.
The decision earlier this year to make the leap from a Wintel platform to the Macintosh platform was a big one for me. It was prompted by a nightmare experience with a new 166mhz Pentium and Win95, but that doesn’t really matter now. The important thing is that we are now the proud owners of two Power Macs – an 8500 and a 7200. And you can’t put new computers on old, rickety desks, right? Thus we began our search for suitable new office furniture.
We started by looking at all the local (and some not so local) furniture stores. They had the usual stuff, but nothing that seemed “right” to us. So I started digging through back issues of MacUser, MacWorld and anything I could find that might give me a lead.
We sent off for info from a few companies, but when the brochure came from ScanCo we knew our search was over.
ScanCo offers two different computer desk designs, each available in several sizes to fit nearly any room or requirement. Since my partner and I both use the Airline Method of organizing our paperwork (pileit here, pileit there), and since we had plenty of space to work with, we opted for two of their largest desks – the PowerTable 258.
The boxes arrived in due course, and we immediately started unpacking, reading directions and assembling. The packing methods used are excellent, and everything arrived intact, without so much as a scratch. The assembly is generations removed from the old “insert tab A in slot B” I remember from Christmas Eve when our children were young. The instructions are complete and easy to follow, and you can’t ask for more than that.
I was very impressed with the engineering that went into these desks, from both a technical and an ergonomic point of view. All the hardware is furnished, and even the wrench needed to tighten the assembly bolts is included. The only other tool you will need is a Phillips screwdriver (+). All the holes are jig-drilled at the factory, and best of all – everything fits! You won’t be doing any drilling, gluing or sawing on this piece of furniture. I’ve built a lot of kits, and have never found any kit as well engineered or as neatly turned out as this one.
Materials are excellent. The wood used for the legs, cross-beams and trim is all European beech, which is harder than maple. The flat surfaces are all made of particle board, but you won’t be able to tell. None of it – not one square inch of it – is exposed. The flats are covered with a layer of nice light gray melamine, a very tough and durable material that is also easy to clean. The edges are all neatly covered with the same European beech used for the legs and cross-beams.
So far it sounds like we’ve built a nice desk, but pretty much standard stuff. Nope, not at all. The thing that sets the PowerTable apart from all the other desks we looked at is the ability to instantly change the angle on all or part of the flat surfaces. The top surface is made up of 4 separate pieces – each one hinged to a center beam, and each one having a hinged support on the edge opposite the center. The desk can be assembled to suit individual needs, such as a left-hander wanting to use the mouse on the left, rather than on the right.
All 4 panels can be positioned so that the whole top surface is one flat work area, or the small (12 inches wide) section can be angled to make using the mouse a more comfortable proposition. On those 12 hour days I used to have trouble with RSI, but dropping the keyboard section and the mouse section to a more comfortable angle lets me work longer without pain and stiffness in my hands, wrists and arms. I leave the section to the left of the keyboard in the flat position, otherwise all those ZIP disks, CD’s, papers and magazines I pile on it would slide immediately to the floor!
The finished PowerTable is attractive and functional. You won’t be embarrassed if friends drop by unexpectedly, like you are with that old melon crate you’re using now.
It also feels good to sit at it and work, and that’s what I look for when I buy a piece of furniture. And to make life even easier for those of us who are chained to our desks and to our computers all day, every day – ScanCo makes a variety of other items to go with your new desk. Items like PowerCarts to hold your printer, tower cpu, file drawers and so on. Items like a two-door cabinet and modular bookcase that are stackable. Items like a lateral file cabinet. Necessary stuff when outfitting an office, and it all looks and works as well as the PowerTable.
I’ve written a lot of reviews over the years and can usually find something to complain about. Sometimes a lot of somethings! But this product is about as close to perfect as they come, and the only tiny little gripe I can come up with to justify my reputation as a squeaky wheel is that this company seems to be following the current trend toward utter ruination of good spelling, good grammar and the destruction of life as the Founding Fathers intended it to be. ScanCo? PowerTable? PowerCart? That long, skinny key in the front center of your keyboard is called a spacebar, guys…..learn to use it!
Okay. ScanCo isn’t paying me to write this review, or to say all these nice things about their computer desks. I won’t belabor the point further, except to say that, if you are thinking of upgrading your computer furniture from those old orange crates (or in our case, Apple boxes :-), you couldn’t do better than the ScanCo PowerTable. Fire up your trusty Mac and check it out for yourself at
Ron Brown, aka “Dr. Steam” by readers of his 6-year old publication, Steam in the Garden magazine, worked for IBM in Field Service and R&D for 25 years. He has been self-employed (or unemployed, depending on who you ask) since tasting the bite of the downsizing axe in 1992.
Ron’s enthusiasm for computers started in the early 1980’s with an Osborne 01 running the CPM operating system with a whopping 64K of RAM. The tiny Osborne screen probably has a lot to do with his myopia today!
The next jump was to an early IBM PC, and then a long line of DOS and Windows machines passed through his hands between1984 and early 1996, when he was driven mad by a new Pentium 166 running Windows 95.
At that point he ordered his first Mac, a Power Mac 8500. A few weeks later a second Mac was ordered and the last of the Windows machines was banished forever from the Brown household and publishing empire.
Ron has a wife, three children and 10 grandchildren (gee…he doesn’t look old enough to be a grandfather!), none of whom share his passion for computers, steam engines and all things mechanical. After a series of moves beginning in California, and with a long pause in Montana, the Browns now live in Upstate New York. Write to Ron at firstname.lastname@example.org