Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ikea ALEX Desk Impressions: Looks somewhat familiar?

Took a look at another Ikea desk, this time the ALEX desk going for CA$ 169.00 in white on the website. Before even looking at the details, I thought it looked a lot like a MICKE desk, the one with two similarly sized drawers, minus the panel-leg on one side. But going into the details...
An old desk that eventually got given away.
Disclaimer: I had not had any firsthand experience with any ALEX desk products when I wrote this piece. Details were quoted from the Ikea United States website or Canada website in mid March 2017. Details on this page are NOT guaranteed for accuracy.

Ikea ALEX Desk First Impressions
The details, according to the product page for the ALEX desk (402.607.17 in white): dimensions were listed at 131 cm x 60 cm x 76 cm (width x depth x height), and it was available in grey and white. Terms that stood out under the "Product description" for me were "Particleboard," "Fiberboard," and "Steel." From the product photos, I saw what looked like a fairly simple rectangular desk with two similarly sized drawers under the desktop and a fairly open leg area. There also appeared to be a cable management slit or area in the rear of the desktop -- I didn't understand how it worked from just the photos alone.

Going into the "Assembly instruction" document on the ALEX's product page, I got a better idea of how the entire desk came together. It looked like there was a door panel on the rear of the desktop that could be opened to reveal a compartment. Inside that compartment, there appeared to be two circular cutouts on the bottom. That clarified the slit thing for me. I also noticed something interesting in the parts inventory in the instructions: a tool shaped like an Allen key but with a Philips head on one end and a slot head on the other -- I hadn't seen these before. The Ikea ALEX desk's assembly process looked fairly typical to me for Ikea furniture. I didn't think it looked difficult, just laborious with a lot of parts.
Food in plastic tray form.
The ALEX desk's open underside or leg area was the prime attraction in my view -- the desk didn't look bad either. Having an open bottom and relatively small legs would help with routing cables, surge protectors, and other items. Size-wise, a 60 cm deep desk would be my minimum, and a height at 76 cm was what my adjustable-height desks were usually set at. A width of 100 cm to 150 cm was my preference so 131 cm was fine. Having two drawers just under the desktop also looked convenient. What didn't really have me sold was the cable management area in the rear. I liked that there was a door with a slit so it could be ignored, but its design did appear to complicate the assembly process.

Like I said in the introduction, this Ikea ALEX desk reminded me of the MICKE desk with two similarly sized drawers. Of course, the MICKE was priced around CA$ 99 and this ALEX at CA$ 169. That MICKE was 142 cm x 50 cm x 75 cm (width x depth x height) according to the product page -- roughly the same size as the ALEX. There were some differences in aesthetics but the big one seemed to be the legs, maybe even just one panel leg. Otherwise, it appeared as though the drawers section of the ALEX had a panel underneath enclosing them unlike the MICKE -- this felt more like an aesthetic feature to me. If I had to choose between the two, I would probably go with the MICKE just to save CA$ 70 -- I thought the MICKE looked slightly better too. The only sacrifice that mattered a lot in my mind would be the 10 cm of depth.

Final Thoughts
From the product photos and details, I thought the Ikea ALEX desk was attractive and functional. Its biggest problem for me was that the Ikea MICKE desk with two similary sized drawers was CA$ 70 cheaper. And there did not appear to be enough differences or advantages to make it worth the extra money.

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