Today we’re looking at A BETTER WAY TO... sit while you work and play!
For better or worse... we are a nation that loves to sit. While we work and while we play, we like to kick our feet up and lounge around.
There are plenty of reasons why we should move away from this sedentary trend, but some of us don't have the option. Perhaps you sit at work or maybe you have 4 foot high ceilings in your house and you have to sit while playing video games. Instead of settling for just good enough and ignoring aches and pains, let's find A BETTER WAY TO.... sit while we work and play. Read on...
Harlean High Back Office Chair by Zuo
Walk into most any home office and you'll see one of two chairs on average. A thirty dollar blue and orange thing from Ikea. You don't expect that much for the price you paid and you've probably replaced it at least once in the past couple of years. Next is the plain black faux leather office store special. These are usually $99 and they look like a nice leather chair... if you squint from 30 feet away. Neither of these options offer any real support, neither of them breathe, and the office store special heats up if your office gets direct sunlight. On top of that, neither offer much adjustment beyond up and down. Think about medical bills, chiropractor visits, massages, or gadgets to manage back pain. People will spend thousands a year to try to relieve discomfort but they'll sit eight hours a day on a $30 office chair. Think more clearly about the long term payoff of spending a little more upfront.
Zuo has an awesome ever-expanding range of modern furniture. Pieces for your home, office, and even outdoor. Most everything that I've seen from them looks great, but a piece like the Harlean High Back Office Chair actually promises functionality to balance its beauty. Part of Zuo's Modern collection, the Harlean is made from breathable, comfortable mesh and features a die cast aluminum base for stability. It has a nice tall back and a neck support to keep your whole body comfortable even during longer periods of use. The Harlean first caught my eye as a more affordable version of the Herman Miller Aeron office chair. If you haven't seen the Aeron before, it is the answer to the question, if money is no object which office chair do I buy? An Aeron that offers the same features that the Harlean advertises will cost you just under $1000. That isn't an option for most people, at half the price though, you might be able to stomach the price of the Harlean when you consider the long term benefits of a better office chair.
I hoped that Zuo had just found a better way to make an amazing chair for less. Unfortunately, I discovered during testing that some corners were cut, luckily not everything is compromised. This is still a very comfortable chair that is breathable and offers a lot of support. It technically offers an adjustable seat, height, arm rests, neck rest, and back support height. Most of those features don't actually work during use though. The first and most frustrating issue is that the actual mechanical switches for adjustment are made from plastic. They are flimsy to the touch, poorly placed under the seat, and difficult to operate. While figuring out the chair I was constantly worried that I was going to break the switches off completely. The seat height adjustment is placed much to close to the seat depth adjustment. You actually have to disengage the depth switch to be able to lift the seat up? I just don't understand how a finished product with a premium price tag could overlook such basic functionality? The seat is difficult to adjust to be sure, but in the end you can figure out the best way to go about adjusting and it is manageable in the end. The seat's back is able to be lifted and lowered manually without a switch, but there is no locking mechanism. There is the possibility for about 6” of adjustment but unfortunately, the weight of the chair back itself brings it right back down to the original position when you sit in the chair. This renders that adjustment useless and it is really a shame as it's one of the more unique features on paper. Continuing upwards, you find an independent separated neck rest which is another awesome feature... on paper. It has an adjustable angle but again, no locking mechanism. You can move it to fit your body and it clicks into place, but then as soon as you rest into it the neck rest will go back to it's original position. As a tall person, these two hero features not functioning really let me down and have made the chair difficult to use from day to day.
On to things that do work. The seat depth works well, you can adjust the seat backwards or forwards about 6” and it locks into place very securely. The arm rests can adjust up or down for a bit of fine tuning and they also click inward or outward for a bit of an angled adjustment. The seat back angle locks in place well, but you can also release it to allow reclining. It allows a few reclined positions which you kind of have to experiment with until you figure out the intervals. Last is the seat height. Aside from the unfortunate location of the switch, the height adjustment works well and holds any weight up to 300 lbs. comfortably. The whole chair sits on five rolling casters and it moves smoothly on an office mat. Assembly wasn't a breeze, but it wasn't horrible either. To top things off, the finishing decal that was designed to conceal the neck rest screws wouldn't stay attached. There needs to be a low cost alternative to the Aeron chair, this probably isn't it. At $200 I would tell you to jump on this as it is ultimately a very comfortable chair, but at $500 the mistakes are too frequent here. More attention to detail and a lower price would make this one of the better chairs available today.
Zeus Echo Gaming Chair by Comfort Research
It's awesome and a bit sad at the same time, but we live in an age where a gaming chair isn't a ridiculous idea. Gamers are older and older now because games are more and more sophisticated. The best video games are completely immersive. You are allowed into a big open world and free to roam as you please. What quicker way to take you out of your mission through medieval England than to hear the sound of sirens and skateboarders outside your windows?
Comfort Research is focused on comfort, that fact is clear. To start, they probably make more shapes and sizes of beanbag chairs than Starbucks has coffee drinks. For our purposes they have a line of gaming chairs. Each model has one thing in common which is built in 2.1 channel audio. Some of the upgraded models incorporate things like haptic feedback and wireless battery power. The Echo Gaming Chair has a fixed round base, but it does swivel. That would be a nice feature but unfortunately it isn't really available during active use of the chair. The speakers within the chair need their own power which is given through an included AC adapter. Two things about this are bad. The chairs control panel, including the power input, are located on the side of the chair itself. If something like a wired chair could work, the power cable would need to be threaded through the center of the base so it wouldn't hinder the chair's movement. The second, more realistic point is that a chair shouldn't need wired power at all? I can get an 8 hour charge on my $99 bluetooth boombox, it has 4 speakers and a sub and puts out a great sound. The chair could be charged up beforehand and 8 hours is more than enough for even the most committed gamer. The great thing about my bluetooth boombox is that even if I forget to charge the speaker, it can also function through wired power in emergencies. The tech exists, it's cheap and easy to implement and not including it in this chair is an oversight. The company does offer one design, the gaming rocker, which works through battery power. It takes 6AA's to power it though and I imagine it eats up power like a hungry child.
I mentioned that the company seems to care about comfort, The Echo gaming chair doesn't seem to fit that mold unfortunately. It's severely curved which forces you to slouch in a very uncomfortable way. It's shaped as a floor rocking chair. In that application the curve isn't as uncomforable because your legs are fully extended. Apply a base on the bottom and it becomes awkward. The chair doesn't have enough padding and you can feel the internal structure at certain angles. It doesn't have any give and it doesn't allow adjustment of the reclining angle. There is a headrest, but if you are above 6” tall it won't do much good as it hits you on the shoulders.
The audio is very basic but it is located near the shoulders of the chair so you aren't really listening for the quality, you want the immersive noise and the chair does do that very well. Obviously the effect is best through something like a war video game. Hearing enemies approach and feeling the stress of sudden gunfire is so much more intense with the chair speakers inches from your face. The bass and volume are adjustable through knobs on the side control panel. As I said, it's not the greatest pair of speakers, but it gets the job done for immersive gaming. The problem of the chair using wired power is extended because it also needs to be wired for sound. You plug the included audio cable into the control panel and again it inhibits spinning in the chair. Gaming can be a very enthusiastic endeavor. It isn't ridiculous to think that you might jump out of your chair in frustration when you die during a war game or spin with glee after scoring a touchdown in Madden. Those common practices become life threatening with the web of cords that the chair requires. Mobile gaming has become so advanced and it's great to sit in the chair while cell phone gaming to extend the experience. The chair doesn't include bluetooth though, so the same restrictions live on here. Included with the chair's cables is an adapter that changes the included red/white audio cables into a standard AUX cable that you'll plug into the chair's AUDIO IN there is also an AUDIO OUT which allows you to daisy chain two chairs for a shared experience.
The fact that the only connection options are pretty low-fi is a let down, but technical specs aside, the experience is truly fun. It isn't comfortable enough, it's much more restrictive than it should be, and it's very clunky to navigate the wires. Luckily, it's genuinely fun to hear the crowd cheer in your ears after you hit a game winning home run. If you can live within the chair's restrictions, you'll probably enjoy the experience.
Posture + by BackJoy
Maybe you already have a seat that sets your heart a flutter, but you want a way to make it just a little better? The Posture+ is the first seating correction device that I've come across personally. Hordes of people swear by the thing and my first question was, are they afraid of not fitting into the mass opinion or can this thing really making sitting for hours on end a joy? My personal opinion is it's a bit of both. I'd only heard the piece praised rabidly before I received one of my own from BackJoy. It's basically a piece of foam reinforced with plastic and molded to the shape of your bottom. As Homer Simpson might phrase it, your own personal “ass groove” on the go! On the go because the piece is lightweight and it has a built in carry handle. The basic dilemma that I found is that the Posture+ should help you sit all day while at work. The majority of us that sit to work sit in padded office chairs though, and if the piece has any success it's on harder surfaces. Most of us just don't sit in hard wooden chairs at our desks.
I found that it felt nice enough and the novelty was fun (I felt like I was doing something good for me) I didn't really feel much of a difference personally though. The piece “molds” to you, but it feels more like it flattens out in my experience. It definitely improves sitting on a hard chair at a coffee shop. You just need to be confident and committed enough to bring your own personal seating cup with you wherever you go. Luckily it can help you express your personal style in public because it's available in seven colors. The company has even released the Relief+ model which covers the whole thing in memory foam which might be awesome. It isn't as weather resistant as the posture+ but it adds a bit more luxury to the experience. Rounding out their full range, the Posture+ team incorporates team colors for sporting events (actually a great idea on hard stadium seats and bleachers) and the Posture+ mini if you weigh between 70 – 120 pounds.
The issue in me judging a product like the Posture+ is that I'm myself. I'm 6'5” tall and weigh over 200 lbs. You might be 5”3” and weight 140 lbs and the piece might be your dream come true. The theory is sound. It tilts your hips upright for your own optimal posture without an active effort. It cups your glute muscles (your bottom) to relieve pressure on your tailbone. You only have one body and it's probably one of the most expensive machines that you'll ever pay to maintain. Spending $40 on a device like this might replace thousands in medical bills down the line. Take a chance and you might change your life for the better.
BackJoy isn't resting on its tush (hehe) after the Posture+ and friends, they have a range of products to help you stand and sleep as well. The stress roller is endorsed by Rachel Ray and Kenny G which means all of your arguments against it are invalid. It's basically two rubber balls in a neoprene like sleeve that you lay on top of under a point of discomfort on your back. You can do exercises which are detailed in an included deck of cards and it's actually a bit reinvigorating when your back is sore. The Comfort Soles are shock absorbing insoles for men and women. Both come in a one size fits all solution that can be cut down to size. The men's version range from a male 9 to a male 12. The women's version starts at 6 up to size 10. Unfortunately for me in this situation I wear a size 13/14 shoe and the sole was a bit small. I still tried them out and even though they have circulation nubs that might grip well, the whole thing has a very slick feeling that became very unpleasant to me personally. The support was very nice though and If they were properly fitted I can see being happy with the all day effects of the Comfort Soles.
Thank you again to the companies above for supplying their product for this review.
ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!