Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hunting for that Perfect Office Task Chair

I've been putting up with a large choice of conventional/no-name chairs from big box office stores like Stapes and OfficeMax over the years.  Last 2 we got in $80-150 range have been ok/satisfactory, but still "no cigar" when it comes to serious attention to all ergonomic detail.  Given the ongoing back problems I've been dealing with, and spending plenty of time in front of my machine, I decided the time has come to invest into a serious office task chair.  Any good spine doctor will tell you that sitting for any prolonged period of time is about the worst thing you can do for your low back, and health in general, so I got my desk raised at work, and been working standing as much as I can, which helps tremendously, as long as I pay attention to good posture.  But standing all day is impossible, so I decided enough is enough, and went out to find the best possible chair I could afford.

Through places like Crate and Barrel, Room and Board, and Relax The Back, I've researched and tried out best task chairs I could find at retail.  Here are specific chairs I tested, pictured below:  Steelcase's Amia and Think, Herman Miller's Aeron, Mirra, and Embody, and Humanscale's Freedom, regular and headrest version. 

These chairs' prices range is roughly $650-$1800.  Considering cost, comfort, and design aesthetics, I decided to go with the Steelcase Amia, ordered in a beautiful platinum/orange color combination.  What attracted me to it initially was its clean, minimal, and very functional design.  It felt very good, and features multitude of adjustments, including adjustable seat depth, back tension control, adjustable arms, height, back lock, and LiveLumbar flexers in lumbar area that flex with the curve of your back and are also height-adjustable.  Not a bad package for less than $700.  I did like the Embody and Freedom very much, and if price was not a consideration, probably would've purchased the Embody.  Its exo-skeletal design with human spine-inspired flexible supports is fascinating, and feels great indeed when I got into it.  I like its taller back form and proportions also.

Humanscale Freedom was probably the most comfortable of them all, but also by far the priciest.  Coming from the "less adjustment controls is better" school of thought, it uses a balance mechanism to control the recline force required per given weight;  it reclines comfortably with great deal of support, along with the armrests, while promoting motion and blood flow.  What I found a little strange is it did not have a simple back position lock, and thought that reclining force was too loose, and would've preferred the ability to control the reclining force myself, especially for its price range.  But one chair I always had major affinity for is Think, given its minimal lines, angles, simplicity and color schemes.  Surprisingly, with much less control it was a bit more expensive than Amia, but given overall aesthetics, I think it looks better than any other office chair I've seen, especially in group setting with many of them on the floor in variety of color and material combinations.  If we get another chair for us, it will probably be a Think.

So, my Amia is coming soon this week, and I'll probably post further impressions of its performance after I use it for a while.

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