Review: Omni Chair from Sumo Lounge

[Disclaimer: Sumo Lounge sent me an Omni chair to keep in exchange for taking the time to review.]

When I was first approached by Sumo Lounge about reviewing their Omni chair in my blog, I thought: What? Why me? Then I realized that it actually made perfect sense.

Being one of Australia’s Top 100 bloggers means that I have a large audience that is likely to be a similar demographic that Sumo Lounge are trying to reach with their Omni beanbags.

It turns out that Sumo Lounge have just rolled out their products into the Australian and New Zealand markets and according to their site, the Omni chair is the most reviewed bean bag chair in the world. So Sumo Lounge actually get better traction from people blogging about their bean bags than they do from typical glossy mag or TV advertising. Smart!

The fact that I also dig beanbags and they offered to send me one was a pretty good incentive too. Never turn down a free beanbag in a global economic recession, that’s my motto.

But seriously, I had been using an ergonomic office chair for hours every day and was still suffering from severe neck pain. Taking the laptop into the living room to work while watching TV was not much fun either, because our sofa is one of those huge things that envelope you with cushiony goodness and it’s hard to get out of – not great for the spine OR comfortable for typing. So I was on the lookout for a more versatile chair that would allow me the freedom to work on the laptop in various locations.

So a couple of weeks ago, this THING arrived (see pic).

I don’t know who was more excited, me or my five year old. I couldn’t believe how big it was and figured it would probably fit two people depending on, erm, their positions. The bright color was great and while I could tell it was filled with traditional beans, the covering was unlike normal beanbags. It was like a cross between vinyl and plastic and was flexible but quite tough.

My five year old test-drove the Omni chair first, sitting in it for about an hour watching some after-school TV. He gave it two thumbs up. So I tried it out for a half hour or so in a kind of lazy, nearly fully laying down position while reading. So far, so good. I decided one night that I wanted to get some work done while watching a movie so it was time to try out the chair as a working location. First of all, I had to sculpt it into the shape that would support my spine and allow me to sit my laptop comfortably in my lap. I chose to mould it upright like the pictures on the site (see pic). That done, I parked myself and got to work.

At first it was kind of uncomfortable, but then I worked out that I wasn’t giving my neck enough support, so re-arranged the chair until my back was relatively straight and the top of the chair was touching my hairline. That was much better, but after an hour of typing I developed quite locked shoulders and a stiff neck. Mind you, this may have had more to do with the fact I was constantly switching my gaze from my laptop to the plasma screen.

Unfortunately, the Omni chair wasn’t high enough to use at my desk, but I did use it a couple of times while working in the living room. The Omni is best as a chair to lounge in while watching TV or performing Singstar Karaoke (ahem…). Being able to shape it to your own body or preferred sitting position is unique to this particular chair and not something I’ve seen in any other beanbag. But it’s still a beanbag and therefore not recommended for long term use if you want to protect your back and support your spine.

A week or so after the Omni chair arrived, my son came to me with a handful of beans saying that the bag was *leaking little balls*. Uh Oh, I thought. Sure enough, the chair had developed a small tear in the seam and the beans were leaching out. (photo) I had noticed when I received it that the stitching along one side looked pretty flimsy and the inner row of stitching had actually failed, meaning that beans were located along one side between the inner and outer rows of stitching, but I thought perhaps I’d been sent a manufacturer’s second and that it didn’t really matter.

But at some point after it arrived, the outer row of stitching gave way and now it has a 5 cm hole along the seam on one side so we can’t use it. My five year old son had apparently been jumping on it too, so I’m not really surprised the seam gave way. I realize now that I should have alerted the supplier about the seam breach when it first arrived. Oh well!

The good news is that I let the Sumo Lounge people know about the issue and they’re going to send me a replacement. Hopefully it will last a little longer than 1 week.

Moral of the story? Don’t let 5 year olds jump on your beanbag.

Grade out of 10 for the Omni Chair? 5/10
Grade out of 10 for Sumo Lounge’s customer service? 9/10

UPDATE December 2009:

I never did receive a replacement Omni Chair and any follow up emails to the company were ignored. Therefore:

Revised Grade out of 10 for Sumo Lounge’s customer service? 5/10

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