Oct 4, 2007

Ann Tancio


Review: Sumo Lounge Omni beanbag.

What is it?

Omni is one of two pieces of bean bag furniture offered by manufacturer Sumo Lounge. It is a very large rectangular heavy-duty vinyl bean bag that is meant to be very versatile: you can pick it up and turn it and place it in a number of different configurations, most of which are formed when you plant yourself down into it and it forms a chairlike shape around you. Sumo Lounge offers a surprising 10 different color options, and I opted for the “charcoal green” color when they offered me the bag in exchange for a review. I’ve spent a few days using the Omni for various things, and I have to say I was surprised at what I found.

How does it play?

The Sumo Omni is surprisingly lightweight, particularly when you consider its size. There have been a number of times when I simply looked at the bag on the floor and tried to comprehend just how this huge cushion can be less than 18 pounds. I have a very small home, and it seems to monopolize the living room when I spread it out on the floor, and yet it can easily be lifted with one hand and tossed about. I envision hollow beads filled with helium inside there somehow, but the manufacturer knows the truth about how this thing is so light: it’s filled with polystyrene foam beads. Adding to the incongruity of size vs weight is the thickness of the vinyl skin.

Everyone in my home loves this thing. I use it all the time as a chair, I’ve found both my dog and cat sleeping on it, my two-year-old daughter asks me to spread it out for her so she can flop down on it. The cat is a kitten who’s very prone to using his claws, and he has yet to make a mark on the thick vinyl, and not for lack of trying. A couple of times I’ve thrown myself down on the bag, only to find myself falling asleep in a matter of a couple of minutes. It’s not difficult to change the configuration of the bean bag, you just pick it up and shake the beans down, then drop it again however you like it, then sit on it and it becomes a chair.

The simple flexibility of the design allows you to create just about any shape of furniture you could want. I turned it into an armchair and spent a long time doing console gaming in comfort. Rolling it out onto the floor created a mat with a raised edge, ideal for handheld gaming, if you do that sort of thing at home. It’s more comfortable than a standard mattress for these kinds of things, and provides better support.

How does it look and sound?

The construction on the cushion is very solid. There are three rows of stitches all the way around, and the vinyl feels extremely thick. The color selection is impressive, and the one I chose is just about the same color as a washed green chalkboard, which is a close match for the furniture in my living room. While the “look and sound” category was obviously meant for video and audio in a video game, certainly, this bean bag looks very much like a premium product, right down to the oversized “sumo” tag, in its stylized font. I noticed almost immediately that the word “sumo” like that, when turned upside down, appears to say “owns.” Now there’s something we can all relate to as gamers.

How is the replay value?

In hours of use, I never felt any of the fatigue I tend to get from gaming on a chair or bed. It was comparable to sitting on a small couch. I find myself pulling it out just to sit on to watch TV at times, but more often when I want to play games on my Wii. Metroid Prime 3, for example, needs you closer to the TV than my couch is, so I can either sit on my couch and lean forward, or invent an armchair and sit in it right in front of the couch.

The website notes that the polystyrene foam filling can compress over time depending on use, but they give you the option of buying more of it at a separate site if you need to.

Is it worth it?

Now, here’s where it gets sticky. When the Sumo Omni first arrived, I was immediately impressed with two things: the size and the weight. Before it arrived, I was only impressed with one: the price tag. At $150, this may be the most expensive bean bag you can buy. I found myself asking interesting questions: is any bean bag worth $150? What kind of person goes out and spends $150 on a bean bag, and more importantly, how do I become one of these people with an absolute minimum of work?

It turns out that, as in all things, you get what you pay for. The bean bag is very large, and is assembled very well. Just like my computer, my video game systems, and some very unfortunate people’s dog and cat food, this beanbag’s cover was made in China. Mine shipped from Qubec, something that was a pleasant surprise for me. I’d rather as many of my belongings as possible were made in countries where manufacturers have some accountability to the government, but that’s getting harder and harder to find. The bags ship from two locations, one in Canada and the other in the US, and delivery is guaranteed within a short time frame.

As long as you’re accounting for the sheer size of this object before you’re purchasing it, there are no distinct problems with the Sumo Omni bean bag chair. In fact, it redefines what bean bag furniture can really be in a home. Everything I’ve seen in the past has been of much lower quality, prone to absorbing odors and leaks, but this is clearly a premium product. Alas, it comes also with a premium price tag. Right now these are on sale for about $20 cheaper at the Sumo Lounge website, and shipping is included in the purchase price.

I have to give the Sumo Lounge Omni a 4.5 out of 5. Excellent in all respects, and while the price is high, it becomes more clear why with extended use.

Share this: