ars technica

Jan 15, 2007

Ann Tancio

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Omni beanbag chair: because gaming shouldn’t be a pain in the butt As a gaming enthusiast and technology journalist, I spend most of my time staring at a screen and sitting on my rear. As a result of my sedentary lifestyle and my relatively large size, I’m usually quite sore. Spending five or six hours engrossed in a game usually leaves me with an aching back and a palpable desire for some kind of intoxicant. I finally got fed up with the discomfort and decided to find a chair more appropriate for my excessive Tetris DS sessions.

In my younger days, I used to spend hours playing conventional pen-and-paper role-playing games at the residence of a friend while sinking into the vast, luxurious maw of one of his nifty beanbag chairs. When I began my recent search for a suitable seat, memories of those days returned to me and, in the throes of nostalgia, I realized that I had to have a beanbag chair of my very own. After some arduous Internet comparison shopping, I discovered Sumo Lounge’s Sumo Omni beanbag chair. Intrigued by the Omni’s size and versatility, the prodigious endorsements of other consumers, and the attractiveness of the women featured in the site’s advertising material (note: attractive women are not included with the product or sold separately), I decided that I had found a likely candidate.

More after the jump

A veritable paragon of gaming comfort, the Omni has lived up to my expectations. The material, described by Sumo Lounge as “space age rip-proof nylon” is sturdy and reliable, and it makes a cool sound when you run your fingernails over it. More importantly, it’s relatively easy to clean, and it is highly stain-resistant. It endured the accidental root beer spill test and didn’t stain. I’m sure the stain resistance will appeal to those DOA Beach Volleyball enthusiasts out there who have custom single-hand controllers. The only downside is that nylon isn’t the most comfortable material in the world.

The size is probably the most remarkable thing about the Sumo Omni. At four and a half feet by five and a half feet, it is a veritable monolith of comfort. Unfortunately, it also uses a lot of floor space, so those of you with less spacious abodes might want to look for something more compact. Despite its massive size, the Omni is still relatively portable, and I can toss it across the room when I need to make some space.

The Omni is very comfortable, but you have to really wiggle your way into it to get it just right when you first sit down. The form factor of the Omni is relatively unusual for a beanbag chair. It’s more like a giant pillow that holds its shape when one sits in it. It’s extremely versatile, and it can take some experimentation to find the most comfortable positions. To give you some ideas, Sumo recommends ten different configurations which can be seen on the Sumo Lounge web site.

Ergonomic studies show that the physical strain of sitting for a prolonged period of time is reduced when one changes position regularly. The flexibility of the Omni makes it easy to shift position while remaining comfortable. The Omni also makes it easy to get just the right amount of support for your back whether you are sitting up straight or leaning back.

The Omni comes in eight different colors, but I chose black. It’s a very attractive piece of furniture and it doesn’t look dorky like conventional beanbag chairs. Sitting in the corner of the room, it looks imposing and inviting at the same time.

The only thing about the Omni that annoys me are the square corners. Occasionally, one of the corners will poke me in the back of the head or on the back of one of my legs when I’m shifting my position. It’s only a minor nuisance, but one that Sumo Lounge could resolve by rounding off the corners in a future model.

Bean bag chairs from various retailers are shockingly expensive, ranging from $50 to $200 depending on the quality. At $150, the Omni isn’t cheap, but it seems to provide a slightly better value than many other products in its class. Sumo Lounge appears to provide discounts on a fairly regular basis, so I recommend watching for one of their $130 sales. Shipping is currently free, which is a nice added bonus.

I put the Omni to the test for several activities and discovered that it is an excellent chair for watching movies, reading books, playing games, and taking afternoon naps. It has reduced the discomfort caused by my epic Tetris sessions and has made my nightly anime viewing more enjoyable. The Omni is definitely a product that I would recommend to other gamers, but beanbag chairs are not for everyone. The Omni impressed several of my friends, but some of the people who came over to test it preferred other products, like the Urban Outfitters Dish Chair. If you are sitting on the fence (much less comfortable than sitting on an Omni!), check out Sumo Lounge’s seven-day money-back guarantee.

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