Aug 12, 2008

Ann Tancio

A while back you might remember that I posted a review of a Razer mousepad and headphones. . .I mean “Destructor” and “Piranha” (gotta love Razer’s marketing department). I also mentioned that I’d be posting reviews to the Bargain Basement Blog of fun gadgets that weren’t necessarily gaming related but were still worth mention.

And here’s a new gadget for review. The Sumo Urban Lounge Gear!

And by “Urban Lounge Gear”, I mean “High End Beanbag Chairs”. Now then, when I think of beanbag chairs, I think of the warehouse furniture store in the seedy side of town that always seems to have a U-Haul full of NAFTA-brand beanbag chairs. And they’re pretty standard egg-shaped blobs made out of moderately stretchy plastic fabric backed by some cotton gauze material, usually printed with slightly “off” looking unlicensed cartoon characters. And they’re good for kids, although they’re not so great on a hot day because you’ll weld yourself to ’em.

The Sumo Urban Lounge Gear isn’t that kind of beanbag chair. They’re beanbag chairs for grownups. And by “grownups”, I apparently mean “hot chicks”. At least that’s if the website is any indication.


Unfortunately, I don’t have a hot chick to model my review units for you. I do, however, have a six year-old daughter. And here she is showing off the Otto, which is a smallish footrest.


And here’s the same one next to a standard kitchen chair to give you a sense of scale.


The Otto as well as the Sumo Omni aren’t made of that stretchy fabric from the aforementioned cheapo beanbag chairs. They’re made of pretty thick slightly shiny rip-stop nylon. The nylon isn’t stretchy and doesn’t have much “give”, so it doesn’t deform into a completely different shape the moment you sit on it. Even my 300-pound bulk didn’t significantly change the shape from the cylinder you see above. The fabric itself is very tough and doesn’t look like it could possibly break under everyday use. Unless you keep open pocketknives in your pants, you won’t be puncturing these.

It’s also really easy to clean. Since it’s made of rip-stop woven nylon and isn’t absorbent, it cleans up really easily. I don’t know what the official care instructions are, but I can confirm that a squirt of Windex wipes out pen marks quite nicely.

The seam of the chair is closed with a zipper and further closed with a really wide strip of velcro, so the odds of losing any of the insides are practically nil. The seams are very tough. At no point did I feel like the chair would pop a seam even when I bounced around on it. The chair is filled with tiny extruded polystyrene (which is non-trademark-speak for styrofoam) beads. I presume you could make the chairs harder or softer by adding or removing beads, but I don’t think I’d recommend that. Once those little beads get out, they stick to everything.

Next is the Omni, which is a larger affair. When I first took it out of the box, I thought it was intended to be a small mattress, because it’s rather flat and rectangular. If you go to the website, though, you’ll see that you can squeeze and punch it into other shapes, including something vaguely chair-shaped, as a hot model will again demonstrate.


Here’s the Omni in its natural state, fully approved for sleepovers and fort-building. The Omni, like the Otto, is available in hot pink as well as more tasteful colors.


(and yes, my daughter has a multifunction printer in her playroom, what of it?)

Here’s the Omni in Maggie’s favorite configuration, which is best described as “flop down in front of the TV mode”.


The Omni is made of the same stuff as the Otto, and it’s sealed with the zipper as well as the thick strip of velcro. I was a bit concerned when I opened my Omni’s box, as I was met with a cloud of floating beads, and I thought that it had gotten punctured in shipping, but it just turned out that the zipper wasn’t entirely closed, and a few beads shook themselves loose during the trip. I re-zipped and re-sealed the velcro and haven’t lost a bead since.

The Otto and Omni aren’t cheap at $75 and $149 respectively (including shipping). But they’re really more like furniture than those cheap beanbag chairs you see elsewhere. They don’t deform under long sitting spells, and the nylon “breathes” so they don’t get hot and leave you feeling like you’re sitting in a puddle of sweat after a few minutes. Despite being full of millions of little staticky bits, they’re not big dog hair and lint magnets. They clean up really easily. With a little care, they should last a pretty long time as game room or TV furniture.

I think the best endorsement came from my wife. After prying the Otto from my daughter (hot pink beanbag chair + six year old girl = love) and propping her feet up on it while knitting, she declared it to be the best footrest ever. I rather wish we could trade our giant indestructible 100-pound Pottery Barn ottomans for a pair of these.

Four and a half stars.

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