Sep 10, 2009

Ann Tancio


Gamertell Review: Sumo Sultan bean bag chair


Product: Suma Sultan Bean Bag Chair
Price: $249.00 (includes shipping).
Rating: One thumb up, one thumb sideways; 80/100; B-; * * * out of five.
Pros: Very comfortable, great stain resistance and cleanability. Definitely has a good initial “Wow!” factor in terms of size and comfort. Good for lounging, reading and portable gaming. Comes in four colors.
Cons: Too large for small living spaces and little back support for long-term TV viewing and console gaming. A little expensive.
Overall: A comfy bean bag chair that will certainly impress guests and provide hours of enjoyment with each sitting. Just make certain it fits your living space and (lack of) back support needs.

Parking your living carcass is a big deal when it comes to marathon bouts of gaming. The right seat can make the difference between comfortable kills and back-wrenching frustration.

My initial reaction upon receiving a Sumo Sultan chair to review was, “Holy crap, that is huge.” And at that point it wasn’t even fully fluffed.

Out of the Box

The Sumo bean bag chairs. ship vacuum packed with the micro swede outer cover folded inside.


When first opened it looked like a giant black brain cube, wrinkled and with a weird solidity. My wife pointed out that we should put the cover on before fluffing it out since we weren’t certain how big it would get. Very wise advice.

The packaged chair is about 2 1/2 to 3 feet on each side and expands to much larger than that. When fully expanded It can easily take up the space (or place) of a love seat in any home. Once in the cover and fluffed, it measures a little larger than the 54 x 54 x 42 in. description provided by the company. The height can change depending on when you last fluffed it and who last sat on it.

Freshly fluffed the Sumo Sultan looks more like a giant, squat marshmallow than a bean bag chair, with the top mounded pretty high. Once you sit on it that deflates quite a bit to offer a concave nook. (Note that the brown cover gave cause for several excrement related comments.)

Getting it in Place

As I mentioned, this thing is huge. If you have a limited space apartment, you probably want to consider one of the smaller Sumos since this will require a bit of walk around space.


This initially sat in our kitchen for a couple weeks since that had the most available space on the first floor. I then moved it to our bedroom upstairs and had a lot of trouble getting it through the hallway (check out the Sumo Sultan Photo Gallery) on my own. As it is moved, the beans fluff out and the chair expands a bit more, causing it to get pretty well stuck in a average stairwell and doorway. The main saving grace is that is it a little malleable so I was able to alternately tucking in each side to work it up the stairs and through the doorway.

Using the Big Brown Chair

The Sumo Sultan (or “the big brown chair” as my 2-year-old immediately dubbed it) makes a great landing pad. An adult can easily take a flying leap at it – or a lazy butt-down plop – without fear of bouncing off or ever hitting bottom. (A 2-year-old has a small chance of bouncing off but, even then, only when freshly fluffed).

It is certainly comfortable and the easy-to-clean micro swede cover is in line with the fabric used on most modern couches. You can easily nap on the Sultan or cradle yourself into a comfy, laid back reading or portable gaming position that will last for quite a while. And, yes, my 2-year-old asks to play on it daily. (Maybe it has a life as an amusement park attraction as well).


Long-term console gaming or TV watching, however, might be an issue, especially if you require a chair with back support or help getting up from low places.

Since this is essentially a giant, albeit semi shape-shifting bag o’ beans, it offers little in the way of vertical support. Once seated, most of the beans do push back, away from your legs, but don’t provide enough height to make a difference. If you do manage to build up a semi-decent back blob, you’ll have depleted the beans from the front portion of the bag to a point that would require your legs to be either straight in front of you or knees bent above your waste.

If you want to get a nice TV viewing angle, you’re pretty much forced to sit either cross legged and with proper posture or find a nearly horizontal position sideways across the Sumo. Some might argue that the former is ergonomically preferable yet it may prove irritatingly tiring for some gamers.

The Cheese Snack Test

Since gamers often like to munch, I used a worst-case-scenario snack item to smudge the cover and see what might happen if, for example, a gamer accidentally dropped a cheese puff and it got accidentally smashed into the chair. I did notice that the Sultan picked up a lot of dust, paper dots and other debris during it travel across the house.


Basically, I took a single cheese puff and rubbed it on the chair until I essentially ground down to crumbs (oh, the things I do for reviews).

A lot of crumbs stuck but all went away with a quick hand brushing. There was a slight smudge left that does not appear to be greasy. You can see close-up photos in the Photo Gallery. The end result looks essentially the same as the starting image which bodes quite well for the chair’s resiliency.

To Sit or Not to Sit

The Sumo Sultan bean bag chair is crazy big and crazy comfortable. Anyone entering your abode will certainly be drawn to its mass – perhaps due to a natural gravitational pull – and apparent comfort. The ultimate issue of long-term gaming comfort – and buyability – will be quite individual.

If you are able to maintain either proper or completely non-existent (read: rubber) posture for long periods of time without issue, this will be great for TV watching, console gaming o laptop compute ruse (then again, if those are true, so might a pile of bricks). Otherwise, plan to build up those lower back muscles prior to purchase if you plan to use it as a primary sitting object. (Note that even the Sumo site shows the lovely lounging models using a pillow for additional back support.)

Even so, the Sumo Sultan bean bag chair is ideal for hours of comfy, sloth like lounging while reading a book, listening to your iPod, partaking in a few handheld games or gandering at a few graphic novels. Just make certain you have plenty of extra space. If those are your goals, the price tag will be but a small technicality.

Of course, the chair may be large enough to accommodate more than one person, which may also lend itself to *wink* non-gaming uses.

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