REVIEW: Sumo Omni
I know what you’re thinking. “A beanbag review?”
For starters, this isn’t your old man’s beanbag from the 1970s. The Sumo Omni is a totally different animal that can be placed in the category of “gamer seating,” a new-ish thing that has emerged with the release of next-generation consoles.
Walk into any Best Buy or other large-sized electronics store today and you’ll see different kinds of chairs set up in front of the PS3 and Xbox 360. Most of them look like car seats, without the car. Some of them even have speakers in the seats. Whether or not these seats are better than sitting on the floor is a different story, but they’ve only come into vogue recently. Why would you choose gamer seating over just sitting on the couch?
Perhaps you’re like me, and your couch is too far away from your HDTV to get a good look at the screen. Big HDTVs still aren’t what I’d call cheap, and trying to dodge gunfire in Gears of War on a 32 inch screen from 10 feet away is no laughing matter. Or you could just need something to sit on while studying in your dorm room.
Enter the Sumo Omni. It’s a shapeable 4.5’x5.5′ (137x167cm) rectangular pillow filled with polystyrene beads.
Here are the specs:
Size: 4.5×5.5 feet (137x167cm)
Filling: Virgin polystyrene (foam) beads
Weight: 18lbs (8.2kg)
Composition: “Space age” rip proof nylon, spill and stain-resistant
Seal: Heavy duty velcro seal with zipper enclosure
Colors: Pitch Black, Charcoal Green, Platinum, Midnight Blue, Fiery Red, Tangerine, Hot Pink, Pure White
Price: Currently $129
Let’s dive in (or rather, jump on).
Packaging never figures into the final score on our reviews, but I’m going to include it for the sake of consistency. The Sumo Omni comes in a rather large box cardboard box befitting its stature, and is wrapped in plastic wrap. It would be very hard to damage something like the Omni in shipping due to the amorphous nature of the product, so nothing elaborate is needed as far as packaging goes. After some struggling the Omni popped out in a compressed rectangular loaf.
THE SHAPE AND FEEL
The Omni is unique among the products I’ve reviewed so far because it has no set shape. Unlike the beanbags of yore, the Omni is not filled to total capacity, and its polystyrene filling allows it to take on a number of different shapes. The guys at Sumo Lounge say they’ve figured out ten different configurations for their product, but the trick to the Omni is that it takes its shape based on the orientation of the red Sumo label.
Here’s an example: with the Sumo label laying against the floor, the Omni takes on a flat shape that looks like a large pillow. With the Sumo label atop the rest of the Omni, it can be forced into a log shape or a scoop shape depending on how you sit on it. This is all a bit hard to visualize so some of the stock photos should help (keep in mind, this girl is probably about 5 feet or 152cm tall):
Upon sitting on the Omni, I noticed that its nylon shell is not as soft as I would have liked (think of a windbreaker or similar tent). When it comes to a product like this, you can’t have it all, and the Omni sacrifices a small amount of cushiness in return for tear resistance and spill-proofing.
Velvet and leather would be great, but those materials don’t stand up to everyday wear and tear like nylon, and they would have increased the price. It’s a liveable compromise, but remember: certain (ahem) extracurricular activities probably won’t go so well on the Omni, though the stain resistance certainly comes in handy.
Aside from that, when you sit on the Omni it basically envelops your body according to its shape. Straddling the label edge results in the scoop shape, probably my favorite for watching movies and playing games solo. The scoop shape offers considerable back support because the beads in that portion of the bag are trapped with nowhere else to go.
If you have company over, the Omni can be laid flat on the floor as seating for two. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even sleep on the Omni. Think of it as a giant body pillow.
COURAGE UNDER FIRE
Since I’ve gone to great lengths to describe the shape(s) of the Omni, here I’ll talk about its durability and performance while trying not to get killed or busted by the cops in video games.
First, once you get into a set position with the Omni, it won’t lose its shape. Ever. In fact, you’re practically stuck in it and will probably have a tough time getting out of the scoop. This isn’t a bad thing really, because unlike a chair or sitting on the floor you won’t have to constantly change positions to stay comfortable. Sitting in/on the Omni is good for hours of gameplay.
At times I found that sitting on the seams of the Omni is rather uncomfortable; they often found a way to jab into my unmentionables or the back of my neck. This is easily remedied by folding them down and perching on the resulting curved portion of the Omni.
True to Sumo Lounge’s claims, the Omni is spill and stain resistant. Water, beer, etc. roll off and very little moisture remains on the product itself. A damp cloth is the only thing necessary to clean the Omni. Still, try and avoid spilling things; while the Omni can handle it, your rug, TV and consoles probably can’t.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE FOR EUROPEAN CUSTOMERS
At the moment Sumo Lounge only ships unfilled Omni shells to Europe for $179. Although this appears expensive, that cost includes two day FedEx shipping. You’ll have to find a way to fill it yourself. It’s up to you whether or not this is worth the price, but I won’t be docking the Omni any points for it.
There isn’t much not to like about the Sumo Omni; it does what it claims to do and does it admirably.