Jul 11, 2008

Ann Tancio


Sumo Omni Review

I was recently asked to do a review of the Sumo Omni, a high quality, 4.5′ x 5.5′ bean bag chair. When my Omni arrived in the mail, it did so in a huge box that weighed about 18 lbs. It was easy to move and I could give the illusion that I was some sort of Herculean super man lifting the massive box and the surely heavy contents within.

There is no assembly required for the Omni. I figured there would be a complex procedure involving beans, a bag and the fusion thereof, but no. The Omni had assumed the shape of the box, and aside from removing a huge plastic bag and lifting it out of said box, there was no labor required. Feeling slightly deflated at having lost an opportunity to show how awesome I am at building stuff, I discarded my various tools and gave sitting upon it a shot.

The first sit was an interesting experience. The bag molded around me into the form of what was functionally a sofa, and I was able to sit comfortably. The bag felt sturdy beneath me, and was able to support me very well. Readers of my comic, El Goonish Shive, may picture me as a small fellow based upon how I represent myself in the comic, but that representation is a LIE. I’m a moderately tall, heavy fellow, and a lesser bean bag would not have been nearly as supportive. I should note that this is not merely speculation; I’ve owned two bean bags prior to the Omni, and the reason I had two was that I had to put them together just to get the functionality I had expected from one.

Once I got the Omni to its intended place in my home, I ran into a little difficulty. I attempted the approach of just sitting down upon it again, and this time it did not conform to a comfortable shape. To get the most out of it, a bit of strategy is recommended. The website has photos of many different setups, and I recommend trying to imitate those before trying to mold your own positions. You’ll likely get a lot more out of the chair that way.

This is, of course, one of the things one has to keep in mind regarding bean bags. They’re not like a sofa or a chair that will always be in the shape of a sofa or chair. The shape will change, and some adjustments will be needed to maximize comfort. They’re also not the sort of thing you’re likely to see at a formal occasion, or recommend to your grandparents. These are not flaws of the Omni; this is just the nature of the bean bag chair beast.

Once I got the hang of it, I found the Omni to be comfortable and flexible. I’ve put this to the test by playing video games, which, of course, involved sitting and some moving around. The bag would hold its shape well enough to support me during these activities, but also moved for better comfort and support when I would shift positions.

To the point, it was comfortable, and I can see myself using the bag as a place to sit for various activities. I could lose an entire day reading a book while on that thing.

One additional thing to keep in mind is that, as with all bean bag chairs, the beans will flatten out somewhat over time. How long this will take will vary on usage and treatment, but the Omni is of high enough quality that I believe it will be a long time before that’s a concern, and the Sumo website sells additional beans. It’s not a big issue, but it’s something to be aware of. It’s also a good reason to not abuse the chair by diving wildly into it all the time, but that’s generally a good rule of thumb anyway when it comes to furniture and canyons.

For the sake of being thorough, I decided to cat-test the bag. This is a complicated test that involves gently tossing a cat onto the bag and seeing what happens. This was done twice with two different cats. Cat A was initially confused and seemed to find it odd that the surface beneath her would move as she moved, but she eventually found a comfortable position. She might have stayed there for hours had I not gone to grab a camera, which is exactly when cats instinctively know to stop whatever cute thing they’re doing and scamper away.

Cat B was less receptive, but in his defense, he had just been in the box the Omni was delivered in and was somewhat irritated about how difficult it was to vacate without assistance. As such, cat B doesn’t have much to contribute to any discussion regarding the Omni itself, but makes clear that the box the Omni was delivered in is too big for cats to enjoy. A box that size has many uses, as does the huge plastic bag I mentioned earlier, but neither should be combined with cats.

Overall, I like the Omni. It has a lot of flexibility and a nice, casual feel to it. It’s definitely something that I will continue to use and it would easily be at home in a room used for gaming and fun. It’s not the sort of thing I’d expect to see, for example, on the set of the TV sitcom Frasier, except possibly to get a rise out of the doctor. For us less snooty folk who like comfort and flexibility, however, I can definitely recommend it.

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