Philly Burbs

Sep 18, 2006

Ann Tancio


Product review: The Sumo Lounge chair

It very much looks like a big, square ravioli, plump in the middle and crimped on the edges. The whole contraption is about five-foot long on each side and maybe about four or six inches thick when the filling isn’t compressed, which makes it kind of awkward to manage.

The black exterior is a very sturdy nylon or polyester or some sort of man-made material. It’s stiffness allows the user to fold and mold it into a variety of shapes, but retains its corners and squarish demeanor. That’s one of the greatest differences between the Sumo and your typical bean bag chair. Bean bag chairs are squishy to the point of totally lacking support; the Sumo is a sturdy contraption, though you can fold it and contort it for your comfort.

Now the single most annoying thing about bean bag chairs, universally, is the inevitable leak. You know what we mean. Eventually, the little white “beans” start to squirt out. Maybe just one or two to start, but eventually, you find that the chair is half-empty. The Sumo has a mega-sturdy zipper, which is better than your standard bean bag chair. But the makers go a step further and seal the seam of their nylon ravioli with velcro, so that even if the zipper opens slightly, the little beans are kept inside the contraption.

So the Sumo passes the first initial test – it’s big and sturdy, not mention somewhat malleable and, more importantly, free of a white foam ball trail.

There are a bunch of places you could make use of the Sumo, but from our perspective, there was an ultimate purpose for such a thing – to sit on while playing video games. So we took it to the phillyBurbs Video Game Testing Lab and ran it through a number of scenarios. We laid on it, sat on it and folded it into an “L” with the back against the front of the couch. No matter what shape we fashioned Sumo into, the beans reamined in place and in all instances, the Sumo was firm but comfortable. The material was resistant to spills, but its toughness meant it wasn’t exactly cuddly. Nonetheless, it earned superior marks from the Video Game Testing Team.

Since it had passed these initial tests, we felt it was only fair to put it to the ultimate test – kids. We turned two aspiring phillyBurbians loose on Sumo for several evenings. They pounced on it, they twisted it, they flopped on it, they bent it. They simply beat it into submission. When the testing was completed, Sumo looked just like it did when it came out of the box. Despite multiple body slams and belly flops, the beans remained in place.

So here it is in a nutshell – if you have a rec room or any other place where people – particuarly kids – like to flop, give a SumoLounge some serious consideration. It doesn’t look flashy, but it’s comfy and durable and its combination of size and flexibility mean you’ll be able to use it a lot of different ways.

Not convinced? Check out their Web site, in particular the photo galleries, where you can see the Sumo “in action.”

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