Technology Tell

Aug 7, 2013

Ann Tancio

Back to school with the Sumo Emperor bean bag chair

With school about to start up again (unless you live in one of those creepy states where it already has), there’s no shortage of online advice about whether to use the iPad, MacBook, or whatnot to keep you organized and educated. You don’t, however, often hear about where to use them, which is why we accepted Sumo Lounge’s offer to take a look at their new Sumo Emperor bean bag chair. Its unique design provides a casual way to look over the notes on your iPad, to read whatever your Faulkner professor assigned, or to relax with some casual gaming between classes…or parties.

First, though, you should know that bean bag chairs from Sumo Lounge aren’t the type you pick up at Walmart just to discover what they’re stuffed with after a couple weeks of flopping onto them. These high end chairs are built to retain their shape and provide years of use, and can cost you over $500 for their largest model. The Emperor model we’re reviewing here costs $249, but is still large enough to accommodate to two people simultaneously, as the Photoshopped marketing photo indicates:

I guess once you’ve bought the bean bag chair, the tablet, and some fancy jeans, you don’t have any money left for apartment furnishings.

Here’s what the Sumo Emperor looks like in a real-world setting:

I couldn’t get my wife to take a picture with me on it in our fancy jeans, so I had to settle for the cat.

You’ll notice the bulb in the center. This provides much more support than what you get from a normal bean bag chair…especially one this size. It helps the Emperor retain its shape, which is great. However, it also makes it uncomfortable to just flop down onto. At first, I found this kind of odd. But when you conform your body to the shape it requires, it’s actually quite comfortable. The lady above kind of has it right; if I curled around the center bulb and rested my iPad, book or 3DS there, no problem. Resting my back or chest on the bulb, however, got very uncomfortable very quickly.

You’ll notice my placement of the Emperor against a wall. This is because it also works to sit on cross-legged, provided you have something to support your back. Again, a good way to get some reading, tablet use and gaming in.

The Emperor measures 55″ in diameter and stands 25″ tall. The virgin polystyrene foam filling does a good job of retaining its shape, so you’ll want to make sure you open the box in your destination room, and provide plenty of space around it to accommodate its size. Something this big isn’t an accessory, after all, it’s furniture; you’ll want to be sure you can even fit it in your dorm.

You’ll also want to make sure you don’t have any parties around it, as the only logical method of cleaning it is to wipe it down with soapy water. If you have pets that shed a lot, you may want to keep them away from it, too. As you may be able to tell from the photos above, it’s surprisingly difficult to vacuum hair off of it. That hopefully won’t be an issue in a dorm room.

More likely, price will be. Is a bean bag chair worth $249? If you’re looking for a comfortable way to study, yes. If you’re looking for something that’ll get you through all four years of higher education (and possibly beyond), yes. Sumo bean bag chair materials are very durable and have exceptionally strong stitching. Mine has survived three children, two adults, a husky and that cat, so hopefully it can withstand your college friends.


The Sumo Emperor bean bag chair is available now in “fiery red” at the Sumo Lounge website. As mentioned, it sells for $249, but shipping is free, and you do get a 100% money back guarantee on your order. I guess that’s one less thing for your mom and dad to worry about while you’re at school.

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