The Tech Lounge

Oct 3, 2006

Ann Tancio


Sumo Lounge Omni & Otto

You may have spied the Sumo Lounge Omni bean bag hanging out at such places as the Playboy Super Bowl party, the X-Games, the Sundance Film Festival and other TV programs. This designer humongo-cushion is making a name for itself. But calling it a bean bag really does discredit this lounge machine. Yes it is filled with polystyrene beans, but it is light years ahead of that old crusty thing your college roommate sleeps on. I’ll be using my expertly tuned reviewing skills to tell you just how the Sumo Lounge Omni breaks the bean bag mold.

First Looks

My first reaction to the Omni was probably identical to what 98% of people say when they first open the delivery box.this thing is huge! A massive 5.5×4.5 foot indestructible nylon pillow hungrily enveloped me as I tried to free it from the shipping carton. Both items come in a staggering array of colors such as: Charcoal Green, Midnight Blue, Fiery Red, Tangerine, Platinum, Pure White and Hot Pink. You should have no problems finding one to match your iPod.

Rugged outer shells of water repellant, stain resistant ballistic nylon (PVC-coated nylon) give the Omni and Otto their shape and contain the millions of tiny virgin polystyrene beads that put the beans in these bags. The tough nylon exterior is thick and I immediately realized that this pillow meant business, it looks more like camping gear than living room attire. Tearing this material would require a purposeful attack, yet it feels soft and reasonably supple to the touch.a lot like Kurtis.


Along one seam of the Omni, a Velcroed flap keeps a lengthy zipper under wraps. The Velcro is strong and not easily pried open by smaller hands. For those of you worrying about the little ones, there shouldn’t be an issue with the kids tearing into the insides of your new Omni and choking on the stuffing. That isn’t to say that they won’t be able to get it open and make a mess, but it should deter them so keep an eye on those ankle-biters. Speaking of which; never one to be deterred by common sense, I quickly ripped the Velcro open and unzipped the zipper. (I never said that adults couldn’t open it up.) While this swift maneuver answered my question regarding the innards of this beast (yep, it’s filled with white beads), undoing my bit of exploration was more of a challenge. The tiny beads, ranging from about 3mm to 5mm in diameter, are also about as heavy as a pair of gnat’s wings. The smallest breeze sends torrents of tiny polystyrene spheres soaring into the air. Even the slightest motion, say zipping up the hole I’d just created, is more than enough air movement to cause a miniature synthetic snowstorm. Don’t open the bean bag.


As I already mentioned, I’m quite the lounger. I’ve lounged on 3 different Continents and have no plans of stopping anytime soon. Testing the Omni and Otto is a feat for which I am well equipped. And what better way to test a giant bean bag than to plop yourself down in front of the TV to watch a football game?

My weekly Australian Rules Football night became the first testing ground for the pair of nylon lounge lumps. Almost immediately after revealing the jumbo pillow to my guests, one of them took a flying leap into the Omni. Of course the uber-tough nylon was unharmed and the hefty swatches of Velcro and zipper kept the beads from covering my living room floor. Various lounging conformations were tested. Sitting, slouching, chillin’, kicking it, even some flopping and plopping occurred. All in attendance concluded that the bag was quite comfy. The added bonus of a matching footstool only enhanced the sitting experience.

As tiny and light as the polystyrene beads are, they provide remarkable support once your lower half settles into place. Initially one’s body sinks swiftly into the bag, but weight is quickly supported by the mass of plastic spheres. A solid yet yielding mass of comfort provides a blob of protection that conforms to your ass. In fact, once you’ve settled into the Sumo Omni, the styrene beads feel less like beans and more like a sack full of sand.

The smaller Otto ottoman has pretty much one use. As a foot prop this thing is outstanding and compliments the Omni nicely. The styrene filling makes for a perfect footrest allowing your heels to sink comfortably into place while your calves are well supported. As a seat the Otto performs reasonably well but the lack of back support is annoying. The 50 centimeter radius is more than ample to accommodate sitters of most sizes; it just works better as an ottoman.

One drawback to owning a massive nylon pouch full of plastic beads is the noise. Adjusting, fluffing and general moving of the Omni creates a fair amount of “bead noise.” Bead noise does not go un-noticed by fellow living room dwelling movie watchers. Once a comfortable position is found, however, little movement is required.until the first bathroom break.





Another weak point that I discovered is actually being able to get out of the Omni. The thing is so darn comfy that you don’t really want to move once you’ve settled in. But the low profile of the bag and its tendency towards squish make it difficult to maintain any sense of gracefulness when you attempt to rally yourself into standing position. Then again, it’s an evolved bean bag. No one will expect you to make a pirouetting exit on your way to the beer fridge.

Finally, where does one store a nearly 25 square foot bean bag? If you plan on leaving your Omni out in the open this won’t be an issue. However, when I tried to find a place to stuff the Omni when not in use, I was stumped. Our guest bedroom houses the beast when we need space to walk in our living room, but the Omni takes up a large swath of floor and pretty much fills up the space between the bed and the dresser. You should have seen me trying to stuff it into my MINI Cooper.I could barely see out the back! That said, if you are a loft dwelling, open space sort of bean bagger, the Omni practically doubles as a couch, which brings me to my next point.

Perhaps it isn’t as large as a full sized couch, but it certainly works as a love seat.if you know what I mean. Did I mention that it is stain resistant? You see where I’m going with this. You were all thinking it! The Omni will easily accommodate the weight of 2 people, for whatever reason you may find to “sit” two-to-an-Omni.

During my studies, I found that there were three primary useful configurations best suited to the ultimate lounging experience.

1. Hold the Omni by two corners with the long edge running up and down. Straddle the pillow like a hobbyhorse and sit. The corner behind you will be filled with shifting beads and create a backrest while your rear sinks comfortably into position. This configuration is highly recommended for playing console games. Or add the Otto underfoot and type away on your laptop.
2. Lay the Omni flat on the floor. Plunge butt into Omni. Relax. This is pretty much just the big pillow configuration. Fall asleep in front of the fireplace/TV/spouse.
3. Fold the Omni in half across the middle into an L-shape. Lean bean bag against a wall. Sit with butt on the floor, back to the wall. This iteration works well for eating dinner or reading a book. But let’s face it, you’re probably not going to read a book any time soon, so just enjoy the cushy, beady goodness.

Of course you can always just sort of plop the thing down and ease yourself into the most comfortable position, which really is the point of a bean bag in the first place.

Additional uses for the Omni may include:

. Winning the worlds largest pillow fight (you WILL win)
. Storage of small children or household pets
. Synthesizing an impromptu indoor snow storm (see paragraph 3 of First Looks section)
. Landing pad for acrobatic couch diving
. An excuse to play 72 hours of uninterrupted Xbox

Kurtis’ Note: In the interest of science, I had Sumo Lounge send me a Sumo Omni as well. We’ve all heard the horror stories of babies suffocating in bean bags, and I wanted to see for myself if this would be a problem with the Omni. My goddaughter, Isabella (now 14 months old), was my test subject, and I saw no cause for concern even if she was left in her playroom alone with the beanbag. The material is thick and tough (it feels almost like a tarp), and there’s no way her baby fingers are prying the heavy-duty Velcro strap open. As a matter of fact, she actually took to the giant bag of beany goodness – she loves to lay down on it in the big pillow configuration after she has worn herself out in her playroom. And I don’t have to worry about her suffocating, so that’s always a plus.


When it comes to big comfy pillows, it’s tough to be impartial. I doubt that many people would find the Sumo Lounge Omni to be a bad example of a bean bag. Plus so many of us grew up with this staple of lazy livin’ in our homes it is difficult not to love this big bag o’ beads.

The polystyrene insides can get a little noisy. And those of us endowed with pitiful balance may find it tricky to rise to our feet gracefully when getting out of the chair. But overall I’d say this re-designed icon of living room loungery is a winner. In fact, I typed most of this review while sprawled out on the Omni with my feet propped up on the matching Otto.

If you don’t mind the $129 price tag of the Omni (the Otto is $75) you won’t be disappointed. The rip-proof nylon shell and array of colors should compliment just about any dcor and superb relaxing will be your reward. Just don’t open the zipper.


Comfy bag of beans
Durable rip-proof and spill resistant material
Wide range of colors
Dare I say, safe for children


Somewhat pricy
You may fall asleep in the bag and wake up next summer

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