The Embody Chair Review vs Steelcase Leap Review vs Herman Miller Aeron Review

tags: , ,

If you know me I’m incredibly tall, 7 foot (213cm) to be exact. So I’m pretty fussy when it comes to task chairs or computer chairs. I’ve had the Herman Miller Aeron, the Steelcase Leap and now the Herman Miller Embody. I can say that I can give a pretty accurate review of these chairs, as I have placed my bum in them close too or more then 10,000 hours each.

I have to admit a lot of people cannot justify why I spend so much on office chairs, but I always counter them with this argument: A builder spends thousands of dollars for their tools so they can complete their job, as good tools provide a means to a good job. Therefore, why wouldn’t a researcher, programmer, office dweller, squared eye individual spend the same amount on his or her tools? My office chairs are just tools. You spend around 6-7 hours a night in your bed, and yet, you could spend up to 10-12 hours in front of your computer (That is if you’re keen and get lost in your work). People spend thousands of dollars on a good bed mattress because it gives them a comfortable nights sleep. I spend thousands of dollars on office chairs because it gives me a comfortable working environment, which I feel makes me more productive!

Now that argument is out of the way lets get down to the review.

The first office chair I got was a $200 chair from the local office supplier, which was pathetic! Tall guy, long back, long legs, so you can imagine after a couple of months it turned into a nightmare. Back pain, aches in the ham strings and having to get up every 15mins. So I started looking around for chairs. This would of been around 7 or 8 years ago to put a perspective on it. I ended up coming to the conclusion that the Herman Miller Aeron was the chair. I went to the closest supplier and tried the chair out.

This is a tip if your looking for office chairs: SIT IN THEM! So many people order chairs off the internet and when they get them, they think this isn’t comfortable???? Do you buy a bed mattress with out laying on it? duh! 

The Aeron 3 and 1/2 out of 5

I ordered one and it took around 4 weeks to ship to Australia. Beautiful looking chair, and still is! The Pellicle – the woven fabric you sit in – is so comfortable, and it allows your body to breath. The recline is fantastic, so much so, that you can almost fall asleep in it. It’s great for when you’re stumbling through the internet  reading about your interests. This chair was so good I used it for a solid 4-5 years!

So why did I change? We’ll there are some downers with this chair. The posture fit…. not that posture fitting. I have a curved lumber like everyone else – except the minor few who have straight backs – and I found it to be more of a push into my back instead of a support. It is a hard foamy, rubbery material which feels like a right angle in your back. I don’t think it adds much to the chair but it was still better then nothing. Also, the arms rests were a bit low even though I got the larger version of the chair. It missed out by an inch or so. Not everyone is 7 feet tall, I understand, but still a tiny downer. Finally the straightness of the back support didn’t allow for much flexibility, so I found myself readjusting my position in the chair to accomodate – big no no.

The Leap 4 out of 5

The next chair after the Aeron was the Steelcase Leap. When I first tried this chair it was 2-3 times more comfortable to the Aeron straight up. Also, the arm rests are a complete winner. How they move around to accomodate the different styles of freedom – truly brillant. They also had that little bit more height. The simultaneous movement of the seat and back support, which Steelcase calls live back – worked incredibly well, but there is no recline option – not happy about that. The chair has all the ergonomic features and adjustments, and the back support is more flexible which is also adjustable – winner. I found the down fall with this chair is the padding. Woeful! You sit in it for more then 2 hours and it is like sitting on concrete with no pants! Now, I don’t have that much cushion for the pushing on my rear, but come on! I found myself re-arranging myself every 30 mins to try and fix the hardness. You don’t feel it in the shop either when your trying it out, so you think wow this chair is phenomenal. It comes later to sting you in the bum….!

The Embody 4 and 1/2 out of 5

Now the final chair….. the Herman Miller Embody. I guess the best way to sum this up is it takes everything which is bad in the other two and replaces those bads with goods. This is truly an amazing chair.  Although, I have to admit it takes a while to get used too. You have to play around with the settings and features to accomodate for your body, but once you have it right you leave it alone and let it do its work. Its got a recline, not as much as the Aeron, but it’s there, and boy is it comfortable when you recline!!! The seating on it is like the Pellicle fabric on the Aeron as it works off pixel support for the back and your bum. The dearer fabric is worth it as well as it allows your body to breath that little easier, even though it already has good ventilation.

Does this chair have downfalls….? of course. One is the arm rests aren’t as adjustable as the others, they only go in, out, up and down. This just might be me, but I can never have the chair in the complete upright position as it is just down right uncomfortable. I always have to have it on 1 or more recline postions, which at the end of the day isn’t bad at all. Really I think that is about it! They have truly done something remarkable with this chair.

There are different prices ranges for each of these chairs, when I first got the Aeron I paid AUD$1800, the Leap AUD$1500, and the Embody AUD$2090. Embody being the dearest out of them all is a real deterrent to some, so I thought I would break it down for all of you. (Updated the current pricing of the Aeron as you can get them for around AUD$900 now)

Let’s say roughly you use each of these chairs for 3 years at 10 hours a day for work like I have (I’m not working out weekends). The Aeron works out to AUD$0.06c a working hour, the Leap AUD$0.11c a working hour, and finally the Embody AUD$0.19c a working hour. Overall that is pretty cheap to be really comfortable. If I was to estimate the amount of profit these couple of cents add to my bottom line or output in results, I would say 300% with out a slight of doubt.

You might be asking which chair do I use day in and day out…. Well I use the leap at my work office when I’m in and the Embody at my home office. The Embody is the work horse with out a doubt. It gets a flogging off me, as it is so comfortable. I still have the Aeron, but it has been passed down the family tree to someone else.

I hope this quite long review of my experiences helps someone make a decision in their next chair purchase.


categories: General, Tools

Date posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | comments: 11

11 Responses to The Embody Chair Review vs Steelcase Leap Review vs Herman Miller Aeron Review

  1. Nibbles says:

    I have sat on all three of the chairs as you have done and I personally have the Embody at home and it is the best of the bunch. Glad to hear someone else gets the pain in the ass from prolonged sitting in the Leap that doesn’t show up in the Embody.

  2. Rhys says:

    Hey Nibbles,

    Great to hear someone else has it for home as well. They’re all great chairs, but having a fantastic chair really takes you to another level of comfort when working or playing on your computer. I always see people’s faces light up with amazement about how much I’ve spend on chairs, but I’m sure you’re like me, you explain to them why and the difference it makes, and they quickly shut up.

    I’ve heard the leather version of the Leap fixes the problem of hard ass, as the air can’t leave the cushion, but it then brings it above the cost of Embody, so it’s still better to get the Embody.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Nick says:

    Just wanted to drop a note:

    I found this blog while searching for experiences with the Embody for tall people. I’m only 6’4″, but the non-adjustable height was one of my only concerns with it. I had an Aeron for a while, and I think I’ll be getting an Embody soon; I’m glad to hear it works for someone much taller than I, that makes me more confident in my selection.

    Very helpful into. :)

  4. Bobby V. says:

    Embody is so adjustable, as mentioned that once you get it adjusted the comfort is unbelievable.
    Tried the leap and was disappointed that this chair lacked the comfort it should provide.Don’t get me wrong, the
    leap has its pluses but the Embody has it beat hands down.

  5. Costin Scurtea says:

    I have the Embody for 1 year, and the seat fabric has a wave-like appearance. Has this happen to you too?

  6. Rhys says:

    Hey Costin,

    Do you mean on the base where you sit?

    Because I’m so tall I’m pretty heavy, and about a month in I realised that the base had a wave in the structure of the base where my thighs sit not really the fabric. If this is the wave you’re talking about then yes. In regards to the back fabric there is no wave that I can see. Which fabric did you get? The category 6 price range for the category 2? I have the 6 one which is the dearer one (I wanted the apple green)

    Does it change the overall comfort of the chair?

  7. Richard says:

    The Leap really deserves 5 stars. If you can’t recline, it’s because you’ve got the recline lock set (it limits the reclining to one of several levels from zero recline to lots of recline). The Leap is built better than the Aeron and has more adjustments. The Aeron has a metal base (it’s VERY heavy) where the Leap base is plastic. The Leap piston bounce is also better than the Aeron (at least for my 200+ Lb size). They’re both great chairs, expensive but worth every penny.

  8. Rhys says:

    Hey Richard,

    As I type this I’m sitting in the leap chair, and I have to admit it is a incredibly comfortable chair. However, I’ve compared them to three amazing chairs, and when comparing the leap to the embody, I still have to say it is 4 stars. In saying that the embody isn’t even 5 stars, so what makes a chair 5 stars? I guess it is personal opinion, as I find the embody pleasing to sit in and its a chair for both pleasure and work. The leap on the other hand I find it is a chair which I find I’m productive in, but when I want to wind down and browse or watch youtube I don’t want to sit in it. The main reason is because of the live back system. It does recline, you’re right, but it’s not a true recline it’s more the back falls back and the base moves forward so you’re still in a upright position to some degree, which of course is a productive state.

    You’ve made me think what is a five star chair, and to come to think of it you can’t have a five star chair until you have extras which compliment it. I find when I combine the embody with a foot rest and then a simple keyboard draw it then becomes a 5 star chair. It’s like sitting in a lounge and your back is fully supported. Also the draw allows you to scoop under the keyboard so it as if the keyboard is in your lap. I can tell you now not many people have a simple setup like that. With two very cheap additions ranging from $AUD20 to $AUD60 you can improve your chair massively. Some might think it’s a bit wanky, but at the end of the day It’s incredibly comfortable.

    Thanks for your comments Richard.

  9. Michael C. says:

    I’m 6’4″, ~240lbs, and have had the Embody for around 3 years now. Overall I’m very pleased that I took the dive and got it. The price was justifiable by the 12-year warranty it comes with. 😉

    That said, has anyone else encountered a rectangular-shaped bulge in the lower back of the Embody? It seems like the 2 bottom-most central support pegs, and the 2 above them, are somehow stiffer than any of the others, resulting in an uncomfortable boxy bulge at the base of my spine.

  10. Rhys says:

    Hey Michael,

    I know which part of the chair you’re talking about. I find yes if it is really pressed in so it is hard configuration to really get that arch in your back. I had it at first like this but found it more comfortable when it was at a lighter setting. I’m guessing the lighter setting also help reduce what you’re talking about. It is the lumbar support mechanism in this chair. You see the same thing in the Aeron, however its fabric has less memory then the embody

  11. Sudarto says:

    I’m happy to participate in the discussion about the Embody chair here. A lot of readers praised Embody. This chair is good and qualified. The price is quite expensive.
    A recent survey put the Embody chair is at number two. Meanwhile, the number one is the Herman Miller Aeron chair. Generally, respondents still place the Aeron as the most comfortable chair. The Aeron and Embody are produced by one company, namely Herman Miller. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe: subscribe Follow: subscribe