Autonomous ErgoChair: a review

Autonomous ErgoChair

The Autonomous ErgoChair. It also comes in all sorts of much more interesting colors.

Before getting to the brass tacks of this post – a review of an office chair made by a company called Autonomous – I’d like to get on the record that Autonomous is an interesting-as-hell company. I mean, how many other outfits selling sit-stand desks or tabletop sit-stand desk adapters also offer, for all of $19, a corrugated fold-out (called, appropriately, Cardboard) that, with some extremely basic origami, converts any table or desk into a standing desk? Much less also produce, as Autonomous also does, a telepresence robot (in this case named Clone)?

Autonomous ErgoChair

The ErgoChair cuts a sharp figure from behind.

Autonomous’s office chair, called the ErgoChair, is closer to the mainstream of office accoutrements than is the Clone. It’s also something I was looking for right around the time the folks at Autonomous reached out and offered up an ErgoChair for review. (They also offered up a SmartDesk 2 standing desk, which I reviewed here).

I have sat in the ErgoChair for a solid week now, in fact sitting much more than I otherwise would have given the sit-stand desk I use. I have done this extra sitting after a decade or so of using what was, at the time, a similarly priced Office Depot chair (which is to say, not a cheap office chair). And I write this review having spent a few months earlier in my career – at a doomed dot-com, appropriately – with a gold-standard Aeron office chair. Given these facts, and perhaps most importantly the fact that that my body (male, five-foot-ten, 170ish pounds, given to slouching) is not your body anyway, take my view on this piece of mail-order office furniture as one man’s opinion.

My view is that the ErgoChair is a really good office chair. It is wildly adjustable (while I’m always happy to delve into mechanical detail, it’s more efficient for us both to check out Autonomous’s YouTube video showing as much – plus the music is uplifting). The armrests raise and lower substantial amounts and slide both forwards-and-backwards and sideways. The seat tilts. It also lifts up. There’s excellent lumbar support. The headrest, which like the back of the chair is mesh and stays cool, is also adjustable (vertically as well as tilt angle). The coolest adjustment, though, is the chair’s ability (also adjustable) to lean back to the point that you’re well into recliner territory.

The ErgoChair comes extremely well-packed in a box whose contents took about 45 minutes to convert from sturdy components into an actual chair – with the help of, no surprise, an ergonomic Allen wrench that Autonomous includes.

Working from a home office, my naps can happen on the family room carpet under the dog’s watchful gaze. In an office environment, napping on the lobby carpet under the receptionist’s watchful gaze might well be frowned upon. With an ErgoChair, you could just lean way back and nod off. Bosses beware. (Or maybe bosses should just embrace: there’s no shortage of data showing that short naps are in fact productivity boosters).

And if you care – and despite not wanting to care, I care, given that the home office is a converted dining room about eight feet from the front door – the ErgoChair looks modern and sharp. I chose a black-on-black model, but there are tons of color options, most more interesting than my selection.

For comparison’s sake, my aging, similarly priced office chair adjusted nicely but had a less-flexible back. At times, during the first couple of days using the ErgoChair, I found myself leaning back and being surprised by the give (which itself is adjustable). This passed with time.

The only aspect of the chair I miss from my older model is the seat itself. I sort of sank into the old Office Depot model. The ErgoChair’s seat is soft to the touch but, if it were a mattress, it would be classified as firm. I’ve gotten used to this, too. And frankly, for those of us who stand half the day or longer anyway, a slightly harder chair is as much a positive as a negative. You don’t sink in and find yourself on your duff slouching severely seven hours later. Certainly the ErgoChair seat is soft enough for napping either way.

The ErgoChair is not the best office chair money can buy. If you care to spend five times more, you can pick up a Herman Miller Embody, for example. Or feel free to snag an Aeron for two-three times the price. But for $299 plus $39 shipping, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better chair than the Autonomous ErgoChair. One man’s opinion, of course.