A few weeks ago my buddy Andrew over at SUMO reached out to me to ask if I’d like to try a new chair they’re offering. He described it as “a new take on the Omni” (their very first chair, the one we used at Digital Overload). “Removable cover, spandex material and a smaller Micro Bead. It is more comfortable and suitable for children.”
Children? I thought. Hey, I have some of those! Sure, why not!
And then I all but forgot about it until a couple of weeks later a giant box showed up on my doorstep. Since this is a new product, I didn’t really know what to expect; it wasn’t available on the website yet. When I first opened the box, I thought it was a giant version of one of those water snake toys. I guess it’s called the Omni Flex.
Tiny human for scale.
Now, apparently this chair went completely off the grid for a few days while in the custody of UPS. As in, they had a giant empty box and no chair. Eventually the beanbag turned up, and they sent it along on its way to me, but I have no idea what this thing went through. I do know it arrived with a giant, black smudge on one end. Either it got stuck in one of the sorting machines, or the UPS guys were using it to slide across the warehouse floor.
The chair’s skin, carefully flayed and preserved. In other words, the removable cover removed.
SUMO offered to send me a new cover, but I figured what better opportunity to see how kid friendly this thing really is. Because if you have kids around furniture, they’re going to spill shit on it. So let’s see how hard this is to clean.
Now, this dirt was ground into the chair; the surface of the otherwise very smooth and soft material was a little rough as testament to the abuse. Plus, who knows how many butts had been on that chair during its journey. So I took off the cover (a nice advantage over the original Omni), and noticed the tag said “Hand Wash Only.” Blech.
Then I realized my washing machine has a setting that says “Hand Wash” on it. Hah! Take that, stupid instructional tag.
Why do myself what I can make a machine do for me?
Also I figured hey, I didn’t pay for this thing, and whenever I get free samples I give them away for tournament prizes at my LGS after I’m reviewed them anyway. So let’s see what happens if you put this in the wash.
The tag also said “Do Not Tumble Dry”, but I did that too.
I’m not advocating that you should do what I did; ignore the instructions at your own risk. But I’m a rebel, and they haven’t invented an instructional tag yet that can cage this wild spirit.
Anyway, my cover survived just fine. And 99% clean to boot. Which is impressive given how embedded that oily dirt was.
So once I had a sparkly clean and fresh-smelling Omni Flex, it was time to figure out how to use it.
The cover is made out of a really smooth, stretch material, almost like a thicker spandex, or a thinner neoprene. There isn’t a lot of texture to it, but it seems to have a nice balance between malleability and elasticity. Inside there are definitely little beads, as opposed to clumps of memory foam like the Titan and some of their other chairs have.
Since there were no pictures on SUMO’s site at the time, I had to guess at the different ways to use it. Most obvious, I suppose, is simply lying on it.
I have successfully lied down. Which in this house means 30 seconds later there’s a child crawling on me.
This was very comfortable. The chair feels pretty floppy on its own, but once you displace the beads with your body weight, it firms up really fast for great support once you’ve settled into your perfect position. This is actually something I kind of miss with my Titan; I love that it’s massive and feels like flopped down onto a big pillow, but it’s always squishy. No matter which way you move or turn, it’s soft, which sometimes isn’t so great for achieving certain sitting positions.
The Omni Flex, like the Omni before it, manages to hold a nice firm shape when you’re in it, but is also a lot soften than the Omni was (I always thought the Omni’s cover, while very tough, left a bit to be desired in the comfort department).
So yeah, lying down was great. I was happy to watch TV from this position for a couple hours at a time because, again, it felt supportive enough that my back wasn’t stuck in a slouched or curved position.
However playing games this way was less than ideal; I like to be sitting a bit more upright when I use a controller, and especially if I’m using my Switch in handheld mode, lest my hands start to go numb.
You can curve the Omni Flex just if you prop it up against something (a wall, a couch, whatever), which lets you sit upright, but as far as I was concerned, the chair was useless if it couldn’t do that on its own. Fortunately, I found that if you stand the chair up vertically on one end, and then sort of sit straight down into its midsection, you can displace the beads quickly enough that the back of the chair goes rigid, giving you a comfortable upright seat.
Success! A seated position! Evolution at work here, folks.
I’m sure there are other ways to use the chair as well. On your stomach. Lying on the floor with the chair covering you like a voluptuous tomb slab. You could even sit two people side-by-side. Though the chair isn’t deep enough sideways to offer back support to two people, it would be more comfortable than sitting on the floor. Unless your floor is also made out of beanbag chair.
And if you’re a child, well… it’s probably just about the most amazing thing on the planet.
It’s been a week, he’s still there. Actually, I’m not sure he knows how to get off it…
So there you have it, the Omni Flex.
- It’s malleable like a beanbag should be, but once you’ve displaced the beads it still provides some support for extended periods of lounging. You can lean over to grab your drink without everything shifting and dumping you on the floor.
- The cover is removable. That sort of thing makes a big difference if you have pets or kids.
- The cover does not appear to attract lint or hair; we’ve had it for a week with two kids and a dog all over it, and it still looks like it just came out of the wash.
- The spandex does seem like a nice middle-ground temperature-wise. One of my complaints about my corduroy Titan with foam filling is that, while nice and cozy in the winter, it can get pretty warm in the summer. The Flex seems to stay pretty cool.
- It feels like there’s more fill per inch than the original Omni. So not only is it bigger, it feels more plush as well.
- It’s light; it was so easy to move this thing around compared to my Titan, which may as well be bolted to the floor.
- It’s one of the less expensive SUMO chairs.
- It comes in a lot of colors.
- There is no blending in for this chair. Yes, it comes in a lot of colors, all of which are vibrant and loud. I’ve talked in the past about some of SUMO’s chairs that look… dare I say, more grown-up? More respectable? The upholstery/corduroy exterior of the Titan almost makes it look like a piece of real furniture. The Omni Flex isn’t going to pull that off. It is most definitely a beanbag chair. Now that’s not necessarily a “con”, per se, but it is something you should be aware of. It will stand out if the rest of your living room decor is more formal. It will be right at home in an office, dorm room, kids room, or home theater, though.
- The cover is has held up well over the week we’ve had it. However I’m not sure it feels quite as durable as the thicker corduroy of my Titan. Only time will tell, but for certain if it sustains any damage, it will be far more noticeable on the Flex’s cover since it is otherwise so smooth and textureless.
- There’s a bit of a learning curve to getting an upright seat position. You have to hold the chair in position as you sit down. This was also the case with the original Omni. As opposed to their rounder, more pillow-like chairs where you just sit down and wiggle into place.
- It’s not great for two people. Again, not exactly a con, because I don’t think it’s marketed as a two-person chair, I just wanted to be clear.
- If you have kids, you’ll never get to sit in it because the little assholes will hog it.
Disclaimer: As mentioned above, I received this Omni Flex for free for the purpose of doing an honest an unbiased review. I’ve known the guys at SUMO since they sponsored the very first Digital Overload back in 2006.