Massage chair pricing and my recent purchase (Inada)

Posted by Jonathan Statt on 26th March 2007 at 09:48

One of the things I have noticed about massage chairs is the HUGE variability in pricing for the same chair. This indicates a really crazy mark-up on the chairs and a lack of competivity in the marketplace. Unfortunately unlike Japan where something like 1/4 of all households have a massage chair, the UK market is fairly poor.

I have often tried the different massage chairs at the Ideal Home Show. It is a great place to try Keyton, OSIM, Human Touch, Sanyo and Inada.

Interestingly at this years show, OSIM was nowhere to be seen and they are normally at EVERY show. I don't know if it was just the day I was there, but a couple of other vendors commented they thought they were having financial troubles. I find this hard to believe considering the size of OSIM.

Anyway, originally I had set my mind on the Human Touch HTT-125. The main reason, was that it looked like a normal arm chair with a swivel and fold away leg massager. However, after comparing the massage of this chair with other more dedicated chairs, I found it hard to accept the compromise.

I then tried some Inada chairs. Inada chairs are Family chairs and I believe the technology in the Osim and Inada chairs are essentially the same thing. I first tried the I.1 which is a chair dating to 2000. The massage was much better than the HTT chair, but I HATED the cherry red armrests. The I.1 like all Inada's features the infrared sensor scanning to determine the shiatsu do you know if this really works? Even if you start the chair with nobody in says it has found the shiatsu points!!

Then I tried the Inada W.1. The main difference here is the upholstered bolders and the fold flat foot rest, allowing it to be used as an armchair as well. The chair features an airbag for each buttock/hip and a thigh airbag, as well as airbags with shiatsu rollers (not motorised) for the legs. There are vibrators under the butt and also under each thigh. The W.1 has the optional ability to add music synchronisation as an add-on (this is not a CD player headphone one, its a much more involved piece of hardware that adds speakers to the seat as well). The other interesting thing about this chair is the extended track which hits the tail bone it goes so low! This chair looks bulky in black but I think it looks like a furniture piece in ivory...

I then tried the Keytons. Beautiful pieces of furniture. But once again compromised on the massage I felt, particularly in the seat and leg areas. Overall the massage was a lot more subtle.

Finally, I tried the Sanyo, new top of the range DR6100. Now THIS IS a really impressive bit of kit.....but, was way out of my price range and is damned ugly as a piece of furniture. In some ways I wish I hadn't tried this chair!

In the end, I chose the Inada W.1. The reasons being, it was an acceptable piece of furniture. It came with a 3 year onsite warranty. 50% trade-in value against other Inada chairs in the future. Repairs outside of 3 years are parts only. I have nothing to pay for a year...and at the homeshow the price came down dramatically. They also delivered 2 days after my visit to the show, carried it up a flight of stairs and installed it and demonstrated it in my home.

However...because of the strange pricing of massage chairs in the UK, it is REALLY hard to know if you are getting a good deal or not. In the European versions, genuine leather is not used in the Inada chairs. Inada acknowledge that if you buy the real leather ones, you need to replace the fabric after 3 years of use (its mentioned in the manual). The synthetic leather is one of the most impressive I have ever seen (its very convincing, soft and supple but doesn't smell like leather).

Out of interest, I notice that Inada chairs are not mentioned anywhere on this website.


Posted by MC Network on 26th March 2007 at 10:19

Hi Johnathon,
Interesting post. I agree that most of the massage chairs on the UK market would certainly not be the centre piece of your living room, and that the cost of these chairs can go up and down depending where you look.

There are no Inada chairs on this website as they are a more recent addition to the UK market. Another user mentioned the Inada a few months ago and I put several questions to him that might help me find out more about them. There was no reply.

Inada and Osim chairs are made in the same factory, owned by Family. Osim are certainly having some major issues at the moment and have been creating alot of problems for their customers over the last year.

Sensor systems in massage chairs are always a mystery. The Keyton sensor doesn't seem to do anything at all. Sanyo seems to mostly rely on your pulse. The Sterling sensor system seems to work differently. They have a sensing system in the new chair but apparently it is only designed to test your height so it gets the massage correct. Theres also a different system in the Symphony Sensor that pokes you. This chair does know when your not in the chair but other than that theres not alot I can say about it.

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