The Sumo Omni is a bean bag for people that take their sitting seriously, and at AUD$199, can you afford not to buy one?
Ever since I bought my Herman Miller Aeron, I have been a complete and utter chair snob. When it comes to sitting at a desk, at your PC, or in an office environment, it is simply unrivaled in terms of comfort. Once your ass gets used to the Aeron, sitting in any other chair is this incredibly uncomfortable experience that will have you fidgeting in your seat after a few minutes.
Now, your lounge setting is a different situation. When you're flaking back in front of the TV, either to kick back and sponge up your latest media acquisition or to chill back and play some console games, then your average office chair isn't going to be much use. You can't flop effectively in an office chair. There's no sprawling, and that's what you want to be doing in front of your massive TV while you're trying to chill.
Enter: Sumo. These guys make these massive industrial-sized bean bags that are perfect for this sort of thing. They offered us one for a test toast, so we jumped at the opportunity, landing face-first onto what turns out to be a comfortable and flexible piece of pseudo-furniture for your living room.
In Australia, the only model on offer is the Omni. The Omni model is their original model - it's almost square in shape (viewed from the top), measuring in at around 155cm x 135cm. They have a variety of other models available in other territories, and maybe they'll wing their way over to our side of the globe eventually, but for now it's just the one model. You can pick one up - including shipping - for AUD$199.
The first thing I noticed was the material the Omni is made of. From some of the photos on the Sumu website - which are taken at a bit of a distance, presumably to include all the hot models - it looks like they might be your traditional soft velvety sort of bean bag. However, this is not the case! They are made of this industrial-strength-looking vinyl-feeling material; a little bit glossy. On first glance it might seem that it might be uncomfortable because of the nature of the material, but it quickly becomes apparent that this is not the case; while it's no Zap Brannigan velour, it's not rough or abrasive in the slightest.
Another bonus of the material is that it is really, really easy to keep clean - as one of my mates said, "it looks like it was designed for gamers - you can just take it outside and hose off all the gamer-sweat". While I don't know if I'd go that far, it is really easy to keep clean. As part of the testing, I took it outside onto our balcony, still reeling from the effect of the dust storms a while back and covered in that annoying fine dirt that settled everywhere. Cleaning it off was as simple as moistening a towel and just wiping it off - instantly clean.
There's a stack of different colours available as well, in case you have an existing colour-coded lounge situation - 10 colours to choose from, ranging from nice subdued blues to eye-searing toxic green (perhaps for those people who have taken their Xbox themed gaming room a little bit too far).
These bags are really tough - it would take a really special effort to break one and rip it asunder. My bag arrived fully set up, ensconced in a mere plastic bag from protection. A quick glance indicated it was a bit bruised and dirty, but no other real issues - although a bit later it sprung a leak, no doubt encouraged by various friends also enthusiastically helping out with the review by stress testing the Sumo by any means possible. A tiny seam popped open on the side, which was fixed pretty easily with some home stitching, but unless you suffer shipping injuries and/or idiotically proclaim to your friends that the bag is more or less indestructible (like I did), you'll almost certainly not have any problems. This thing would be hard to break even if you were trying.
The tiny leak did offer some interesting insight into what is actually inside the bag. Basically it is full of these tiny little beans! If you're familiar with regular bean bags, you'll know they tend to deflate over time as the beans get crushed. The Sumo beans are high quality PVC-coated polystyrene dealies, much smaller than the regular sort I've seen, and it's a selling point that they'll last a longer time than normal beads. How long they last is not covered, but they also can sell you more beads (for USD$50 a bag).
Now, the most important thing is how you actually sit in this thing. The website advertises that it has "10 different positions (discovered so far)", which - until the thing arrived - I thought was intriguing. How many different ways can you sit on a bean bag? Well, as it turns out, there are quite a few. When mine arrived the first thing I did was throw it on the floor laid out flat - and was immediately puzzled. It was just like a big cushion, so I didn't get it. Then I remembered there were smiling people on the photos on the website that looked really happy the way they were sitting so I then looked at the website to figure out what they were doing (really).
Turns out there are a few different ways you can bend and twist and stuff the Omni to get it to the ultimate seating position, and the default one I selected was sort of pointless. Well, you can stretch it out flat cushion-style and curl up on it if you want a snooze (also helpful for when drunk friends come back to your place looking for somewhere to crash), but for seating arrangements there are many other (superior) options. It'd be pointless to describe, so here's a photo montage:
The only real negative I can throw Sumo's way is that the full range of options isn't available in Australia, and that is just a fairly typical case of USA-online-shopping-envy. The Sumo Omni is a comfortable and flexible bean bag option and is well-suited to gamers looking to sack out in front of the TV with a new game, or blobbing in to watch a DVD. The range of colours mean that you can let your girlfriend feel involved in the decision by selecting the colour, and the utter simplicity with which you can keep it clean make it great for the blokes.