Still on the hunt for a decent ergonomic chair to make your WFH experience a little easier on the body? On paper the ErgoChair 2 from Autonomous looks like a winner, combining high end ergonomics with a more digestible $400 or so price tag versus the four figure ransoms from the likes of Herman Miller.
But what are you really sacrificing, if anything? Read on for my 2 week review and thoughts on the Autonomous ErgoChair 2.
Specs at a Glance
Here are the vital measurements of the ErgoChair 2 at a glance. Note that some are my own measurements to provide the most accurate numbers possible:
|Seat Depth (Adjustable)||20″ to 22″|
|Seat Height Range||20″ to 22″ from floor to top of cushion|
|Forward Seat Tilt||Yes|
|Headrest Height||7″ to 10″ (top of backrest to top of headrest)|
|Backrest Recline||20 degrees (lockable at any angle)|
|Backrest Tilt||10 degrees (on/ off at any reclined angle)|
|Tilt Tension Control||Yes|
|Lumbar Support (Adjustable)||Up down 3″|
|Armrests (3D)||Up/ down, Length and Width Adjustable|
|Weight of Chair||48.5 lbs|
|Warranty:||2 years plus 30 days trial|
|Below 180 lbs and 6’1″ or shorter|
When I unboxed and laid out all the parts for the ErgoChair 2, putting it together looked like a walk in the park. I had a friend on hand, and we set aside 30 minutes max to complete the task:
Well, it ended up taking over 90 minutes.
From the onset it was a bumpy ride. Popping the casters into the base took some serious elbow grease. Some grape seed oil and a pair of gloves eventually got me over this first hurdle.
Then came the real obstacle- attaching the tilt control mechanism onto the seat. There are four posts underneath the seat where you rest the control mechanism on top of and drop four bolts into to secure everything. Well, for the life of me I couldn’t get one of the bolts to catch the thread inside its corresponding post to fasten it. After 20 minutes of fumbling around and making every possible micro adjustment to the angle of the bolt, I finally was able to tighten all four of them. The cause was probably a manufacturing defect/ deviation.
The good news is, my experience seems to be an isolated one, as I didn’t find any other owners of the chair online with the same assembling hiccups.
I’ll start with the seat on the Autonomous ErgoChair 2, as this seems to be the main source of complaint for people who dislike the chair.
To me, the seat is reasonably comfortable and supportive. However, your weight ultimately will be the deciding factor here.
To start, the fabric upholstery feels great, like sitting on a piece of quilt that’s warm yet breathable. However, I’ve already noticed it tends to attract hairs and dirt a lot more than other types of upholstery.
Inside the seat is around 3″ of what feels like memory foam due to its high malleability. It’s soft, and with my body weight applied, compresses to a still respectable 2″ at the center and tail end. At no point do I feel the hard plastic bottom of the seat, which is when a seat becomes uncomfortable.
A word of caution, however. My body weight is a very average 154 lbs. In my estimation, a 3″ memory foam seat with this type of firmness will be inadequate in the long term for anyone over 180 lbs. If that’s you, consider a strong mesh or more thickly padded chair instead such as the Quantum WorkPro 9000 or Secretlab Titan. Or simply throw a comfortable towel over the seat- not only does that instantly add more cushioning, but will also protect the fabric seat from getting dirty.
ErgoChair 2’s Biggest Strengths
The biggest strength of the ErgoChair 2 is the long list of possible adjustments you can make. With a chair with loads of levers and paddles like this one, there is a period of discoverability of all its features. Typically your comfort level improves over time.
After two weeks with the ErgoChair 2, I’ve come to greatly appreciate some adjustments on this chair that I initially dismissed as superfluous. I suspect your journey will be similar to mine.
The headrest on the ErgoChair 2 is one of the most functional I’ve come across, and may just be your ticket to relief if you often experience a tense neck sitting in front of the computer. It’s wide, perfectly contoured to cradle the cervical spine, and can be adjusted both for height (up to 4″) and angle (30 deg vertically). And it stays put in all of the new positions.
If you like to work in an upright position, the ability to angle the headrest is more important than you think. By angling the headrest down, you essentially increase its depth, boosting support to your neck where a shallow headrest often cannot reach at such as position. It’s an incredible feeling to be working upright with the sensation there is someone holding your head for support.
One thing to keep in mind is the maximum height of the headrest. It tops out at 31.5″ from the base of the backrest to the top of the head piece. This puts the headrest on the ErgoChair as best suited for people under 6’1″ (I’m 5’8″).
In the last two weeks, I’ve become a fan of the backrest on the ErgoChair 2 as well. The highly breathable mesh material plus a plethora of possible adjustments makes it highly adaptable to different sitting positions, something I had forgotten a backrest can do.
To start, you can recline the backrest around 20 degrees, and lock it anywhere in between to work in a more back-relaxing angle.
The backrest can also optionally tilt/ rock an additional 10 degrees at any locked angle thanks to the Italian designed tilt mechanism that operates separately from the recline mechanism. This is something I really missed in the otherwise excellent WorkPro Quantum 9000 chair, which only rocks in the upright position. Using a lever on the backside, you can toggle between a “fixed” and rockable backrest at any angle. Combined with the reclining feature, I’ve definitely noticed less stiffness in my back after a few hours of sitting.
Note that even when the tilt function is disabled, there is a slight 5 degree give when you lean on the backrest. There is no way to completely lock up the angle. To some people, this may be annoying, but I actually prefer a backrest with some flex like this.
And finally, you’ll also find a reasonably sized lumbar support that does a decent job of cushioning your lower back. It moves up around 3 inches between your tailbone and small of your back.
Seat Slide and Forward Tilt
Rounding out the list of useful adjustments for me are the seat slide and forward tilting features.
The default depth of the seat on the ErgoChair 2 is 20″, though this can be increased up to 2″ by pushing down a small paddle and sliding the seat forward. Apart from letting you control the space between your knees and the seat’s edge, seat slide also increases your sitting area when your back isn’t flat against the backrest, such as when you’re leaning forward, or God forbid slumped in your chair.
And then there’s the forward tilting seat, a rare feature most famously found on the much pricier Herman Miller Aeron (and some alternatives). The best time to enable it is during forward leaning tasks where you’re looking down often. By angling the seat forward and setting the backrest to upright, I can immediately feel a reduction in the load on my spine as part of my weight is shifted to the lower limbs. My gaze is naturally looking down while my head and back are still fully supported by the chair. Awesome.
The Rough Edges
Setting aside my rocky assembly experience, a nagging issue I have with the ErgoChair 2 are the armrests. For a chair that retails north of $400, I’d expect them to be higher quality.
Firstly, the surface of the armrests is hard and frankly just not that comfortable.
And while the armrests are 3D, being both length and width adjustable. they are fairly loose, and you cannot lock the new adjustments in place. It’s a common occurrence where I’ll accidently move the armrests back as I get up or push them outwardly with my elbows.
I’ve read some reviews online that complain the chair as a whole wobbles easily. To me the chair is in general very stable and centered actually. There is one minor annoyance however with the tilt mechanism- as you rock the backrest, you can feel a slight “hiccup” (like going over a speed bump) at the end as the backrest flexes and triggers it to recline slightly as well. It’s not a build quality issue, but simply the way the whole back mechanism is designed that feature a separate recline and tilt mechanism.
Final Thoughts on the ErgoChair 2
What started out as a loveless relationship with the ErgoChair 2 for me has morphed into general satisfaction after a few weeks of getting to know each other. Most quibbles I have with the ErgoChair 2 are largely offset by all the possible adjustments, especially in the areas of neck support and the backrest that have yielded tangible benefits.
Having said that, this is not a perfect chair. The armrests could be much better, and the seat foam denser and thicker to support heavier people better. The tilting mechanism while robust could be smoother as well. I’m hoping the next version of the chair will address these issues.
To sum it up, the ErgoChair 2 is a diamond in the rough. It has a lot going for versus the imperfections given the price. If you’re looking for a chair with superb neck and back support and fit the conservative profile I outlined earlier (< 180 lbs and < 6’1″), your experience with the ErgoChair 2 should be quite positive like mine (minus the assembling debacle hopefully).
- Large supportive headrest for neck pain
- Very robust backrest that relieves spinal pressure
- Decent lumbar support that is height adjustable
- Capable of forward seat tilting like in the Herman Miller Aeron
- Seat padding made for average weight people
- Fabric seat gets dirty easily
- Hard armrests that don’t lock into their new positions
- Assembly may be a challenge