Several companies have made excellent chairs in the $3,000 to $4,000 price range category. However, in our opinion, two of these chairs stand so far above the rest that most people looking for chairs in this price range will probably want one of these two chairs-either the Sanyo HEC-SA5000C or the Omega M-5000 DLX. Because these chairs are so closely matched, we feel like a head-to-head comparison of the two chairs will probably be the most useful to our readers.
Let's start with the Sanyo HEC-SA5000C (which is the same chair as the HEC-SA5000K, except for the color). We refer to this chair as our Mother's Day chair, because in our conversations with the chair's designer, we learned that he had given this chair to his mother as a gift. This is coming from somebody who could have afforded to give his mother the Sanyo Zero-Gravity Chair ($1,000 more expensive), but he preferred to give her this chair. Why? Because this chair boasts a full suite of features and an unbeatably attractive design.
The Omega M-5000 DLX also offers an incredible value for this price range. It delivers a fully-customizable massage and great usability features, although we feel that the style is a little heavy. But of course, you'll have to make your own judgment on that. Our Omega customers love the style of this chair.
Before jumping into the features of these chairs, let's talk a little bit about warranty and customer service issues. We've addressed this in our other reviews for the $4,000 to $5,000 category, but just to reiterate, we're very excited about the warranty and customer service offered by Omega. We have never had any customer service problems with Omega, and they stand behind their commitment with the length of their warranty. This is no small issue when it comes to massage chairs. You want the chair to work, and you don't want any hassle or extra expense if there is a problem. So it's a big deal to us that Omega offers a serious warranty.
Sanyo, on the other hand, offers a much shorter warranty, but this short warranty is a puzzle to us, because we can see no reason for it. Sanyo does offer full service at a cost to the customer after the warranty period, but because of the quality of the chair and the few maintenance issues that arise anyway, Sanyo should put a longer warranty in writing. We're comfortable with the chair, nonetheless, because of its great track record.
Now to the best part of these chairs-the features. Let's start at the top of the shoulders. Sanyo has incorporated its exclusive GK roller technology, which allows the chair to reach out and gently squeeze and massage your shoulders. It also features the same sensor technology found in the more expensive Zero-Gravity chair. These are million-dollar features incorporated into a relatively inexpensive chair. The technology is truly amazing, and it actually works to relieve shoulder tension and stress.
Omega offers a dual headrest pillow, which accommodates people with different body types and enhances your comfort level in the chair. It does not offer the GK roller technology.
However, Omega does have a feature that allows the chair to search and memorize the user's weight and body type, so that the massage can be tailored to that person. It also offers one of my favorite features, the built-in MP3 player and headset, which allows you to easily relax to music of your choice. The Omega also offers five pre-set auto programs, three for the upper body and two for the lower body, while Sanyo offers only four.
When it comes to stroke length (an important indicator of a massage chair's quality), the Sanyo is slightly ahead. It offers a slightly longer stroke length (one-third inch longer than Omega's 28 inches). The Sanyo is also slightly ahead in wattage, making it slightly more powerful than the Omega.
Turning the competition the other way, Omega offers a full 175 degree recline, while Sanyo offers a slightly smaller 170 degrees. In addition, the Omega comes with a smaller remote control with a fold-out panel offering full control from the remote. The Sanyo comes with two wired controls-one full panel showing an incredible amount of detail and allowing full control of every feature-and a sub-control that controls simple functions like the recline and the footrest and has a “repeat" button.
I personally prefer a remote control. While the Sanyo control offers a great range of functionality (and multi-colored screen), it looks unwieldy and imposing. I would rather have Omega's smaller remote control, even if it means spending some time learning how it works. Again, you'll have to decide on your personal preference.
As for the features we don't discuss here, the reader should know that many of them are similar to each other.
Many of our readers wonder what the differences are between chairs in this price range and chairs in a higher price range. While it's hard to generalize, it is safe to say that the more expensive chairs are slightly larger, so they can accommodate a larger body; they are more powerful, so that they can deliver a more powerful massage; and they offer the newest refinements in technology (for example, the Sanyo Zero-Gravity offers newly-refined GK Roller Technology). As far as most of the other features are concerned, however, these second-tier chairs are fully as functional (Sanyo uses its same sensor technology in both chairs, and Omega offers its MP3 functionality in both chairs). You will not regret purchasing the less expensive chair, unless you require a more powerful massage and larger frame.
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